We are in a vacation rut - for the second year in a row we started our vacation in Portland. Although Portland, OR this year was quite a bit different from Portland, ME last year. A much more hipster vibe, which is either captured very well by the show Portlandia, or was caused by it. Much less lobstery, too.
The Major League Soccer All Star game was being held in Portland when we arrived, and Carole got to drool over hot soccer players every time we got on the elevator in the hotel. She managed to pry herself away the first night and we had dinner with our freind's daughter (and boyfriend) who had just moved out to Portland to take a job there. We ate at a restaurant called Veritable Quandary near the river - great place, pretty good food.
To work off all that healthy fresh food, the next morning we walked over to Voodoo Doughnut, a Portland institution. For some odd reason, Carole said I needed to order the Old Dirty Bastard donut - chocolate frosted glazed, topped with Oreo cookie pieces and peanut butter. I hope to recover from the sugar shock by Labor Day. To wash that down, we walked over to Stumptown Coffee Roasters and had some authentic Portland coffee. Portland lags slightly behind Seattle for most coffee shops per square foot, but if you count only non-Starbucks sites, i think Portland wins.
We then jumped in the rental car and headed south, with the first 110 miles on boring I5, followed by a beautiful drive on Rt. 58. We made a brief stop to walk out to the Salt Creek Falls (above) viewpoint and pulled into Crater Lake National Park an hour later.
The first view of Crater Lake is always breathtaking - there is really nothing else like it anywhere. We later met a woman who captured it - "I'm here because Crater Lake is on my bucket list." Thousands of years of snow melt and rainfall filled the caldera of the Mt. Mazama volcano with amazingly blue, clear water.
We did a lot of hiking at Crater Lake - mostly vertically. We first climbed 400 feet in 1 mile to reach the Watchman Peak Fire Lookout. We then hiked down 700 feet to the lake to take a boat out to Wizard Island, where we hiked back up 400 feet to the top of the caldera there. After the boat ride back, we had to hike back up 700 feet in 1.1 miles to get back to our car. Carole's competitive instinct kicked in and she beat a teenaged kid to the top, while I slogged slowly along.
We followed that up with dinner at the Crater Lake Lodge, a beautiful place that we did not get to stay at since it appears to be booked up completely years in advance. Just minutes before I took this picture, that giant plate was piled a foot high with smoked salmon and various vegetables. The waiter would not let us leave until we polished off a creme brulee and some huckleberry ice cream.
Since the Lodge was booked, we stayed for two nights at the Prospect Hotel, about 30 miles south of Crater Lake. Nothing fancy, but a really nice place to stay - great food, friendly service and nice trails we walked to from the hotel and saw more waterfalls - Oregon is to waterfalls as New York City is to panhandlers.
There were big forest fires another 50 miles south, but the prevailing winds kept the smoke away from where we were. There were 18 small forest fires burning closer to the hotel, and Carole got to ogle dozens of manly smoke jumpers - I think the traffic on the roads in Oregon is 48% tourists, 48% forest fire fighters and 2% locals.