This past weekend, I made the trek from Vacaville, California up to Crater Lake. On the way back, I also visited Redwood National Park, and drove the northern section of the pacific coast highway. I began by driving to Medford, Oregon after work on Friday. The following morning, I drove the eighty miles to Crater Lake. The lake is truly a remarkable place. Even though it's now April, the park is still a frozen wonderland, covered in foot upon foot of snow. Approaching the park, the plowed snow is piled ever higher along highway 62. The park itself is mostly deserted; the main drive around the lake isn't even plowed yet, and the snow is deep enough that most of the buildings are still snowed in. All that is plowed is a single roadway up to the rim, but at the top, one must climb twenty feet of snow to see the lake. The long drive and brief climb are rewarded with a fantastic sight. The lake is large, but not gigantic. The nearby mountains are not gigantic. The true beauty comes from the seclusion the park provides. The lake has no inlets or outlets; it is sustained almost purely by the enormous amount of snowmelt. The lake's azure blue contrasts beautifully with the elegant white snow. In short, it is stunning.
After visiting Crater Lake, I made my way to Grant's Pass, and then headed south to mingle amongst the gigantic Sequoia sempervirens, the Coastal Redwood. It is truly humbling to stumble upon 300-foot-tall trees while driving down the road. The trees are large enough to blot out most of the sun, allowing only the occasional ray of light through the canopy. There is also the occasional fallen redwood, opening a gaping hole, but overall, it's dark enough that it's necessary to drive with headlights on even in the middle of the day.
The final leg of my journey was driving down the coast on California Highway 1, the Shoreline Highway. After leaving the 101, I was met with over twenty miles of the windiest road I have ever driven, curving around mountains until finally arriving at the coast. Although foggy conditions hampered some of my efforts, I was able to see most of the coast along the highway. After driving over ninety miles on the two-laned road, however, I was more than ready to call it quits and head back to Vacaville. Unfortunately, hundreds of other people were in the process of leaving the area as well, and I was stuck driving behind them all. Finally, though, I did make it out of the rat's maze.
In total, I came away from the trip with nearly 1,500 pictures. I already had over 600 pictures in my queue to post, but I'm hoping to get them all up this coming weekend. There is even a slight chance that the new version of my web site will be up as well.