These were the days that took us from Crater Lake, to Ashland, and then to Florence on the Oregon coast. We got up early to watch the sunrise, and saw as the morning progressed that the air was much smokier than the day before. The nearby hills were nearly lost, and even the far side of the lake was vague. It made us glad to be leaving before the air/view quality got even worse. Drove through the park to the north, and our first stop was a Diamond Lake, renowned for its trout fishing. Rented a paddleboat for an hour and savored the views. Lots of cormorants about, and lots of fishing boats.
From there we continued along the incredibly scenic highway 138, which follows the incredibly beautiful north fork of the Umpqua River. There are over 25 waterfalls one can access from this highway, but we only had time to stop for three of them, all lovely in different ways:
Clearwater Falls, surrounded by moss and greenness, intricate and artistic (my favorite)
Watson Falls, slender and extremely tall (but we came at the wrong time which meant facing right into the sun--my photos do it no justice)
Tokepee Falls, a powerful double leap from the aquamarine Umpqua itself (my mom's favorite)
We continued along highway 138 with its stunning vistas until we reached Interstate 5. The 5 is so dull for a large portion of its route through California that I expected the same in Oregon, and was flabbergasted to have almost as much fun with its curves and altitude changes, and its views, as on a mountain interstate in Colorado or eastern California! Our destination was the small city of Ashland, just a few miles from the California border, to see 'Pride and Prejudice' at the renowned Shakespeare Festival. And it was worth every cent!
The next day we had to retrace our steps all the way back up I5 past where we got on at Roseburg. Took highway 38 again following the Umpqua River (much larger now) for its last 50-plus miles to the sea. Then we reached 101 that follows the coast, and it was frustration to drive for miles before even getting a teasing glimpse of the ocean! But we were rewarded in full once we got north of Florence. The views between there and the town of Yachats (where we had dinner) were simply stunning. The Oregon coast is wild and rugged, the beaches simply gorgeous--this one by the Hecata Head lighthouse. Took a tour of the lighthouse, and got to enjoy it again later in the evening on our way back to our lodging in Florence. Besides the lighthouse itself, I got to enjoy the swarms of squabbling hummingbirds camped out by some large masses of flowers. But the following days would reveal much more to drool over from the incredible garden-growing weather on the Oregon coast...