I have been planning all my vacations for 2018 and it got me thinking about some of the vacations I took in 2017 that I didn’t write about here. One of my favorites that I did was in September, with my friend Caitlin. We both love Gravity Falls, and it was kind of inspired by that. I found a lot of this stuff here on Roadside America.
We called it our tourist trap road trip. Over Labor Day weekend we drove from WA through Oregon into California and back around, visiting fun tourist traps and Crater Lake National Park (which is currently my favorite National Park! It’s so compact and pretty!)
Day 1: We left very early in the morning and drove to Salem, Oregon to see the Enchanted Forest Theme Park. I’ve seem the sign for this place from I-5 for years, every time I drive on some big trip through Oregon, and I always wanted to go! The sign looked so kooky (it is a castle with Humpty Dumpty on it). This was the first time I’ve ever been and it was so worth it! It is a sort of creepy, larger than expected group of impressive semi-home made seeming rides and attractions. There is an old west town, and a story book village walk, and of course, rides. We went on the log flume ride, the haunted house walk-through, and the Challenge of Mordor laser tag-type challenge.
It was very fun and I recommend it as a stop if you are ever driving through Salem.
After we left the Enchanted Forest we kept driving over to Crater Lake National Park. We got there on the late side – it’s an 8 hour drive from Seattle – and we were a bit worried it was closed because of fire. We’d been driving through lots of smoke all the way through Oregon, they had quite a lot of wild fires that Summer. When we got into the park, we saw fire crews a couple times, sitting on the backs of their cars literally watching fires (we saw so much smoke!) making sure they weren’t spreading in a dangerous way. So, the park was smokey, but open.
We stayed at the lodge that night, and because of the fires there were lots of cancellations, so we were able to upgrade to a nicer room. We had dinner on the patio and looked at the lake (the smoke cleared enough that the view was very good!)
Day 2: In the morning we explored the park. We did the rim drive, stopping at lots of points of interest. It was smokier on day 2, which meant we didn’t want to do any hikes (the air quality was not good) but we still got to see lots of cool stuff. Crater Lake is small enough that its really pretty easy to see it all in one day. After seeing the last thing on our list (the Pinnacles) we left the park and drove to Gold Hill, Oregon to see the Oregon Vortex! It was my favorite thing of the trip!
It is a cool place where things that are straight look crooked and things that are short look tall! MYSTERIOUS! I really want to go back someday, it was neat.
We camped that night, it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit if I remember correctly (too hot!).
Day 3: The next day we drove to the Trees of Mystery, which was cool. I mostly liked the giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe out front. They have an employee actually voice Paul, so he calls out people walking around out front, it is cute. The trees were…redwoods. I liked them, but they weren’t necessarily anything I haven’t seen before. I did buy a cross-stitch kit from here of Paul and Babe that I’m excited to do and display in my apartment. I’ll post about it when it’s done.
We left the Trees of Mystery behind and were headed to the Prehistoric Gardens but on the way, we stopped to do a hike and stretch our legs. A co-worker who did a similar road trip earlier in the year with his family suggested I make a stop at the Stout Grove, he said the trees were amazing there. He was right! They were the biggest trees I’ve ever seen. It was a fun detour, we drove for awhile on unpaved roads with little signage, we weren’t sure we were even going the right way, but eventually we made it and it was worth it.
I definitely need to visit this grove again. After our fun interlude, we kept driving to the Prehistoric Gardens, in Port Orford on US-101. We were the only people there, and it was amazing. It’s a bunch of huge dinosaur statues out in the woods. I loved it.
I think I’m just easily impressed by large amusing statues. They give you a map of the garden (it is pretty tiny, maybe 10 or so statues) and I kept the map and framed it. It was all so cute!
We camped again that night and made smores. Again, it was really, really hot out.
Day 4: On day four, we drove home! it took all day. We stopped for breakfast but I think that was the only stop. We listened to the entire STown podcast which was great but depressing.
We did so much driving on this trip but everything we saw was amazing. And we did everything so fast! Only four days! I would definitely do this again in a heartbeat, and highly recommend all our stops to anyone interested in quirky cool stuff.