Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vacation pt 2: Roadhouse of my dreams?

The thing I dream about on every road trip is coming across the perfect roadhouse, a place you know has been around for years and hasn't changed a whole hell of a lot. The requirements: 1-Cozy atmosphere; 2- veteran waitresses (sorry PC police. I want female servers, preferably 30+ years old, hopefully ones who not only can dish the food but just plain dish); 3- decent food. Doesn't have to be great, but good, maybe with some homemade desserts. In my experience this kind of place is immeasurably harder to find than a great city restaurant. But I'm sure you know where I'm going here. On our two nights in the Crater Lake area I think the most beautiful site I saw was a plate of huckleberry pie a la mode at Beckie's Restaurant in the "town" of Union Creek, which basically consists of Beckie's, a "lodge" across the street, and an ice cream place. Pair that with a credible cheeseburger and fries and better than average tuna melt and a cold mug of Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale and this is like something I almost had to pinch myself to believe. Besides the glory of the fresh huckleberry pie, they had a long list of other homemade pies that tempted me. But the huckleberry, which they said was almost out as it was end of season for fresh berries, was quite possibly the best version I've ever had. The exquisite crust flaked away, the berries were plump, ripe, with that oh-so-satisfying sweet/sour thing going on, and a more than healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. All this pleasure for an insanely affordable $5.75 a slice. Crazy. I stopped by the next morning on our way out for 2 slices to go. One does not let opportunity like this pass them by! I know it may be years, if ever, that I get back, and it pains me. If you're ever remotely close, get there!
w lounging post-lunch on the veranda at Beckie's
Other highlights of the trip:
Site #121 at LaPine State Park (with the Silver Streak resting oh so comfortably and Chopper keeping watch), with the Deschutes River running by off the backside of our site. A great spot, although I have to say that ponderosa pines do become a bit redundant.

Grilling fresh caught Columbia River chinook salmon and super sweet corn over the campfire at LaPine. Simple camp cooking that was one of the best things I've had in a long time!

Hiking above Paulina Lake, with a great view of the lake and its sweet campground below.

Climbing up Garfield Peak which rises to an altitude of 8000', putting it about 1700' above Crater Lake and gives staggering views not only of the lake, but also south towards Shasta and various other Cascade peaks. As a guy from England we met at the top said "you won't see this anywhere else in the world". True 'dat, brother! That's w at left making sure she can find our way off the top......

Seeing the Natural Bridge over the Rogue River, where you watch the churning Rogue disappear into a lava tube(at left), only to emerge anout 100 yards downstream from the rocks. Incredible!

And one word to the wise Crater Lake camper. We stayed at Joseph Stewart State Park about 35 miles from the lake. Skip please. Why the fuck they have acres of lawn in a state park is beyond me. Sprinklers going. It was like camping in my backyard. We couldn't even really muster the spirit to build a campfire. Plus Lost Creek Reservoir was half empty, leaving a dry, jagged scar above whatever water remained. A much better choice would be a sweet little primitive campground we checked out on our way to Waldo Lake, Hamaker Campground. A deeply forested spot that you can drive a smaller RV into or pitch your tent, and it is very close to the entrance road to Crater Lake. Well worth putting on your list.

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