Crater Lake

Crater Lake

I recently discovered that, despite now being into late middle age, I am still capable of rash quick decisions.

Back in October 2017, I wanted to see Crater Lake Oregon on a road trip. As it happened another Lexican, ColoComment was going there, too. So we met that morning for breakfast and headed up in my car.

Toward the final leg of the drive, you climb up a long hill getting there – maybe 15-20 miles?

What was a light drizzle changed to snow flurries and as we got higher, heavy snow. I was starting to wonder if I should have brought tire chains for the old (and low) SL.

However, we both being Lexicans, had the “Press On Regardless” attitude and had to at least get up there.

This is what we saw that day.

Crater Lake 1

Needless to say, there wasn’t much to see. We both went into the museum/gift shop and then made the trek back down the hill.

It wasn’t a wasted trip though, as we learned something interesting about Crater Lake. It is the deepest lake in the country, at nearly 2,000 feet. Even more surprising, there are no rivers or streams flowing into or out of the lake. It gets all of its water from rainfall or snowfall.

We could understand the snow part. The average annual snowfall there is 43 feet.

So anyway, still not having seen Crater Lake, I tried again a few weeks ago. The weather was fine, but I couldn’t get a hotel accommodation in the area. There’s really only 2 places you can stay near Crater Lake, well, 4 if you count the hotels at the park.

They are about an hour to 1.5 hours from the park. The first time, I stayed here. I can recommend it.

A few days ago, I stayed here. Had an upstairs room with a little balcony overlooking the Rogue River. I can also recommend the Edgewater.

On my first 2 trips, I wanted to avoid Interstate 5, thinking it is mind-numbingly boring. And it is, southbound until Los Angeles. Whose traffic has changed from “tolerable to bad” to “bad to worse”.

The only respite in several 100 miles of driving is Harris Ranch, if you like steak for a break.

On my last San Diego meet, it was so bad (thinking Johnny Carson may yet ask, “How bad was it?” , but rather than deal with Los Angeles traffic at 1600 decided to drive out through the desert to Mojave and down I-15 the next day. It was worth it driving 150 miles out of my way to avoid that traffic.

I got stuck in it a few years ago and spent about 5 hours of stop-and-go driving traversing the LA Basin.

Anyway, the first 2 times up to Crater lake I wanted to drive up the Oregon Coast, which is a beautiful drive.

Because of responsibilities I have at home, there are only limited windows I can leave.

I had 2-3 days for this latest trip.

It was about 350 miles to Crater Lake and 3 (preferably 2) days to do it.

I-5 North it was.

Which wasn’t nearly as bad as I-5 South.

Crater Lake 3

I-5 North. (I am heading back Southbound and home). In the distance is 14,000 foot Mt Shasta.

What impressed me about Crater Lake? It was  the beauty of the surroundings, the stillness and deep-blue hue of the water.

I didn’t have time to take a tour boat, but can you see the wake that must have gone back a half-mile or more?

Crater Lake 4


Finally, in my trips what has been equally memorable is meeting the interesting people along the way. Besides the Germans I met while in the Army and mentioned just a couple of days ago, I remember an Australian couple (then) in their 60s, who were multi-millionaire farmers in Zimbabwe and forced to leave – with next to nothing – by Robert Mugabe’s guerrillas. Starting life over in their 60s.

They invited me to dinner at their modest home in Cairns, Australia.

You never know what life’s going to throw at you, do you?

Anyway while driving up to Crater Lake, I was passed by a biker riding a small and very noisy motorcycle. It was only 1 cylinder and let me tell you, that bike was noisy. Yep, I know about some noisy Harleys – they were nothing compared to this.

Anyway at the summit I see him getting off the bike and being mechanically interested in interesting (and purpose-built) machines, learned that it was a 1957 Ducati. Was it a 98 Sport?

I should have asked. It apparently had an engine of either 98 cc or 125 cc. Read the history of these engines. An Italian translation for “Mighty Mite”, per favore?

8 screaming horsepower“, he did say.

While I am not a biker I think it is safe to say the Ducati of today is the Ferrari of motorcycles. Probably it is more accurate to say they always have been. Hard to believe, but Ferrari even made a 1.5 liter version of their famous Columbo-designed V12. That’s 91 cubic inches spread over 12 cylinders!

The Italians did amazing things with those engines. He said that he rode up from Ashland OR, a good 60 miles or so.

Crater Lake 5

1957 Ducati

Turns out there was a whole group of these antique motorcycle buffs coming in small groups. Also saw a 50s era BMW, and a V-Twin Morini 3 1/2. Why they called it a “3 1/2” I haven’t a clue. *

Could have talked with them for a coupla hours but alas, had to head back down the hill and home. Besides, I think I have covered it.

Crater Lake and antique motorcycles.

790 miles in 2 days.


*update 07/25/2019 – Back home, I ran into yet another person who was an antique motorcycle buff. Had a Norton 750 Commando. He knew what the Morini was – the “3 1/2” – 350 cc; the “half” being the 50cc.

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