July 25, 2006

Vacation Blog: Deep Blue

craterlake

Yesterday, I saw the bluest lake I have ever seen.

My teenagers had been teasing me all week about how I was probably going to cry when I saw the lake. I'd made the mistake of telling them that my friend Plantswoman had cried the first time she finally saw this lake, a body of water many consider sacred, and that anecdote had caused them to roll their eyes and tease me mercilessly. In reality, my fear of heights helped prevent the tears. Watching my kids walk perilously close to the edge of sheer cliffs always makes me feel like screaming rather than crying.

It's the deepest lake in the country, more than 1930 feet deep. We gazed it from far above, admiring the way it is set into a rim of cliffs below a gorgeous summer sky. The brilliant sun kept changing the blueness of the lake, which reflected the moving clouds and the hemlock, fir, and pines that clustered at the edge.

Temperatures rose to the 90s, so we were thankful for the conifers that shaded many of the trails and lookout points. Perhaps most amazing were the patches of snow we found on the hills around the lake: how strange to be able to have a snowball fight on a sweltering hot summer day. Shaggy Hair Boy climbed up one snowy patch to come sliding down in his best snowboarding style, slipping right out of his sandals and getting himself soaking wet.

The lake is a six-mile wide caldera created by the eruption and collapse of a volcano almost 7,000 years ago. Lava flows sealed the bottom of the volcanic basin, allowing water from rainfall and snowmelt to fill it and form the lake. The island in the lake is a cinder cone that arose after the eruption.

I knew the unusual geological history of the lake, but nothing had prepared me for the blue colour that kept changing and deepening as the sun moved across the sky. I don’t think I could ever get tired of looking at it. But after hours of moving around the lake, gazing at the blue water from every possible angle, Boy in Black finally said, "Yeah, it’s beautiful, but how many times can we look at it?"

That's when I pulled myself away from the hypnotic blue of the lake to see that my husband and kids were tired, hungry, and hot. They had eaten all of the snack food and fruit, drunk all the water and juice. It was time to drive back to town for some food and a good night’s sleep.

But even as I closed my eyes that night, I could still see that shimmering blue.

cloudsatcrater

39 comments:

Silver Creek Mom said...

All I can say is OH WOW!

I'd cry too.

Flavia said...

Ooh! I've been there. It really is that beautiful.

Ianqui said...

What makes me cry is that the intensity of this kind of nature is so forceful, so overwhelming, and yet so much of it is falling for whatever reason to commercial interests. I know where this is, but I've never seen it, and I hope that such places are still in existence when I finally get a chance to see them.

Kristen said...

That is GORGEOUS. I hope I can take my kids on vacations like this some day.

timna said...

oh my gosh! I remember hiking down to this lake with a baby on my back! That must have been a long time ago. isn't it stunning?

Raehan said...

Oh Jo(e), it makes me feel good to know that you are scared of heights. I think of you as someone who isn't afraid of anything. I have a terrible fear of heights.

What an amazing trip you are having? Where are you? I am only asking because I am a transplant to the west coast and would like to know where to go for getaways.

RLT said...

As much as I love ocean beaches, there is something incredibly special about lakes surrounded by mountains.

That is so fabulously beautiful. Sigh.

jo(e) said...

Ianqui: I know just what you mean. Sadly, we are continuing to destroy these beautiful places.

Raehan: Yeah, heights terrify me. And I'm claustrophic so I am scared when I visit caves too.

The beautifully blue lake is Crater Lake in Oregon. And the drive we took the other day was from Portland over to the coast and then down along the coast to Florence. There are about a million places you can stop along that drive ....

Okay, time to wake my family up. I seem to be the only one whose body stays on east coast time. The teenagers have no trouble sleeping late here.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

oh, that's amazing. What gorgeous photographs.

Jody said...

My husband and I camped at this lake for five days in 1995. We saw it from very high and then hiked down and saw it from very close. It's gorgeous, and the stars at night from the paths up above the lake are indescribably breathtaking.

I took many, many photos but none of them looked as gorgeous as these. HOW do you DO that?

missymusing said...

Geez jo(e), these pictures are putting the pros to shame. I love remembering the old science lessons about volcanoes :)

Glad to hear about the dramamine, too:)

Rana said...

AAAAAAH! You're in OREGON??? Where I'm about to go???

