Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 14- Crater Lake

Last night was pretty chilly, but overall I slept well. Debating if I wanted a hot breakfast or not; I chose a bagel over chancing setting my pot on fire. I sliced up cheese, banana, and pear to go within my bagel. I also took one last stop by the beach before heading back into the mountains of Crater Lake territory. As I sat in the car waiting for Anna to finish brushing her teeth; a ranger came up and asked if I was Anna (the site was under her name) I advised I wasn't that she had just went to the bathroom. She proceeded to inform me this site was reserved for last night and the following night asking if anyone showed up. I answered they hadn't, and that there was no reservation sign on the post. We raised our shoulders and went on with our business. Anna returned and we left the ever so nice beachfront campsite; I keep saying that each new campsite is my new favorite and better than the one before; but this one really is. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean is irreplaceable. We had a five hour drive ahead of us, and wanted to stop closer to Crater Lake at a grocery store. The drive was long and tedious, but before we knew it we were about two and a half hours away on a one lane "highway." I was passing the slow moving 50 mph drivers left and right (as an expression, I'd only pass them on the left.) I got to a spot where a blue car was tailing my ass when I had passed him back maybe 15 minutes ago going slow. He was driving in the opposing traffic lane for quite sometime I witnessed in my rear view to get behind me. I was stuck behind a pickup truck which I swerved left to see there was an orange car in front of him. Shortly after my serve, and the blue car still on my ass; the pickup switched his lights on, he was an undercover cop. Nervously I wondered if he was pulling me over; he motioned in his vehicle with his arm "to pull over" but was it for me or the person in front of him? I slowed behind him, and noticed the car in front of him pull over. The blue car behind me didn't seem like they were pulling over like the rest of us; and in a moment I proceeded past the orange car as he pulled over the blue car behind me and the orange car now followed me. Phew! The rest of the drive to the grocery store was un-eventful. We stopped to get gas, and clean out the now liquified butter in the cooler and all over the contents of the cooler. Being told there was a Safeway Grocier only 5 minutes away; we headed there to pick up more water, bagels, eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurt, chicken, kielbasa, Pringles, ice and more. We set out for the remaining 2 hours or so to Crater Lake and were abruptly stopped for construction flagging. Looking at the road ahead didn't look like any construction was going on; I toyed with the car placing from drive to neutral, back and fourth to occupy my time just sitting (or rather now rolling back and fourth.) Eventually we saw on-coming cars coming toward us before we were signaled to proceed driving. As we did, there was no construction going on at all, no idea why both lanes couldn't go at once. But atlas; the open road. As we drove into the park; left and right we were warned of the smoke and natural fire ahead, that it was known of, and not to call it in. There was a somber presence while driving down that long stretch of road. The smell of smoke burned my nostrils even with being inside of a car, urging me to sneeze. Either side of the road showed the presence of burn activity. We had been driving for over 5 hours and wanted to get to Crater Lake, surely I'd be stopping on the way out to take photos though. Not just the road into the park, but also throughout; had a melancholy atmosphere. It was an overcast day as it was, but the distant lingering smoke left you with an eery feeling as if the forest were sick and dying. The Rangers weren't at the enterence so we read it was $15 to enter the park; it advised us to put money in the envelope provided and to place in a secure box. We had $14.50, so that is what went in, not our fault there was no one there to give us change back for a $20! We arrived at the East Rim drive of Crater Lake and to our surprise; there was visibility even with so much smoke lingering nearby. The first glimpse of the lake was like walking through a desert for months and getting your first view of water; it was a miraculous thing. The crater was formed nearly 150 years ago by the collapse of volcano Mount Mazama. The biggest phenomenon of the lake is its beautiful blue color and clarity to the bottom, with no rivers feeding in or out of it. It was now a chilling, windy, 50 degrees out so our photographic endeavors were short before running for the car. We drove around aimlessly for awhile before deciding to head to the village to ask for directions to Diamond Lake Campground. Once we found the information center in the village; a woman notified us that we just had to take the West Rim down to Diamond Lake, easy enough. We drove for maybe 20 minutes on the other side of the lake stopping occasionally to take more photos of exactly the same thing, it seemed different in my eyes. Once we got to the park enterence/exit we stopped along the shoulder to witness the fire damages. Everything was charred, the forest ground was covered with a plush 6 inches of black pine needles. My feet were covered in black soot from walking in there in my Crocs; it was like paying your respects at a gravesite. We continued on to our campground for the long awaited night, though once we arrived we saw the dreaded fire ban signs. Considering we had gotten chicken and eggs to cook on the fire; we needed to find another campground. I was exhausted from driving so long today; and not really spending too much out of the car at Crater Lake. We stopped by Diamond Lake to take a photo, and then I set the GPS for Redwood National Forest; hoping we would find a campground way before the 3.5 hour destination. Luckily not even 15 minutes into our drive I spotted a campground to the right; we pulled in. Driving up to the camp host I had two questions for him; was there a burn ban, and do you have any availability. To our benefit, he replied "on a night this cold you would need a fire." That answered my first question, and luckily there was availability. We picked out the best campsite in the whole place in my opinion. There was a long parking area for a car, and then set back was a giant tree that was laid over and cut in half as a walkway providing privacy. Behind the log was a huge area to set up tents, a picnic table, metal fire pit with a cooking grate, and the best part, the view of the river and a small lagoon. I set my tent with a view of the lagoon, it's water too was the beautiful turquoise color of all the others before it. There was no service at this campsite, so I enjoyed the view from my tent. Shortly after we went to get firewood from the host and started a fire to cook dinner on. It was so nice to sit and enjoy the heat of the fire waiting for it to burn down to cook on. I cooked up the chicken and onion over the fire and then we split a lasagna Mountain House meal to go with it. After dinner, I sat with the fire reading by it's light. Our neighbor a young guy asked if we needed firewood; I was saving 5 logs for the morning so I thanked him and said that would be great. I followed him over to his site and he had an adorable puppy who peed in excitement of my presence. Seems he had brought wood with him, and moved campsites which the people before him had left wood at his current site. I grabbed a few logs and chatted with him shortly before heading back to camp. The remaining sunlight was spent reading until I used a headlamp waiting for the fire to die down before heading to bed. Time and time again I say this, but this is my favorite campsite for sure! Redwood Forest in the morning which I think it is supposed to rain both days we spend there which is a little disappointing, but good news for the wild fires!

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