Subj:  131. Where are we?
Date:  Monday, September 8, 2003

It's September 8 and Larry had a big surprise this morning. First of all, Larry sometimes drives the Laundry Truck from Mazama Village (where we are camped) up to the rim of Crater Lake where Crater Lake Lodge is located. It was raining here last night and it turned quite cool, in fact our thermometer read 34 degrees when Larry left this morning. Less than half way up the mountain, the ground was covered with a light dusting of snow! At the rim, it appeared that about 1/2 inch of snow had fallen on the ground. It was certainly pretty but we both had thoughts that extending our contract until October 15 might have been a mistake, but we plan on meeting our contract requirements.

Our days continue to be filled with work. We have worked some overtime but that's usually when someplace is short of people. Certainly business has really slowed down. The campground was full most of Labor Day weekend but since then its been less than half full. Pretty soon we will start closing some of the campground. It's supposed to be closed completely by October 6. We think that pretty soon our jobs will change to helping close down some of the facilities for the winter (yes, we know that fall doesn't start for a couple of weeks).

A couple of weeks ago we finally had a chance to see some of the other sights in and around Crater Lake National Park. We drove north to a place called Diamond Lake. Diamond Lake is in a National Forest and was quite pretty. We also saw several unique mountain peaks. Then we drove down to see parts of the Rogue River. We walked a trail about the Rogue River Gorge (a wild but beautiful area where the Rogue River has cut a deep gorge through volcanic rock). Then there was the Natural Bridge across the Rogue River. This is a place where the river flows underground through a lava tube. After several other sites, we stopped at a little restaurant in Union Creek. They had great homemade soup and, best of all, fantastic homemade huckleberry pie. For those of you not familiar with huckleberries, they are very similar to blueberries but have a much more intense blueberry flavor, they are really good.

Last week Larry received a belated birthday present from his two granddaughters in Ridgecrest. That was a real surprise. The card was fantastic. The card lists the "Top Ten Reasons Kids Need a Grandpa." The card was both cute and heart warming. Of course there was also a present which was also great and very thoughtful but the card was really something else. We both give a special thanks to those two young ladies, their mother, and her significant other for their thoughtfulness.

We also found a really good Mexican Restaurant. They have the second best Carnitas we've had. The only problem is that it's about 30 miles from here on the way to Klamath Falls.

We haven't updated our web page for a long time. We hope to update it with some more pictures in the near future.

The Brauers
Still Havin' Fun
In Crater Lake National Park

Subj:  132. Where are we?
Date:  Thursday, September 18, 2003

Of course we are still here at Crater Lake National Park. Since we extended our contract, we have another four weeks before we leave. However, we are beginning to be ready to be on the move again.

We finally had snow here in Mazama Village. Yesterday, September 17, we woke up to about 1/2 inch of snow on the ground. It didn't stay very long but still, it was snow. We drove the 7 miles to the rim to see what the snow looked like there. There wasn't any more snow at the rim than there was here, but the drive was very pretty.

The weather here can really change fast. Monday was partly cloudy but nice. Tuesday was cold and rainy. Of course, Wednesday morning was cold with the snow on the ground and today was warm and sunny. We'll just have to see what the next four weeks bring.

Last week we finally had the opportunity to do something that we really wanted to do. We took the boat ride on the lake itself. Before we describe the boat ride, we have to describe how you get to the boat docks. Remember, the lake is in a caldera. That means it's in a hole (in a mountain) that was formed when a volcano collapses. Consequently there is a rim around the lake that is much higher than the lake itself. The trail to the boat docks goes from the rim, down about 700 feet to the water. Walking the 1.1 mile trail to the boats is like going down about 65 flights of stairs. Going down made us realize that there were muscles in our legs that had gotten little use. However, that was nothing compared to coming back up. But, the views from the boat made the trip back worthwhile.

While waiting for the boat trip, we saw a garter snake and baby on the side of the mountain. The snake had just caught a ground rat and had a mouth full. A local school had a group of children returning from the boat trip and they too enjoyed watching the snake as well as several adults. It was obvious that the snake was fully occupied in digesting its dinner. While it was forcing its meal down it actually fell down several small rocks.

We've driven around the lake on the Rim Drive, a 33 mile paved road with beautiful views of Crater Lake and the caldera walls. However, seeing the caldera walls, the color of the water, and the significant landmarks in the lake from the water level was really great.

Probably the most interesting feature in the lake itself is called Phantom Ship. Phantom Ship is an island about 100 feet wide, 300 feet long, and about 120 feet high. That sounds like it might be fairly large but, from the rim it appears to be very small. Phantom ship looks like a masted sail boat from the rim, but from the surface it appears to be a rock with tall spires. This makes it look like a ship from a distance. It has seven different species of trees growing out of the rock. It was a very impressive sight.

Wizard Island is a volcanic cone formed after the mountain collapsed. It's much larger than Phantom Ship and rises about 700 feet above the surface of the water. It appears to be a perfect cone.

Another feature of the lake that was more striking from a boat is the color of the water. Crater Lake is an incredible blue color but from the surface you can see changes in the color caused by the depth of the water. It was really fascinating.

On the caldera wall, near Phantom ship, we saw four deer climbing down the caldera wall to drink the clear, pure water of the lake. Really a great sight.

As we said earlier, we had to pay for the beautiful boat trip by climbing back out of the caldera, a 1.1 mile hike uphill. We've heard people claim the hike down is 1.1 miles but the hike out is more like 7 miles. Well, the hike out is still only 1.1 miles, it only feels like 7 miles. We took 30 minutes to get down. We took several pictures. Coming back up (equivalent to 65 stories of stairs) it took us 40 minutes with lots of resting stops.

The most magnificent description of Mt. Mazama that we have heard is that Mt. Mazama grew, it blew, it fell and it filled. Mt. Mazama fell about 4000 feet and the water depth is 1943 feet. The water is so clear scientists have been able to see through the water to a depth of 170 feet.

We have to pass on a story about one of the workers here. By the Park Service Visitor Center is a sign directing people to "Lady of the Woods." Well, until a few weeks ago, we had no idea what "Lady of the Woods" actually was. One of our fellow employees obviously didn't either. People often ask about church services in the park. Well, there is a non-denominational service at the campground amphitheater on Sundays. Well, our friend would tell people about the service in the campground and also that there might be a Catholic service at "Our Lady of the Woods" near the Visitor Center. After mentioning this several times, she finally went to see the "Lady of the Wood." As it turns out, "Lady of the Woods" is a sculpture in a granite rock of a nude lady. Apparently it was quite a conversation piece for a number of years until it was finally determined that it was carved by a researcher in the park in the early 20th century. Well, our friend is a very easy going lady and took the good natured kidding about her mistake very well. We even gave her a picture of the sculpture, with the "Lady of the Woods" sign below the picture and a comment regarding the Catholic Service.

We also took a short hike on the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden Trail. This was more like a stroll through the woods over streams, by some waterfalls, and across meadows. It was certainly much easier than the trail to the boat docks and was very interesting. It's really amazing how the plant life can change in short distance.

The Brauers
Still Havin' Fun
In Crater Lake National Park