We started off at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, a volcano which erupted thousands of years ago and caused the collapse of its tall peak, Mount Mazama. The crater then filled up with water from snow and rain, forming the deepest lake in the USA and perhaps the most pristine lake on earth. Whilst we have seen many beautiful lakes on this trip-we have never seen anything like the deep blue colour of Crater Lake and how clear it is. Due to several unique factors, mainly that the lake has no inlets or tributaries, the waters of Crater Lake are some of the purest in the world because of the absence of pollutants. Two islands are in Crater Lake: Wizard island formed from a cinder cone that erupted after Crater Lake began to fill with water, and the smaller Phantom Ship, which has seven trees living on it.
On day one, we drove around the rim of the crater-stopping at numerous viewpoints along the way and did a couple of short hikes. Everywhere we stopped had a different, stunning perspective of the Lake and its vivid colours. On day two, we hiked to the highest point in the national park, Mount Scott-where we were treated to a panoramic view of the whole Lake. We also hiked down to the Lake and dipped our toes in its cool water.
We then headed towards the Humboldt Redwoods national and state parks, home to the largest remaining old growth redwood forest in the world. On the way, we stopped at Crescent City where we had decided to free camp for the night in Walmart`s car park. Well, what a barrel of laughs that was! We arrived late after having our tea in a scenic lay-by where we met James, a fellow Brit who now lives in California who loves landys! He spotted Ruby and pulled over and we had a great chat about landys, travel etc. When we arrived at Walmart at about 8.30pm, we were followed in by 3 police cars who began searching the bushes next to the car park with flash lights! Shortly afterwards, as we left the store-the security guards were chasing a couple of shop lifters. We hesitantly set up the roof tent and fell asleep. We were only awoken twice in the night-once by a female screaming at a car as it screeched away " don`t leave me here" and another time by another alleged shoplifter shouting at the security guards! Bleary eyed at 6.30 am the next morning-we wound down the roof tent and made us of Walmart`s clean bathrooms and good wifi!
Humboldt state park was simply breathtaking for the sheer size of the trees. The park is famed for its coast redwoods, many of which grow to over 300 feet (91 m) in height. Over 100 of the 137 known trees over 350 feet (110 m) tall—all coast redwoods—occur in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It is home to the 4th-tallest measured living redwood, Stratosphere Giant, which was measured at 112.94 metres (370.5 ft) in 2004. Stratosphere Giant was the tallest known living redwood until the discovery of three taller trees in Redwood National Park: the tallest, Hyperion, measuring 115.55 metres (379.1 ft) in September 2006.
Before the discovery of Hyperion, the tallest redwood ever measured was the Dyerville Giant, also in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It was 113.4 metres (372 ft) high when it fell in March 1991. It was estimated to be 1,600 years old. The Dyerville Giant can be seen on Founders Grove Nature Trail, which honors the creators of Save-the-Redwoods League. Also in this grove is Founders Tree, which is 346 feet (105 m) tall with circumference of 40 feet (12 m). As we headed down to the Redwood National park-we saw all of these trees and did some hikes among them. We visited Fern Canyon, a location for the film Jurassic Park 2:The Lost World, and wandered up the floor of the Canyon. The walls were covered in wet moss and ferns and the canyon contained fallen trees, which we had to clamber over. We drove down the Avenue of Giants- the world famous scenic drive of 31 miles, driving by the most outstanding display of Redwood trees in the world. We stopped many times to take short walks through the forest and gazed upwards in awe at the height and girth of the trees. We had never seen anything like it before and it is one of our favourite places.
We were in Redwood State park for the total eclipse, and shared the 90% coverage with many others, all of us staring at the moon covering the sun, in awe, whilst wearing our protective glasses! This was great experience surrounded by the majestic trees and watching nature at its very best. We also met a couple of lovely Aussies here-Jen and Pat-who are on vacation on the US.
After free camping at another casino for the night (we had a little flutter!), we made our way to the famous Yosemite national park, where we camped outside the boundaries for 4 nights. We explored the park over a couple of days. Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and biological diversity. On day one, we caught the shuttle bus in the park, the length of Yosemite valley, doing some short walks along the way. At El Capitan, a vertical granite rock formation, that is one of the world`s favourite challenges for rock climbers. There are many climbing routes up the sheer granite face, all of them arduous and many requiring 2 or 3 nights sleeping on the rock. We met a lovely couple of lads from the UK here, Joe and Sam, who were climbing it the next day. We loved meeting them as they were down to earth, funny and inspirational and we resolved to come back and watch them climb it through the telescopes that the park sets up. On night one of their climb, we received a message from them on Facebook about what they were having for tea on the side of a vertical rock face! We went into the park the next day and found them through the telescope, telling everybody at the bottom about them so they could all have a peak! We heard through Joe`s Dad that they reached the top on the 3rd day.
Just a little aside here about the wonderful American people we are meeting on a daily basis. They have such a genuine interest and curiosity about our car and our trip and we are stopped by them at least 3 or 4 times a day, as they ask about the car, our travels etc. This has been the most interest people in any country have shown so far, and we have really enjoyed chatting to people and sharing stories with them.
We left Yosemite to head towards Utah and our next workaway placement. We drove into a heat wave when we stopped in Bakersfield, the temperatures pushing 111 degrees!! We had a very hot night in the rooftent and got up early to head ever closer to Utah. That was until Ruby had other ideas! She decided to stop whilst trying to turn right at traffic lights and we were stranded in the middle of the road! A lovely lady, who must have been at least in her 60s, jumped out of her car and helped us to push the 3 tonnes Ruby to the side of the road!! We were amazed!
To cut a long story short-it is clear that Ruby wishes to seek fame and fortune in Los Angeles, as she has had her head turned by all the interest she has had in her! So we are driving her there to a mechanics tomorrow- and will probably leave her there whilst we do our month in Utah, hiring a car (air conditioned!!) to take us to Utah in time to start our work. Ruby, meanwhile, will be in LA, daaaarling, so watch out as she may be on a screen near you, sometime soon!