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August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 12: Crater Lake to Medford

Crater Lake

Friday, August 1, 2014

Odometer: 1891

After packing up our campsite and taking a short hike in LaPine State Park, we drove the relatively short distance to Crater Lake National Park, and it was a beautiful day for our visit. After a brief stop at the north rim, we spent more time at Rim Village, including lunch at the snack bar and a little browsing in the gift shop. We then walked over to Crater Lake Lodge, another classic national park hotel, and wished we had lunch there. I don’t remember having seen the Lodge on previous visits, and it was closed for extensive rebuilding at the time of our 1993 trip. There was an informative exhibit on the history of the Lodge showing the reconstruction process.

Crater Lake Lodge

Registration desk at Crater Lake Lodge

Following our visit to Rim Village, we continued to a viewpoint further south and took a short hike to another viewpoint to see the Phantom Ship, a small island in the lake, before continuing our trip to Medford.

We decided to stay in Medford as a jumping-off point for visits to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, since hotel accommodations there were tight. We wanted to see some of Medford as well, so for dinner, we went downtown to a restaurant located in the former train depot. Medford’s downtown is quite pleasant, about as one might expect for a small city of that sort.

Mileage today: 187 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 11 – Nowhere

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Odometer: 1682

Maryhill View

Columbia River from Maryhill Museum of Art

Leaving The Dalles, we backtracked to Maryhill Museum of Art, back across the Columbia River in Washington. We initially were only going to drive by, but were drawn in by their grounds and excellent sculpture garden, which reminded us of the Cantor Sculpture Garden at Stanford. There were also excellent views of the Columbia River and Mount Hood.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge Memorial

Nearby was a reconstruction of Stonehenge, which was built by local philanthropist Sam Hill as a memorial to local soldiers killed in World War I.

We proceeded back across the Columbia and south on US 97. The road was desolate, the landscape more reminiscent of the Mojave Desert (minus the cacti) — basically not a lot to see. Celeste suggested the name for today’s blog post — Nowhere — based on the scenery on the road. We got an enjoyable late lunch at an Italian restaurant in Madras, Oregon, and drove on to Bend.

Just north of Bend is Tumalo State Park, where Kenna’s family had stayed when she was young. Unfortunately it was full, so we continued south through Bend toward LaPine, where AAA says there are several campgrounds. We started with LaPine State Park, and, lo and behold, there was space available. Facilities at Oregon state park campgrounds are excellent so we consider ourselves fortunate to be here. There were more families than we have seen at the previous campgrounds, but our tent feels dwarfed by the many very large RVs around us.

Mileage today: 209 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 10: Mount Rainier and onward

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Odometer: 1448

Mt. Rainier, Emmons Glacier

Mr. Rainier with Emmons Glacier

After breakfast, we packed up camp and went back into Mount Rainier National Park via the Sunrise entrance station. After a long uphill drive with many scenic views, Sunrise was a typically good National Park visitor center. The ranger suggested a hike that was supposedly about 0.6 miles each way, but which turned out to be a little closer to a mile, which aggravated Celeste’s sore ankle a bit. The hike gave us a good view of the Emmons Glacier, which had receded quite significantly in the 21 years since our last visit. We had hiked from the campground to the tip of the glacier in 1993; that would clearly not have been practical any more.

 After the hike, we drove down to White River campground, which also has a picnic area, for lunch before heading out.

Our drive took us over a couple of mountain passes and by a ski area, and then down to Yakima and then south. It got quite warm, up to about 104° according to the car thermometer, although it tends to exaggerate. When we got to our intended camping spot, Maryhill State Park, it was full, and without much in the way of alternatives, we drove across the Columbia River to The Dalles, Oregon, where we stayed in a very pleasant and quite new Fairfield Inn. Dinner was at a downtown pub where we were able to sit outdoors and avoid being over air conditioned.

Mileage today: 234 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 9: Seattle to Mount Rainier

Mt. Rainier

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Odometer: 1322

On the way out of Seattle, we drove by a few of the local colleges. First was Seattle Pacific University, a small college in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle not far from our hotel. Then we drove to the University of Washington, which has a large and park-like campus in the northeast part of Seattle. Finally, we drove by Northwest University, a small Christian college in Kirkland that a friend from church is attending. It’s of course impossible to evaluate schools by driving around their campuses, but it gave Celeste some points of reference for when she does begin looking at colleges in earnest.

