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 !

Ruby Beach… An Olympic Paradise

Jessica’s Roadtrip… Day 3 – Saturday June 9th

 Woke up to a beautiful sunrise & a full breakfast at the 100-year-old lodge on Lake Crescent ! 45F crisp & cool for June for sure… The Hurricane Ridge portion of Olympic  (click the link webcam) had 5 inches of fresh snow – an area about 25 miles from where we were. The weather in Olympic National Park was definitely less predictable than we had thought. I was intrigued to see if the rental Camry we had could make it up the snow packed roads to the ridge…but Jessica had other ideas. So we left our lakeside retreat and resumed our Hwy 101 trek around the northern tip of the peninsula.

Of “Twilight” Fame

 It wasn’t long until we returned to the now familiar clouds & fog  as we cruised into the blue-collar lumber town of Forks WA. ( of the wildly popular Twilight book & movie fame) Jessica was thrilled to see it all for “real” and we stopped for pictures, and as we drove deeper into the HoH rainforest… it well… “rained”!

Now we were about as far west as you can get in the lower 48, and soon encountered the Olympic National park beaches…on a whim we pulled off to discover a hidden drive barely visible from the highway!

After a short hike thru dense forest & massive tree sized rhododendrons crowding the small trail… (blooming for spring with multiple pinks, reds & purples)  We stepped out onto a driftwood and stone covered beach… “Ruby” Beach! Fantastic numbers of smooth gray rocks & small separated tree tipped islands rose out of the fog & mist of the early morning. We were greeted by a wall of sound as we rounded the trail’s edge and emerged from the forest to be greeted by the roiling water & waves & wind all conspiring to create a wonderful North Pacific masterpiece! WOW 🙂

The massive beach spread out as far as the eye could see & we walked for half mile to inspect the rare sites that can only be discovered during a low tide. Small salt water pools of crab & starfish & anemone were guarded by SUV sized rocks &  stone reefs scattered among the dark grey sand & millions of perfectly smooth stones of every size… Each rock was similar, but not identical and all were nearly flat & oval & smooth as glass.

Ruby Beach Stones

The beach was fronted by perfectly straight rows of 100 foot tall pines stubbornly guarding the dense foliage which had carpeted the cliff faces on both sides of our hidden beach. It felt & smelt & sounded like we were walking into a post card of “The” quintessential Pacific Northwest beach scene… It was huge highlight for us both & Jessica took pictures as fast as she could get the lighting & angles “just” right!

The air was cold in the morning dull light and the sea spray and strong ocean breeze kept the air temperatures in the mid to lower 40’s F as we explored this wild and wet world. The driftwood and stones had replaced the traditional sands and seashells, but in its place was something so rugged and untamed, that we didn’t want to leave. Jessica’s only experience with beaches was limited to the serene waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic surges of the sandy Outerbanks in North Carolina. This was very different, this was well off the tourist pathways and world of condo’s and go-cart tracks… this was the way nature was intended to express herself and we were awed by her power and her serenity.

An iconic beach for an iconic road trip… I was so grateful for the time to share with my oldest daughter and for the chance to see and hear and experience such amazing sights with her. Something I will cherish forever… I was thanking my Father in Heaven for this blessing, and my earthly father in Spring Hill TN for his wisdom to share this roadtripping passion with me when I was Jessica’s age.

 After the awe-inspiring beauty of the beach we claimed back into our wheels and continued on our quest down the epic path of  HWY 101 south into Oregon.

Oregon Beach – Roadside Vista

 The rolling mountains became hills covered by dense forest which slowly gave way to a coastal ridge with soaring valley vistas of rolling meadows and ocean front covered with mist & low hanging clouds of perfect white. The crowds thinned to nothing as we went further south & we eagerly pressed on into Northern Oregon using Hwy 101.

We crossed dozens of beautiful art-deco bridges & countless inlets, rivers & small harbors with regularity. The sun continued to stay elusive until late afternoon & as we drove by the beaches of Canon City & Ecola State park we had enjoyed little in the way of sunshine! In Oregon…we began to enjoy beautiful blue vista’s of sky and sea over miles of beach and surf and sand. GORGEOUS!

The increasing frequency of the roadside overlooks gave us dozens of chances to stretch our legs & photograph the cliffs & shoreline from above & than below as we continued our adventure southward. Clam chowder & grilled cheese, refueled us as we wound our way into the touristy little town of Lincoln City in time for a closing stroll on the beach there… Kites & sand castles dotted the round & sky as the calm seascape sunset shifted from blues to pinks & then into oranges & purples as the sky’s dimmed & the ocean kept its relentless background chorus alive.

Dinner was at a little place Jessica picked… Vivian’s restaurant. As one of the few tourists in town ( summer season in Oregon starts in late June) we enjoyed their large steaks & homemade Mac & cheese by ourselves as the owners themselves served us fresh bread & salad & chowder!

Daddy Daughter Sunset in Oregon

 The scarce crowds allowed us the luxury of a beach front stay at a local Inn for less than $80.00! ( dozens of motels and hotels were here at this price and time of year) We drifted off to sleep full & contended after a long day of exploring the amazing glory of Gods artistic masterpiece that is the Pacific Northwest!

Day 4 and California… tomorrow.

Peace out RTP !