Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Road trip: Crater Lake

October 8, 2014
mount shasta road
Mount Shasta

Start from the beginning of our Oregon trip.

We woke up in Bend, where we watched the U.S. lose to Germany in the World Cup. Before hitting the road, we grabbed a pizza at the Old Mill District. Even though the road to Crater Lake is called the Cascades Lake Scenic Byway, the scenery was monotonous and not that scenic — a few lakes hidden behind trees and remnants from a fire in 2003.

Cascades Scenic Byway

The highlight of this section was the town of Chemult. Ben loves to tell the story of the time he ended up in Chemult on his motorcycle trip in 2006. He asked his waitress how to spell “Chemult” so he could locate where he was on a map. She had no idea had to spell the name of her own town.

Our destination for the day was Crater Lake, where we had planned to camp. But when we pulled up to the ranger station at the north entrance to the park, the ranger warned us that the weather was nasty up near the lake. There was still snow on the ground and the temperature was forecast to drop to 39 degrees overnight. Initially we decided to persevere but I was afraid that I’d never warm up after driving an hour in freezing rain, so we turned around and headed for Diamond Lake, a bit north of Crater Lake and at a much lower elevation. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of the trip because this is where we spent the night.

We stopped at the general store for beer, milk and firewood, then set up camp with a nice fire and ate pasta with sausage for dinner. Then we watched the sun set over the lake from our campsite. It was magical.

The next morning, we attempted the drive to Crater Lake for a second time. It was cold, rainy and foggy and there were no guard rails protecting us from the steep cliffs on either side of the road. We were very glad we hadn’t attempted it the previous night. The fog cleared a bit after lunch to give us a better view of the lake, but I still struggled to adequately capture the lake in photos.

360 degree panorama Crater Lake
Scroll to the right to see

At this point, we had reached the part of the trip for which we had done no planning. We had two days to travel from southern Oregon to San Francisco and we knew nothing about the roads or sights ahead of us. Route 92 featured mountains and cows and we were pleasantly surprised by Route 97, which had looked boring on a map. Even I-5 was fun.

Once we reached California, we had the chance to admire Mount Shasta (see photo above), as the views kept getting better and better as we approached. We didn’t have time to stop but want to return this summer.

The next day, Ben finally got to return to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. We toured the brewery on our first-ever California road trip and it’s largely responsible for my appreciation of beer. Ben had been wanted to return for months, but the ride from San Francisco to the brewery on the motorcycle is unpleasant so I had been resisting making a special trip out of it. Fortunately our itinerary took us right past it. Though we both agreed that we aren’t big fans of their beers, their brewpub is a lot of fun and it seemed like a fitting last stop on our beer-themed vacation.

After that, it was a pretty miserable slog through 100-degree heat, but we didn’t care. We had just spent 16 amazing days on the road in Oregon. It’s easily one of our favorite vacations ever and one that will be tough beat in the years to come. We intend to try though.

- Steph

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