I have wanted to visit Crater Lake ever since I was a kid and never had been despite having spent all of my college years in Oregon. Following my recent visits to several National Parks in Utah, I began to make seeing these beautiful places a priority. Between California and Oregon there are a total of 9 National Parks, and I really have no excuse for only barely having seen 1 or 2!
My mom grew up with her parents always dragging her and her siblings on road trips around America, and then one day a spur of the moment trip brought them all the way from Wisconsin to Marin, California where they permanently stayed. My childhood, too, involved a lot of aimless weekend drives with my parents behind the wheel and commanding my bored and stir-crazy sisters and me to “LOOK OUT AND ENJOY THE SCENERY”. I think that I have my mom and dad to thank that I am never content to be in one place for very long without needing to see a change of scenery.
Last month I had agreed to take part in the Drone World Expo in San Jose, so I made the trip up and stayed with my mom in San Francisco. I wanted to take advantage of already being a 6 hour drive closer to all of the sights of Northern California and Southern Oregon, and conveniently my mom had just recently retired, so I asked her to go on a road trip with me.
The day following my Drone Expo (and Good Morning America) appearance we left San Francisco for Sacramento where we caught up with my sister Serene before taking to the open road the following morning.
LASSEN NATIONAL PARK
LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Approaching Oregon on highway 139 we spotted a sign for something called Lava Beds and were intrigued by the name. Daylight was running out, but we decided to take the rather long detour to what felt like nowhere. We entered Lava Beds National Monument and continued to drive through a pretty desolate landscape before arriving at the visitor’s center, which to our surprise was open.
We learned that National Monuments are part of the National Parks system, but because of their size or other factors have not received full National Park status. National Monuments still receive all of the protection of the Nat’l Park system, which unfortunately for me means no drones are allowed.
Lava Beds features several subterranean lava tube caves open to visitors. Because it was so late in the day we only visited one cave, one of the more accessible ones called Mushpot cave. Lava Beds includes caves of every level- from Mushpot which is paved and lit with motion sensor lights, to more extreme caves that require a headlamp and crawling through dark, very tight spaces (I’ll pass on those).
So like Lassen, Crater Lake was open, but the majority of the roads were not. We could make the icy drive up to Rim Village where we enjoyed an epic view of the lake, but the roads that take you around the perimeter of the lake were closed for the winter (sad face). I had no idea that Mid-November was already deep winter anywhere in California.
Oh yeah, Gary (who is an excellent road dog) was along for the trip.
TREES OF MYSTERY
Humboldt Lagoons State Park nestled in the Redwood National and State Parks. I love these foggy coastal mornings.
THE LOST COAST
Lighthouse and overlook at the cute little town of Trinidad.