January 2013 RoadTrip Final thoughts…

After a wonderful day trip through the rugged and snow packed Glacier National park in Canada, we stopped for an afternoon of snowmobiling in Golden, BC where “Flying Father Brian” made another appearance on a sun drenched afternoon on the backside of Yoho National Park… by sunset we reluctantly decided to wind our way south Wet N Wild Snowmobiling in Golden BC back towards Idaho and the good ol’ USA.

We had truly enjoyed a three-day run of Canadian beauty in its most epic demonstration… right in the middle of one of their legendary winters. Cold, clear and crisp… the weather and snow and beauty all combined to win our hearts once again.

We left, but only with the sad and heart-sick expressions that accompanies leaving someone you truly love. Oh Canada…how I long for you! Some things in life are indescribable and the absolutely breath-taking beauty of the snow-covered Canadian Rockies is one of them…

Compared to our adventures in Canada last year (2012 RoadTrip) we were overwhelmed. The cold, gray – foggy filled days of last January can’t even be considered in the same breath as the blue skies and crystal clear views we shared this year. It was like black and white, sadness and hope… completely opposite experiences, but in the same exact places.

Glacier NP - and the Majesty of Canada

Glacier NP – and the Majesty of Canada

God was talking to us… I believe He was hinting to us to consider re-visiting the dark and foggy places of our lives. The places we have been before, but eventually had to leave disappointed, discouraged and downtrodden from the experience.

I believe God was hinting to us of the promise just ahead and for us to trust Him one more time and try again. To give 2013 a chance, to trust Him to exceed our expectations and to enjoy the amazing difference that light can make on the darkest and saddest of places in our hearts. To get back up and risk the possibility of disappointment one more time. Except this time… it may well hold the key to an amazing encounter with something beautiful beyond description. Like Canada in the wintertime of 2013 was for us or throwing the net one more time was for Peter and the risen Christ Jesus at the sea of Galilee…

The drive out of Canada was hauntingly beautiful as we watched the skies darken and the glow of gold and orange and purple fading to black as we moved steadily south… it seemed to take extra time tonight as if Canada was delaying her goodbye and dragging out her gift of golden beauty for just a few more moments. It was fitting and kind of her to do so.

Goodbye Canada!

Goodbye Canada!

We crashed at quaint mountainside town we knew well from last year… Sandpoint ID. Beautiful, hip and serene on the edge of one of the great northwestern fresh lakes in America. (Lake Pend Oreille) Sandpoint is a great base for families to stay at and offers four seasons of great outdoor adventure and lots of dining/shopping options for the ladies and kids.

Sunrise from the Edgewater Hotel

Sunrise from the Edgewater Hotel

Beaches and clear water, skiing and hunting, hiking and horseback riding…this town really does have it all. I recommend the Best Western Edgewater, nestled downtown & directly on the shore. In the winter they have great rates, spacious rooms and an amazing view overlooking the mountains and lake.

Rising early and braving some lingering morning mountain fog, we headed south through the heart of Idaho on our way back to Salt Lake City. The terrain changed as often as the hours on our digital clock and we enjoyed the smooth transitions of high mountain lakes to rolling hills and farms to high desert valleys and winding rivers. We chugged down Hwy 95 and took the eastern spur of Hwy 55 into the rugged interior of Idaho and enjoyed the alpine lakeside views of the city of McCall, ID. A beautiful and family friendly resort town on the edge of paradise. ( I hope to re-visit there soon)

Out of time, we pushed on south via Hwy 55 via the back roads and were treated to an amazing sunset display of the old west… gorgeous golden shades of sunlight filtered in from the silhouettes of the hills and mountains as we slowly descended into the familiar sights of Boise. We pushed on with a five-hour night run to Salt Lake City and our ride back to Nashville the next day.

Southern Utah - Jan 13'

Southern Utah Road

We awoke to find ourselves in the middle of the Mormon homeland and a hazy smog like atmosphere that resembled LA. Weird ? We puttered around the southern hills of Provo and the outer bands of the ski-resort traffic as we processed all that we had seen on this trip. Words fail me… but thankfully we have pictures.

