Every trip has a personality.
And the personality reveals itself as the trip unfolds.
Sometimes you don’t even notice this until you return home.
You have the fast-paced, cover ground, sampler tray type travel.
At the other end of the spectrum is languid, sloth (no judgment) travel, where the only exertion is lifting glass-to-mouth.
Your trip could have a personality of culture, nature, adventure, food, or romance.
It could be a friends-laughing, doesn’t matter where we are, kind of trip.
Or a healing and restorative trip.
Just like there’s no wrong personality for people, there’s no wrong personality for a vacation.
However, dissatisfaction is the result of needing one type of trip but getting another.
Why this trip?
Last year we road-tripped around the Southwest USA, covering a lot of ground.
For this year’s road trip, we knew we wanted to explore the PNW and use our car.
Next year we have an ambitious travel plan, so keeping our costs down was a priority.
And we are on a quest to visit every National Park – so plugging in Crater Lake and making the Redwoods our endpoint made sense.
We also wanted to travel slower.
Here’s what we came up with:
Eugene, OR: 3 nights (leaving from our home in the Olympia, WA area)
Crescent City, CA: 2 nights
Roseburg, OR: 1 night
Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon. It sits at the south end of the Willamette Valley.
It’s also the home of the University of Oregon.
Eugene has something for everyone. Art, culture, shopping, food, sports, outdoors, and plenty of quirks.
After a picnic at Talking Waters Gardens in Albany, we arrived in Eugene late afternoon.
We planned our pub crawl to check out the three McMenamins in town. The tour gave us a taste of the city, and we finished the evening at North Bank, sitting by the river.
The next day was rainy, so we focused on indoor fun.
Next, we walked to the U of O campus and spent the afternoon at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Day 2 started out rainy, so we went to Mountain Rose Herbs. With a coffee shop and fabulous garden store next door, you have the perfect trifecta – if you are into such things.
The weather cleared, and we spent the rest of the day biking around Alton Baker Park.
That night we had a delicious dinner at Fisherman’s Market and picked up desserts at Sweet Life Patisserie.
Highlights in Eugene:
Alton Baker Park – bike trails, hiking, rose garden, duck ponds, disc golf. From the bike path, you can access almost everything you will want to see in Eugene.
Smith Family Bookstore – fabulous new/used bookstore. If you’re a bookstore connoisseur, this is a must-stop.
McMenamins – there are 3 locations in Eugene, each with a unique personality.
5th Street Market – a collection of shops and eateries with open-air seating and a sun deck. Be sure to stop in Provisions.
Museum of Natural and Cultural History – on Univ. of Oregon campus.
Excellent Food – two of our favorites were Poppi’s Anatolia and Fisherman’s Market.
Covered Bridge Scenic Bikeway – in Cottage Grove, about 30 miles south of Eugene.
Crater Lake National Park: 2 nights
Even though I grew up in Oregon, I had never been to Crater Lake.
We wanted to have the full experience – stay in the historic lodge and explore the park.
Unfortunately, our timing was off.
We got the historic lodge part, but exploring the park proved to be a challenge.
The afternoon we arrived, it was clear and cold! Fortunately, we stopped at a few vistas, and I did see the lake.
Because the next day, we could not see anything due to fog. That makes lookouts and scenic vistas a moot point.
Highlights in Crater Lake:
The Lake – beautiful, it’s the star of the show.
The Rim Drive – with a caveat. We had clear skies the afternoon we came in, the next day was nearly a whiteout. We barely caught a glimpse of water. When it’s clear, stunning!
The Pinnacles trail – a 0.8 mile, easy walk to view volcanic spires. Must-see. This section of the park was clear.
The Lodge – historical, beautiful. Sit by the fire in the great room and read, talk or play games.
There are dozens of trails, lookouts, and activities to do at Crater Lake – if the weather cooperates.
We got a lot of rest.
Be still my heart.
If I wanted a vacation home, I would buy one in Ashland.
The city sits in a bowl, surrounded by the beautiful Siskiyou and Cascade Mountain ranges.
The hillsides were blazing with fall color.
The town is charming.
Nature is on every side.
We arrived in town and went straight to Sammich for lunch – they serve over-the-top sandwiches. It’s across the road from Southern Oregon State University.
We spent the afternoon at Lithia Park walking the trail along the creek and enjoying the ‘tour of trees’
The weather was gorgeous in Ashland.
