Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 73

Paulo and I had begun discussing the possibility of going white water rafting while we are in Oregon. It is something that he has always wanted to do and I am interested in trying it as well. However, we missed our chance to go today because the stupid dog and bone hasn't had a signal since we reached Coos Bay last night.

Feeling a bit dejected, we drove into Roseberg and had breakie in the local cafe called Brix. The food and service were both very good. Since the dog wasn't working, I thought it might be useful to try to ring some motels about a room from a payphone so there wouldn't be any hassle later on. No joy. In the meantime, Paulo had gone looking for change and disappeared. It turned out that the woman in the shop he went in to was fascinated with the details about our trip. She wouldn't let him leave! She just kept asking him one question after another. She did tell him that a place called Crater Lake was quality and that we should check it out while we are here.

So, we got onto 138E and headed to Crater Lake for the day. The three cups of coffee I had for breakfast were starting to kick in and I was ready to take on the day.

Crater Lake is a national park that has been built around the deepest lake in the States. There are no rivers or streams to feed the lake - all of the water comes from rain and snow. But it is considered the cleanest large body of water in the entire world, which lends to it's intense, clear blue color.

The lake sits inside a caldera that formed after a volcano eruption almost 8,000 years ago. The park was established in 1902 and is approximately 183,000 acres in size. The lake is about six miles wide and nearly 600 meters in depth. It's volume is five trillion gallons of water! It is surrounded by a 33 mile road called Rim Drive that offers numerous vantage points and stops for viewing the lake.

We entered the park from the North Entrance Road and drove to the North Junction, which overlooks the lake from the north west corner. I was immediately stunned by how blue the water was.

Continuing along the western side of Rim Drive we went to Watchman Overlook. It is one of the highest viewpoints on the entire rim and has a trail that can be hiked in about one hour.

The crater (or caldera) was formed after Mt Mazma erupted. However, before the crater began filling with water and forming the lake, more eruptions occurred. The biggest led to the formation of Wizard Island, which is itself a volcano and visible from anywhere around the lake.

Over time all of the eruptions and pouring lava created massive rock formations and spires all along the walls of the caldera that still stand today and offer physical evidence about the age and structure of the former Mt Mazma.

Our next stop was the Rim Village for a bite to eat in the Rim Cafe. In typical fashion, the sambos were under prepared and overpriced. But tourism has a cost and you have to pay it.

We drove further south along Rim Drive and our next stop was Vidae Falls. The waterfall is the point where a spring-fed creek flows over a glacier-carved cliff and drops about 100 feet over a series of ledges.

Phantom Ship Overlook was our next stop. It lies against the eastern shore and is a bit off the beaten track. The island is named after it's resemblance to a small pirate ship. But in actual fact, the island is as big as a sixteen story building. The rock is over 400,000 years old making it the oldest in the caldera. We stopped there in the late afternoon and the lighting made for some interesting photographs.

We decided to turn around instead of following Rim Drive up the eastern side of the lake. Our last stop was Pinnacles Overlook located south of the Rim Drive in the south east corner. The pinnacles are colorful 100 foot tall spires that sit along the canyon wall. The spires were formed by gases from the volcanic eruptions combined with the extreme heat that cemented hot ash in to solid rock cones. Since their formation, streams have eroded the canyon and exposed the cones.

Leaving the lake, we drove down to Medford and decided to stay in a Motel 6. Big mistake. Shite TV - no channels, no breakfast in the morning and (unbelievably) no wifi. We were not impressed at all.

Dinner was Applebees (again!) due to the serious lack of other choices in Medford. After dins, we went back to the hotel to chill with a bit of tele before eventually hitting the scratcher.

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