Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake was formed over 7,500 years ago when a large eruption caused Mount Mazama to collapse and then fill with rain and snowmelt. This was our 20th National Park visit.IMG_8470We took a day to explore the highlights of Crater Lake National Park and probably could have spent more time if the Visitors Centers and other amenities had not been closed due to COVID-19. The nice thing about visiting at this time is that the crowds are thin and it’s easy to get in and out of what would otherwise be crowded attractions. At some times we were the only people at the lookouts.
IMG_9921We entered the park from the north where we are staying for a few days.  The Lake Lemolo/Crater Lake North KOA has been a great base from which to explore the area. We are about 13 miles north of the National Park and right on the shores of a nice little reservoir in the middle of the Cascades.IMG_9929To explore the National Park we followed the advice of Michael Joseph Oswald who wrote the book Your Guide to the National Parks and drove the Crater Lake Rim Road in a clockwise direction. This gave us the opportunity to easily pull off to the right to see many views of the beautiful lake.

Crater Lake is America’s deepest lake at 1,943 feet. At one point the mountain that created it stood at over 12,000 feet, but it collapsed after a major eruption and created the crater that became the lake. And, yes, in mid-July there is still a bit of snow along the rim.

Why is it so blue? It’s not because of its depth or mineral content. Instead, it’s because blue wavelengths are reflected back instead of being absorbed by the depths of the lake. Sunlight is able to penetrate deeply into the water and the lake’s magnificent, intense blues are due to its great depth and clarity.IMG_9864.JPGWe drove the 33 mile rim trail and stopped at all the highlights. There are waterfalls, overlooks and sweeping views. IMG_8486.JPGOne side road took us to the Pinnacles, unique formations of pumice spires, created by erosion along a steep-sided canyon. Some of the cones are especially tall, tapering to a sharp point. Super cool. IMG_9891We also did a short hike, the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail, which featured the annual display of wildflowers that inhabit the area. It was only a half-mile trail, which was fine with us injured travelers.

We are picnic-lunching every day and it’s really fun to pack our food (Lentil Ceviche on the menu today) and find the perfect place to dine.  Today we found a spot right on the rim where we set out our ground cover and enjoyed the views. Steve decided it was also a good place for a photo shoot.

There’s a lot more to explore at Crater Lake had we been up to hiking and/or biking at our usual pace. Considering Steve’s broken collarbone and my ailing foot, we took it easy and appreciated the views. We did spend a little time on the trails around the campground.

Steve is back to hiking and running slowly and I’m back on the bike a bit. Nothing crazy, but we are itching to get back to normal.

 

 

Clipped Wings

2020 showed so much promise for travel and adventure and then, like everyone else on the planet, our plans were derailed by COVID-19.  As one neighbor put it, “our wings have been clipped.” And while we wait out the stay-at-home orders and nationwide closures, we are dreaming of our next road trip.

IMG_7802After leaving Austin earlier than planned on March 18 we headed towards home via Waco, Midland, TX, and Las Cruces, NM.

It was a much faster trip coming home…about five days. On the way back to Arizona we witnessed increasing shutdowns of rest areas, stores, and restaurants.  Empty grocery store shelves caused even greater discombobulation.  Every day brought a scary new reality. Many of those new realities seem to be sticking around for awhile.IMG_7846

For the last month we’ve been glad to be off the road and in the safety of our little townhome in Prescott, AZ.  It’s not a bad place to be if you have to be grounded! IMG_7916Throughout April we’ve stayed very close to home, venturing out just to go to the grocery store or to get exercise. We can hike the trails right from the house, and we enjoy some of the country’s best mountain bike trails.

Our little community has grown closer during this time. Ever since stay-at-home order was issued, we have been gathering (with appropriate social distance) in the parking lot at 4:00 p.m every day for happy hour. IMG_7885 It’s BYOB and chair and it only lasts an hour but it’s a been a great way to stay connected and support one another. We’ve even celebrated birthdays while following the recommended guidelines for safety! It’s been a great time to be in Prescott with beautiful weather and lots of outside time.IMG_7077Later this week I’m headed in to have surgery on my foot in hopes that four years of pain while hiking and walking will be addressed.  Now that elective surgeries are being done in Arizona, I jumped on the opportunity to get my issues addressed while we are grounded at home. I plan to do a few blog posts here to report on this next adventure.

Here’s hoping you and yours are healthy and safe!

Austin amidst COVID-19

On this spring road trip our ultimate goal was to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin. We were looking forward to attending thought-provoking presentations by world leaders, perusing the wellness expo for new fitness approaches, and listening to music from artists around the world. A week before the conference was set to begin, and days before we were to arrive in Austin, the event was cancelled. What a let down!IMG_7737Of course, when you are traveling you have to be flexible. You never know what’s on the road ahead, but none of us had this on our radar. We decided to continue on to Austin and use this as an opportunity to just be Austinites. Little did we know that Austin, and the rest of the world, was going to change dramatically during our time here.IMG_7755In the first few days here we biked around the popular Lady Bird Lake, which has a 13 mile trail that encircles the lake at the center of the city.  Taking us through downtown, Zilker Park, a lengthy boardwalk, and other highlights, we biked the trail several times. We did a little city exploring, too.IMG_7730Like most people, we’ve spent quite a bit of time following the developments of the pandemic and with each day our game plan has changed.  The signs of the times are all over Austin, just as they are across the world.  Shelves emptied, events cancelled, and even the gym at our RV Resort has been closed until further notice.  Today the bars and restaurants were shut down and we stood in line to get into the grocery store. We are grateful to be feeling fine with the ability to practice social distancing in our little home away from home.

One day we got out of the city and headed to Pedernales Falls State Park to enjoy the nice weather and have a picnic.  We bought a Texas Parks annual pass way back in west Texas, and it’s definitely paid off and encouraged us to visit places we might not have otherwise checked out.

After visiting the falls we stopped in Johnson City to check out LBJ’s family home and more interesting Park Service displays. Johnson left an indelible mark on this part of the world and it’s commemorated in many ways.

Of course, this was at the time when the bars were still open, so we stopped at another of the Hill Country’s great breweries.  Mia enjoyed another patio adventure.IMG_7767We’ve been looking for opportunities to practice social distancing while still making the most of our time here.  One day we visited an area called the Veloway, a city-managed, bike only path. IMG_7775The three mile loop had plenty of hills and curves challenged us for awhile.  We were able to get some exercise, see a new place, and not be in contact with other people. Another day we hit McKinney Falls State Park with the bikes.

The hike/bike trail there took us right up to the meager falls but also gave us a chance to see the start of the Texas wildflower season.  We are a few weeks from the peak but it was still nice to see the colors and imagine what it will be like in full bloom.

Originally we had planned to stay in Austin for another week but the world has changed.  We have a choice in where we hunker down and outside of a busy, congested city sounds like a good idea.  Tomorrow we’ll hit the road back toward a more rural area.  So far the State Parks are still open and provide an opportunity for us to keep our distance while still enjoying the outdoors.  For now, that’s our plan.

We hope you are feeling well and are making the most of these difficult times.  Let’s stay in touch.