It started out to be a return trip to Crater Lake. Ashton and I had been there in 1988 staying at the old Lodge. It was the year before the Lodge was shut down because it was so unstable and there was concern that the building would just fall down on its own. Indeed the Lodge looked like it needed to be cleaned and burned. What the Lodge lacked in amenities in those days was more then made up by the incredible beauty of the place and a fine staff of young men and women that invited us to their Halloween Party. Because the Lodge is open for a short season they have staff only Holidays celebrations. We happened to be there in August for Halloween. It was really an honor to be included and we had a wonderful time. We also lucked out and had a room that overlooked the lake. Though it lacked a tub or shower it had a private toilet and sink and Ashton was able to make a video recording of the sun rise over the lake. We have learned that planning a trip to a National Park needs to be done a long time in advance. We made our reservations for this trip last October. Looking at where Crater Lake is located I thought why not go to the Columbia River Gorge too. It’s a place that has been on my must see bucket list and we have this great hybrid Honda so why not?
Captain Jack our Road Warrior
We decided to go up to the Gorge first and break up the drive from Reno with a overnight stop in Bend, OR . Our trip started on Saturday, May 23, 2015 up 395 under overcast skies with some heavy rain in spots outside of Susanville, CA. It had been raining in Northern Nevada and California for over a week. Please consider this piece of information because we are in a severe drought. Under most circumstance we would have expected rain in Oregon but as we crossed the border the sky cleared .
We stopped in Klamath Falls for a bite at Casey’s Restaurant. The place get’s almost a 4 star rating on various sites but at best should have 1 and that would just be for our waitress and OK the coffee wasn’t bad. Otherwise yuck is all I can say. Booths are falling apart, the place is dirty, there really is nothing to recommend it. Talk about needing to be cleaned and burned.
The drive from Klamath Falls to Bend is really beautiful. You drive along Upper Klamath Lake and the Cascades become more prominent as you get closer to Bend with Mt. Bachelor the most predominate feature. I had booked a room at the Pine Ridge Inn that is in a lovely area on the Deschutes River and a short drive into downtown Bend. Our accommodations were very pleasant with all the amenities and very clean. The room had a gas fire place, sitting area and a comfortable bed, as well as a balcony overlooking the river. A complimentary glass of local wine or beer are offered on your arrival. Free Wifi and breakfast are included. I would definitely stay there again. Because we were traveling over the Memorial Day Holiday and all the best restaurants were booked we decided to just hang out on our balcony and have an alfresco feast with the goodies that we always take with us for just such times.
Ashton chilling out after a long drive on our balcony at the Pine Ridge Inn. Just a Pair of Ducks.
The Deschutes River view from our room
Not too bright and early the next morning after a tasty breakfast with excellent coffee we headed of for the Gorge. It was a sparkling clear day. Our route took us up and over Mt. Hood via 26. It appears you are traveling over flat ground until you realize you are on top of a plateau that drops down into the Warm Spring Reservation then up and around Mt. Hood and down to Hood River on the Gorge.
We had reservations at the Best Western Plus Hood River with a room overlooking the mighty Columbia. Wow! We arrived before our room was ready and we decided it was a good time to get some lunch in the Riverside their main restaurant that has very good food, good service and a great view of the river. I had a steak Cobb salad and Ashton an excellent baked Cod dish. By the time lunch was over our room was ready and this is the view that greeted us.
Looking at Washington Hood River White Salmon Bridge
The view towards the Dalles
Two Royal Canadian families on a swim with the kids.
The hotel is one of the nicest properties run by the Best Western we have stayed at. Located at the Marina it is a spot where you can see parasailing, kyaking, sculling and all manner of water sport action. Our room had a balcony and Ashton set up the video camera to do his latest favorite hobby, environmental videos. The camera just runs and catches what ever crosses its lens. Our room also had a fridge, microwave, Wifi and all the survival necessities I need when I travel. Since Ashton was filming and napping I decided to check out the grounds. Though not extensive the place offers a nice walk where you can see some of the local inhabitants out for a swim. If you want to go shopping the city of Hood River is a short drive away.
We made plans to have brunch the next day, Monday (Memorial Day) at the Multnomah Falls. Lodge. It was a very good thing we made reservation because this is one of the most visited spot on the scenic highway and by the time we arrived we were lucky to find a parking place within a short walk to the lodge. If you go make a reservation to sit in the atrium. You can see the fall from this room and the setting is very special. Our brunch was pretty special too. I had trout and eggs and I swear they must have caught that fish just before it went into
Grilled Trout with eggs, hash browns, biscuit Bloody Mary and great coffee.
the pan and then on to my plate. As you can see I had to have a taste of that fish before I snapped the picture. Ashton had smoked gavlox Eggs Benedict. He declared them the best he ever had. Every bit of brunch was delicious.
