Miles driven this leg: 142
Total miles driven: 2913
States visited: 7
I would not be surprised if today goes down as being one of the most memorable and favorite days of our journey. We started the day at our beautiful campsite in Umpqua National Forest and we were almost stilled by the beauty surrounding us. It seems to be one of those hidden gems that not everyone knows about and that's part of what makes the area so unique. There is an intimate quality that we hadn't seen in any other place yet. We had even talked to a few people who lived within an hour or to of Umpqua who either hadn't heart of it or hadn't heard much of it.
On our way to visit Dan's cousin in southern Oregon, we decided to stop at Crater Lake because we'd heard it was pretty. Dan pulled the HQ into a lookout spot but the view was hidden from the parking lot. Let me backtrack for a minute.. As we were getting ready to leave our campground early this morning, I had ducked into the cab to grab something and on my way in hit the top of my head HARD on a rung that holds the ladder in place. It was bad and I was in a lot of pain. So much that I had to sit for a few minutes to grasp what had happened. After that I started feeling nauseous and I laid down for a bit of the drive to Crater Lake. When we arrived at the lookout, I had a throbbing headache and honestly just didn't want to get out. I peeked around the corner once and the sun made my head throb so I went back into the RV. Meanwhile, Dan and Sammy had been exploring. I finally just decided to go take a peek and when Elijah and I walked up a hill to meet them, they came running down toward us. They told me to close my eyes and they guided me to the lookout. I will NEVER forget Sammy excitedly saying, "Mom. You are about to see the PRETTIEST thing you've ever seen in your life!" Those words mean a lot coming from Sammy, but I still did not know just how beautiful it would be.
I could not understand the beauty in front of us. It was incomprehensible, tear-inducing and seriously on a strange level it was life-changing. I did not know that sort of beauty existed. It was other-worldly and almost too much to absorb. ALL of us, even the boys, I'm positive, locked that moment and image in our minds. The water was so blue. Bluer than any water I've ever seen before. It was as clear as glass. The mountains surrounded the pristine lake almost in a perfect circle, like it was protecting its beauty fiercely.
We drove around the east side of the lake and felt pulled to stop at almost every lookout. Dan and I got out each time and breathed it in. Each time we walked back to the RV, we let out a double heavy sigh like we couldn't believe we had to walk away.
The blues you see? They really are that blue. And as always, the photos don't do a great job of representing the scene. It's about 100 times more beautiful than what you see here.
We were so caught up in the scenery that we realized we were supposed to be in Klamath Falls by 1:30. We drove our trusty RV as fast as we could through NARROW and bumpy roads back down the mountain.
The landscape changed drastically once we left Crater National Park. It was a different kind of beauty and on another day we might have swooned. Today we felt like nothing could compare to what we had just seen.
Dan's cousin Mike is a fighter pilot in the air force and is currently stationed in Klamath Falls. We stopped by to see him at work and he gave us the royal treatment and an amazing tour. He showed us what a typical day looks like for him. Then he drove us onto the taxiway so we could get a close-up view of the F-15s taking off and landing. Just a typical day, ha!
The boys thought it was cool, but Dan and I thought it was COOL. I got a bit of an adrenaline rush just watching and wanted to start flying lessons immediately. :)
We were able to get a glimpse of the cockpit and a quick "tour" of one of the jets.
Tonight we are parked in Mike and Jamie's driveway. They fed us a delicious meal and took good care of us. Our boys and their boys played well together and we had a great time swapping boy stories and catching up. Tomorrow we will head to Reno to visit dear friends for a few nights. We are WIPED OUT, but in an I-just-had-the-most-amazing-day sort of way.