I encourage you to take a chance and get out to drive, take your spouse or a friend…but go discover your own path to refreshment, to find your own Canadian Rockies equivalent. To set yourself apart for a day or a week and ask God to show up and speak with you like He always does for us. I promise you it’s worth every effort!

Happy 2013 RTP and may God richly bless each and every one of you and your precious families in the year ahead.

Pastor B.

January RoadTrip…Flying Father Brian, Makes his Canadian Debut!

So it’s days four and five and we’ve made it all the way to Canada, sweet Eh? The sky’s are holding clear and the weather is beautiful but cold, -24-27F at times. We’ve visited all of our favorite summer places and all of the places we missed seeing the year before, including Bow Lake, Athabasca Glacier… Jasper and Lake Louise. All “MUST SEE” Canadian stops at anytime of the year!

Lake Louise - Jan 13'

Lake Louise – Jan 13′

But the crazy stuff has yet to happen. On day Four we enter Jasper (Alberta Canada) ready to look for the rugged beauty and wildlife the area is so famous for. It’s in Jasper that the real heart of the untamed wild remains for us and we love to see where and what God will lead us into every time we get to visit. Brian asks about Maligne Lake and suggests we give it a go and try to drive the lonely winding road from Jasper back to the lake, knowing it’s probably not plowed or open to the public in the winter months.

We find the road and sure enough it’s coated in a good five to six-inch layer of fresh snow, but appears to be passable in our SUV. So we drive on, winding our way in the infrequent tracks of other outdoor enthusiast’s vehicles that have come before us. Within thirty minutes we run out of tracks to follow and have to start creating our own in the fresh snow, we have yet to see a soul and it’s clear we are not going to.

Road Outside of Jasper - Jan 13'

Road Outside of Jasper – Jan 13′

We are alone. Isolated and removed from the bustle of tourists and trinkets and happy to serve you Canadian restaurant’s, we are off the beaten path for sure and well into the not to be traveled for another four-five months road. Along the way we discover the awesome impact that total and complete silence can have on the soul and spirit. Nothing is stirring, no one is moving and no animal is even attempting to approach. The wind is still, the snow is completely covering all that we can see and the ambient sounds of nature are all dormant in mid-January. We have the place completely to ourselves and as we wade out in the thigh-high snow to stand at the base of the famous Maligne Lake we are awed by its majestic beauty and wondrous silence.

Brian takes some super cool – 360 view pictures with his new iPhone5 and we stand quietly, soaking up the view and the beauty and the presence of such God breathed glory…all alone and undisturbed in this winter paradise. We are about 40 miles from Jasper and civilization and the sky is a clear but greyish color, hinting of snow to come…but it’s beautiful and open and reveals to us the many glacier tipped peaks that surround this gorgeous place and allows us to remember the ancientness of this sacred site. Knowing that what we are gazing upon what generations of Native Americans have seen for thousands of years before we ever arrived, just as it has always been…undisturbed and perfect!

Flying Father Brian!

Flying Father Brian!

On the way back we are enjoying ourselves, relieved we could find the place and overjoyed that we had ducked the crowds for the solitude of Maligne Lake in January. Brian loves the view we have as we drive the winding snow blanketed road and decides to get on the roof of our SUV with his HD camera and try to film it!

It’s a brisk 5-7F out and he’s bundling up with most of what we have in the car – scarfs, gloves, hats,  hoodie, down coat etc… he gingerly climbs up on our Chevy and balances himself and his gear in the best way to capture the most view without exposing any more skin than is absolutely necessary…. He thumps the roof (he’s ready) and off I go, driving slowly through the Narnia-esqe scene before us. After 10 minutes and about 2.5 miles we stop at the shores of Medicine Lake and Brian unwraps himself from the roof and re-enters the heated atmosphere of our vehicle. Stoked at the adventure, He loved it!

From that moment on… I dubbed him “Flying Father Brian Hardin and it’s clear that his Canadian debut was a success! Can’t wait to see his HD film of it all and promise I will share it with you on RTP.

