During last night’s dinner, KK expressed an interest in watching the sunrise at Crater Lake National Park. Twilight starts at 5:09 and sunrise at 5:41, so we left shortly after 4:00. The sunrise crew was KK, Scott, Mallory and I. The rest of the team would join us at the park later.
We arrived at the park around 5:00 and found a position where we were out of the wind. This was helpful since the temperature was in the 40s. Even before twilight was supposed to start, it seemed so bright both on the drive and once we were in place for our sunrise viewing.
Mother Nature did not cooperate with the weather. It was quite cloudy and we only got a few legitimate glimpses of the sunrise. But the experience was fun. It was extremely quiet, the birds were singing, and the clouds would blow across the rim directly over us.
On our drive up to the rim inside the park, there were very tall (15 – 20 feet) wooden poles with reflectors on them spaced frequently. Mallory jokingly asked if we brought our tape measure so we could see how tall they were. It was not the last time we would discuss tape measures.
After sunrise, we made the short walk to the Lodge to get a cup of coffee. Inside the lobby, there was a man in a knit shirt, shorts and loafers with his tape measure out measuring the height of the ceiling, width of the fireplace, etc. Hmmm, it doesn’t look like this guy works here. Later, KK saw him screwing a lampshade on a lamp and he had his suitcase with him. This was a high maintenance guest.
After the family met up with us later, both Scott and I independently met the Flower Mound Texas high school basketball coach in the Lodge. He stood out because he was wearing an Oklahoma State basketball shirt (and so was his Dad). You probably tend to get free gear when you send Marcus Smart and Phil Forte to the same school.
Our highlight of the day was to drive the rim road. It is a 33 mile drive, and the full road only opened 4 days ago after the snow removal!
Crater Lake is not really a crater at all. It was not formed by a meteor, but by a volcano named Mount Mazama, about 7700 years ago. It is speculated it was the largest eruption in North America in the last 640,000 years. The result is a caldera that only collects water from the rain and snow that falls within its boundaries.
The water is EXTREMELY blue and considered to be the clearest large body of water in the world. It is also the deepest lake in the United States, with a depth of 1943 feet. In other words, this lake has a lot going on.
We spent about three hours driving around the rim, stopping at nearly all of the 30+ scenic turnouts.
Sitting prominently within the lake is another volcano, called Wizard Island. You can ride a boat to this island and spend hours hiking around on it.
The yellow pollen from the Lodgepole Pine trees on Wizard Island will mix with the blue water and form green at the shoreline. They are called the Emerald Pools.
There was an optional 14 mile side-road during the drive to see “The Pinnacles”. These are towers created when hot gasses escaped around the time of the volcano’s eruption and mixed with the minerals. Many of them are hollow. It was worth the short drive.
After the drive, we used the park’s picnicking facilities to have lunch. The weather was perfect.
After hitting all three of the Visitor’s Centers, we made our way to Beckie’s in Union Creek. We had been told that this is the place for pie, so we put it to the test. The place had an old-time ambience, and guess what, the pies were great.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel and swimming in the pool. Ellery, Scott, Marissa and Mallory splashed around. Mallory struck up a conversation with an older lady in the hot tub, talking about our trip. Mallory told her we left at 4:00 this morning and got back at 7:30pm. The lady was shocked. “What did you do for that long?” Mallory – “We went early for the sunrise, and then drove on the rim road. Other than that, I don’t really know!”