Now, as it turned out, J and I planned a visit to his grandmother's house in Madras for last weekend. As I was looking for spots to maybe hike in the area I realized that Crater Lake was only a 2.5 hour drive south. Now, in my mind, seeing Crater Lake was as big of a deal as seeing the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore (both places we saw on our family road trip). I proposed the idea to J only to find out he had also never been to this top wonder of Oregon. The plan was made to leave early from his grandmother's house on Sunday morning, grab coffee on the way, take as much time as we wanted driving around the rim (we had our pup with us and none of the lake view trails allow dogs), and have a late lunch at Bend's Old St. Francis Mcmenamins hotel (I'll talk more about this later).
If you know me at all than you know that like actress Kristen Bell, anywhere below a 3 or above a 7 on my emotional scale, I'm probably crying. Since I could hardly contain my excitement, J let me drive on the way there. As we traveled the final 9 miles after the pay station, I had tears in my eyes with overwhelming excitement. I'm certain I am a smidge dramatic but that first glimpse of the bright blue water completely took my breath away.
|Merriam Point; First viewpoint when entering park from north entrance|
According to the park guide, it was a 33 mile drive around the Lake and the suggested time of travel was 2-3 hours.
We stopped at just about every spot we could, got out to take pictures, and jumped back in the car to take in more of the sights. It was absolutely spectacular!
|Kerr Notch; first time we were able to really see the Phantom Ship rock (also, wish I had a camera like that)|
|Cloudcap Overlook; the best spot to really capture the entirety of Crater Lake|
We did make a brief visit to the gift shop for gifts for family (if you're reading this, dear siblings, be keeping an eye on the mail) and a few things for ourselves (2 postcards and a coffee mug). Once we were satisfied that we had taken in all we could take in for the morning, we made our way back north for a very late lunch.
If you live around the Portland area, perhaps you've heard of the restaurant/pub/bar/hotel Mcmenamins. It is probably one of my most favorite places to eat and they have this real nifty marketing strategy of using passports to have customers travel to their different locations. The passport itself is $20 and for most of the locations you don't have to do anything except ask for a stamp. Once you get all the stamps for a certain area, you are rewarded with a prize. So far I've completed 3 areas entirely and have various stamps from others. J and I agreed that the passport would be used similar to how we use group-ons - if we already plan on eating out or going somewhere, only then would we decide on Mcmenamins. Since we had traveled down to Crater Lake, it only seemed logical to have lunch on our way back to Madras, in Bend, to get another Mcmenamin location full of stamps, and collect the prize.
Thankfully the Old St.Francis Restaurant and Hotel allowed dogs on their side patio. We seated ourselves and I ordered an oldy but a goody - Cajun Tots, a Communication Breakdown Burger (a huge burger with everything on it - perfect for leftovers), and a Ruby (a light, crisp ale). While waiting for our food, I went inside to see what the photo challenge was. For some locations, you have to complete a photo challenge and show it to the front desk in order to receive your stamp. Up to this point I had experienced 1 fairly simple photo challenge (Mcmenamins Edgefield) and 1 slightly more difficult (Mcmenamins Lighthouse Brewpub). To my great relief, Bend's was quite easy: "As you look for your car keys, look up at the hotel for another set of eyes or perhaps some prayerful guidance in helping shine a light or two". Okay, so in the parking lot I should look towards the hotel and there should be a light by, perhaps, an angel.
|Not an angel but it is Father Dominic O'Connor|
Showed this photo to the front desk, along with the other stamps I had already collected from the 2 bars and pub as I wandered, and was given a choice of my prize. Since our pup, Worf, had been such a trooper through it all (he's a bit of an anxious dog when it comes to just about everything, though he has improved so much since we adopted him) it only made sense to choose the Mcmenamin's dog bandana and a poop bag dispenser (you can never have too many poop bags!).
|The stamp from the front desk is upside down|
Two other things I love about Mcmenamins, besides their food, is that they honor the history of their location and they always have great artwork lining their walls (though occasionally their halls are so dimly lit, you have to squint to see). I definitely recommend any one of the Mcmenamins locations to anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest!
|Museum of Wonders|
At the end of the day we had traveled to somewhere we both had never been, had very full tummies, and were ready for much needed rest.
|Goal #13 is checked off the list!|
That's all I have for now - until next time, get out there, travel, live long, and prosper!