Dates Traveled: 5/27/17 – 5/29/17
Have you ever had the urge to hit the road without an agenda just to see where you end up? I was feeling exactly that about a month ago when I asked Tejinder if he’d like to go on a road trip for Memorial Day Weekend. I had this consuming desire to just get away from the familiarities of my life to clear my head and recharge my batteries. Thankfully, Tejinder, who is always down for an adventure, was totally behind the idea and on a warm Saturday morning, we began our journey to Crater Lake, Oregon.
From the Bay Area, Crater Lake is about a 7-hour drive up Highway 5 which is doable in one day if road trips are your thing. Tejinder and I are road trip pros after years of driving to and from Santa Barbara during college. Here are a few tips we learned over the years to help pass time on long road trips:
- Play the license plate game – spot as many different states via license plates on the road and try to call them out before your partner does. We spotted 29 different states during our trip!
- Listen to an audiobook – listening to your favorite book is a fun and easy way to help pass time on the road. Tejinder and I decided to listen to the Harry Potter books, which I never read growing up, and now I’m obsessed with them!
- Pack yummy snacks – High protein snacks and fresh fruit are my go-to’s for long car rides. Well, that and cheez-its :)
Lodging is a little tricky at the national park itself so we decided to stay in Ashland which is about 2-hours south of Crater Lake. You’ve probably heard of Ashland in the same context as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Along with being home to many theater companies, Ashland offers farm to table restaurants, art galleries, and historic buildings. For two people from the city, it was the perfect escape!
After checking into our hotel, we headed downtown to Lithia Park for a pre-dinner stroll along the Ashland Creek. It was really hot that day so the mist from the creek was very much welcomed. It was so peaceful walking through the greenery, hand in hand.
We made our way to Standing Stone Brewery for dinner where I enjoyed the most delicious salmon salad. The salmon was perfectly cooked, balanced the scales between savory and sweet, and melted in my mouth. It was one of those meals you almost wish wouldn’t end! Standing Stone is a sustainable restaurant and brewery with a long-term goal of operating with zero net energy use and zero waste. Now that’s a mission I can get behind!
It’s impossible to go to Ashland without seeing a show at one their many theaters so Tejinder and I grabbed tickets to Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s All Night Strut after dinner. The show was absolutely electric! I couldn’t stop smiling while the performers sang and danced across the stage. My feet were tapping the whole time! I highly suggest ordering the theater’s famous Dick Hay Pie – an Oreo cookie crust filled with layers of vanilla and peanut butter ice cream. It was the sweetest way to end a great day!
We got up bright and early the next day to head towards Rim Village at Crater Lake. The road there was mesmerizing! Trees dwarfed the road as you drove through the national forest. Once inside the park, we found parking near Crate Lake Lodge and began wandering. We found rocking chairs behind the lodge where we took in the breathtaking view. The lake was perfectly blue and completely still which gave me a much-needed sense of calmness. I felt so small, and my problems felt even smaller. Sitting on that rocking chair was a very humbling experience that we both enjoyed.
Before you head up to Crater Lake, here are a few things you should know:
- Pack food and water – there is a restaurant at the lodge but it is pricey. We had a few leftover snacks and water from the day before which held us over.
- Go early – we got to park around 9 AM and left closer to 3 PM. The traffic entering the park at 3 was so ridiculous that cars started turning around.
- Pack sunscreen – believe it or not, there was a ton of snow up there which meant we were more susceptible to sunburn. Thankfully, Tejinder packed sunscreen and saved the day!
- Double check that your trail is open – there was so much snow when we went that only 3 miles of trails were open to hikers without snow shoes. The staff at Crater Lake Lodge showed us a quick trail that offered great views.
- Be in the moment – put away your professional camera, close out of Snapchat, step away from your browser, and seriously take a moment to think about where you are. You are witnessing one of Mother Nature’s many treasures and I can guarantee that no IG filter can make it more beautiful. Take a deep breath and simply enjoy the view.
We capped the day with dinner at Pie + Vine – a cute Italian café serving handmade pasta and wood fired pizza. We walked off our food babies with a nice stroll before heading to our hotel for lights out.
Exploring Crater Lake was enjoyable but the real highlight was the road trip there and back. Car rides with Tejinder are very near and dear to my heart since that is how we got to know each other. When we were in college, I would offer him a ride up to the Bay Area and asked for two things in return: 1) he pitches in for gas and 2) he supplies the tunes. Every time we made the trek up north together, we would listen to the mixtapes he made and talk about our lives, families, dreams, childhoods, everything! I still have every mixtape he’s ever made me and can’t help but smile whenever we hit the road together. After all, I fell for my best friend somewhere on the 101!
Now it’s your turn – where is your favorite place to visit when you want to recharge your batteries? Do you have any tips when it comes to long road trips? Leave a comment with your favorite places and road trip tips down below!
Until next time,