Crater Lake, Newbury Volcanoes, Painted Hills

My trip to Crater Lake, the Newbury Volcanoes, and the Painted Hills was totally not what I expected!

I checked in with you guys from the hotel on Saturday night, right before I had a Forensic Files marathon and then couldn’t sleep! Normally I don’t get spooked from Forensic Files, but I think my secluded hotel room had me convinced that there were dead bodies under my bed and that a killer was about to start pounding on my door. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night.

I was super excited to head out on Sunday morning for Crater Lake! It’s been at the top of my list now for a few years, so despite being super exhausted, I was pumped.

I noticed on the drive in that hardly anybody was taking the road, which was the only road that was supposed to be open into the park at this time of the year. Then I passed a sign that said “North Rim: Open. South Rim: Open.” Perfect! I wanted to head out of the North end at that the end of the day and this would make that drive even shorter!

As I drove on, I noticed snow on top of some of the mountains in the distance. As I kept on going, I started seeing some snow on the ground in front of me…

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I kept on heading in since the roads were plowed, but realized when I got into the park that not much was going to be going on! The visitors center had one other car there and the girl working said only the cafe was open at the top of the road. I mentioned that I was wanting to see the Newbury Volcanoes afterwards and she mentioned that they were most likely closed because of snow also! I was hoping she would be wrong… I decided to head on up to Crater Lake to at least get some good views, even if it was snowy! I could just walk the rim anyway!

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That was my view. I could hear the water, but the wind was crazy up there and everything just looked white. I could barely see anything and was totally bummed out! It was still neat to see the snow on all the trees and it was very serene, but… the water! The views! Instead, my hands froze and I trudged through snow (in my new waterproof hiking shoes, at least), just to look at even more white. No point in continuing my trek just to stare into an endless sea of white.

I decided to head to the Newbury Volcanoes and see if that was even open or not so that I’d have a better idea of what my Monday had in store for me! It took about 2 hours to get there and again, I noticed snow at the top of the mountain range from the bottom. I decided to head up anyway and was hopeful that I’d see at least a few good views!

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Paulina Lake. That was about it. I attempted to go on to the next lake, but I ended up having to back down the road in order to get to a place where I could turn around because the road became too slick for my little car. With no cell signal, steep drop offs, and a Civic, I decided that we had enough of the snow.

I got into Bend and took a quick nap before heading out to a park I found online!

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The park had some beautiful views and I loved the feel of downtown Bend! Seeing towns like that just makes me want to sell our house and head out west somewhere! It’s breathtaking! I enjoyed some dinner at a local place (Spork) and then headed back to the hotel to relax!

I woke up to sun today, so I was really excited about my day! It hasn’t been sunny in well over a week and I need sun in my life on the regular to be happy! I had a quick breakfast and then went to Pilot Butte for some views!

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I have been to some pretty amazing places in my life (Australia, Greece, Croatia…), but nothing amazes me like seeing snow capped volcanoes (I was told that calling them “mountains” is confusing and that quite a few people actually have no idea that “Mt” Hood is actually a volcano… Pretty much all the mountains here are volcanoes…)! It still takes my breath aware every time I see Mt Hood, and I can see Mt Hood all day long when it’s not too overcast!

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Ahhh, Mt Hood, so pretty! Thankfully my long lens is able to capture the mountains fairly up close. The pictures really don’t do it justice! I always try to send Jon pictures from my phone of Mt Hood in the background, but you can barely see it on a phone. In reality, it looks like a beast.

After Pilot Butte, I headed over to the Painted Hills! I knew that this wouldn’t be snowed out and since it was such a gorgeous day, I was really beyond excited.

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It’s always exciting to see some water along the way! I love all bodies of water, but they’re even better when they have mountains around them.

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Of course, I also had to enjoy my cup of Dutch Bros, in their cute little holiday cups! Definitely going to miss this coffee when I leave here! I was glad to finally make it to the Painted Hills, and when I stopped to use the restroom, a guy in the parking lot (we were the only two cars) told me that this place was definitely worth the drive (he saw my Georgia plates). So I was very excited!

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After all that snow I encountered, this place did not disappoint! It was gorgeous and it was such a beautiful day!

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As I trekked through this scenery, I really just thought about how amazing life is. In 28 years, I’ve traveled to Italy (twice), Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Croatia, China, Hong Kong, Australia, and Kuwait and Iraq (if you count those two), plus I’m getting to travel all over the US now. So many people never take the opportunity to travel and I just make it happen, year after year. I’ve seen so many different coastlines, mountain ranges, desserts, cities… I absolutely love being able to do this and hope to never stop traveling.

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After thoroughly enjoying my time there, I decided to head back to Washington (I stay just over the Columbia River in Washington). Unfortunately, the only signal I could get was just barely enough to load a map, so I ended up screen shutting a map in order to make my way home. It must have been the long way to go, cause it took me 5 1/2 hours to get back and was supposed to be less than 3. Oh well! I got to see some more amazing scenery!

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I actually got to see a ton of mountain tops from afar (Mt Rainier, impressively enough, but it was tiny, Mt Adams, Mt Jefferson…), but this is about the distance that I am on a daily basis from Hood, so this one wins. Besides, the gloom is back, so also fairly accurate. Hood is usually fogged out on rainy days though. Not the best composition for a picture, but I never want to be the one to pull off on the narrow shoulder in the gorge just to take photos.

And with that, my trip has come to an end! I’m back a day earlier than planned, but this cold is kicking my butt, so I plan on having a relaxing day tomorrow before heading back to 3 days straight at work!