Volcanoes, Wildfires, and Tantrums, Oh My!

Oregon has a rich history that includes logging and milling. We were fortunate to camp in a state park near Crater Lake that had a pretty extensive logging museum, essentially an area along the river that housed a collection of equipment and gear from the 1860’s to current day. Hayes especially loved looking at all of the exhibits and we were also able to observe a village of log cabins, including a general store and outhouse, to give us an idea of how earlier settlers lived. The homes ranged from dirt floors and low ceilings to one with a loft area and plank flooring, and they included beds that used ropes as a base under the mattress. The kids loved playing in the river, which stays a constant 42 degrees.

At the Logging Museum…
Inside one of the fancier cabins
Don’t bump into this at night!

On our second day in the area we ventured to Crater Lake. The lake is the most vibrant, pure blue, and the water is very clean as it is only fed by rain and melting snow. The lake itself was formed almost 8,000 years ago when a volcano erupted and created a caldera which filled with water over time. The drive over was great, but Hayes and Mabry developed terrible moods once we were in the park and it pretty much ruined the day for Benjamin and me. We told them they could stay in the car or join us, and so we ended up going on a few hikes to see the scenery. One long hike took us to a waterfall, and to distract Hayes during the walk, Mabry told us all about book 3 of Harry Potter. Send any questions my way, I am now an expert. The third hike, to see these neat pinnacles created by erosion, was completed by Benjamin and Mabry while Hayes and I saw them from the photo op and waited at the truck.

A view of the phantom ship
Wizard Island- a volcano within the caldera
The waterfall at the end of the long hike
The Pinnacles from a viewpoint
An overlay of the Mt Mazama eruption (solid line) compared to Mt St Helens (dashed line)

The following day, Benjamin decided that he wanted to take what was classified as a strenuous hike down to the water (the equivalent of climbing 65 stories each way on loose gravel) and I knew the rest of us would not be up for it. After our low point the previous day, the kids decided they wanted to go back to the park so we explored the old lodge, a few scenic areas, and worked on Junior Ranger programs while Benjamin hiked. He got to the bottom—but forgot his camera—did it really happen 😉 and when he found us back at the lodge he was pretty wiped out. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that he has been dealing with bronchitis for the past several weeks, and the dust on the trail did him in. We returned to the campground and rode bikes and played at the river while he took it easy.

Crater Lake (photo by Hayes)

After a few days near Crater Lake, it was time to drive out to the coast and we were so excited to arrive in foggy conditions. It was perfect timing that when the ipad died, we entered a forested area and rolled down the windows to experience the weather. Coastal Oregon might be our favorite spot yet… the beauty is hard to describe. We saw sea lions in the bay, and there were wild blackberry bushes growing everywhere, including our campground. We picked quite a few! We ventured into Tillamook to tour the cheese factory along with hundreds of our ‘friends.’ The building was really new and very nice and modern, but getting jostled to view cheese production and seeing an extremely long line for free cheese samples was not what we were expecting! It was fun to see huge blocks of Hayes’s favorite food, and Mabry has recently outgrown a dairy sensitivity so they both enjoyed lunch in the Tillamook cafe. As we were leaving, we overheard a confrontation over a parking spot that involved curse words. Ridiculous. To wash the memory of those crowds from our minds, we headed to a state park and played in the sand for a few hours until the tide came in and we had to retreat!

Panoramic of the bay
Hug along the coast
Enjoying the quiet state park

Another day, we took highway 101 up the coast to Astoria, America’s oldest community west of the Rockies. The scenery and towns along the way were a fun distraction from the almost 2 hour drive. We haven’t seen Goonies in a long time, but it was filmed in Astoria, as well as Kindergarten Cop. Astoria is at the mouth of the Colombia River Bar, which is a very dangerous shipping channel that has claimed over 2,000 vessels. The Coast Guard is obviously very important in this area, and we visited a great Maritime Museum with tons of interesting exhibits and an actual coast guard boat that had been decommissioned. They also had a lighthouse ship that we could tour, which housed 17 crew members and would serve as an actual lighthouse 5 miles out from shore. After lunch at a local brewery, we drove up to the Astoria Column, which has amazing 360 views. The kids and I climbed the 164 steps to the top and after spending a minute up there, we ran a couple of errands (hello, Costco and Wal Mart!) before we drove home.

At the Maritime Museum
The Astoria Column
A view from the Column

We enjoyed Netarts Bay and Tillamook for another day before we headed back inland to Bend. There have been so many fires in the U.S. and Canada and the smoke is really thick, so we haven’t explored as much of this area as we would like to. The weather is supposed to change in the next day or two, and we hope to do a few fun things!