Every once in while nature speaks so loud that you are forced to listen.
That happened about 10,000 years ago in southern Oregon when a huge eruption blew the top off of what is now Crater Lake. Today, that lake is the fourth deepest in the world (average of 1200 feet), and arguably the purest.
Jonathan and I are driving around the Rim Road at this, possibly America’s most accessible National Park, and we are simply hopping out of our car and taking a peak over the lip of the caldera at our leisure. From where we stand, above the pumice slides, looking down from the rim, we can see an almost perfectly round lake with the most crystalline sapphire blue expanse of glassy and placid water that you’ll ever see. It is so exquisitely and solidly and deeply blue that it’s almost hard to believe it’s real. If on the eighth day God wanted to make the most pristine body of fresh water on earth, Crater Lake is that perfection.
We take advantage of the ease by which you can view this gem. We circle the caldera, top down, playing a little Elton John on Sirius radio, and occasionally trying to throw a stone out past the basalt outcroppings to disturb the mirrored liquid pane below, but we can’t heave a rock that far. Like most wonders out West, the scale of this beauty astounds: a lone ship touring the sole island in the volcano’s water appears as a mere speck miles away and barely causes a ripple in this blue giant. Yet incongruously, the brown and grey rocky ridges around us are almost lunar in appearance save for a few gnarled trees.
The park is busy today, probably from early Labor Day weekenders, so we take a short trail to a summit at probably 7000 feet for better pictures and some peace and quiet. We don’t spend much time there. Crater Lake is a knockout: a gorgeous and grand spectacle that everyone should see once, and the good news is, unlike some of our other National parks, she yields her treasures easily, like an oyster that opens on command to reveal the pearl within. Go there, but don’t expect to stay long. Look. Enjoy. Wonder. Gasp in awe. Drive around the rim. Repeat until satisfied. Yes, there are trails, but you don’t need them. Yes, there is a boat, but in all honesty that disappoints me a little. Don’t encourage them by using it. Just drink it all in with your eyes and be glad it’s there. Some things are that simple.
We left Netarts this morning to some good news: Teresa’s daughter is having a baby, so she must go to Portland to see her granddaughter. That puts a big smile on her face and mine as well. I say goodbye and drive south through Salem and the Willamette Valley, the Coast Range blue in the distance to the right of our car, the Cascades a light purple to our left. We are in the flat land between, and it’s not a great drive, but an easy one.
We make it to Crater lake by one, and decide that, after seeing it, there’s really no need to stay in the park, so we try to cancel; our reservations, but of course, in keeping with the NPS Customer No-Service Policy, we are told no refunds. We decide to stay elsewhere anyway, and wind up at the Cimarron Hotel in Klamath Falls, which is a bigger town than you think, catering to tourists and cowboys from what I could see, and a little past her prime, but still a nice little city. The hotel is great, serving up free Internet, breakfast, and even chili at night to guests, and I can’t beat it for $88 out the door, but I’d love to beat my head against the wall, because I left my computer power cord at Teresa’s, and of course since it’s a Mac no retail store has one, and believe me I tried, much to Jonathan’s dismay, even going so far as to ask random people at nerdy video game stores if they would sell me their own cord for a retail PLUS price. What I found out was that very few people in Klamath Falls, Oregon, have Macs, but they were very happy to help me. Even our waitress at the excellent Nibblies restaurant tried to call around and find us one, but to no avail…another reason this blog is so hard…
But we did get an excellent meal. Jonathan had mushroom ravioli, and it was quite tasty, while I had the meat loaf with lumpy mashed potatoes just the way I like them. And our waitress was cute too, which is something I pointed out to Jonathan, who rolled his eyes when I mentioned it.
SO instead of my blog (my computer was dead), we watch bad movies and call it a night. It’s been a long day. See ya’ tomorrow!