The truth is this… When we go out of our way to seek out the silence and solitude of being alone, of experiencing God on His terms…we open ourselves up for something beautiful and significant to occur in our lives. RoadTrips are an excellent way to step back from the crazy and chaotic and re-set, re-center ourselves around the beautiful and substantive things that make our lives worth living!

Oh Canada, How I love thee !

Oh Canada, How I love thee !

Tomorrow… our return drive through Idaho and the Land of the Mormons.

January RoadTrip – Crazy Canadians

Heading North we cruised through Idaho and Western Montana without a hitch. Blue sky, cold temps and clear vista’s keep re-setting after each turn as we gazed at the beauty of God’s handiwork all around us and our two lanes of private driving.  We traveled through valley after valley, crossing from west to east on Idaho Hwy 75 and then headed North winding off and on interstates and highways until we ran low on gas and energy.

Canada on Hwy 93 Northbound into Narnia!

Canada on Hwy 93 Northbound into Narnia!

We refueled in Missoula MT at a  Gas & gambling casino place with a sort of attached McDonalds …right off of I-90. After fresh cups of hot coffee and French fries we tuned in the football playoffs and listened in agony as Denver lost in OT and Peyton Manning’s comeback miracle year ended as abruptly as the daylight faded on our road.

Winding our-way north we drove the twisting and black as pitch highway 93 to Whitefish MT on the way to the Canadian border. By 9pm it looked and felt like it was midnight and we were ready for a warm meal and a cheap place to crash. We found the cheap place to crash easy enough, but the town of Whitefish it seems was packed! I mean no parking downtown as the locals and tourists and skiers had all converged on the four or five block square that was crowded with modern cafe’s, high-end restaurants and honky-tonk bars with an Après’ ski air. This town was hopping.

We finally crammed into a compact parking spot and dove into the first restaurant without a waiting line and it turned out to be AWESOME. Latitude 48 was the name and it was amazing. Fresh, reasonable fare with amazing service and a great old west – meets modern world vibe. Highly recommend. 5 stars from us ! The loaded potato soup and home-made pasta’s were magnificent and we were tired and hungry and deeply appreciative. It seemed that God was determined to exceed our every expectation, even in the tiniest of details.

Bow Valley Peaks - Jan 13' RoadTrip

Bow Valley Peaks – Jan 13′ RoadTrip

Dawn was cold, crisp and very January in its grip. -2F and rosy-tinted as we drove early and fast out of Whitefish, eager to be gone and on our way to the Canadian world of mountains and winter wilderness perfection. We crossed the border at Roosville and as far as we could see, were the only commuters that day. No one else was waiting or in front of us, behind us etc… we had the crossing all to ourselves and the gracious Canadian border agents who took our passports, asked their probing questions and sent us on our way in short order.

We had arrived. Finally!

Canada in the winter and the sky was clear. What a treat we were about to unwrap! Last year we had made a very similar trek from Spokane WA to Jasper Alberta and had seen less than nothing with nearly constant fog & dense cloud layers had completely blocked out the beauty. This year, we were optimistic that the clear skies would last and hopefully stretch north enough to allow us a glimpse of our sacred Canadian Rockies…to finally see them as they were meant to be seen. I could picture them in my mind…robed in powdery white layers of alpine majesty, as regal in their misty crowns of ice and snow as any queen could be.

We were NOT disappointed.

One word on the crazy Canadians. They are absurdly nice, polite and gracious without any hint of exasperation, impatience or anger at any of our rude American ways. They also have no ice. Funny, with so much cold around them, it wouldn’t seem that cubed ice would be an issue for a drink, but I be dad-gum, they don’t have it. I would have to suffer on… no ice for my tea and no cubes for my Diet Cokes. Crazy.

Clothed in White Wonder...Oh Crazy Canada Eh?

Clothed in White Wonder…Oh Crazy Canada Eh?

By noon we were fully embraced by the beauty and wonder of the Canadian world and my anger at their lack of ice-cubes completely forgotten. This was worth any inconvenience. We drove North along Canadian Hwy 93 all the way to Radium Hot Springs and then across Kootenay National Park into Bow Valley and within sight of Banff and Lake Louise.

