We have been carrying camping gear since we left New Jersey but have not camped once. On this day I made a resolution that I would camp at the Crater Lake National Park come rain or shine. The park is one of the highlights of this trip. I had seen pictures of the park and was thrilled to camp there but was not ready for what was to come, but lets not jump ahead, let me start from the beginning.
The motel had a nice complementary breakfast and we made good use of it, toast and coffee accompanied by muffins and some cereal to top it off, a really healthy breakfast to start the day.
We pack our bags, load them onto the bikes and get rolling in the cool morning. We leave Crescent City and head north east on Route 199 also known as Redwood Highway. Nine miles outside Crescent City we enter Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park and soon thereafter take a detour and cross the Smith River. We stop for the obligatory pictures and marvel at how clear the water is, being able to see the bottom of the river from the bridge. We head up the road on the other side for a while crossing a beautiful wooden covered bridge until we reach the end of the road and the start of a gravel road. We turn around and head back to route 199 and continue north.
A little later, barely 40 miles out of Crescent City we hit the Oregon border. We stop to take a picture of the sign and a fellow ADV rider comes running out of his RV and offers to take a picture of me while my brother is still working on extricating his camera out of the bag. The fellow was traveling with his family and was excited to see fellow ADV riders. I explain to him our route and final destination for the day and he excitedly tells us our beautiful Crater Lake National Park is. I should have gotten his ADV "inmate" name but the fellow was in a rush, the wife and kids waiting in the RV.
Six miles up the road we see an old police car in front of a store, we quickly pull into the O'Brien store for a refreshment. We had now moved quite a few miles inland and the temperature had been rising, it was time to have a cold drink. I walk around the store and end up getting a corn dog, my brother looks amazed at how I could be eating again so soon after our large breakfast, I tell him I can't resist a good corn dog. The store had a US Post Office located in the back of the building, I buy a post card and after writing a little note mail it home to my daughter and wife. We leave soon thereafter.
A little up the road I pass something I hadn't seen since I was a teen, a Volvo PV544 rusting away on someone's property, what a shame. I quickly hit the brakes and make a u-turn to get a picture of the car my dad had when I was a kid. I grew up with a car just like this one except my dad's was red. It was a beaecreatutiful and fast car for it's time with a 1.8 L engine and twin carburetors. Staring at the car brought back good memories. I got back on the road feeling a little sadness, the little Volvo made me realize how life moves on and I am getting older.
The beautiful roads of Oregon quickly bring me back to reality and I get back to enjoying the roads and the scenery. We ride through Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest past Grants Pass where we pick up 234 north to 62 north, also known as Crater Lake Highway. We make good time with very little traffic as the road winds pass Lost Creek Lake and through Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area. The road crosses the lake and starts climbing soon after towards the crater. After a steep climb up the side of the crater we soon arrive at the visitor center.
We dismount and head to the edge of the crater and when we get there I think we spend a few minutes with open mouth, you just can't describe how beautiful the view is, the crater still has remnants of snow, the deep blue color of the water down below and the sky offering another shade of blue above us, truly an amazing and picture perfect place. I spot a squirrel going about his business, looking for food and coming ever closer to us in hope we will throw something, I get a good shot of him.
We walk around the edge of the crater and then move to the visitor center for a good cup of coffee. They have these beautiful trolleys to carry people between the visitor center and the lodge. We decide it's time to look for a camp site, we leave and head down the same way we came up, we had passed a camp site a few miles earlier.
We arrive at the campsite and were immediately attacked by mosquitoes, not a few mosquitoes but thousands of them. While getting our campsite number we were informed by the attendant to get mosquito spray from the store, she tells us the mosquitoes are out in force and very aggressive. We get back on the bikes and ride to the site, after unloading the bikes we take a walk to the campsite store to buy a few necessities. The attendant was right, I had never seen anything this bad, the mosquitoes were so aggressive even attacking us through our mesh jackets. It was so bad in fact that my brother walked around with his gear and helmet on while assembling the tent. I regret not getting a picture but I was busy fending off the mosquitoes and spraying myself with DEET.
We setup the tents and then it's time to cook dinner. My brother had brought with him a prepackaged meal and he offered to share it with me, it was rice with beans and vegetables, a perfect complement to my Henry Weinhard's beer, a local Oregon beer first brewed in 1856 in Portland. I follow my dinner with bite-size DOLE Diced Pears and a candy for dessert. We setup a campfire as the night had cooled dramatically and huddled around it for a while but we were exhausted and soon retired to our comfy sleeping bags. We were finally camping, it was the perfect ending to our first day in Oregon. I had kept my promised, we were camping in the Crater Lake National Park.