Small House Big World

Crater Lake and on to California

Anna Edgren • October 27, 2015

This past weekend we left Portland and traveled down to Eugene, Oregon.  We stayed in the Valley River Mall parking lot in Eugene. Sounds romantic, right….? No, it was not our own private mountaintop, but it was actually a very nice boondocking spot for a couple of days. Eugene seems to be completely engulfed in beautiful bike and walking paths, they wind through nearly every part of town, including the mall parking lot. So we had access to a whole network of trails right out our front door (and yeah, on the other side, the mall). 

We only stayed for a couple of days, and then set off for Crater Lake. Crater Lake is one of the oldest National Parks in the United States, created in 1902. Before our trip, Kelly and I watched the entire PBS series on the National Parks, which is a great watch if you love history, hours of still nature photographs, and incredibly slow and thorough narration by Ken Burns (which, I know I do). Crater Lake was one of the many places that looked SO COOL and we’ve been very excited to go to ever since.  The essence: A volcano blew its top, collapsed in on itself, and then the remaining crater filled with rainwater for thousands of years, creating one of the 10 deepest lakes in the world at almost 2,000 feet. 

We looked around online and saw there was free RV parking overnight at a casino called Kla-Mo-Ya Casino, which is about an hour from Crater Lake. Casinos are often good places to park for free. There is always a decent restaurant attached, it’s a place to go hang out and have a beer, and sometimes you get freebies or coupons to play with if you’re so inclined.  

The drive there was a bit harrowing – lots of twists and turns and we climbed over 4,000 feet in elevation.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get started until late in the day. Almost 4pm. Also unfortunately, we hadn’t considered that the sun has been setting around 6pm lately, which means I ended up driving for a while in the dark. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but driving the RV requires a lot of focus, and adding that extra layer of complexity is just not something I need.  Luckily the road straightened out quite a bit and we got out of the mountains before dark. I had 1.5 hours of nighttime driving, but most of it was straight roads. 

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Are we there yet?

We arrived to this beautiful sight – the casino in all it’s glory! We stopped in and had a beer and a nice meal. We had earned it. (And by we I mean me, driving the car isn’t that difficult, Kelly :-P). 

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The next day we drove to Crater Lake, and arrived to some of the clearest blue waters in the world. We took a couple of short hikes, and drove around the entire lake on the Rim Road, which has spectacular views from all angles.  

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Wizard Island – cooool

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Looking at the strata around the side of the lake revealed by erosion.

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The cutest little island – “Phantom Ship”

Besides the spectacular views of the lake, the surrounding area in southern Oregon is really beautiful as well. 

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Then we said goodbye to our casino home and crossed over into California. I have always heard Northern California is beautiful but HOLY COW. The drive along the highway was breathtaking, and we got to drive right by Mount Shasta. 

Wowza.

Wowza.

Our first day in California, just outside of Redding, was 75 degrees and sunny. HELLO! I immediately put on shorts and a tank top and declared it summer again. Apparently that’s how our seasons go now: Spring, Summer, Fall, Summer. Not a bad way to do it!

We only stayed in Redding for one day, but we got to check out the downtown area, where we found the Sundial Bridge. 

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It’s like a half-suspension bridge. Very neat. Note the people wearing short sleeves. Yay California!

Next I am overjoyed to say we are heading to the coast again. Over to Eureka and then down the 101 to San Francisco area. 

californiacasino campingcrater lakeeugene oregon

Anna Edgren • October 27, 2015


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