Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Patrol at Crater Lake, a.k.a. Westy Outing #4

If our previous outings in the Westfalia were "shake down" cruises, we had our first fully crewed, multi-overnight "patrol" to Southern Oregon. It was a late-season trip that only homeschoolers and retirees can manage, and we had a lucky streak of glorious weather to make it all the more special.

We drove down to Crater Lake on the first day, with June and Smitty as escort. It had been a number of years since I had been there, and it was as beautiful as ever. The park was shutting down for the season, which seemed a bit strange in the unseasonable weather, but it was also very uncrowded, which we like.

After cutting our escort loose to do their own exploring, we headed south of the park to find a camp spot. We stumbled upon a gem of a Forest Service camp called Huckleberry Mountain. It was free, and we had it to ourselves, probably due to the fact that it was four miles off the paved road. We did take a wrong turn, and punctured a tire on the rough road, but it was well worth it.

We went back to Crater Lake for a second helping, getting Ann Marie "Junior Rangerized", and staying to watch the moon rise above the lake. We headed back for another night at Huckleberry Mountain, arriving near midnight.

After two nights of primitive camping, we tried the other end of the spectrum and spent $45 for a small patch of grass and warm showers at a KOA in Kalamath Falls. "For just one night?", I asked. "Yes," was the reply. "Hot show = happy campers", I thought. The following day we visited the Kalamath County Museum, and found an even crazier camp site at a hot springs in Ashland. That might need a blog post of its own.

The following morning we drove down to visit the Oregon Caves. The highlight of the tour was when the lights went out, and the tour guide had to hand out extra flashlights to everyone. The guide was quite apologetic, but everyone seemed to enjoy it

For our final night out, we stayed at the closest Forest Service camp to the Oregon Caves called Cave Creek. It was not free, nor did we have it completely to ourselves, but it was peaceful and a welcome reprieve after the last two "commercial" campgrounds.
The fridge gave us fits, despite all the work I've put in on it. The flat tire was irreparable, and cost $90 to replace. The severely under-powered van was also severely under-cooled and required a sense of humor, great patience, and a defroster on full blast to make the long climbs without a complete melt down. Other than that, it was a pretty successful cruise. We were all glad to be home. Running hot water and flushing toilets are quite a miracle!


Sweet Polly Purebred said...

Hey, you forgot to mention the cows at Huckleberry. That was nice of them to share their campground with us.

There was a forest fire which made the moon over Crater Lake a beautiful orange shade. It was amazing to see the stars reflected in the water too.

I for one appreciated the KOA after the next night. Yep, Wellsprings deserves its own post.

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

Love that last picture around the stump! How did you get it? What a cool vacation trip. Sounds like the time of year to go (if the weather's good).

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

You are really eating up your vacation days Ken. Do the girls write up reports for home school credit? Please fill us in on the hot springs. Eldon

Sweet Polly Purebred said...

Oh, you know...we asked one of the cows if she would mind taking a family picture for us and she graciously agreed to stop chewing her cud and snap a shot. ;)

sheryl said...

We went to Crater Lake last weekend also. We were there on Saturday during the day. We had gorgeous weather as well and hardly any other hikers on the trails we went on. I'll have to blog about it.