Homer's Travels: Roadtrip 1995 - Part 3: Crater Lake

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Part 3: Crater Lake

I left Lake Tahoe and headed north. The drive to Crater Lake was slowed by road work. I spent a half hour talking to the flag woman waiting for the road to open. She was nice – taught aerobics in the winter when she wasn’t working for the road crew. After they let us pass I ran into more road construction in Oregon.

I eventually arrived to Klamath Falls and found a hotel for the night. My room had a hot tub which was put to good use relaxing my aching muscles. I went out to look for food and discovered that there really wasn't much in Klamath Falls.

The next day I got up relatively early to make the drive to the park – roughly an hour away. I was hoping to find a hotel that was closer to the park. I went to my car. It was covered in morning dew and, stuck in the dew, were a huge number of mosquitoes. Yow! Reminder to self – use bug spray while in Klamath Falls. I drove to the park and passed a couple hotels in tiny Fort Klamath. I figured I would check them out later in the day.

Crater Lake National Park
is a beautiful but relatively small park. I stopped at the visitor’s center and looked around. I checked out the nearby Lodge but it was full. I drove around the lake stopping to take a few pictures. The squirrels and chipmunks were especially aggressive here. I guess the tourists feed them too much.

After making the loop around the crater I drove back to Fort Klamath and stopped at the nicer of two motels. The owner wasn’t home so I waited around for an hour or so before giving up and going to the other. The other motel , the Fort Klamath Lodge, was tiny – 5 or 6 rooms – and a little run down. It didn’t matter too much though since the owner was there to check me in, it had four walls and a roof, and the bed was comfortable enough.

The next day I got up early. I was planning to have some breakfast at the visitor’s center before taking a boat ride out to Wizard Island. The restaurant at the visitor’s center opened late so I had to rush through breakfast and the food wasn’t as good as at Sequoia. Oh well, it filled my stomach. I drove to the opposite side of the lake and walked the mile down the switchback road to the boat dock. A boat leaves and circles the lake daily. You can take one boat to the island and take another back. They keep track of who is out so that the last boat has enough room for the people who get off on the island. During the boat ride they give you the history and the science of the lake. The only source of water for the lake is rain. The rain coming in balances out the water that evaporates or seeps into the ground. The water is some of the clearest in the world and the lake is the deepest in North America. Fish were introduced by the park service years ago to attract tourists but now they are practically begging fishermen to come and take the fish. They are trying to return the lake and it's ecosystem back the way it was originally.

The boat stopped at Wizard Island and a bunch of us got off. I headed out on the trail up to the top of the cinder cone. I practically ran up the trail (1 mile with a 750 ft climb) and made it up to the top before everyone else and I had a few minutes to myself. It was really cool - the views of the lake and the rest of the island were awesome. The crater at the top of the cinder cone was less impressive. It was a little desolate with only a few plants struggling to grow.

I made my way back down to the shore – a little more slowly than on the way up. I reached the dock and found a log to lay on, rested, and took in the sights. The squirrels were more aggressive here then on the rim of the lake. One squirrel climbed up the back of a lady who was sitting on a log writing out postcards and nipped her on the ear! We spent the rest of our wait for the next boat shooing squirrels.

The boat picked me up and dropped me back at the main dock and I started up the hill back to the car. I was hurting by the time I made it to the car. At the time it was a lot of vertical for me, especially over a short distance.

I drove to Bend, OR and checked into a hotel smack dab in between a Sizzlers and a Denny’s – at the time my favorite cheesy restaurants. That night I ate dinner at the Sizzler. As I ordered my food I got a strange look from the cashier. She asked me if I was all right. I told her I was fine and why did she ask. She said my face was really red. After dinner I went back to the hotel and looked in the mirror – OW!!! My face was red – RED – RED! I slathered my face with suntan lotion – the only lotion I had and went to bed. I slathered some more on the next morning. Surprisingly my face never really peeled. Good ol’ Coppertone with Aloe.
I had some breakfast at Denny’s the next morning before heading to my next destination – Portland, OR. Pictures can be found here.

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