Road Trip Report: Days 15 and 16, July 26 and 27

This is another two-day report, but it isn’t a double digest because I don’t have much to say about Day 15. It was pretty much a travel day, and while Crater Lake was one of my targeted destinations since Josh Hoey told me about it a couple of months ago (thanks, Josh!), I wasn’t really excited. And it took me until Day 16 to figure out why that’s the case.

Basically, on Day 15 I drove some very boring highways–which made my Day 14 experience that much more valuable–and made my way to the campground. I arrived late in the afternoon, set up camp, and then just hung out for the evening. I could have gone and checked out some of the park activities or driven partway around the lake, but I just didn’t feel like it.

I’ve enjoyed my quiet camping evenings, but this time I found myself missing the friends I typically go camping with in Ontario (you know who you are). I think it was partially due to the numerous groups and families around me, and partially due to being on my own for so long. And as I foreshadowed earlier, there’s more to it than that. However, I wouldn’t figure that out until later on in Day 16.

Sidebar. The Crater Lake campground is interesting. There are lodges as well, and a couple of restaurants. I suppose that it’s similar to how Yosemite was set up, but obviously on a much smaller scale. That is a cool thing about staying at “National” parks, since they’re very professionally run. In both cases, when I paid my entrance fee I was handed a really nice map and a newsletter that outlines what I could do and the various activities going on this week. So, kudos to the US National Parks system (whatever it’s called). They do good work.

So, Day 16.

Crater Lake is what it sounds like: a crater filled with water. The crater itself is the result of an active (but sleeping) volcano that erupted long ago, blowing its top and creating the bowl. The water has been deposited over centuries, but if the volcano erupted again it would be gone just like that.

Rim Drive surrounds the lake, providing spectacular views and hikes throughout the park, and the campground was at the southwest exit. In order to go to Portland, my exit would be at the northwest end. So, I could either take the shorter westward drive, the much longer eastward drive, or just go all the way around. Continuing the general theme of this trip, I decided to go west and decide whether or not to continue around when I got to the northwest exit.

The lake was beautiful. There are no other words, and no need for qualifiers. I lucked into a bright and sunny day to see it, and got on the road early enough that I was ahead of the tourists. I reached the northwest exit after stopping a few times to take photos, and having realized that the other 3/4 of the lake would just involve taking pictures from different angles, I decided to move on to Portland. It was only 11am, and I had barely scratched the surface of Crater Lake. But as much as I enjoyed the views, my heart wasn’t in it, and I still didn’t know why.

I figured it out while I was driving to Portland. It’s logical, really, because everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

When I decided to do this trip months ago, people asked where I was going and I said, “I dunno, maybe San Francisco?” There was no real rationale to it, other than picking a place really far away and seeing how I’d go about getting there. That was the beginning.

Then I got to San Francisco, and I had the best driving day of my life on the California coast. And it’s clear to me now that that everything up to that point was about “going there”. That was the middle.

Now, it’s about “going home”. After San Francisco I pointed myself toward BC, and ever since then I’ve felt like I’m on the return flight of a round trip. I think that’s why I abandoned my visit to Eureka, and why I only drove around part of Crater Lake before heading to Portland. It’s the ending.

It’s all just perception, really. If I had perceived myself as “heading toward” BC by a very indirect route, this would still be the middle of the journey. But instead, I feel like I’m on the return portion of a round trip, and everything now is just a stopover on my way to BC.

Which brings me to Portland. I’m at the Aladdin Suites & Inn, which I found on Yeah, that’s right, I abandoned Hotwire. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I wasn’t paying attention to my credit card balance, and kind of sort of ran up against the limit on my MasterCard. Oops. No big deal…I just had to make a payment. But in the meantime I had to switch to my American Express, and for whatever reason Hotwire wouldn’t accept it.

That actually worked in my favour, because allows you to cancel your reservation up until a certain time. Remember how I bailed on going to Eureka? Yeah, I made that booking with, and cancelled it when I changed my plans. The only annoyance was that the confirmation e-mail said I could cancel up to 7pm Pacific Time, but didn’t specify Standard or Daylight Savings. So it was actually 6pm, and I had to call them to get the reservation cancelled. The agent handled it very well, though. No harm, no foul.

And now? Now I’m settled into my motel room, and I really feel like it’s the last night of the vacation before going home. Earlier, I pulled everything out of my car to repack it and organized my receipts for the border crossing. I watched Ocean’s 11 on TV, and now Gladiator.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll get up bright and early, load the car, strap the baby stroller to the luggage rack, and head for Vancouver.

What’s that you say? What baby stroller? Oh yeah, I haven’t talked about that yet.

If you’re outside of Canada for more than 48 hours, you can bring up to CDN$800 in goods back with you. Obviously I haven’t gone anywhere near that amount, but that was part of the plan. See, awhile back, my sister asked if I could pick up some stuff for her, including a BOB Revolution Duallie stroller. That might seem a little crazy, given that I’m driving a Miata. So, while I was in San Francisco I checked one out at REI (which is similar to MEC in Canada), and figured that I could make it work.

To be clear, I didn’t actually take the stroller outside and try to fit it into or onto the Miata. I just looked at it and decided that it was going to happen. Cuz, y’know, that’s how I roll.

So here’s the thing. The best price for the stroller (and some other stuff) was on, but the US Amazon obviously won’t ship to Canada. So, I ordered the items and shipped them to the Aladdin Suites. They were waiting for me when I arrived today.

The stroller box was too big…that much was obvious. I definitely wasn’t going to fit it onto the luggage rack. However, as I suspected, the carrier itself will strap almost perfectly to the luggage rack. I just had to pick up a couple more straps to secure it.

It’ll work. It might look a little ridiculous, but it’ll work.

And with that, the penultimate Road Trip Report comes to an end. Expect one more tomorrow after I arrive in Vancouver, and maybe a postmortem. Oh, and a whole bunch of awesome panoramic photos that I have yet to pull off of my phone. So yeah, the trip may be close to over, but there’s still a lot to talk about.

And then it’ll be time to focus on my relocation. Maybe start a Relocation Report?