After our trip to Sisters, we came home for a few days to say goodbye and celebrate as our pastor of 10 years retired. We also had a few other things to do at home before heading off again!
Our second road trip commenced on the last Sunday afternoon in June. We packed up the car (again), and this time headed south to Eugene. We were in the midst of a very hot spell with temperatures near 100 degrees – a little unusual for Oregon in June. We arrived at our destination in Eugene and the boys immediately jumped out and ran to our friends’ backyard. They have *the best* tire swing. Ever.
We hung out with our Eugene friends for a couple of days – we went swimming at Amazon pool, took the kids on a short driving tour of the UO campus area and other local “attractions”, and mostly just hung out and enjoyed being with friends.
On Tuesday morning, we set off for Crater Lake. Though Artman and I had both visited Crater Lake in the past, we had not been since the children came along. They had all seen pictures and we talked extensively about how it was formed. But nothing can really compare to seeing it for real. After driving through the desolation and heat of central Oregon, we finally turned south into the park. Crater Lake is Oregon’s only national park, so we stopped, paid our fee, and got a map from the friendly ranger. As we continued on our way, we started to see small piles of snow. Of course, the kids begged to stop, and eventually we did…
Once we convinced them that there would be more snow, they agreed to re-load into the car and continue towards the rim. After a few more miles, we got our first glimpse of the lake.
Wow. Pictures truly do not do this natural wonder justice. It is the bluest blue you will ever see. And as you stand at the rim looking down, there is almost complete silence among the onlookers, everyone is awe of its awesomeness.
We were camping at the park for the night, so after a fairly short stop, we re-loaded again and headed towards the visitor center for a bathroom break and water bottle re-fill. Then, onward to the campground.
We arrived at the campground, which was a few miles down from the rim of the lake in a dry, wooded area. All over, there were signs warning of bears and I had my first experience camping at a place with a “bear box.” For those who are not familiar with this, a “bear box” is a big metal box with bear-proof latches where you store *all* of your food. Including gum. Or anything that smells like food. I was more than a little nervous about sleeping in a nylon tent while storing my food in a metal box.
However, I am happy to report that we neither saw nor heard any sign of any bears while camping at Crater Lake. Whew.
Our next destination was Gold Beach which, it turns out, is a very, very, very, very, very, very (you get the picture) long drive from Crater Lake. After a few stops (some planned, others not), we made it to our destination. Luckily, we had reserved a campsite and were able to quickly get our tent put up and get ready for bed. We skipped the campfire and s’mores because we all had to be up early the next morning…
July 4th is what most folks in Oregon consider the 1st day of summer. Sure, we usually *still* have to wear warm clothes and wrap ourselves in blankets to enjoy the evening fireworks, but the days are just glorious! This year, we booked ourselves a jet boat trip on the Rogue River for the 4th. We all had a load of fun – we saw wildlife, had a great home-cooked meal in the little town of Agness, and learned a lot about the river itself. We even watched the fireworks from the boat! Such a fun day.
The next morning, we “slept in” – which means we didn’t set the alarm, but slept as late as possible in a tent where the “lights” come on at sunrise. After a casual morning, we packed up camp and headed to the Oregon Caves. Our route included a short jaunt through the northernmost redwoods – bonus!
When we arrived at the Oregon Caves in late afternoon, we learned that the day’s tours had sold out. However, we had already made a reservation to stay the night at the Chateau, a historical hotel nestled across from the cave entrance. We knew we would be first in line the next morning!
Each tour has a limit of 15 people, and ours had our 3 children plus another family with 2 children. Our guide was great – he was a young graduate student and did a great job engaging the kids. Danger Boy had read up on the caves and could answer most of his questions!
The Oregon Caves are unique. Most caves in Oregon are lava tubes due to our location in the Ring of Fire. However, the Oregon Caves are marble caves, a far more rare occurrence.
After our cave tour, we loaded up for the long drive home. We stopped for lunch in Cave Junction and then continued north. After a couple more stops (ice cream at Rice Hill!), we finally arrived home exhausted but happy to be sleeping in our own beds.