Kelsey Malie

Crater Lake

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jacket: Nike; Jeans: Gap; Shoes: Nike

 Isn't it strange how you can live in a state for many years and not see the majority of it? Growing up in Hawaii, I only saw 3 of the Hawaiian islands in 18 years. I still have quite a few to check off the list. Ben, a lifetime Oregon resident, had never seen Crater Lake, one of the most famous natural destinations in the state. For us, the prohibitive element in seeing what our state has to offer is the distance and sheer driving time to see many of our national parks and beautiful natural features. Crater Lake is about 4 hours southeast of  Portland. The Painted Hills, another wonder we've never seen, is about 4 hours to the east. We'd never seen the southern Oregon coast, about 5 hours southwest. And I have yet to see the entirety of Southeastern Oregon, a whopping 7 hour drive. 

Though at face value, 4-5 hours doesn't seem very long, a lot of these wonders exist far from hotels, or motels. And to do a there-and-back in one day is hard on the driver, leaves little time for exploring, and can be really rough on an older car, like we drive. The entire purpose of our road trip last weekend, and the reason we rented a car to do it, was to ride in a new, clean, comfortable, and not-ours car. We were able to drive 5+ hours a day, to never get uncomfortable in the seat, to use the AC and heat all we wanted, to gas it up hills and around slow moving traffic. In our current car, we like to keep the AC off and the windows down, to give it all the power it needs to get going (it's a Corolla that lacks oomph power on hills, especially with the AC going). We also get pretty uncomfortable in the seats - backaches galore!

We were so thrilled to finally make it Crater Lake (over many a mountain, forest, hill, and long stretch of highway) and see the giant lake that everyone talks about here in Oregon. Though we'd both seen photos, we were blown completely away by the gorgeous, massive lake perched below some snow-capped ridges and peaks. Pictures cannot capture even half of the beauty, the vivid blue, or the awe-inspiring feeling it left us with. 100% worth the drive.

The Pass

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dress: Gap; Jacket: Nike (similar); Boots: c/o Lulu's (old)

On our road trip across Oregon, we took the first possible detour off of I-5 in search of Crater Lake. It happened to be through Willamette Pass, which I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing before. Ben was familiar as it was an area that his family had spent time driving through, cross-country skiing in, and doing other family winter sports trips. I was blown away by the gorgeous mountain, the lichen covered trees, winding roads, and chilly mountain air. We climbed to about 6,000 feet before we hit the Willamette Pass ski area and pulled off to explore a big alpine lake called Odell Lake and the Salt Creek Falls. I was shocked at how chilly it was on a pretty late summer day. Once we started to climb the pass, the weather got cooler and cooler and I was downright shiver-y in my dress and boots. 

I'm not sure why I find these pine-covered mountains to be so breathtaking, but the beauty at Willamette Pass rivaled that of Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and the coast. Perhaps it was that chilly, pine-y scent, or the emptiness and silence that surrounded us. Perhaps it was the fact that upon entering the Willamette National Forest we drove through pastureland and rather ugly small towns and after leaving we were in scrubby Eastern Oregon-style pine forests with no undercover. The contrasts were severe enough to make the pass stand out as one of the most beautiful spots on the trip.

I'm only sorry I couldn't capture those wonderful trees better!

Gold Rush

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top: Gap; Jeans: Gap; Boots: Lulu's (old); Bag: Madewell
Booking a last minute trip meant that we didn't have a ton of hotel options in any of the towns directly on our trip. Ashland was booked solid, many of the coastal hotels had no vacancies, and we ran into a few "two night minimums" that didn't work with our schedule. Though it felt stressful, we ended up discovering some of the best spots I've ever been to. I already shared Tu Tu' Tun lodge in yesterday's post, and today I'm backtracking to our first night on the road in Jacksonville, Oregon. Having been to Ashland and Southern Oregon only once for a visit to see Ben's brother at Southern Oregon University, I am completely unfamiliar with the area. In googling places to stay, I discovered the tiny town of Jacksonville right outside of Medford and about 30 minutes Northwest of Ashland. It turned out to be a gem.

Jacksonville is a historic town that's well preserved. Gold was discovered in Rich Gulch near Jacksonville in 1850, and like any spot with gold, it was quickly settled. It became the biggest city in Oregon (originally called Table Rock City due to a mesa nearby) and was settled by pioneers coming west through the Rogue Valley. In the 1880s, a railroad bypassed the city and stopped, instead, in Medford. The population left over the next 50 years, but Jacksonville remains today as a relic of that era. 

Jacksonville is now home to some wonderful Southern Oregon wineries and even has a few tasting rooms in town (which we happily visited). We stayed at the wonderful Elan Guest Suites right downtown that was decorated with local art and we were able to walk around, pick up some wine and salami for a picnic on the suite's porch which overlooked a backyard dotted with fruit trees. The town was extremely friendly and we struck up conversation with just about everyone we met. I'd highly recommend it as a stop for any history buff, B&B lovers, and wine lovers alike.