We left our hotel in Klamath Falls in the morning and hit the road to see Crater Lake and the drive was full of great views.
The drive to Crater Lake did not have many gas stations and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere hoping we would find a place to fill up. Thankfully, our GPS navigation unit has a gas station locator and we ended up in a “town” called Prospect at their only gas station. We drove up and there was another person waiting at the other side of the pump. Niner got out of the car and the nozzles were locked with deadbolts – in Oregon you don’t pump your own gas. Oregon state law says gas must be pumped by station employees. Then an energetic lady in a pick-up truck that looked a lot like Mader from the cartoon “Cars” drove up and shouted “Oh, no! I was just here 10 minutes ago and they still ain’t here. I’m goin inside to git someone.” She marches herself inside the mini-mart and comes out quickly, waves to us at the pumps and yells “Someone’s coming.” Both of us wave back and thank her for her handy work and we all finally get some gas.
Getting to the gas station took us to another part of the forest so we decided to check out what was nearby before we circled back to the road that would take us to Crater Lake. We checked out the “Natural Bridge” at Rogue River, which is a system of lava tubes that diverts water from the river and creates a natural bridge.
We then drove to Crater Lake. We were both in awe as soon as the massive body of water came into view!
Next, we left the park and headed to Bend for some dinner. Niner was craving green curry so we went to Yelp and found Noi Thai in the heart of downtown Bend. The food hit the spot and the free wifi was super useful as we booked our next hotel room in a town called Madras that would put us close to the next Central Oregon parks we wanted to visit.
On our way to Madras we made a stop at Target for some supplies and food. We knew our room would have a fridge and microwave so we made sure to take advantage of that and planned to have meals in our room rather than eating out.
We were glad to find the spacious room very clean and with fast wifi, as it would be our home for the next two days. It was really nice to relax knowing we didn’t have to wake up early the next day. We spent the rest of the evening in the room and enjoyed the Simpsons marathon on TV.
The next day we slept in and chilled in the room catching up with our finances and our blog. We hit the road about 3pm and headed for the John Day Fossil Beds National Monuments.
First, we visited the “Clarno Unit” and saw the Palisades which are towering cliffs made layers of ancient rock. We hiked a portion of the geologic time trail, but we were unable to go very far because of the absurdly hot temperature.
Then we drove to the incredible Painted Hills to view them before sunset. DB had read a couple of reviews that recommended visiting at that time and we are so glad that we did.
The drive back to our hotel was long and we were very hungry and tired when we got there. Bagged salad and frozen dinner boxes never tasted so good!
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed to Smith Rock State Park, which is dubbed the mini Zion of Oregon. When we arrived it certainly felt more like Utah than Oregon – it was supremely hot! The sun was pounding down on us and we did not get to explore as much of the park as we had planned because we needed to make sure we were not too pooped for our next destination – Portland!
Despite the heat, we did enjoy the scenery. If we end up moving to the PNW when our trip is done, we will be happy to make a return to Smith Rock during the fall.
Next, we hit the road and headed to Portland to visit Niner’s younger sister for some cute times!