You're going to be home by the time I get there, aren't you? :(

BeachMama said...

Those are beautiful photos. I can just imagine the blue of the lake from your pictures. Enjoy.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Those pictures are amazing! I was spending the whole time trying to figure out what lake it is, and trying to figure out why it looks so familiar. Crater Lake? I was there when I was five years old. I think my parents have postcards and pictures of it.

Maybe it's soon time for me to go back to Oregon (I haven't been there since I was 11).

Lisa C. said...

Well that clears it up... now I know where I want to go on my next vacation! Sounds like you guys are having a fabulous time. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Uccellina said...

I want to go there. Unfortunately, my husband doesn't do any camping without a cabin. Wuss.

susan said...

Oregon's been on my vacation list for a while now...and higher up, after reading this post. One of the many things I love about reading this post is seeing how passionate you can be about the natural world.

undine said...

At first I thought these were paintings! Beautiful pictures of Crater Lake and the Oregon coast.

Rev Dr Mom said...

So beautiful! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

listmaker said...

unbelievably gorgeous - thanks for sharing

Shelly said...

Breathtaking. I, too, would hold my breath with kids approaching the edge. Joining the others with the - thanks for sharing. Lovely images.

Yankee T said...

I love going on vacation with your family! Thanks for bringing us with you.

Dee said...

[delurking] I thought "heartbreakingly beautiful" was just a silly cliché until I saw this lake last month. The beauty of the west is so different from that of the east.

liz said...

Awestruck.

Marie said...

Wow. I'm stunned at you writing and your photography. Thanks for taking us along. I knew there was a reason I fell in love with Portland when I went with K last year. And she was just there!!!

KathyR said...

Crater Lake is a beauty. Your photos are better than postcards.

Scrivener said...

Those photos really are gorgeous! I keep telling you that you're a fantastic photographer--when are you gonna believe it?

Leslee said...

beautiful

Rebecca said...

[delurking] I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I grew up in California and moved to Portland to attend college. I fell in love and can't leave this place! The Northwest is trully gorgeous!

I really enjoy your story telling! Thanks for sharing with us!

Rebecca said...

And by trully, I mean truly! :)

Zubeneschamali said...

Also delurking to say how much I love your beautiful photographs and your beautiful writing. And that we tried to see this same lake when I was a kid, but the road was closed because of snow. On the Fourth of July.

Ianqui said...

Re: Scrivener's comment. Jo(e), you're a phenomenal photographer. Truly. Whenever you post something new, I go to Flickr to see if there are even more. What's even more remarkable is that you use the photos to illustrate your words, not because you're trying to get the best shot. And yet, you do. Always.

In fact, whenever I'm at Flickr, I try to get more information about your camera and your settings, but the EXIF information from your camera isn't there. For a while, I thought you might be scanning your photos, but they're up way to quickly for that. Anyway, the composition is all yours, but also the colors that you capture are always particularly interesting, which is why I wanted more info on the camera and settings.

I don't want to stab myself in the back, but you should consider this photo contest (which I'm also hoping to enter!)

Teri said...

That is so beautiful. Wow.

zorra said...

Your picture here, and your pictures in the previous entry, bring back so many memories of our own vacation at that lake and on that marvelous coast. Thanks for posting them.

Sue said...

Breathtaking!!

jo(e) said...

Scrivener and Ianqui: Thanks for saying such nice things about my photographs. I don't really see myself as a photographer. I just take snapshots and put up photos to stimulate myself to write something.

I've never had an expensive camera. The one I am using now is the Kodak Easy Share CX7330. Someday I would like to get a camera in which I could play around with the settings and stuff ....
I'd love to be able to take photographs in all different kinds of light.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

You're taking those spectacular photos with a Kodak Easy Share? Okay, now I can't say things like "once I get a more fancy camera I'll be able to take cool pictures like jo(e) takes."

Pure Luck said...

I have a little list of the most spectacular and beautiful places that I have ever seen in my travels. Crater Lake is the second thing on that list. The first thing is Bryce Canyon in Utah. If you have not been there you must go. There are no words in this language robust enough to describe it. It requires its own language and those who have walked there know of what I speak.

jo(e) said...

Pure Luck: Yeah, Crater Lake was really spectacular. And I agree about Bryce. I posted a photo from Bryce as my Easter post last year.