After Mt St Helens we carried on to see the Oregon Dunes. DH and I had seen then before but never bothered to take the tour. Well this time we did take the group tour and it was well worth the time. It was somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour, and was really interesting and fun. I was thoroughly surprised at the steepness of the dunes that this monsterously large 'dune bus' would tackle......and it wasn't that expensive either.
After a day at the dunes beach we were off to our final southern destination just past Crescent City California to see the 'Trees of Mystery'. They are not as big as they can get....but still pretty darned big! The gondola ride to the top of the mountain was new and would be a nice place to have a light picnic lunch....very pretty! The parking lot features a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox which actually took up quite a bit of our time. They have an employee stationed somewhere invisible to the tourists that speaks to passers by from a speaker mounted inside the giant Paul. The head of the statue and its hand both move making your interaction a bit more animated......very fun for the kids! The tour took us about one hour and was worth the stop.
Then I insisted that we take Ike to see the Oregon Caves. It is a little off the beaten path as you take a winding highway with plenty of switch backs from cave junction to your final destination.
They do not recommend taking trailers on this bit of road and I can see why. The VW camper van, while tres chic, is not a very speedy girl......the trip on this road takes longer than its miles might suggest:) The end result is well worth the time as the typical cave tour is about 90 minutes of very pretty formations and is not too uncomfortable. There are more adventurous routes as well through the caves if you don't mind crawling on your belly. If we had more time we would have planned to spend the night at the almost 100 year old hotel on site. It has pretty much maintained in its original decor and is perfectly lovely. I would imagine that quite a bit of advanced planning is required for such a stay and their rates were not expensive starting at $135 per night. We stopped there to have lunch at their small coffee shop and had an excellent lunch complete with the best milk shake ever.
The Oregon Caves were a hard act to follow....the Crater Lake National Park gave its best with another spectacular vintage style hotel (although it has been renovated with slightly more opulence than the original). As far as crater lake is involved......there is a bit less to do there to spend your time...at least for the average traveler. There is a boat ride (for 2 hours I think) that you can take on crater lake.....but it requires a bit of a strenuous hike to take part. You must walk down a trail which drops 1000 ft to get to the starting point at the lake and after all is done with the tour.....you must walk back up it. That walking back up part really made us think twice and we ended up not taking part this trip. There is a ring road circling the crater with many spots to stop for picture taking and picnicing. The interpretive center is quite informative and the view is spectacular. The water is remarkably clear. I believe that they stated that an 8 inch marked disc can been seen through the water to a depth of 144ft. You can easily view the topography of the bottom through the lake and some of the colouring is beautiful. Due to this extreme clarity, the water is a brilliant blue which is difficult to capture in photos.....and the journey continues......till next time:)