Oregon Vacation, July 2014

Mary Ann and I took a vacation to Oregon in July. This post has a brief travelogue and some pictures.

We’ve driven to Portland many times over the years, but not in the last 5 years or so. Most times when we do drive we pick the route to get us to Portland the quickest. A few times Mary Ann and the kids and I made longer trips, stopping in San Francisco for a day, or the Redwood Forest, or camping along the coast. We’ve stopped at Yosemite, but not since Mary Ann ‘joined the family’. So this time Mary Ann and I decided to make it a longer trip by driving and visiting Yosemite and Crater Lake.

I didn’t do a very good job with pictures. I should have taken more of family at gatherings in Portland.

Here is our travelogue (the hours are driving time from google maps):

Phoenix to Yosemite (13 hours)

We left Phoenix early on Monday morning. The goal was to get to Yosemite that evening before dark. We estimated about 13 hours of drive time. We made reservations at Curry Village in the heart of Yosemite Village. Curry Village has hundreds of ‘tent cabins’. These are just wooden frames with a canvas covering over them, and some cots in the cabin. Not great accommodations for $120 per night, but they were right in the park with good access, so we decided to do it. We also opted for the ‘bed and breakfast’, which is another $15 per person. This was a mistake. All it does is provide you with a coupon for $15 at the park restaurant! No bargains and no ‘special’ meals. We bought stuff we didn’t want just to try to use up the $15.

We stopped to visit Tony along the way. He and Christy were visiting Alex and Lisa in San Dimas. We met at a restaurant and had lunch with Tony. It put us a little behind in our schedule, but it was worth it to spend time with Tony :).

We arrived at Yosemite at dusk, and it was dark by the time we checked in and were looking for our tent cabin. We had quite an adventure trying to find it in the dark, with a lousy map, bad signs, and hundreds of tent cabins. The beds in the tent cabins were just cots with foam mattresses on a thin piece of particle board. The particle board was broken on our bed. We complained and they said they would fix it, but they didn’t. They had community showers and restrooms which were pretty good quality. I’m not complaining though. We didn’t plan on spending time in the cabin, and we slept fine. The location was great (which is why they can charge so much for them :)).

Yosemite was awesome. We hiked up Vernal Falls, but not all the way due to Mary Ann’s broken ankle not being completely healed. We drove along Tioga road to see the sights, including Tenaya Lake. We hiked to Bridal Veil Falls, but there wasn’t much water flowing this time of year. We saw a Bobcat in Curry Village right by our tent cabin. I managed to get one picture before he took off – not a very good picture but I included it anyway.

We spent Tuesday at Yosemite, and another night in the tent cabin. On Wednesday morning we went to Bridal Veil Falls, and then headed for Crater Lake.

Yosemite to Crater Lake (8 hours)

We stayed at Klamath Falls, which is about a 40 minute drive from Crater Lake. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express – much nicer accommodations than our tent cabins for a lot less money :). On Thursday morning we went to Crater Lake.  Crater Lake was formed by volcanic eruption, and the island in the lake (Wizard Island) is due to volcanic activity. Crater Lake is the deepest fresh water lake in the lower 48 states of the US, and one of the clearest. The combination of depth and clarity reflects the light in such a way that the water is extremely blue.

The last time I remember being at Crater Lake was about 38 years ago. Tim McCarthy and I went there during a two week driving trip. At that time there was a boat launch right by the Crater Lake lodge, and a campground near there also. Tim and I went swimming, and it was very cold. The boat ramp and campground are now gone. The only way to get to the water now is via a trail halfway around the lake (Cleetwood Cove Trail), which we hiked. The trail is only 1.1 miles, but it is very steep, with an elevation change of about 700 feet. At the bottom there is a facility to take a boat tour of the lake. Other than that, there isn’t very good access to the water. It is very rocky. People were swimming and there were some rocks to jump off.

The forest service wants to return the lake as much as possible to its original state. There is no more recreational boating. In its original state there were no fish in the lake, because the lake is fed entirely by rain water. It was stocked years ago for recreational fishing. Now there are no limits on the fishing and the forest service would like to see the lake fished out, but that is unlikely to happen given the limited access to the lake.

We spent Thursday night at the Holiday Inn Express, and on Friday visited the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Reserve (NWR). I got a few pictures. There were a lot of Black-crowned Night Herons. At one point Mary Ann yelled and I turned and saw one coming fairly close by me. I didn’t have time to set up, but got a shot. It was flying carrying its catch, which I think is a mole. The shot didn’t come out very well, but I thought it was interesting – I knew the Herons feed on fish, but moles?

Klamath Falls to Portland (5 hours)

We arrived in Portland on Friday afternoon. We spent 5 nights there and had a great time. Thanks to everybody for their hospitality, and especially Terry and Bob for putting us up. We visited everyone’s house except Tony and Christy’s. We were able to spend quite a bit of time with Mom. I played a couple of rounds of golf, one at Rose City with brother Bob and nephew Bob, and  the other at Heron Lakes with brother Bob. We did a jet boat ride on the Willamette River (thanks Ricci!). Terry had a nice family get together at her house on Sunday (thanks to Mom for the pizza!). I should have taken some pictures, but didn’t even get my camera out.

We thought we might take some extra time driving back and spend a day at the beach. But we decided we were ready to get back home.

Portland to Tulare (12.5 hours)

We left Portland on Wednesday morning, and stopped for the night at Tulare (Tulare was just a convenient stopping point with a decent motel). We stayed at a Comfort Inn Motel.

Tulare to Phoenix (8.5 hours)

Home! We arrived home on Thursday afternoon – the trip was uneventful.

Numbers and Forester:

The total miles we traveled was 3,400 miles. The car automatically keeps track of mileage, and our average mileage was 29 mpg.


I have the pictures in three galleries: Portland, Yosemite, and Crater Lake.

Here are the Portland pictures:

Here are pictures from Yosemite:

Here are pictures from Crater Lake:

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