But of course this place is all about the fall. By the time we finished our brunch there were so many people that we decided not to try and walk up to the top or even to the Bridge. The place was packed. So much for communing quietly with nature. Spectacular. This is the highest fall in Oregon
I had to check out the gift shop that had the usual made in China chatchies, hats, T-shirts, mugs, plates, key chains and some local made products. Score one jar of Marion Berry all fruit no sugar added fruit spread for us. Oh happy day.
We had planned on driving back along the old Highway 30 to the Bridge of Gods and cross over the river to the Washington side at that point. There was a long line of cars pouring in from the Portland side and the traffic was a mess. It was going to take some maneuvering to even get out of the place. Fortunately we had a prime parking spot and i was able to negotiate a way with the folks who wanted it to make a spot for us to pull out so they could pull in. Instead of trying to go back the way we came we headed down old Highway 30 towards Portland past miles of cars trying to get to Multnomah Falls figuring eventually we could get back onto 84 in the right direction.
The day was so beautiful and the scenery so enchanting that we didn’t mind the round about way we were taking to cross over to Washington and drive along Highway 14 to the Hood River White Salmon Bridge that would take us back to Oregon and just a few blocks from where we were staying. Even with Captain Jack’s guidance it took us a turn or two to find the way to the Bridge of Gods. The crossing is a real treat.
Once on the Washington side life is more casual and definitely a route I want to explore. I had wanted to visit some wineries on this side of the Gorge but had forgotten to bring the addresses along so we just eased on down the road and then we were at the end and then there was the White Salmon Winery just before the entrance to the crossing of the Hood River White Salmon bridge that would tale us back from whence we came.
We spent a lovely time there tasting and talking with Faye the proprietress of the Winery. At one point a group came in with one young lady who said she was in the biz but was loaded with perfume. Please do not go wine tasting with perfume or cologne or anything stronger then neutral soap and water on your body. It affects the nose and spoils the ability to taste. That brought up a long conversation about having a combo wine tasting and a coffee bar. We agreed that really would not work. White Salmon Wines may not be great but they are very quaffable and we purchased a bunch to take on our travels to Crater Lake and home. Our dinner stop that evening was Celilo in Hood River. The menu features locally sourced food, they have a good wine list, everything is tasty and well presented with friendly service. My choice was the Skillet Roast Clams and a wonderful salad with fresh local little sweet strawberries. Ashton choice was a really delicious Asparagus soup and the Crispy Pork Cheeks, The later left something to be desired,..but three out of four wasn’t bad and all in all the dinner was a winner. Especially for the wine we discovered. Wy’East is the name that Mount Hood was called by the Multnomah tribe. So now you know.
The Pinot with an excellent dinner.
Time was too short at this magical place. Water for me is the essence and the thing itself. I could live by this river. On my bucket list.. Go back. Best Western’s provide breakfasts and we had our last meal on are all to brief visit gazing out at that transfixing water. It was a darn good one too, I would also go back to this place for a jump off point.
I must bring up apps. You know those little things on your mobile phones that you play games with etc. etc? I have one that finds the best place to buy gas. Check out Gas Buddy, Fortunate of fortunes the best priced gas was just down the road of Wy’East Winery where we stopped to pick up some of their very good Pinot and other fine wines and then up and over and around Mt Hood and straight on to Crater Lake.
We literally arrived just in time for dinner. Almost 30 years does change your perspective about place. The new lodge looks much like the old on the outside and the great hall with the now gas fire place is recreated stone by stone from the old one.
Crater Lake Lodge 2015 Main Hall
The rooms are way more better. I think the food is better too. The Lake is every bit as awesome. You can bring your own wine for lunch or dinner for a $15.00 corkage fee. The entrance to the Park has been upgraded so much so that we hardly recognized the place and there is a new gift shop and out buildings. The Lake of course is just as it was and its beauty takes your breath away.
Crater lake on the Clearest Day Ever.
Best part. We did not do a video .. but I got up and got the sunrise. Saw the night sky and it looked like you could pick the Big Dipper’s Stars out of the heaven and put them in your pocket.
Sunrise at Crater lake May 2015
Worst part: The mosquitoes. You really could not go hiking unless you were covered in netting. So we had to drive to points and run out and take pictures and then bash the mosquitoes when we got back into the car. I killed the last one in Reno. Note to self. Always carry repellant.
Highlight: Ranger Brian’s talk on “A Toast to William Gladstone Steel ” and the people you meet from all over the world, like the lovely lady that came from Auckland, NZ for a Iris Festival in San Francisco and her friend that drove up just because.
Do you think we had a good time?
Ashton seems to be having a good time.
I seem to be having a good time.
The good people at the Wy’East Winery told us about the Wickiup Junction Grocery store, Deli & Gas station that had really good donuts. Never wanting to pass up a tip we stopped there and picked up three jelly donuts. Though they were not as good as the ones we get at Rounds in Reno they were pretty darn good.
We stopped in Klamath Falls for a bite at Black Bear Dinner, got some gas (not that we needed it, but gas is cheap by comparison in Oregon) and then it was straight on till home. We had to agree it was the best of our road trips in Captain Jack to date. Who knows where the road will lead us next?