Silver Springs

Roasting hot dogs at Silver Springs Campground

We then drove to Sunrise, on the eastern side of Mount Rainier, stopping in Enumclaw, a pleasant town that reminded us of Angels Camp (California), for lunch. When we got to the Sunrise entrance gate, we were dismayed to learn that the campground, White River, is full. Kenna and I had a memorably good stay at White River in 1993, and we have been hoping to share that with Celeste. After consulting with the ranger and with a National Forest visitor center just outside the park, we found available space in the Silver Springs Campground in the national forest nearby. The campground was wonderful and very similar to White River, including proximity to a stream we could hear in the night. We bought some firewood and roasted hot dogs for dinner. A wonderful night of camping!

Mileage today: 126 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 21, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 8: Seattle

Space Needle

Monday, July 28, 2014

Odometer: 1322

Today was the second of our planned no-driving days. Following Celeste’s night on the couch, she arose and turned her ankle getting up. Nevertheless, we started off with a short walk to the Space Needle, which was a great introduction to Seattle. From there we went to the adjacent EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum, which describes popular music history, with (of course) an emphasis on Seattle’s significant role. From there we took the Monorail downtown for lunch.

Instruments at EMP Museum

Instruments on display at the EMP Museum

We walked south from Downtown to the Pioneer Square district, and toured the Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center, operated by the National Park Service. Returning to downtown, we had coffee at the original Starbucks before returning on the Monorail and back to the hotel.

Today is Celeste’s birthday, so we made reservations at a nice restaurant in Pike’s Place market for dinner. The dinner was quite good, but not remarkably so (for example, I was expecting a more flavorful sauce on my pork chop). Not seeing a dessert on the menu that inspired us, we walked along the waterfront back to our hotel, getting ice cream along the way.

It was a good day, and we saw a lot, but our feet and Celeste’s ankle are tired. And it’s time to do laundry.

Mileage today: 0 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 21, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 7: Ferry Tale

Seattle from the ferry

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Odometer: 1244

We drove to Seattle via Bainbridge Island, which we were curious about because a few friends had moved there in the past. The road to the ferry didn’t show us that much of the island, but what we saw was very nice. We took the 11:30 am ferry to Seattle. It’s a gorgeous day, with views of downtown Seattle with Mount Rainier in the background.

Celeste in SR-71

Celeste tries the SR-71 cockpit

A friend of Celeste’s had recommended the Museum of Flight, and it was early enough that we went there next. Located at Boeing Field, the museum celebrates Boeing’s role in aviation history, although not exclusively Boeing. Being adjacent to a sizable airfield, there were several significant aircraft on static display, including a Concorde and one of the 707-style (VC-137) “Air Force One” aircraft. Indoor exhibits ranged from early aviation history (I learned that the Wright Brothers aggressively enforced their broad patents until World War I) to the space program, with many smaller aircraft, including an SR-71. We all enjoyed the museum a great deal.

After checking into our hotel, we found a nearby Irish-style pub for dinner. We returned to our small suite and set up the pull-out bed for Celeste, only to find that one side was broken, probably by a child jumping on it. We requested and received a roll-away bed, only to find that it had a similar problem, and an uncomfortable mattress besides. Celeste slept on the couch; it’s unfortunate that the hotel didn’t catch the problems.

Mileage today: 78 miles (+ferry)

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 21, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 6: Olympic National Park

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Odometer: 1116

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Trail

We decided to stay in the hotel for two nights, so we didn’t have to pack this morning. We had a simple breakfast from our camping supplies and headed up the Hurricane Ridge entrance to Olympic National Park. The visitor center at Hurricane Ridge is typical of National park visitor centers: picturesque, well-managed, and staffed with rangers who know what to recommend to whom.

A 1.5 mile one-way hike to Hurricane Hill was recommended to us. It is a popular hike judging from the problem we had getting a parking space at the trailhead. The path was mostly paved (a bit of a surprise) and was quite sunny. We were expecting a somewhat more forested route. Along the way, numerous wildflowers were in bloom; this is definitely the right time of the year to visit. After considerable climbing, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of much of the Olympic peninsula, with clouds only to the north in the direction of Victoria, BC.

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls

We stopped for lunch at a picnic area near the trailhead, then drove down the hill and to the west to Lake Crescent, where there was another (shorter) trail leading to a waterfall. Marymere Falls was small but reminiscent of some of the smaller waterfalls we saw last year in Iceland.

We made a short stop at the Lake Crescent Lodge for refreshments before heading back.

The lodge is built in the classic national park style, with lots of exposed timbers, craftsman architecture, and such. It’s a little smaller than most I have been to, but seems like a very nice place.

After returning to our hotel in Sequim, we checked in with Blondie’s Plate where we ate yesterday but they didn’t have tables available at any convenient times. We opted instead for a chain restaurant, the Black Bear Diner. Despite ordering their “smaller” plates, we got enormous portions of mediocre food, in many cases with a thick coating of gravy. Quite a contrast.

Mileage today: 128 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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