Yesterday and today have taken me through the rest of Oregon and into California... The scenery has been ever changing from scrubby plains to deep gorges. From Portland I pointed the Bean southward and headed through Salem on my way to Crater Lake. I've seen enough pictures of this place to know I had to go there. The back road I took was worth the extra time as I climbed like Jack up the Pinto Bean Stalk to elevations of almost a mile high at points. The forest itself was an expansive dark green swath bordered occassionally by the kind of clear lakes you find miles from human habitation. Finally the road straightened and the vegetation became more scrubby, and I contemplated settling in for a nap, butthe exit for the north entrance to Crater Lake was fast approaching. As I prepared to turn, I noticed all the signs saying that the Crater Lake exit was still 30+ miles away. Odd, the Garminator say it's here now. Well knowing that the GPS would never lead me astray, at least as long as there was no ghetto readily available, I went ahead and exited and continued on. A short while later I saw a sign advertising the the North Entrance was still closed due to snow. Seriously? Has anyone notified the global warming people that there are still several FEET of snow on the ground just days before summer?? Well I through a quick U-turn and sailed the SS Bean back the ay I'd come and started looking for that next exit, 32 miles away. The Garminator continued in vain to take me down every dirt road that passed by, and when that didn't work, it just started making up roads that weren't even there. I need to find the patch to download to fix the "screw up Daniel" program the GPS came loaded with...
After about an hour, I finally made it to the front entrance to the park, where there were several park rangers, and ambulance, and several asian girls with their arms behing their backs. It appeared as though they were handcuffed, and I wondered just how strict the rangers were with that "No Flash Photography" rule. As I sat there waiting for homeland security to come load the up and take them to Gitmo, I saw one stretch, and realized they were just standing that way of their own accord. Oh well, I guess the terrorist photographers have won. Once in the park I followed the herd of Great White Elephants known as RV's to the top of the rim where I could finally gaze upon the deepest lake in North America. I had planned to go take a quick dip in the icy waters, or at least throw Rockstar in for laughs, but much to my chagrin, this whole "lake in a crater" thing means steep walls and no lake access. Everyone else I told this to apparently knew this, and therefore looked at me like maybe I was a little slow. Either that or they noticed that I was wearing my underwear outside of my pants. Again.
The lake itself is as I mentioned, kind of deep and it checks in at a lung busting 1949 feet at its' deepest. The water is supposedly crystal clear if you get close enough, but I was only able to enjoy the side benefit of seeing the bluest water imaginable. It was a brilliant royal blue as far as the eye could see, contrasting starkly with the ashen colored walls of the caldera as they sloped down to greet each other at the edge. There were random pines scattered along the edges at the flatter parts, snd several feet of snow still blanked much of the area. This seemed a bit odd as I comfortably stood there in my short sleeve shirt, trying to keep Rocky The Destroyer from terrorizing two elderly chinese ladies who were trying to avoid RTD and a heart attack while simultaneously enjoying the view. Since I wasn't able to get to the water, my time there was short, and I was back on the open road to Grant's Pass in under an hour.
Once out of the park the road to Medford was akin to driving through a thirty mile long tree formed tunnel. After a bit the snow relenquished its' grip on the ground and the green forest undergrowth resumed its' reign of the forest floor. The thermometer also steadily changed from blue to red faster than a politician on election year, and by the time I was out on the highway again, I was starting to sweat and RTD was panting heavily in my ear. Thanks, bud. Grant's Pass was firmly in the grip of the more arid climate, but the foilage was still green so therefor I was still happy. After grabbing some Mexican food with a local engineer who was kind enough to treat me, I bid her farewell and set up camp for the night.
Camping was sadly uneventful but at least I slept well! I woke early so I could talk with the 98 Rock guys in Baltimore to update them on my trip, and then I got ready to go. RTD was in a better mood, so I think I'll be able to pass on the vet. I finally set my route to take me to the Redwood National Forest and away I went!
As I neared the forest I drove along treelined roads, craning my neck for the first glimpse one of the giant redwoods. I saw some large trees, but was still relatively unimpressed. Then I actually entered the park, and my perspective changed. I have to say that the height is impressive, but is hard to appreciate when every tree is the same height. The trunks on the other hand are unimaginably huge. The biggest trunks are from the Giant Sequoias, which are slightly shorter than the Redwood, but much broader at the base. I hoped to see the one I've heard of with a tunnel through the trunk, but I never did. After a bit I stopped and walked out amongst the groves, eager to see these goliaths up close. I started to wonder if maybe I should be on the lookout for a Velociraptor, as the whole scene was prehistoric. There were clover with leaves as broad as my hand, and I searched in vain for one with four leaves, but to no avail. The trunks were the size of small houses and I think even RTD was a bit too intimidated to pee on them. I took a minute to demonstrate for him, and he caught on... Ahhh the great outdoors! We walked for a bit among the towers, inhaling the musty scent of the forest mixed with the salty sea air just a few miles away. Rocky ran around and crawled up on some of the bases, and I kept a watch out for Park Rangers who might be eager to handcuff me for bringing my dog in the park. That's a tazin' bro. After lots of pictures we eventually loaded back up and headed for the coast.
As I rounded a curve I saw the fog blanketed Pacific stretching out away from the woods, and I pulled into a turnoff to take some pictures. As I got out I was greeted by a couple of young ladies who'd been attemptiung to bash in their car window after locking the keys in it. They asked if I knew how to break into a car, or break the window. At first I contemplated the fun of seeing if I could punch the hook through a car window without fear of repercussion, but instead asked if they'd called anyone about it. After explaining they were on a road trip and their cell phone had no reception I offered mine after checking that it could make a call. AAA finally agreed to come unlock their door, and I stayed and chatted with them about politics and the state of affairs of the world. It was refreshing to meet people younger than me who seemed to be up to date on politics in the world, and not just obsessed with the image of any certain politician. I also wasn't too keen on leaving two attractive young girls on the side of the road in a huge forest. Sounds a lot like the start of a B-rated horror movie. Besides, The Fugitive has taught me that people will obsessively search for the One-Armed Man if a relative of theirs has been wronged. Thanks Hollywood!
Well after that I headed into Eureka, where here I sit like a moder Alchimides (not naked, or in a water) trying to decide what to do next. I believe I will head down the Pacific Coast Highway in an attempt to get near San Francisco, and then tomorrow start out towards Vegas, and maybe get there on Monday. Anyhow, if anyone has any steak and beer they want to part with, as always you are freee to message me!