Crater Lake was truly beautiful. I have never seen water that color of blue. It was surreal. The lake is almost 2,000 feet deep at it deepest that and the temperature must contribute to its hue. The lady who runs the campsites at the lake told me this years snow fall was the largest since the 60's. It was amazing the amount of snow still on the ground in (almost) July. All this snow made for a lot of pools of water where our friend the mosquito could breed wildly. I have spent a lot of time in the woods and this has to be one of the worst encounters I have had with the little blood suckers. You couldn't go outside for 10 seconds without being drained dry of blood. Awful!!
On this trip I have had a chance to visit many national and state parks and one thing has become glaringly clear. People must be stupid. There are signs like "Falling may cause injury or death, keep back from the edge." Really?? if you fall off a cliff you could be seriously injured or die?? "Buffalo are dangerous animals keep your distance". Duh. The thing is if there are signs like this they must be needed. Some people must really have to be warned to stay away from wild animals or sheer cliff faces or the number of other dangers that proliferate the wild. How we as a race survived sometimes baffles me.
One of the other things I have discovered on the road is the difference between hikers and tourist. The primary difference I have seen is courtesy. A perfect example of this happened yesterday. I was crossing a snow field that there was a small chance I could have slipped and fell. These tourist saw me there and walked away. Had the situation been reversed or had they been hikers I/they would have waited to make sure the other person made it safely. Another difference I have notices is gear. While a tourist will have either the most expensive gear or whatever was on sale a hiker will have the most useful and efficient gear, sometimes even home made stuff. Finally there is friendliness. Hikers are used to being out alone for long periods of time so when they run into someone they are friendly and usually engage in some kind of conversation. Tourist are used to being surrounded by people so they will ignore anyone around them even if they are in the middle of nowhere.
Today I drove down from Crater Lake to the sleepy little beach town of Newport to visit some old friends. It really reminds me of home. The way it nestles up against the beach with all its little shops set up to bilk the tourist out of their money. The smell of the air is like nothing else. I haven't seen the Pacific Ocean in 3 months and when I got here I just had to stop and stare. It actually made me home sick. I have about three days left and then I will have completed my circuit around the US. More to come.