We had arrived and I was suddenly very jealous of those crazy Canadians.

The sun was high, the sky was blue and everywhere we looked a glittering white diamond display was reflecting back. Off of the billions of ever-green trees, off of the glacier fed lakes and streams, off of the roads and hills, and mountain peaks…off of the rocks and roofs and houses, two and three feet thick… snow was as abundant as sand on a beach.

We had arrived in Narnia and the travel brochure had totally under-estimated the impact. WOWEE EH?

It seems God is just like that… He promises to meet our every need, He promises to be faithful and true and just, and so often we brace for the reality, that when we reach the end of the road, when our destination is in sight… we’re so afraid to be disappointed.

God in some ways; is like the Canadian Winter Wilderness. No one can describe its/His beauty; No one can capture it/Him in a  hi-res picture or painting and no one can adequately explain all of its/His amazing details and sense of true wonder; Just like our God. He exceeds ALL our expectations and He keeps on surprising us with how well He knows our hearts and the desires of our hearts. Thank you God for caring enough to be personal and intimate with each and everyone of your children.

Tomorrow, Day 4&5 and finding out if Father Brian really can fly ? 🙂

Winter RoadTrip; January 2013… day two.

Somehow we made it in one piece to Boise, ID. The blizzard let up roughly 200 miles north of Salt Lake City and the roads magically cleared as we turned westward on I-84. The temps dipped low (2F) as the stars appeared in the sky. We guessed the massive winter storm had moved slowly off to the north and east and we were on our way unhindered. Exhausted from the adrenaline laced drive (we almost kissed an Albertson’s 18 wheeler on the bum somewhere in the whiteout), we did however crash at a super nice Best Western in Boise (low-priced via wif-fi and Priceline on the way).

We were eager to get going and the skies were sure to be clear… so we packed up early to get a good start, only to find the morning sunrise sky was still pitch black at 8:00 am and the frigid reality of what a 2 degree night can do to a vehicle that’s sat all night in a parking lot.

COLD, REAL COLD and CRUNCHY. thank God we opted for the rental with the heated seats!

Three crappy cups of diner coffee later we had mapped out our route and were anxiously awaiting the arrival of sunlight, to see if the day would be as clear as we had hoped for.

Sunrise Day 2

Sunrise Day 2

We took off as the pink glow lit up the southeastern horizon and drove up Idaho state Highway 21 to re-discover a road that we had been unable to see last year (closed due to avalanches) on our way to Stanley ID. The road snaked its way through the ponderosa pines and frozen mountain stream as we climbed steadily from 25oo feet to 7,000 feet in a little under fifty miles. The crowds were gone, the summer tourist’s absent as we had the road entirely to ourselves. This backwoods scenic two lane was not a high traffic road and we loved it.

The skies were now sapphire blue with little wisps of cloud visible in between the tree tops, the snow was piling up along the road as we climbed higher into the passes of the Boise National Forest. The road was magnificent!

Perfectly peaked mountain tops framed by blue skies and evergreen fields of trees as far as the eye could see. GORGEOUS! It was CLEAR and peaceful and full of mountain glory. Idaho it seemed had delivered in spades!

As we drove the winding roads (Hwy 21) around the peaks of the Wasatch and Bitterroot Mountains we saw the dazzling display of Narnia come to life on a two lane twisty drive from the mundane to the extra-ordinary world of the wilderness ! I felt my heart unclench and my mind start to relax as we drove deeper and higher into the serene setting around us.

Idaho Hwy 21

Idaho Hwy 21

This is what we had come for. This is what I needed, this is what God had delivered for us. If this was the first full day of six, then we had a special time ahead for sure!

Thank you God… I whispered out loud as we plugged in the iPod and cranked up some of Brian’s’ digital catalogue of modern and ancient worship anthems. The cathedral of the open sky was singing in tune with the stereo as we drove from fatigue to refreshment in Idaho’s back country.

We took the route up the mountain passes and down into to tiny Stanley ID and then turned east on Idaho Hwy 75 all the way into Montana, following the snaking Salmon river from the mountain peaks to the beautiful river valleys strewn with rock and ice and rugged beauty.

