Crater Lake & Myrtle Point, OR

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 15:30
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cratleadBig lakes, big trees, big volcanoes, and a little farm. 

I got up early after my evening in the horse barn, as I was initially planning to drive southeast to Crescent City, then up the coast to my destination in Myrtle Point. Essentially, that was driving back to within about 90 miles of Eureka again, then doing the coastal run, which was going to take seven or eight hours without stops, hence the early start.

I said goodbye to the horses and dogs, and started heading north. It was a cold morning, so for the first time this trip I was travelling with the top up, windows up, and heater going. It was a crystal clear morning though, without a cloud in the sky.

My first stop was Crater Lake. Staying to my 'volcano' theme of recent days, Crater Lake was originally Mount Mazama, an active volcano which blew its top about 7,700 years ago. Water filled the resulting crater, becoming Crater Lake. The lake is filled only by rain and snow melt, since there are no inflowing (or outflowing) water sources. It's one of the deepest lakes in the world, at almost 2,000' deep.  I took the east rim route around the lake as it was morning and that'd put the sun behind me for (hopefully) good pictures. It was a beautiful day, with crystal clear skies and no wind, and the lake was incredible. I seem to keep visiting things that are almost impossible to convey in a photo--giant redwoods, huge mountains, fields of ancient lava, and now Crater Lake. As cool as the photos may look, it's nothing compared to seeing it in person. I'm trying, though.

Morning sun and a glassy-smooth lake I was going to put this one in upside down and see if anybody noticed Some spectacular views all around the rim Panoramic view of the whole lake
Pretty spectacular regardless of where you looked Breakfast time for the local chipmunks Looking at one volcano from another. Mount Thielsen in the background. Still a bit of snow up there

From Crater Lake, I drove down along the Rogue River, which cuts through the lava deposits on its way to eventually dump into the Pacific.


Top of the gorge Cutting through the lava  This river is huge by the time it hits the ocean 

I passed through Medford, had lunch in Grant's Pass, and then started out for the last leg of the day's journey to my destination for the evening, Myrtle Creek Farm, where I'd stay for a couple of days. The farm was well off the main roads, but the route seemed pretty clear, and the drive was beautiful. However, about midway, my GPS decided that it'd be faster to go as the crow flies than to stick to the main roads, and it re-routed to a more direct route. What my GPS didn't know was that those roads that look nice on the map are more likely than not to be logging roads in Oregon. The route went pretty quickly from two lane blacktop to one lane potholes to a dirt road, and as we've noted before, the Datsun isn't the worlds greatest dirt road car. However, we were moving in generally the right direction as far as I could tell, and the road wasn't actually all that bad, as it was rollered macadam and not just straight dirt. It was actually smoother than some of the "paved" roads I'd been on recently, so I kept going. Turned out that was a pretty decent choice...I never saw another vehicle for the 28 miles of dirt that I drove on, but I did see some really fantastic scenery.

It got really rural really quick The road warrior Random waterfall along the way


When we got to the point where the GPS indicated I should hang a right, I decided that I wasn't really sure if I trusted its judgement anymore. I was out of cell/data range so I couldn't double check with the GPS in my phone, so I opted to keep heading west toward Myrtle Point/Coquille where I figured I could pick up a signal and re-check my bearings. While that was indeed the safe bet, I ended up going about 45 miles out of my way, but eventually I made it to the farm.

The trace from the GPS

The place itself is a small, local farm where they've got basically a little bit of everything. There's a vegetable garden, a few goats, chickens and turkeys, a small orchard, some grapevines, and pasture on about 27 acres. While I was there, there were also four WOOFers--college-age students spending a few weeks to a couple months working on the farm through the "Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms" (WWOOF) program. They stayed in a little geodesic dome/tent thing behind the orchard, but came into the house in the mornings and evenings to prepare and eat breakfast and dinner with everybody. They were all smart, interesting, adventurous, and fun to talk to. Most of them work working on majors that had something to do with agriculture or social work, and the farm was a way to see how to grow and raise things with minimal outside help. 

Welcome to the farm The bedroom I stayed in Another view of the bedroom/bath
The main house Fresh veggies from the garden There was actually a real bathroom in the house, too

The next morning, I had a great breakfast with my hosts and the WOOFers, then set out for the coast. I hadn't seen any of the coastal region north of Eureka yet, so I went through Coquille over to Route 101, and headed south toward Crescent City, CA (yes, I drove back into California), about a 110 mile trip one way. There was a famously dense and enormous grove of redwoods there called the Stout Grove, so that seemed like a fine turnaround point for the coastal drive. I have to say that from what I've seen of the Oregon coast (at least that stretch of it), it's not as beautiful as the California coast north of San Francisco up to and through Mendocino. It's big and rough and rocky, but it doesn't have the variety of features and terrain that California does. I've heard that the northern Oregon/southern Washington coast is better, so we'll see when we get up that way.

My host had told me about a back way in to the grove that was a winding, narrow dirt road through the big trees, so since I was now a roadster dirt road veteran, I opted for that. Driving through there with the top down under a dense canopy of redwoods, just inches from the enormous trunks is definitely well up there on the list of memorable drives. The grove itself was as secluded and beautiful as I'd heard, and I spent a good bit of time there hiking several different trails.

Part of the grove The road into the grove area People circled for a little scale Yes, I know all these "Scott looking up at trees" pictures are pretty much the same

The lengthy hikes had pushed me past dinnertime at the farm, and I arrived back there around 8:30. Luckily, everybody was still sitting around the dinner table chatting, and there was just enough food left for one more place, so I did get to have dinner with the gang. It was a smorgasbord of everything they'd been growing--a big salad, a spinach and onion frittata (with fresh eggs), a really interesting dish of sauteed day lily buds (who knew those were edible?), some cheese from the goats, and homemade ale, blackberry wine, and strawberry-rhubarb wine. Needless to say, it was all pretty tasty.

The next morning I got up and did a little maintenance on the car. I've discovered both brake rotors are every-so-slightly warped, and they'll occasionally knock the brake pads into a position where they'll make a squeak with every revolution of the wheel. It wasn't affecting performance at all, but it was driving me a little bonkers, so I pulled the calipers and pads, applied some brake quiet compound to the pads, and reassembled. I'll probably get the rotors turned true when I get to Portland if I can find a place that'll do it while I wait, but for now the de-squeaking should at least save my sanity.

Next stop: Back eastward to Bend, Oregon. I've heard great things about Bend, and I'm really looking forward to spending some time there. 


+2 #1 Ferruccigirl 2013-07-19 08:41
You really need to turn this into a book. The pictures are amazing. Most people don't even realize that all this exists in the United States. We are really enjoying reading about your travels. Stay safe and enjoy! P.S: The blackberry and strawberry rhubarb wines sound delicious!
+2 #2 laceytrynn 2013-07-19 09:14
I agree with T - a huge coffee-table book with all the pictures! Or even a travel show!!
+1 #3 danabart 2013-07-19 10:59
Is the passenger seat empty? You could sell rides and pay for the entire trip. Some truly incredible sights. I thought my travels around Minnesota's back woods were pretty awesome but there's no 300 foot Redwoods there. This is going to make a pretty bad-ass scrapbook.
#4 Mom 2013-07-20 04:23
Amazing pictures!! I agree with the girls this should be shared with more people..

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