We spent our first full day walking around downtown, popping into a bookstore and Nobel coffee shop.
Biking Bear Creek Greenway was our afternoon activity.
For dinner, we went to Caldera Brewing and had white truffle mac and cheese and a white truffle burger. Amazing!
That evening we attended ‘The Book of Will’ at the Elizabethan Theater. It was all I dreamed it would be.
Our final day in Ashland, my husband wanted to take a drive and see more of the beautiful fall color. We went to Jacksonville and spent the morning wandering the town. Most tourist activities in Jacksonville close by October. We are hoping to go back.
In the afternoon, we picked up the Bear Creek Greenway where we left off, and biked the rest of the way into Medford.
Leaving Ashland, we made a side trip to the Oregon Cave National Monument and took the cave tour. I highly recommend it.
Highlights in Ashland:
Shakespeare Festival – Ashland is home to the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival which runs from February to October.
Lithia Park – a green oasis that runs along Lithia Creek below the downtown area.
Downtown Ashland – food, shops, Lithia Creek, great place to get lost.
Bear Creek Greenway – 20-mile paved, multi-use trail that runs from Ashland to Medford. Fun to bike.
Caldera Brewing – 37-ish of their beers on tap, fantastic food, outdoor seating at the base of the mountain, fun interior. We went twice.
Noble Coffee – when I saw Noble compared with Portland Stumptown Coffee, I knew this coffee house deserved a visit.
Nearby Jacksonville, OR – a historic town about 30 minutes from Ashland. It’s a close second as my favorite Southern Oregon destination.
Oregon Caves National Monument – outside Cave Junction. We stopped on our way to Crescent City for a cave tour.
Crescent City: 2 nights
We came here for the Redwoods.
Since the Redwood National/State Park runs for miles along the Northern California coast, it’s hard to pick a home base.
We picked Cresent City, and it turned out to be a good choice.
There are many different types of lodging, more food choices than other nearby towns, and beautiful beaches.
Did I mention the beaches?
We stayed at an Airbnb in Crescent City. It was charming and homey and gave us the perfect central point for seeing the area.
The Redwood Forest is massive.
It’s hard to decide what to do and where to go.
I used this guidebook to narrow down our choices:
In addition to spending time with the trees, we enjoyed the great beaches and balmy weather in Crescent City. It’s not a fancy town, but it has a laid-back beach vibe.
We spent a full day hiking the trails, eating lunch on the beach, and enjoying the sunset. Very low-key.
The next day we started the trek home and stopped at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park to get one more dose of those massive trees.
Highlights in Crescent City:
The Redwood Forest – there are dozens of hikes to choose from. We picked easier hikes – Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Trillium Falls Loop, and Stout Grove Loop. Shorter trails turned out to be a good choice for us. We spent so much time stopping to look that our hiking pace was 1mph!
The beaches in Crescent City – especially at sunset.
The sun – the days were in the upper 70’s to 80. In mid-October!
Oregon: Pt 2
Roseburg: 1 night:
We needed to break up our drive home from California.
There’s one McMenamins in Roseburg, and we are working on our McMenamins Passport.
So Roseburg won as our pit stop.
We stopped in Grant’s Pass on our way back and had lunch at In-and-Out.
Highlights in Roseburg:
Roseburg McMenamins – historic train depot. It has a lot of character, history and a cozy outdoor eating area.
I’m sure there are more delightful things in Roseburg, but we just stopped by to eat and sleep.
What would we do differently?
We are die-hard shoulder season travelers.
I think we shouldered a little too much this trip.
Many of the tours and activities in Ashland, Jacksonville, and Crater Lake were closed for the season (in early October).
Crater Lake was freezing – and I understand we lucked out. They can get a lot of snow by early October.
September would be a better month to go to all three places and still get some of the benefits of off-season travel.
Another mistake failing to realize the Elizabethan Theater in Ashland is open-air. The play started at 8 p.m. We could have used another layer and a blanket.
You’ve got personality…
The personality of this trip turned out to be just what we needed.
We both came home refreshed and relaxed.
Trips have personalities, and so do locations.
Some places will leave you with a “nice to meet you” feeling.
One encounter is enough. The world is a big place.
Other places will click.
The Ashland area is that place for us. We loved everything about it.
I think we will be life-long friends.