We had made it. We were finally here and seeing for the “First Time” what we had always known would be there….

Tomorrow, Day 3 and the Land up North!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made…

Today’s post is a bit different. I rarely “endorse” folks, but felt led to do so. I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine, a youth pastor and innovator in the world of Christian media and ministry… a really authentic, good guy by the name of Chris Spradlin.  A friend of iShine and my dear comrade Robert Beeson, Chris has been guest blogging on our website at ishinelive.com. His southwestern roots and salt of the earth style, allow him to reach deep into the heartland of America with a message of Hope and Promise and Faith that will stir your soul.

Chris has a growing family ministry known as EpicParent.TV which has a solid following of youth and children’s pastors, parents and an emerging base of fans from across the globe.

Pastor Chris Spradlin

His posts, insights and practical understanding of today’s teens and media are first rate. His new e-book is FREE to download and is a great resource for parents with teen boys as it’s content delves into the world of pornography and sexuality in the digital age. He is a speaker, teacher, pastor and father, but what I recently discovered is how remarkable is his marriage.

His wife Jodie exemplifies courage and strength for all moms and wives to draw inspiration from. Her story is shared in a short 4 minute video on the Epic Parent site and it is a “must watch” for wives and tween – teen girls who are struggling with identity, appearance and acceptance issues. (which is EVERYONE)

Jodie Spradlin

I’ve set up the link and player here on my blog (simply click her picture on the left), but wanted to personally endorse and encourage you to support Chris and his beautiful wife Jodie in their ministry to teens and tweens. That means, prayerfully consider supporting them with a financial gift, regular prayer and for sure links to social media. Please take a few minutes to let your friends, family and local pastoral team know about this remarkable and effective husband-wife ministry.

We need more Hero’s in the world today, and our kids especially need them more than ever! So share this video, and download Chris’ book. Watch Jodie’s testimony  with your daughters and sons, sit them down this week and  take the time to talk about real life. Consider Jodie’s story and how pain and tragedy often can come into our world unexpectedly and then point to Jesus and then to Jodie as examples of how God can work in and through any circumstance, no matter how tragic… to make it turn out beautiful.

The Spradlin’s represent the finest in sacrificial love and servant hood. What better role models could we as parents ever ask for… Go Team Sprad!

Peace out RTP readers…

Brad.

Japanese Gardens, Voodoo Donuts, Lebanese lunch and 7000 Rose’s… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!

Friday June 15: Our last full roadtrip day…kinda sad, kinda happy… but it was here.

Jessica loves cities…so we headed to Portland to check it out! Online she had found the eclectic Voodoo donuts and Blue Plate fountain ( both legendary eateries in the region) hidden in the bustling metropolis that represented well over half of the population of Oregon…and wanted to eat at authentic – off the beaten path places while we were here!

The Sign says it all…

 The Voodoo donuts experience was a wild one, a line had formed around the corner and Jessica snapped pics of the crazy sign and downtown Portland vibe. When it was our turn we found the choices too many to decide… So we bought a Voodoo dozen ( let the staff pick our 12) and had a bite of each in our famous pink box.

Voodoo Sugar Coma

 Our favorites were the bubble gum and captain crunch creations as well as a blueberry with raspberry sprinkles! NICE.

Compared to the donuts and atmosphere of the Seattle “Top Pot” donutery – we liked the Seattle version of gourmet cakes better…  But the sheer audacity of the voodoo donuts design, color and names; was worth the visit for sure! Fun to eat them right out of their pink boxes and matching pink picnic tables as we nibbled ourselves into a serious sugar coma by 10am. 🙂

 From there we went exploring and found the World renown Portland … Japanese and Rose gardens in Washington park. Fabulous details found in the large Japanese garden were clearly world-class in beauty, size and scope. It took us over an hour of walking and reviewing the many micro gardens, water falls, koi ponds, tea houses and zen rock gardens to complete our tour! 

