Crater Lake, Voodoo Donuts + Mountain Hiking.
It was time to leave California behind us as we set off to make our way through Oregon. We set off incredibly early for our five hour drive up to Crater Lake National Park. Even though the drive was long and I was feeling very under the weather, it was so worth it. Crater Lake is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s an enormous, completely clear lake located in the crater of an extinct volcano. It is even cooler than it sounds. It’s so peaceful and beautiful and has this spellbinding power where you just can’t stop looking at it. We went for a quick walk around some of the rim (the whole crater has an area of 53.35 km² and is 8km wide) before having some lunch.
Then it was back in the van to race onwards to Bend, Oregon, a cute little mountain town. We stopped to visit the local famous brewery (Bend Brewery Company) and to have the best peanut butter ice cream I’ve ever had. The it was another three hours in the van – Oregon is a much bigger place than you think – before we made it to our campsite around 40 minutes outside of Portland. Delighted to finally be out of the van for good, we spent the evening chatting by the campfire.
Today was a day almost free of driving – yay! We woke early in the morning and made our way to the famous Multnomah Falls. They were even more majestic and beautiful than any picture can capture, and the green of the leaves and trees growing around the falls were the most beautiful colour I’ve ever seen. After a quick look around, we hopped back in the van and made our way into downtown Portland. First stop was Voodoo Donuts – I had the “NoName” and it was DELICIOUS – before heading over to the famous Powell’s Bookstore, and then we were set loose for two hours.
The girls and I walked down towards the river before heading back through China Town towards the main food truck area. I managed to find a Sephora on the way, so I did spend a quick 10 minutes in there spending as much money as I could (guilty as charged…) and then we headed off to get some lunch from the downtown food truck square. I went to the grilled cheese truck and had some delicious vegan cheese sandwich that was definitely very bad for my health.
After lunch we made our way back to Voodoo Donuts to meet up with the group, where we then set off for a quick visit to the Japanese Gardens before heading on to the Alberta District. Here we dipped in and out of quirky shops, imagined which guitar we’d play if were in a world famous band at the local music store and then settled down at Tonallis Donuts & Cream cafe on Alberta and 28th to eat ice cream, of course. I picked the Civil War flavour and I’d give it a solid 10/10. Then it was back in the van (again) and off to Cartlandia for dinner, where there was every type of food truck imaginable. After eating more than we every thought possible, it was back to the campground for a quick swim and another campfire before a night of being awoken every 20 minutes by trains riding the tracks that lay about 50m away from our heads.
Day 11 marked our time to leave the city and head back into the wilderness. We had a long drive north into Washington state before we arrived at Mount Rainier National Park around lunch time. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mount Rainier as I’d never heard of it before I booked this trip, but it is now one of my favourite places in the world. The mountain is ethereal and majestic, with a snow-capped peak that wouldn’t be out of place in an epic movie.
After our obligatory visit to the shop to buy patches and stickers, we did a 6-mile hike down hill through forests and past waterfalls. The scenery was stunning, and even though mosquitos bothered us every second it was still one of my favourite hikes that we did. After our last push over a river – which two of our group tried to convince me we had to swim across – we made it back to camp.
We didn’t know if the rest of the group had arrived yet so we waited at the campground entrance for over an hour. Of course, they were already there and had set up our tents… After some burgers for dinner we went back up the mountain to watch the sun set. It was breathtaking. The sky went from luminous blue to mottled purple to a blazing orange before finally setting over the other side of the glowing mountain. I have never seen anything like it. We then took the chance to hear one of the ranger’s talks about traditional Native American stories about the mountain before heading back down to camp for the night.
On day 12 we drove out of Mount Rainier and made our way across the state to Olympic National Park, our final park before the trip ended. After a few hours drive we made it to the top of Hurricane Ridge, one of the park’s most famous areas. With incredible views of the valley and some cool plants and animals (we had a deer just sat next to us) we spent a few hours around the visitor’s centre finding out more about the park. When we were done, we went out of the park and to our campsite (with a pitstop for ice cream, of course), where I managed to get my first hot shower of the whole trip; I was a different woman.
It was my group’s turn to cook that evening, so we got to work. We had planned to make katsu curry with rice and vegetables, but the rice didn’t go quite to plan. However everyone was perfectly happy chowing down on sticky, squishy rice and the katsu sauce was delicious. A success! We spent that evening playing baseball with our trusty duct-tape ball and piece of wood we had collected from the beach to use as a bat 10 days earlier and sat around the campfire again.
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