Friday, May 24, 2013

Crater Lake --- nothing can possibly be this blue!

Roger here...  I have had the good fortune to see many of nature's wonderful landscapes.  As I reflect upon the most spectacular natural sights I have seen, the short list includes: St. John's (Virgin Islands), the Nepali Coast of Kauai, Bryce Canyon, the hills of Tuscany and the Grand Tetons.  I can now add Crater Lake to that personal list.  Wow, I cannot believe anything in nature can be that shade of blue.  
We knew we would be in the area for six days and wanted to pick the best day to see the lake.  We were afraid that snow, rain or fog might ruin our views of the lake.  The forecast for our second day in Oregon called for full sun, no snow, no fog, and temperatures in the mid-fifties on top of the mountain.  This was the day.

I was anxious to get to the national park.  The entrance was only about 20 miles from our campground, but I was not in the mood to waste any time getting there.  About half way to the park around 10:00 a.m., we approached a local eatery, Beckie's.  

Dianne informed me that her breakfast was not filling enough and that she wanted a piece of Beckie's famous berry pie. I suggested that we stop on the return trip.  It was a hopeless suggestion, and I knew it.  Dianne had cherry a la-mode.  I had apple.  The pie was good.  Time to move on.

We pulled into the visitor center about half-way up the mountain so Dianne could get her National Park Passport stamped.  Lots of snow on the ground here.  I was ready to see the lake.  Time to move on.

We pulled into the cafe and gift shop parking lot at the top of the mountain and walked (plowing through the snow) about 50 yards and saw the lake for the first time.  We were so lucky to be able to see this on such a clear day.  Amazing.  It really was that blue.  If you don't read the entire post, be sure to look at the pictures at the end.  The lake gets a different hue of deep blue in different light.

The views of Crater Lake are even more spectacular due to the steep cliffs that surround the entire caldera (it is a volcano, after all).

The snow and the trees also enhance the feeling this place emits.  It gave me chills, and not because of the snow.

Here are a couple of gratuitous pictures of Dianne and me.  What a backdrop!

This is a "zoomed-up" photo of one of the two islands, the Phantom Ship.   The east rim road was closed due to snow, so we were not able to get closer.  Still, not a bad picture.

After a lot of gazing, we walked back to the cafe/gift shop.  Did I mention there was a lot of snow?  Fortunately for us, none of the snow was on the roadway.  We bought a couple things in the gift shop and checked out the "fast food" cafe.

Dianne posed to show the depth of the snow, and then....

We drove a short distance to the Crater Lake Lodge.  I love these old national park hotels.  I informed Dianne that my apple pie from Beckie's was not filling enough, and that I required lunch.  She informed me that she really was not that hungry.  We need to get on some kind of synchronous eating schedule.  We looked at the menu, and it did look good; however, $30+ for a luncheon entree and $16+ for an appetizer!  Neither one of us could enjoy eating, knowing what the bill would be.  

We did step onto the patio to look at the lake from a different perspective.  What a place to sit and dream on a warm summer day.

The cinder cone in this picture (the lake's other island) is Wizard Island.  Its name comes from a resemblance to a wizard's hat like the one in Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice.  During warmer weather (July) tour boats circumnavigate the lake and make a stop at the island.  We could not do that, but we would get closer to the island before we left.

On the way back to the car, we snapped a picture of the view away from the lake.  Were it not for the amazing views of the lake itself, this could easily have been the opening photo for the blog.  What a place this is.  OK, back to the cafe/gift shop for fast food.  We both had chili con carne that was pretty tasty.  And, our stomachs are both in equilibrium so that we will be ready for supper at the same time.  The picture below will make you smile.  As we were leaving the parking lot, Dianne noticed that an older gentleman was writing something in the snow bank.  How cool!  "Steve loves Cathy"

We were very lucky that the west rim road had recently opened as well as the north entrance.  We did not expect to be able to drive along the rim road at all.  We would have missed some of the most spectacular scenery, had we not.  

It does not seem possible, but as we traveled along the lake, the water seemed to take on a deeper blue color.  Look at the picture below.  Which is bluer, the water or the sky?

As we approached Wizard Island....

We discovered other shades of blue and turquoise emerging from the shallow, clear water near the shore.   

Look at the intensity of the reflections in the water.  So pretty.  Difficult to move on.  That water is so blue!

OK.  Time for a different color.  How about a little bit of brown (and white)?

The next photos that Dianne took are my favorites from the day.  The lake took on a deeper and darker blue color just before we dropped down through the north entrance to the park.  The reflections were like nothing I have ever seen.  For example.... What is this?  Modern art?  A blue arrowhead?  A Rorschach image?  Are you able to see where the shoreline is?  Does it even look real?

Here are some more amazing photos that Dianne took in the same area:

Sadly, we reached the end of the open road and were forced to exit through the north entrance.  You cannot imagine the difficulty I had in selecting which photos to publish (actually you probably can).   

We stopped on the way down the volcano so that Dianne could wave to y'all and so you could see the depth of the snow along the road.

The view from the other side of the road of the snow, the valley and the mountains was jaw-dropping.  

The pet picture of the day...

Following the advice of a friendly park manager in Patterson, CA, we purchased a couple of "stuffless" toys from Petsmart.  The advantage of these toys is that there is no stuffing to be spread around the motor home.  Uh oh.  Looks like the goose has been decapitated, but at least there is not a mess.

Hey, Bandido!  You look tired, and guilty?  I see that look in your eyes.  Can you tell us what happened to the toy goose?

Bandido napping with one of his new toys before IT was decapitated!


Brenda said...

Wow! What great pictures and what a beautiful area. Mike and I will have to visit there someday, however I think I would prefer to go in July. Hopefully that would be the one time of year there would be no snow. I am NOT a fan of snow. Decades in Maine will do that. I was surprised to see you in nothing more then a sweatshirt. Most likely I would have needed a heavy parka and even then not likely to get out of the car.. Did I mention I am not a fan of cold and snow.... LOL

Gin and Syl said...

When we finally do get out West, we will have to follow your trail. You have indeed seen some beautiful sights. So very blue!

Bill and Nancy said...

SPECTACULAR!!! Thanks so much for ALL the photos!!! We were there on June 18, 2002 and it was 5 degrees and hazy:o(( We got to the top, got out of the car, got one photo of what little we could see of the lake and quickly got back in the car:o((( So now I can really appreciate what we will see when we get back there;o))

Oh and we also made note of the PIES!!!!

Suzi said...

Fantastic pictures of a fantastic place! Sue

heyduke50 said...

I will never tire looking at photos of Crater Lake...

Sue Malone said...

Just have to say, those photos are really BLUE! So glad you had a great sunny day at "our" lake. Silly us, we hardly ever go up there, but your photos reminded me why we should make the effort more often. On another note, I am in a campground with very slow internet, and your photos were so great I just had to wait and take the time for every single one of them to load. Now hopefully I can get past the words

Steve Conrad said...

Wonderful photos!! Want to be there!!!!