Exactly a week ago, we set off in our newly purchased Ford F-150 (bought in preparation for our big move to the Great White North) for a road trip through lush Oregon. With iPhones full of Podcasts, we began the relatively short drive to Crater Lake National Park. Charlie and I have got the long-drive down to a science, and with new landscape to keep us entertained, the drive was a breeze. I loved watching the transition from huge fields of sage to the lush fern forests as we made our way up north.
I have always had a fascination with roadside America and the quirky small towns you find along the highway. We drove through a lot of those kind of towns in Oregon--places where the only grocery store was called the General Store and the gas station was outfitted with retro Pepsi signs. We ate delicious, greasy jalapeño cheese burgers in one town where sadly the entire Main Street strip was boarded up. We saw a lot of that in our travels. "For Sale" signs and boarded up buildings. Vineyards and farms on the market.
In the late afternoon we set up camp near Crater Lake, soon discovering that despite the snow still on the ground that the mosquitoes are like small birds around there. Charlie covered himself in DEET, but was sweet enough to know that I would require the non-toxic "granola" kind made of essential oils. We still got eaten alive. Good practice for Red Lake, I guess! After a delicious meal of lemony salmon, spicy brussels sprouts and wild rice, we took Daisy down to one of the creeks in the park for an evening hike.
The next morning we set out to explore the lake, which we hadn't seen yet. Due to the amount of snow on some of the roads still, we couldn't do the full drive around the lake or access the only trail down to the water. On average, Crater Lake gets around 533 inches of snow a year. That's about 44 feet--and when you see the snow-melt-filled lake, it makes total sense. "Wow" was all I could say as we stood on the rim. Daisy hopped up on the rock wall at each vista. I always wonder what she is thinking when we take her to places like this.
After appreciating Crater Lake from different vantage points throughout the park, we made our way to Bend for some tacos and then on to explore the McKenzie River. We drove by formerly deforested areas with baby trees sprouting up and miles of hardened volcanic rock with new life emerging. We stopped to see the 100-foot Sahalie Falls pound into the river with a rainbow mist, creating the greenest, mossiest area I had ever seen. I hate to say it, but Sahalie Falls even put my experience at the waterfall in Edessa, Greece to shame.
The highlight of the trip for Charlie and me (I can't speak for Daisy, though I would venture to guess it was finally getting a good night of sleep at the cabin) was our hike to the Blue Pool on the McKenzie River. I've seen my fair share of stunningly blue water, but the color and clarity of this 40-foot swimming hole was beyond comprehension. It looked like someone had filled it up with Gatorade. You could see all the way to the bottom, making it seem much shallower than it was. Charlie, in true form, had to do the jump.
We camped along the McKenzie river that night, taking our first bath of the trip in the freeeezing waters. The next morning we got an early start and headed to Eugene where we had been told by a U of O alum there was excellent Thai food. After some spicy Pad Thai, we were content and decided to continue on to the coastal town of Newport. The coast was windy and, other than the dunes, had extremely flat beaches. It was a far cry from the rugged beaches of Northern California that we are accustomed to.
The third night of camping on the coast was the hardest. Don't get me wrong--we love to camp, but we are also huge fans of tempur-pedic beds, warm showers and not waking up slightly cold every morning. We made it through the night with some serious warmth coming from a snoring pup lying between us (under the covers, no less).
Thursday morning we drove the coast down to Coos Bay, taking time to check out the incredible dunes before beginning our search for the best oysters the area had to offer. We bought a dozen unshucked oysters along with lemon and cocktail sauce from a small seafood shop and ate them in the bed of the truck. It was my first experience eating oysters that weren't presented to me on a pretty platter of ice with horseradish and a tiny fork. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it.
At last, we began the drive to our final destination: our friend's cabin along the Rogue River in Grants Pass. Daisy was clearly tired of all of the driving, and I was getting a little crazy in the car. Charlie and I had reached the point of singing to each other in weird voices and playing "Zitch Dog" (any How I Met Your Mother lovers out there?). It was an amazing weekend, filled with slip 'n' slide, swimming and belting out tunes on the player piano. It was bittersweet, since it was the final goodbye to many of our friends before the big move.
Halfway through the road trip Charlie got an email that our work visas had been approved and we are cleared for Canada. He starts work on the 30th, so we will be hitting the road AGAIN on June 23rd for our 36-hour drive to Red Lake, Ontario with all of our belongings in the back of the truck. We've decided to take our time with the drive so we can make stops in some cool places like Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. I am excited and nervous. It's finally happening! Now it's time to brush up on the rules of curling and hockey...