First things first, when we left the redwoods on Sunday, we headed north into Oregon to a Harvest Hosts location, Aranaway Farm. It was amazing. It was mostly a horse farm, but there were also a couple of cows and some sheep and a goat. Many of the animals had free reign of the farm, including where we were parked, so at any given time we could look out and see horses or cows grazing just outside the camper. The best part of the stay, though, was the host. She was so very welcoming and took lots of time showing us around and teaching us a little about the animals on the farm. She also answered a million questions we had about the area and where we might be able to go next without hitting terrible weather. She even sent us on our way with fresh eggs and two of the biggest heads of garlic we have ever seen. Stays like this are what Harvest Hosts is all about and makes us really glad we joined. Mary Anne, if you are reading this, thank you again for your hospitality! We loved your beautiful farm!
Now, on to Crater Lake. Take note, because you may never hear this again. Heather admits that Jeff was right. When we were kicking around the idea of coming to Crater Lake, Heather didn’t really want to come because she thought too much would be closed and there wouldn’t be anything to do. Jeff pushed the issue, though, because we were so close already and he said it would be a shame to be so close and not see it. He won and he was right, but the next issue was where to stay. The campground in the park, and many of the ones outside it, are still closed for the season. Crater Lake RV Park had really good reviews and decent rates, though, so that is where we settled. It actually feels more like one of our normal campgrounds, since it is fairly small and the sites have some trees and privacy between them. The full hook-ups are a luxury we don’t usually have, and we are enjoying it to the fullest while it lasts! The RV park administration even said it would be ok for us to wash the truck and camper in our site, so you can guess the fun we will be having tomorrow…
When we woke up this morning, it was raining, so we had a leisurely morning complete with showers, making breakfast, and watching some YouTube videos. A check of the weather forecast didn’t look super promising, but today looked better than tomorrow, so we decided that it was now or never for Crater Lake, and off we went. As we drove the hour it took to get there, the weather got progressively worse, to the point that when we arrived, there was dense fog and snow falling. The ranger at the entrance kiosk even warned us that the chances of seeing the lake weren’t good since it was currently completely socked in. There isn’t much open this time of year so we wandered through the one gift shop that was open and looked at a few informational displays.
As crazy as it sounds for most of us, May around here is still considered winter. You are still required to carry tire chains, there are embankments of snow along the road taller than the truck, and they have “snow tunnels” built to get into all the buildings from the parking lot. So they don’t have to shovel as much, they put up temporary structures leading from the parking area to the doors of the buildings, including the rest rooms. It kind of reminded us of the jetways that go from airport gates to the airplanes.
Anyway, after our meander through the gift shop, we headed back outside. The weather had only gotten worse, and we were beginning to come to terms with the fact that it was unlikely we were going to see the lake this trip. Still, we weren’t ready to give up. We had packed a lunch and had nowhere else to be, so we sat in the truck eating it to kill a little time, and without exaggeration, fifteen minutes later, the sun came out, and the fog lifted so fast that it seemed as though it was never there. It was the craziest thing! When we arrived, we thought that the best case scenario would be that the fog lifted just enough to get a glimpse of the lake. We never dreamed we would have dazzling sunshine and NO FOG AT ALL!
We were so excited! It was time to break out the snowshoes. Like we said before, there isn’t a ton open this time of year, including roads. You can pretty much just get to Rim Village, and anything else you want to see has to be done on foot, on top of about 10 feet of snow. The park newspaper recommends snowshoeing or skiing along the West Rim Drive to the Discovery Point Overlook, so that is what we did. We even went a little beyond the overlook, before we had to turn around to ensure we made it back before dark.
It was great snowshoeing! It was gently rolling hills, so nothing too strenuous, and even when we were out of view of the lake, there were other gorgeous views to take in. We were both sad when we decided we needed to turn around. We would have liked to keep going to at least the next overlook. Jeff even talked about how much fun it would be to get a group together to go backpacking on snowshoes. That might be a hard sell to Heather. She loves snowshoeing, but also loves going back to the warm camper and soft bed.
Our time at Crater Lake far exceeded our expectations for the visit. A friend who has traveled extensively once told Heather that the most beautiful place she had ever visited was Crater Lake. Now we understand the hype! The snow and the snowshoeing experience only added to the fun and beauty of the visit for us, but we would both still like to return someday to be able to drive the Rim Drive and see the lake in a new way. It seems that no matter how many places we visit, our bucket list never gets shorter! There is always something more to do, so that no place ever truly gets checked off the list!
Our to-do list tomorrow includes washing the truck and camper and heading into town to do laundry and get diesel fuel. We won’t bore you with a post about all that. We think you can probably use your imagination on what those tasks will look like. We have no idea where the road will lead us from here, so check back in a few days to see where we end up!
Until next time!