Portland Japanese Garden

The colors and care in the design and maintenance of this serene setting were indeed worth the price of admission. Jessica loved it! She took more pictures here than in Yosemite National park:) Good to know…

 The Rose garden across the street was free and intertwined in the Portland public park system and featured over 500 varieties in 7000 plantings, spread across 4.5 acres. Dating back to the early 1900’s this elevated garden provided a dazzling array of colors and scents as we walked through its expanse and enjoyed the cityscape views of Portland and Mt Hood across the valley below us. Beautiful!

Tried to find the Blue Plate place for lunch…but were unsuccessful. Instead we tried a new ethnic treat. Lebanese, at Karam downtown! After splitting a banquet of lamb and chicken, homemade humus and fresh-baked Pita bread we were stuffed and walked the downtown city blocks enjoying the sun and clear June skies in a truly unique and beautiful city! Jessica was loving it… I could tell it was a high-point for her to be here for sure!

One of the great parts of a father-daughter RoadTrip is the chance to reconnect, to re-orient our understanding of each other and the thousands of little details, nuance’s and shifts in personality, preference and discoveries that occur from the teen years into adulthood. Their new favorites. Colors, styles…taste buds and music all shifting dramatically from their freshman to senior years of high-school. It’s impossible to keep up, but RoadTrip’s give us parents a huge head start in staying really connected with our young adults.

I could see that my little girl was becoming a real lady. Complex, mysterious and hungry for new cultural experiences. Portland was a paradise for her. A new place to explore, to savor new styles and flavors and sights-sounds so different from Spring Hill TN. This was exactly the reason we were here. 

Signs all over the city!

To reconnect and then release her to adult life in college. To make sure she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how special, unique and amazing she was… how proud we were of her AND to expose her to a bright – big new world of ideas, opportunities and challenges that she needed to know existed beyond the shelter of our suburban bible-belt life. She loved the crazy Portland signs painted or posted everywhere… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!..I was less excited, but knew she was already beyond needing to share my opinion. She was now HERSELF.

Mission accomplished!  

After lunch we Drove east to explore the famous Columbia river gorge and Multanomah Falls! A short 30 minute trip from downtown we climbed the popular 1/2 mile path to take pictures from the famous bridge and watch as thousands of gallons of water cascaded over the Columbia cliffs below. Directly off of interstate 84 this national scenic stop is easy for everyone to discover and provides a welcome car break for families with young and old alike. A full restaurant, visitors center and gift shop allow for a great experience on any and every budget!

 With a hotel reserved through Priceline for a 60% discount  in downtown Seattle we headed north on I-5 . On the way we enjoyed the views of the southern Washington mountains including the snow-capped peaks of Mt St Helen’s, the Olympics and iconic Mt Rainier! Each epic silhouette in the afternoon sky was beautiful to watch and remember. It was like they were guarding our east and western flanks as we motored North to our flight home…sentinels to our time together.

We arrived at a first class boutique hotel (Silver cloud inns and hotels) in the capital hill district of Seattle and crashed! The service, the food and the amenities were outstanding and provided a wonderful and a truly fitting way for us to wind down our week-long North-Pacific adventure.  The only down side… Today was my 21st wedding anniversary and I was not with my bride. 😦

Jessica fixed that for me… we had posed for a picture at the Rose Garden in Portland earlier in the day… she used it to post on my Facebook wall with Paige to show me presenting a bright red rose to her on our anniversary. 

Portland Rose for my Sweetheart!

And… I had purchased a great Owl statue from the Japanese Garden for my beautiful wife…gently tucked in paper for our return.

We loved the road… and tomorrow we were heading home. What a time! What a blessing we had been given… sharing 3000 miles and seven whole days alone. God was so generous to us and our time had not been wasted. From Seattle to Yosemite we had explored, tasted and adventured into hundreds of super cool little nooks and crannies, blasted ColdPlay, the Black Keys and Jessica’s iPod playlists for hours…singing along out of tune with the windows open! We had thrown snow balls and walked in the rain, we had sat on rockers and watched spring mist slide in over a gentle lakeside sunset. We had dived into the bustle of a sprawling urban landscape of people and tourists and commercial excess…and we had walked stone & driftwood filled beaches with beauty and isolation. We had trekked to abandoned mining towns in the desert and drove into snow filled passes with scenic vista’s for miles…all with an eagerness to see, to find to discover…to learn…to live! 

