Road Trip 2010 Tillamook, OR to Medford, OR

Yes, I didn’t even make it out of the state, but I have a really good reason. There was a significant detour I wanted to make (and I’m glad I did). Another delayed entry from the road (2010-09-03)

Morning found me fleeing the Worst Western of the previous night. Thankfully, the desk attendant did NOT ask me how my stay was.  All I knew was that I wanted to see some more of the Oregon coast before heading far inland for my special side trip.  So back to faithful highway 101.  Once 101 starts to follow the coastline in earnest, it is really a stunning journey.  For long stretches it hugs the sea cliffs so closely, you wonder how much longer until the coastal erosion takes a big bite out of the pavement.  For those of you living and traveling on the east coast, you’ve probably seen the “Hurricane Evacuation” signs that line many of the highways near the coast.  The west coast has it’s own version, “Tsunami Hazard Zone, completely with a tiny man fleeing a huge looming wave.

I was treated to more of the lovely pillars of eroded stone I saw further north and the waves just kept getting larger and larger the further south I went.  Occasionally I could spot a wetsuit clad surfer trying his or her luck.  Two stops tempted me for their names along, Seal Rock and Otter Rock. Unfortunately neither lived up to their names but where useful opportunities to stretch my legs.

My goal on 101 was a town called Reedsport. Not for any other reason that it seemed like a good place to strike out eastward.  On my way there though, I was treated to what seemed like an endless string of seaside tourist towns. You know the sort, with striking buildings and ridiculously low speed limits. If you ignore the cool morning temperatures and mist (both of which give way to serious heat before noon), it is amazing how much parts of this area look like small Florida towns.

Time Lapse Dashboard Camera Video

Bonus Video #1: Feeding Chipmonks

Bonus Video #2: Chipmonk Hitchhiker

My choice of Reedsport for my “left hand turn” proved fortuitous, because the extremely scenic highway 38 follows the Umpqua river, rarely straying far from its banks.  The river appears cool and inviting. Don’t think for a minute, I wasn’t wishing I had a kayak on my car roof instead of a cargo box. Fishing signs boasted of trout, bass, sturgeon and salmon. If Pip had been here, I doubt I could have kept her in the car.

All things comes to an end, and so did my time on 38, as I had to find Roseburg and 138 because I wanted to see Crater Lake!  Yes, that was my detour. I know what you’re thinking…drive across half the state to see a big hole in a mountain full of water?  But trust me, totally worth it.

Somewhere in the blatantly volcanic region of the southern Cascades lays this iconic lake.  I can read the figures off the brochure to you, but frankly they don’t begin to encompass the beauty and majesty of this wonder.  Formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, this 2000 foot deep caldera is filled with water of heartbreaking blue.   Nestled against one edge is Wizard Island, a stumpy remain of  a smaller volcanic cone.  You can circumvent the rim, which is dotted with observation area but honestly there isn’t a single bad vantage point as far as I could tell.

Smaller in scale, but no less pleasant is the resident population of chipmunks.  These guys are talented and persistent beggars, with ZERO fear of humans. They will bark, beg and bounce for snacks which they assume every visitor has on hand.  They will even gently take a peanut from your fingers without the least threat of a nip.  One followed me back to my vehicle, grabbing at my shoe repeatedly.  I thought he was going to jump in the car when I realized I had an open breakfast bar in my center console.I met an Asian family which was initially terrified of these bold “rats” and fled to their car. However, the photo opportunity was too much to resist for the father and I gave them all some peanuts to feed to the chipmunks which delighted them all.

Still Photos

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Descending from Crater Lake, I took 62 through the southern portion of the park. This route did not seem as popular as 138, but I loved the way it snaked down through the high, volcanic terrain (pinnacles and pumice desert), into sun-bleached grasses and finally into dry old growth forests.

I hadn’t thought I’d get to see Crater Lake and also make it out of the park by nightfall. Honestly, I thought I might end up camping (yes, I had my gear with me), but I did and without compromising my visit.  Tomorrow I’m heading back out towards the coast and down into California.  I may take a subterranean diversion though, but more on that later.

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