Crater Lake

Picture this. You’re driving up a windy mountainous road. You’ve been cruising on it for the past hour or so, steadily working your way up. You approach another rise, and as you creep over the crest, you no longer see mountain in front of you. Instead, where you were expecting a majestic peak… it’s just…


Instead of looking up, you look down. And you can’t help but have one of those “holy crap, is this real?” moments. Because below you isn’t more mountain, but a crater1. Filled with water. With a freaking Volcano on an ISLAND in the middle of it.

It’s surreal. You’ll feel like Instagram has suddenly put a filter on your life. The water is an intense indigo, and crystal clear.

Turns out, this mountain you were driving up is actually an old volcano. Except, it retired, and decided to be the coolest lake on the West Coast in its downtime. And what do good volcanos do when they master their hobbies in their downtime? They foster the growth of smaller volcanos inside of them?

I dunno. That sounds good.

Turns out, subsequent volcanic activity after the crater was formed created the island you see in the middle of it. What’s awesome-er is that you can actually take a boat tour and hike around it (!) during the summer months.

If you’re visiting, make the time to do that. Looks like it would be an amazing experience. Alas, I didn’t have time this trip, but I really want to come back.


For me, Corvallis = Family. Namely, brother Nathan, Joelle (his GF), aunt Marcia… and uncle Dr. James Males, former director-of-something-or-other. I spent a few days here working on my route, catching up on some sleep, and even got a behind-the-scenes tour of Oregon State’s veterinary and agriculture buildings, courtesy of uncle Dr. Males (not to be confused with a Dr. of Uncles). It was a delightful little interlude before the craziness of the next few weeks.

Your route? You figured it out?!?

Sure did. I’ll write up the details soon. But Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming are the next stops.


Because I have to cover about 5,000 miles in the next two weeks, I don’t really have time to hit places I’ve visited before. So, I forced myself to largely skip Portland. I really just stopped to get a couple donuts from Voodoo Doughnut, and grab Pizza at one of the top rated place on Yelp.

In. Out. On with the trip. Next up… Washington.

Footnotes and junk.

1. OK, science time. It’s technically a caldera. Does that word sounds familiar, but you can’t quite remember what the difference between that and a crater is2? Well, a volcanic crater is formed when ash and magma are vented upwards out of a volcano, leaving behind a bowl-like formation. Whereas, a caldera is formed when the magma chambers below ground are emptied, and the earth collapses down upon itself to fill the void.

Think of the difference between squeezing a Hostess cupcake so hard the filling blows out the top vs. sucking the jelly out of the side of a jelly donut. (OK, I have sweets on the brain. Shrug.)


Technically, a caldera is a type of crater, which is why there often isn’t a distinction made when naming places like Crater Lake. Or, at least that’s what the internet tells me.

2. Yeah, I didn’t remember what it meant either.