Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bend and a trip back to Crater Lake!

October 16 -
Benham Falls trail from the park
Benham Falls
We woke up to a bright, sunny day. No rains in the forecast! yaay! After the included breakfast at Fairfield Inn (MIL went on a long walk by the river park which she thoroughly enjoyed), we headed out south on Hwy 97. We were deciding whether to make the trip to Crater Lake considering the sunny weather forecast. Meanwhile we pulled over towards the Lava Lands National Park. This is the exit I was told to take, to go to Newberry National Monument but the park entrance seemed to be closed. So I continued driving towards Benham Falls state park. The road ends in a small parking lot by the river where a trailhead marks the trail to Benham Falls (~0.5m) and other falls in the area (3-7 miles distance). The walk to Benham falls was very nice - the cooperating weather made it even more enjoyable. The falls itself wasnt really a waterfall ... just the river gushing over an outcropping of rock. Nevertheless we had a good time with the walk and taking pics (of course!)

A road to the clouds... drive around the Crater Lake rim

We walked back to our car and decided to take a chance and drive to Crater Lake. We did the 2 hour drive with a short stop to fill gas before hitting hwy 138 and buying some snacks (there are no real restaurants close to Crater Lake unless you count the snack shop/restaurant at Rim Village). We reached the north entrance to the park close to 1 pm. We decided to go around the lake going from the west towards the east. The weather was clear blue sunny skies! Our first stop at Pumice Point did not disappoint - it offered us breathtaking views of the vista. The lake is all it is made out to be - a deep blue like no other and fantastic panoramic views. Our next stop was at Cleetwood Cove trail. There is no lookout here but the start of a 1m trail that leads to the lake and (in summer) to the boat tours. We went a short distance down but skipped the full hike down. It seemed worth doing but we decided it was better to focus on going around the lake. We then stopped at Cloudcap overlook and Phantom ship overlook - both give different views of the lake. From the Phantom ship overlook, a short drive away from the lake is The Pinnacles. A 7 mile drive takes you to this stop where you can see a view of the volcanic fumaroles.
The Pinnacles

After a short break here and being mesmerized by these volcanic formations, we drove out to the rim road. We continued on the east rim route and intended to stop at Vidae falls. This falls is right next to the rim road on the right. But we took a left turn away from the lake after reading a sign for "Vidae". This happens to be the road to the Vidae picnic area and the entrance to the trailhead for several hikes. These hiking trails were closed at this time but looked pretty tempting for a summer visit. After a confusing roundabout near the picnic area (where we thankfully found restrooms - there are no restrooms at any other point from Pumice Point!!) - we headed out, only to realize the falls was to our right on the rim road itself. The falls was pretty tiny - no snow yet to feed the falls. It looked like it might be pretty spectacular in spring or early summer with all the melting snow. We continued our drive along the east rim road to the Rim Village, where we grabbed a bite to eat ($4 for PB&J, anyone??? yikes!) and had some really good latte and cappuccino. The views from behind the restaurant and gift shop are pretty neat too. DH got some postcards to mail his friends from school at the gift shop. After a couple of more stops at Discovery Point and Watchman Overlook we headed back to Bend. Discovery Point is the location from where the lake was discovered by a mule rider whose mule suddenly stopped at the edge of the crater and surprised his rider. DH wondered how many stops we could possibly take to view the same lake??!! We had spent 4 hours at Crater Lake and the view from every angle is completely worth it if you are a fan of landscapes and the beauty of nature! My camera certainly loved it! :P
A pano view of the lake & Wizard Island
The drive back to Bend was uneventful and took us 2 hours. DH chose a Lebanese/middle eastern cuisine restaurant after our debacle with the Indian one the previous night. Joolz, the restaurant in downtown Bend, turned out to be very nice. The decor is quite impressive and we walked into lively chatter and very welcoming servers/hosts. Our server, Fibia (I think) was fantastic. We had several vegetarian tapas - every one of which was scrumptious! DH had a cod dish which was also very good. The cocktails were excellent and so was the date cake we ordered for dessert. I definitely recommend the place!

An awesome end to an amazing day of visual treats followed by culinary delights! :D

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