We made it to Crater Lake by early afternoon. Once again, pictures don't quite do it justice. As anyone who has ever seen it has commente
d, the water appears incredibly blue. It is also clean. A disk 8 inches across can be seen at 144 feet in depth. During our trip much of what we have seen has developed geo
logically over millions of years. Crater Lake is only about 7700 years old, the remains of a volcanic explosion and collapse much bigger that the one at Mt. St. Helens in 1980. The volcano blew away 5000 feet off of the top of a mountain. They have found ancient Indian shoes covered in volcanic ash from the explosion. They date to 9,300 - 10,500 years ago.
What we are left with is a lake created from the melted snow. The lake is up to 1900 feet deep. The area gets over 44 feet of snow annually. Over hundreds of years this melted snow created a lake. No springs come in and the water only leaves through evaporation and leakage, so it is very pure. A one man sub went to the bottom of the lake in 1997 and saw signs of volcanic activity, so the lake won't exist indefinitely.
There is a lot of snow left. Drifts many feet high still are around in some places. We didn't see much wildlife, other than the usual birds and chipmunks.
We drove out of the park north then east. We must have driven for a hundred miles and did not see one house or store, just mountains, hills, woods and a stream that became a river. This part of Oregon is really beautiful. So far we have found Colorado and Oregon to be the consistently prettiest states we have seen. California has some beautiful places, but has a whole lot of places that would be very hard to call scenic.
A word about gas stations in Oregon. They only have full service here, making it the New Jersey of the west coast. Apparently it's not unusual to tip the attendant (at least that is what the girl told me inside the station when I asked - maybe she gets a cut of the tips), so for the first time in my life I left a tip at a gas station. You can't pump your own gas in Oregon, but you can buy alcohol at the gas station and then drive off with it. Gas stations sell beer, wind and hard liquor. I guess to the people of Oregon this seems logical and the way we do things in Maryland seems backwards. (I have read that different countries treat smoking in opposite ways. Here smokers are kicked outside, sometimes off the property. In Japan they pack smokers inside, but if they are outside they can't walk around because there are rules against it due to the concern about burning others with a lit cigarette.)
Today we plan to head west again to the Oregon coast to a state park, then go north towards Portland. I'm curious to find out if the Oregon coast is a cold and foggy as the northern California coast. I'll have my coat ready just in case.