Crater Lake, Gates & Salem, OR – Under Pressure

One of the things I enjoy about writing these blogs is coming up with a theme song for each post. What do volcanoes and mental health have in common? They both make me think of pressure!

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is one of those super overlooked parks. I saw the pictures online and, if it hadn’t been a good distance between our last and next stop, we never would have visited. I mean, if you want to see a lake, there’s Lake Tahoe.

But WOW. The photos just don’t do this place justice. The water is a spectacular blue due to the extreme depth of the lake. If you consider 2000 ft extreme… I mean, it was created when a volcano erupted and then collapsed, so…

However, even though we are visiting in mid June, the road from our campground to the lake is still closed due to snow. It wasn’t till we arrived that we could understand why. That’s a lot of snow!

One of the most fascinating points about the lake is that scientists don’t know where all the water goes. The snow melt going into the lake is twice as much as evaporation and, while 2 MILLION gallons per hour seep out of the walls of the lake, there are no rivers, streams or underground springs that have been found to account for that much water.

Rizzo wondering where all the water goes.

Jeff’s theory… The aliens are using a giant invisible straw to suck it up without us knowing about it.

Our campground at Diamond Lake RV Park wasn’t half bad although the wildlife was a little brazen and the flying insects came out in droves.

Gates, WHERE???

From here, we travel to Gates, OR. What? You haven’t heard of Gates? This thriving metropolis is the home to 497 people, two of which we met last year at the Kanab, UT Grand Design Rally. When they said they lived in Oregon and we shared we’d be touring the Pacific North West this year, they invited us to stop in to their place for a visit.

Now, let’s be honest, how often do people extend a “Let’s do lunch” and really mean it. Mooch-docking takes on a whole new level when you JUST MET these people. So I stalked them on Facebook and made sure they actually knew who we were and could do a little social media bonding before I reached out and asked if they were genuine in their offer and they said HECK YA!

We had a wonderful stay with the Wests full of food, conversation and even some great rafting! Howard has been guiding rafters on this river for a LONG LONG time, taught by his father before him. While it may not compare to some adventurous class 3+ rafting we’ve done, it was a wonderful day. A little more than tubing on the Salt River might get you for those Phoenicians reading this blog.

Salem, Not Massachusetts

Not too far from Gates is the capital of OR, Salem. At some point, people must have run out of original names for places because there are 22 places in the US named Salem. In fact, it’s the 6th most common place name. But even uncommon names get repeated. There are at least three Onalaskas; one in Washington, one in Texas, and one in Wisconsin. There’s no Onalaska in Alaska but there is an UNalaska! Go figure.

Anyway… I decided to nerd out a little and tour the Museum of Mental Health. In case you didn’t know, Psychology was my major in college and I still find it fascinating to this day, especially the history. And, a bonus of this particular site is that it’s located at the Oregon State Hospital.

Having an ongoing fascination with the history of mental health, I felt there could have been a lot more here. It included a lot about the history of the facility including the disaster that had an effect on all of us, even if we never knew it.

In 1942, most males in the US were serving in the military to fight in World War II. This left the hospital short staffed. They relied on high functioning patients to fill in the gaps. One such patient was helping out in the kitchen and asked to retrieve powdered eggs from the store room. He failed to let anyone know that he couldn’t read and grabbed sodium fluoride instead. Did you know the stuff in toothpaste that prevents cavities is poisonous? Yep… The sodium fluoride looked very similar to powdered eggs and was used and then fed to the entire hospital population. In total, 467 patients became ill with 10 of them dying. The result of this disaster was the skull and cross bones being applied to all poisons going forward.

The museum also contains many stories of women who were wrongfully committed by people who just wanted them out of the way. This may have been husbands or fathers who were tired of dealing with them or neighbors who thought them to be cranky old bats. A fascinating movie that highlights this type of event was Changling staring Angelina Jolie and directed by Clint Eastwood. I’m still not sure about the name but it was a thought-provoking film.

Film buffs may also recognize this as the place One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was based and filmed.

The TV from the movie playing the movie.

Since we toured The Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining, last year, what better way to continue the Jack Nicholson theme? Hmm… Where to next year, I wonder?

“Retro” Bowling?

Jeff wanted to get in some bowling so he found this very classically styled bowling ally. I’d say old school or retro but that implies they were TRYING to make it look like this! Still, with wooden lanes and friendly service, Northgate Bowl is a win!

They even let us bring Rizzo in so it made it a great place to grab a bite to eat after his practice games.

Silver Falls State Park

Also near Gates is Silver Falls State Park. If you are a waterfall fan, this is an awesome place to visit. There’s a 7 mile hike you can take to see all 10 of the falls.

Because the trail is not dog friendly, we did the abbreviated 5ish mile hike. A couple of the falls even let you walk right behind them!

Christmas Trees and Triumph

The drive back from Silver Falls took us through the nation’s largest supplier of Christmas trees! Who knew? Much like Napa has it’s 1000’s of acres of vineyards, Williamette Valley, OR has 1000’s of acres of Christmas tree farms. Oregon supplies over 30% of the nation’s trees.

And, when you happen upon Triumph Rd while hauling your Triumph motorcycle, you stop on a rather steep hill to take a photo!

The Stats

Miles hiked at these stops – 21.6

Animal Sightings to date – 11