June 22, 2011
On my days off, I enjoy being a tourist. I like getting out, experiencing where I am, taking my mind off of tennis and making the most of my traveling. On Tuesday, I woke up bright and early and made the two-hour drive east to Crater Lake in central Oregon. At almost 2,000 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the US and one of the deepest in the world. And it was definitely one of the most beautiful things in nature I have ever seen.
Like I said, I woke up early, hit the McDonald’s drive-thru for one of my favorite breakfast excursions (Egg McMuffin, Fruit & Yogurt Parfait, and a coffee…delicious!), and set out for the drive east from Medford. The road follows the snaking Rogue River, through towering green forests and rich river valleys. Every 20 minutes or so, a small river town would pop up, with a couple of gas stations, a local grocery store, and a couple of places to rent rafts and kayaks for the river. A minute goes by, and your through the town and back right next to the rushing river and green trees cascading up on either side.
As the road slowly begins to climb, the ground becomes covered in snow and the rich greens and blue are contrasted against the gleaming white snow. Scattered breaks in the trees allowed me to see that I was now in the mountains, with the looming green trees climbing up thousands of feet above me. I entered Crater Lake National Park, kept climbing the winding mountain road, made a left turn, and my jaw dropped as I took in one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.
Because of how deep it is, Crater Lake has the deepest, darkest blue water I’ve ever seen. The pool of royal blue water sits in the middle of a snow-covered crater, with mountains lurking off in the distance, but in clear view. The sides of the crater cascade up so high and steep and barely anything disturbs the surface of the lake, creating this unreal, glass-like feature to the water. The clouds in the sky, the mountains in the distance, and the walls of the crater all reflect off the surface of the lake almost perfectly, as if the water was a giant mirror. The lake was formed from violent volcanic activity almost 8,000 years ago, and subsequent volcanic activity has caused an odd-shaped rock to jut out of the surface of the lake, known as Wizard Island.
There was still quite a bit of snow in the area, and thus the majority of the road around the rim of the lake was closed. I ended up parking my car at the end of the open road, packed a bag with my camera, a bagel with peanut butter and banana, some beef jerky, and water, and walked along the closed portion of the road for half the day. I rarely ran into any people, and around every bend in the road I had a new, awe-inspiring look at the pristine lake’s beauty. I found a nice rock to sit and look out on, took in the beauty of my surroundings, and got lost for hours in my thoughts, reflecting on life, tennis, and whatever else struck my interest.
As much as it pained me to do so, I headed back west in the afternoon to my buddy’s house in Medford. The peace and quiet was just what I needed, as I prepare for my next tournament in Roseburg, Oregon, beginning this coming Friday. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!