We are at Portland Suites Airport East motel. Another day, another early morning. Jump out of bed. All right, you got me! It’s not a jump, it’s more like a fall out of bed for me. Have a quick shower. Run…, no, not for morning exercise, run out of milk. No problem, made some hot water in microwave or on our mini gas stove, sorry, don’t recall. Put some porridge in it, as usual 2 packages each (kids included, why do they make them so small, anyway), some of us took sweet ones, some unsweet corn based ones. All tasted good. We put some real coffee in our cups and waited for the best taste. As usual, we also got some fruits. We made some sandwiches for later and put all daily food in two bags, one for each car. The rest of food went in cooler bags. Dishes were cleaned and we had 4 minutes left to collect our staff from the room. Three minutes and we were done. Here we go. Not so fast! We still had to solve a daily puzzle of squeezing our never stop expanding luggage, pots and pans included, into our cars. Well, not as hard as it may sound, we were all very experienced already at the time. Now we’re done.
The next navigation target fixed to Crater Lake, Oragona located at distance of about 240 miles from us. About 350 miles were planned total for us for today (it’s about 550 km – that’s specially for you folks who still live in metric). Ole, we are on a road again.
The road to Crater Lake was easy, at least from point of view of navigation that I did. “Take LEFT after one and a half mile”, “Copy that”, “Left now!!!” — this was how our radio conversation sounded. Maybe such kind of conversation does not seem to be very interesting for a reader but I suppose it might have been very useful for us at a time.
Just after making the last turn on the Crater road (just right after that last “left now”) the traffic suddenly stopped. Forest around had been recently damaged from a fire. Tree trunks were black and missing needles seemed to be needless. Somewhat little bit surrealistic view. And no one here to feast us with carrot bites. And I forgot to mention the fire smoke that still was smelling in the air. Under such circumstances looking around the destructed forest we spent about endless 15 minutes in traffic jam. Then we started to move inside the National park reaching the North part of the Crater. Due to the slow traffic, the officer at the park entrance did not look at our National Park Entrance Card (if needed I will refer to it as NPEC from now on) instead he was waiving getting every car inside as fast as possible free of charge. Not that it is important, just to conclude it was completely useless for us to get the NPEC out of a car shelf (I knew this new introduced acronym is going to be useful one day).
Last few miles and we got close to the very top of the crater rim. The parking place turned out to be foolishly full. We decided that our drivers will find some place to park and the rest of our team jumped out of cars. At he beginning we climbed up a path getting at the very rim of the Crater and then we got a little disappointed from a view we saw or rather what we did not see. Everything was in a foggy smoke. The opposite side of the crater was just imaginable, the central island, called the Wizard island that is in fact volcano inside the volcano, was partly noticeable. Where are all the heavenly colors that we expected to see? Where is the blue sky and greenishly blue crystal clear water in the lake? Beside that outside temperature was quite low, now I understood, the lake is so clear because it gets its water from the melting snow that is visible on several places around the crater. Later we had a chance to get closer to such a snow pile. Yes, it is a real snow indeed no doubt about that. The lake surface is about 6200 ft above sea level, let’s say we are at 2000 m or higher at the crater rim.
Next to the road there was a fire truck. Far away in the Western part there was some large smoke clouds and fire still going on. This time the forest fire started a few days ago by lightning strike. It has been monitored since then but generally fireman do not fight any small (is this small?) forest fire letting it end naturally. There was an information board set up with actual forest fire information. Some roads have been closed because of that. Our roads were opened. We met other teams at the crater.
Rihards decided to join another team that was thinking about swimming in the lake. Although I’m not sure if anybody took a swim at all in the Crater Lake that day. Anyway, it seemed too cold for rest of us and we decided to go to the next vista point at the Eastern part of the Crater (in fact I am not sure if viewing point is called as vista point in Oragon. Isn’t it only in California? Never mind, you got the point and we got to the point.)
Crater looked a bit better from the next viewpoint. Possibly fog started to clear a little bit or we get used to it or Sunlight from this direction was showing more of the lake. We took another series of pictures. Juris and Kristaps decided to walk uphill reaching the Watchman peak. It took them about half an hour there and back.
We continued to the Visitor Center and had some time at this viewpoint. There we met Rihards, our team was complete again. So, we started our way to Medford making a few stops between. We drove through a very nice forest with large pine trees around the road and hills in front of us. Very nice view, especially after many desert crossings.
We arrived at our supposed motel in Midford after 6.00 pm. Almost at the same time the team two arrived. We all were tired and thought to have some nice rest this evening because for the next day there was even a larger way scheduled ahead us. For our unpleasant surprise, motel administration said “Sorry, we have some construction going on. No free places!”. I and Ilgonis, we tried to reach Agnese on phone several times about motel booking information but failed. She was out of mobile coverage. At this stage we got to know that at this moment only free nearby places for a reasonable price were left only at Motel 6, here in Medford and in Weed. The weed was place closer t Sanfrancisco were we were heading and it also has been considered as our potential staying place before.
Additionally we took into account chance that any place that we will not take may become occupied any moment and we do not want to spend a night on a street. Since Motel 6 at Medford seemed to be no better as Motel 6 at Weed, Ilgonis called and made reservation for all our teams in Weed. Besides Weed is about 100 km closer to Sanfrancisco, we thought. We were tired but we decided to moved to Weed.
Not to go into more details, at the end our teem number 3 appeared in Motel 6 in Weed but the teams number 1 and 2 stayed at Motel 6 in Medford that the initial motel had arranged instead of their overbooked rooms. Kristaps was ready to go back from Weed to Midford another 100 km, but rest of us were feeling too tiered. So, we all stayed in Weeeeeeed. Just after we arrived at the motel, three fireman tracks followed us. There was no fire there, it turned out that firemen were working somewhere out in forest and stayed overnight in the same motel.
A few minutes later we went out for a dinner in local Hi-Lo café in Weed. They even were selling souvenirs like “I love Weed”. Just to explain, the town in fact had gotten its name from its founder of the local mill Abner Weed. What did you think? Anyway, the moto of Weed is — “Weed like to welcome you!”. This day ended not quite as planned but we were happy that we decided to have a little bit more rest and to move on at about 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. We went to bed. End of day 25.