Back to the Smokey Northwest

July 14 – 31, 2018

Because we were having issues with our solar system, we needed to return to Oregon. So after our time at Bryce we hit pause on our Utah summer and headed north yet again. We opted for long driving days, heading first to North Salt Lake City and then to Boise. Hello again Mom and Dad! 🙂

After a couple of days rest we pushed on to Sisters, a small town outside Bend, OR. Here we found a dry, dusty camping spot (at least it was free) and spent a few days doing errands, exploring Sisters, and hitting up the farmer’s market.

 

The highlight was a short hike to Tumalo Falls. You can take a shot of the waterfall after a 1/2 mile walk to the viewpoint…

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or this one from above…

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or even walk another mile to a double falls…

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but the most impressive views are from below the Tumalo Falls on a not-quite official trail.

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From Sisters we drove early Monday morning for our appointment at AM Solar.

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While they didn’t do the original install of our system, those guys worked hard, treated us fairly, and made our system better than it’s ever been. A true work of art!

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Oh, and if you’re ever in Springfield be sure to stop at the Fisherman’s Market for some yummy eats. We ate there two days in a row! Fish n’ chips and fish tacos were excellent. You can also pick up fresh caught fish to grill at home.

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From Springfield we headed to Waldo Lake, touted as one of the best kayaking lakes in the Northwest. Waldo Lake sits in the Willamette National Forest, about midway between Springfield and Bend. Surprisingly the 14 mile forest service road into the North Waldo campground is paved. The campground itself isn’t much, but we found a spot with lake views from our front windows and a short walk to the water’s edge.

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The lake was an incredible blue color and so clear you could see bottom.

We kayaked two days in a row (the first time in a long, long time) and our arms were so sore we could barely lift them. I think it was mostly from carrying the kayak over the logs and down to the water and back, but if ever there was a lake that deserved kayaking this was it! If we had cell service we would have stayed a week and kayaked every day, but we needed to move on.

I was watching reports of the wildfires and smoke while we were in Springfield, but hadn’t been able to get any updates at Waldo. So we headed onto Crater Lake knowing that it might not be great, but we figured we were so close we might as well go.

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The view from our campsite.

We arrived to a smoky campground and the bizarre rule that you had to renew your first-come first-serve site daily. This was crazy since the campground was so sparsely occupied. The best chance for clear views seemed to be early in the day, so the next morning after stopping by the booth when they opened at 8am to renew we headed off for the drive around the lake. 

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Our first views weren’t too bad, especially since this is called Phantom Ship Island.
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There is a lake down there somewhere.
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So that’s what it’s supposed to look like…
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Originally I wanted to take the boat ride out to Wizard Island (seen faintly in the background), but there was no point.

The smoke didn’t obstruct the cool interior of the lodge…

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or the great park architecture…

or the interesting little hike we took behind this building to see this carving in a rock…

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or the pretty wildflowers.

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I think we could have loved this park and easily spent a week exploring if the smoke hadn’t been so bad. But two nights of smoke was about all we could handle.

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Goodbye Smoky Crater Lake…

Our original plan had been to head to Lassen National Park and possibly the Redwoods before making our way down 395 in CA and onto Zion in late September. Unfortunately that’s where the fires and the worst of the smoke were concentrated. Wanting to get out of the red zone (unhealthy smoke) and into at least the yellow zone (moderate) I scoured the smoke maps and forecasts. Since we have reservations in Zion at the end of September we didn’t want to head further north or west to the coast. It looked like heading back through Idaho (again? are you kidding me?!!!) was the best direction. So off to Grand Teton and Yellowstone we go!

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