Friday, July 16, 2010

Day Ride to Crater Lake

I was 10 years old or so when my parents, sisters, and grandparents all loaded up in the family stationwagon and headed for Crater Lake OR. We were living in Hayward CA at the time, my dad being stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station. My grandparents would come visit us every summer, coming from Cleveland by train, and we'd go pick them up at the train station, ready to head out on our annual major car trip to somewhere beautiful on the Pacific coast. It was very special for me, getting to spend so much time with my grandparents...and with my family, particularly my dad who was often gone for long periods onboard aircraft carriers deployed to the far east. I was old enough to remember a good amount of detail about that visit and I was really looking forward to getting back to Crater Lake and to revisit some memories.

Mike, Rick and I met at a little restaurant - Sargent's - in Bend for breakfast and then Mike and I continued south on 97 while Rick chose to stay behind and do other things. It was a beautiful morning and those 90 miles went by quickly. Soon we were turning west onto 138 toward the north entrance to the park. Mike got ahead of me to go through the toll booth, flashing his senior pass. The ranger didn't want to let us both in on one pass and I was prepared to pull out my own pass when she relented and let us through "this time."

The park road quickly began to climb up the side of the mountain and I had the benefit of a GPS to show me how close we were getting to the first good view of the crater. I bypassed a few turn-outs that I knew wouldn't be as spectacular as the one coming up. Around a bend and up a particularly steep section of road and I knew we'd arrived at the spot that would give Mike his first "WOW" moment. I pulled over into the turn-out, parked the bike, dismounted and walked just a few steps toward the low stone wall and there it was....

The view literally took my breath away! The crater view was spectacular, the water a deep, deep blue, snow still evident in patches along the rim. Even the tiny little lavender flowers that seemed to be growing everywhere in pretty little clumps were putting on a show. The air was so clean and clear, and the skies were a gorgeous cloudless blue. It made for a postcard view, one which the camera could not capture adequately. Mike was totally blown away by the view. He had always wanted to see Crater Lake ever since he missed his opportunity when in OR for the BMW rally 9 years ago.

We hiked up to the top of a small promontory which gave us a great view of the entire crater and lake and took lots of photos.

I wanted to continue on up to the Lodge and visitor center, where I could get a national park stamp and where we could have a light lunch at the cafe. It was a short walk from the cafe to the NP visitor center and we stopped to play in the snow a bit before wandering along the walkway between the two, which offered more fabulous views of the lake from a different angle. The old lodge was off in the distance, a little too far to get a good view of the entrance. I confess that it did not look familiar to me and I'm sure the surrounding area has changed significantly since we were there those many years ago.

Returning back toward the north entrance to leave the park, we rode past a spot that I was nearly certain was the very same spot that we stopped at 50 years ago. My dad pulled over so that we girls could play in the snow while my grandpa took home movies. I remembered it so vividly that I could imagine the scene playing out one more time in my imagination as we rode our motorcycles past that point.

It was the perfect day ride!!
We both wanted to get back to the Bend area, Mike to pick up his clean laundry, me to return to the rally grounds so that I could attend a meeting for the 8K race runners and volunteers. We also had a club photo shoot scheduled for 6:00 PM.

At the 8K meeting, I realized that Andrea, the race organizer, could really use some volunteer help so rather than sign up for the race, I offered to volunteer! I promised Andrea I'd be there at 6:00 AM tomorrow, so with that in mind, once our club photo was taken, I hung out at the beer tent for a while, meeting up with more folks from MTF and the Houston club, and then headed back to the hotel.

Tomorrow: Up early! And a full day spent on the rally grounds volunteering for the 8K race, a four hour shift in First Aid, a bit more shopping the vendors and then closing ceremonies.

1 comment:

  1. Loving your Reads...I can't wait to see Crater in September. Keem em coming