Her mother and I are so Proud !

Was our RoadTrip worthy of Jessica’s massive cultural wanderlust…? YEP, I think so!

Peace out RTP… God bless you this summer and if you can… plan your own RoadTrip moment. Get out there… the road is calling and our kids are not getting any younger, take the time before it’s gone!

Finding snow in a heat wave… RoadTrip Parenting goes to Oregon

Thursday June 14 – Day 7 of our Epic Pacific Northwest RoadTrip

We were up early… wanted to see the sunrise light on those Lassen mountain peaks.

The SE view at the Top of Lassen Volcanic NP

Found the views equally as pristine in the am as they had been in pm. The trail we chose to hike (bumpass hell – 3 mile hike…no joke that’s the trails official name) was closed due to snow ( still about 4-5 feet still on the ground)As were most of the trails in the upper park… June 14th is still late winter…maybe early spring here. Drove on to see Mt Shasta via hwy 89 and it was amazing to see the glacial peaks reflecting the sunshine from over 75 miles away. It’s a biggen for sure at over 14k feet! Awesome to watch it get bigger and BIGGER… and BIGGER in the windshield as we drove over an hour straight at it.

Due to time…we jumped on the I-5 northbound for the 100 miles left to reach southern Oregon and a delightful lunch in Ashland, at the standing stone brewery ( patio soup, sweet – sweet potato fries & salads) sat out back on their deck… in the perfect sunshine – a cool 72F for the afternoon high…overlooks a super cute college town with an amazing historic and artsy downtown district of upscale shops and eateries and galleries. 

Mt Shasta from 30 miles away…

Home to Southern Oregon University it has great green spaces and river walk – lots to do for sure. Jessica decided to transfer from Tennessee Tech to SOU pretty fast… 🙂 Just kidding Tyler !

 We drove onto Crater Lake National park after about 2.5 hours of two lane mountain roads the temps had dropped 20 degrees but the sun was still high and bright when we arrived at 4pm. The visitors center on the lake rim was still partially covered in 15-20 feet of snow pack as we’re the sidewalks and parking areas ! Crazy deep snow still for mid-June ! Avg snowfall is over 570 inches a year and the blue color of the lake is the deepest and brightest I’ve ever seen!

 The deepest freshwater lake in America(1800 +feet) this unique natural wonder is a “must see” for southern Oregon RoadTrips! Take the road west and east on the rim if they are open… ( the east rim was still closed when we were there due to snow) the elevated 7500-8100 feet views of the surrounding lakes and volcanic peaks of the southern Oregon Cascades are epic in their beauty and panoramic vistas. 

Crater Lake NP with Jessica in June !

I think we could actually see Mt Shasta in Northern CA from there. The camera was out and going most of the 3 hours we spent there. Great trails and drives for all ages and stages to enjoy! Would have loved to take a boat tour but they were not running yet due to snow.

 Continued on North to Eugene OR and took Hwy 97 up to Hwy 58 – which wound its way down and across some beautiful valleys and peaks and raging river towns. Slow and winding the road is a perfect way to unwind and open the windows for some fresh air and plenty of pull offs for pictures of the cascades and their treasures of beauty and timeless views.

Eugene was a rest stop for the evening and our Shiloh Inn ( pacific northwest hotel chain) off of I-5 was a great and affordable place to crash and grab some dinner. At $69 per night their rates were excellent as was the clean rooms, free wi-fi and excellent attached local food / diner. Things were quiet and I was fine with that… long day, long drive.

I was amazed at how cold the peaks and passes remained… the lodge at Crater Lake NP was still drifted with 20 feet of snow, roads were still closed and at Lassen Volcanic NP, the two road side lakes were frozen solid in mid-June. Meanwhile… Nashville was melting under 108F heat… I think I like the cold better 🙂

We crashed in our comfy little room and Jessica and Tyler had their evening Skype session and as they giggled and laughed and generally caught up… well that’s… all I can remember, or will write down here…  🙂

Seattle part 2 tomorrow !