I am so incredibly delighted to say that I’m baaaaack! I can’t even begin to express how wonderful and much needed this road trip vacation was. I was able to spend so much time out in nature, have lots of quality time in with the boyfriend, get away from my sometimes overwhelming real world responsibilities for a second, and see a whole lot of the beauty of Oregon. I’m feeling incredibly refreshed in a way that I haven’t felt in a while, and so ready to take on this new chapter of my life.
I’m really proud of the fact that I was pretty diligent about snapping photos along the way. I shared a good chunk to Instagram, but since we were often without cell phone reception in the wilderness, I’ve also saved a handful to just share here. It’s kind of remarkable how much easier it is to want to photograph things when you’re just seeing new and beautiful places all the time and not just the same old office and messy home, you know?
Let me fill you guys in on the trip in a bit more detail than my Instagram shares and break it up into a few separate parts – hopefully this isn’t too rambling!
We kicked off our adventure with two nights at one of our favorite spots just outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Willow Lake is a little hidden spot about two hours outside of my boyfriend’s home town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Conveniently, a number of our friends were there celebrating a birthday, and we had a wonderful time eating s’mores, shooting the shit, and having races on the bog. It was very windy with a bit of rain and hail, but Reg and I slept in the car and we were alright.
Part Two: Crater Lake National Park
Reg and I didn’t have much of our trip planned out, but I knew that I wanted to see Crater Lake in Central Oregon, so we drove the four hours north to the Cascade Mountains through beautiful back country. It’s a special place because the lake is the result of a volcanic explosion nearly 8,000 years ago and it has no rivers or creeks flowing in or out, making it a completely uncontaminated body of water supported exclusively by snow. Because the west coast is in a drought right now, they opened the facilities a bit early and we were able to camp despite the snow still on the ground. Although the wood was a bit wet for starting a fire, Reg is Mr. Outdoors and we were even warm enough to sleep in our tent comfortably.
Part Three: Deschutes National Forest and Umpqua National Forest in Central Oregon
We got a few recommendations from friends on where to check out after Crater Lake, so we started by going north near Bend to Little Lava Lake in the Deschutes National Forest. Although it was absolutely beautiful and we had the campgrounds basically to ourselves, it continuously poured rain and hail until all of our clothing was soaked. Still, we persevered and managed to not let it ruin the trip.
The saving grace was these incredible natural hot springs above the North Umpqua River that we were recommended by some locals. There were seven pools that had been carved our of the stone, each one a different temperature, and even Ru (who is deathly afraid of water) climbed in to relax. After we enjoyed the springs Tuesday morning, we checked out some of the incredible waterfalls along that stretch of highway. I have to say, although the rain was unpleasant, it sure does make the Oregon forests look incredibly green and lush.
Part Four: Portland
Unfortunately this is the stretch of the trip I was the least diligent about photographing, but suffice it to say it was full of amazing food, adorable neighborhoods, and absolutely wonderful times with friends. It was my second time in Portland, and I continue to be in total awe of what a charming little city it is – alas, if only the job market were better, I’d be in a heartbeat! Our friends Adam and Claire, plus their furry pomeranian Chim, graciously put us up for three nights and showed us around the city. We went to Powell’s Books of course, a bookstore that takes up the entire city block, and went to some great restaurants that always had those incredibly affordable prices that Portland is famous for. If you ever get the chance to check out this city, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a foodie and hipster mecca.
Part Five: The Oregon and California Coast, including Fort Bragg
We wrapped up our trip by taking the long way home along the Oregon coast instead of cutting straight down the 5. The highway along the ocean was absolutely breathtaking, with incredible views of the ocean and more lush forests. In California you even go through the Avenue of the Giants with enormous redwood trees. Unfortunately we did the entire trip in one day, since I was a bit tired of camping in the rain, but at the end we stayed with Reg’s family and a number of their friends at a house they were renting for his mom’s birthday just outside of Fort Bragg, a little ocean town three hours north of San Francisco. We spent the next day and a half drinking, playing bocce ball, and walking on the beach. Again, forgive my terrible failure to take pictures – I was pretty ready to veg after our big adventure.
Now I’m home with my two wonderful animals for the next couple of weeks while Reg heads back to Chico to pick up some manual labor work. Although vacation is unbeatable, I’m not really minding being able to sleep in my own bed and even going back to work. Of course, there’s only two more weeks and then I’m headed to the Grand Canyon, so maybe knowing there’s another outdoorsy adventure so close that makes it easy to get back to the grind.
Have you ever taken a road trip before? Do you like to camp, or do you normally stay in hotels?