Medford

We have  had two days in Medford, Oregon, with a mixture of scenery activities and weather.

Yesterday, our drive north from Redding was short, but interesting. Volcanism has played a big part in forming the landscape of this part of  Northern  California and southern Oregon. There are a chain of very large volcanoes (Cascade range) that have made their presence felt right up to the Canadian border. To the south lies the very impressive Mt Shasta which is still potentially active. It is present on the skyline for hundreds of miles, rising nearly 3000 metres above the surrounding landscape. The flat areas of the landscape show clear evidence of lave flows.

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Once we crossed into Oregon, we found ourselves travelling on the quaintly named ‘Dead Indian Highway’ I have no idea how this name originated, but we have noticed that many roads and bridges here carry the names of individuals as a form of commemoration. Part of the highway on which we travelled was the Blue Star Memorial Highway which commemorates WW2 veterans. People in this part of the world have a high degree of respect for veterans and a strong sense of commemoration. Any time that I have mentioned that I served in Vietnam has always elicited a ‘thank you’. I see that the restaurant in which we ate last night has a special Veterans Day meal for November 11; very different to anything that restaurants in Australia would offer!

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On the highway, we saw dozens off bulk-loaded semi trailers carrying onions. Somewhere to the north, there must be hundreds of acres of farms growing onions. Somewhere to the south, there must be thousands of people eating them! We also passed enormous strawberry farms and orchards growing nuts and stone fruits.

We haven’t seen much wildlife yet, although we managed to catch a glimpse of some dear on one of the back roads. I could only manage to garb one quick photo through the windscreen of our car.

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Thuis is a busy time of year for Americans. Everyone is gearing up for Halloween and many houses are decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and other paraphernalia that suits the occasion. We saw this house in the pretty little town of Ashland, just a bit south of where we are staying in Medford. Soon there will be Veterans Day, then, Thanksgiving at the end of November and finally Christmas. 

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The main street of Ashland was beautifully tree lined and in the centre of the town were two parts of a cemetery that were in a beustiful park like environment. They were much mre beautiful than the normal cemetery with concrete paths  and masses of graves.

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Today was our first wet day. We had planned to visit Crater Lake National Park, the only National Park in Oregon. The park is established around the caldera of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and its surrounding hills and forests.

The lake is 592 metres deep at its deepest point and is certainly the deepest lake in the United States. The caldera rim ranges in elevation from 2,100 to 2,400 metres and to circumnavigate it by road takes 53 km.  The whole National Park covers an area of 741 square kilometres. Crater Lake has no streams flowing into, or out of it, and all the water that enters it is eventually lost from evaporation or subsurface seepage. As it turned out, we saw none of this. The rain was coming in horizontally, the temperature was 3C and the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. 

However, we did have a good day. Many of Oregon’s roads are classified as scenic byways (the reason we came here) and they did not disappoint us. At first, we drove along a road that followed the Rogue River. The took us past interesting farmland and higher in the valley we found superb waterfalls and river scenery.

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I was amused by this little bird that Peter Latta tells me is s Grey Jay. It followed me for about 50 metres through the forest, flitting from branch to branch and tree to tree. It stopped and posed for me on every branch.

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After lunch at a little cafe (Beckie’s Cafe) in the middle of nowhere in the forest, (but somehow absolutely packed with customers), we headed further down the road. By now the weather was clearing and we found ourselves between rain showers and rainbows. They gave us a spectacular show and we stopped many times to take photos.

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The roads here are very scenic. In a month, or so, the high altitude roads will be covered in snow and the snowmobile parks that we passed will then be in full use. There seems to have been a lot more rain here than in California and the landscape is quite green. We enjoyed driving through some very different scenery than that which we used to at home.

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