Boring vacation photos: Crater Lake, Eugene and environs (featuring bonus Prefontaine Classic coverage)

After the relative calm of Ashland, it was on to some high drama at Crater Lake. Or not. We did learn one fact fairly quickly: the snow sticks around at Crater Lake for quite awhile. The lodge had only been open for about two weeks when we arrived and there was not only nowhere to go hiking, there was nowhere to walk either. Snow was still piled up 12+ feet around the parking lot. So about all we could do at Crater Lake was gawk and drink. And that was fine.

The Crater Lake Lodge

The Crater Lake Lodge

The view from our room

The view from our room

So, here’s the deal on the Lodge. It’s a weird place. Not really an old lodge, but more a rebuilt approximation of someone’s idea of an old lodge. Apparently, the original lodge that was built around the turn of the century was put together by monkeys using knives and forks. Between shoddy construction and a lack of insulation, the place had a terrible reputation and eventually fell into such a state of disrepair (and structural risk) that it was slated for leveling.

Then it went through a refurbishing around 1990. There were no original plans, so the owners (then the Parks Dept) redid the place to have an original “look and feel,” which, unfortunately, means tiny bathrooms, and hideous furniture and bedding, apparently.  The net effect is that one feels no desire to spend time in one’s room, and, since everything outside is covered in snow, the only other option is to head downstairs to the lounge and dining room.

Fortunately, the lounge features a decent selection of beers, wine and cocktails. And dinner at the lodge makes up for the crappy room. I had duck; Jonathan had venison. Both were outstanding. Score one for the lodge restaurant.

Cinder cone atop Lava Butte

Cinder cone atop Lava Butte

Oregon has a rich volcanic history. That sentence alone sends me into such a profound state of torpor that I won’t pursue that thought any further.

Koosah Falls, between Crater Lake and Eugene. The water is really that color of blue.

Koosah Falls, between Crater Lake and Bend. The water is really that color of blue.

Our next overnight stop after Crater Lake was Bend. I have no idea how to describe Bend, since I couldn’t find a distinct identity for it while we  were there. The B&B proprietor was a bit uptight, which wasn’t a great start. Then we attempted a run and discovered that “map” in Bend is more of a representation of future urban planning than current geographic status. We attempted to go to the Deschutes Brewery, but it was as noisy as any Manhattan pub, so we instead opted for a Thai restaurant, which was good, although they mixed up the order and gave us an order of Drunken Noodles that was so hot that it may have been spiked with hydrochloric acid.

So, Bend was no great shakes and we were glad to leave after a night.

The next stop was Eugene, for two nights. Eugene is a college town, and we were staying in a rented bungalow in College Hill (close to Washington Park), which was actually pretty charming. While there, we visited the Raptor Center (a home for raptors who can’t survive in the wild for one reason or another), did a hike, and then spent Sunday morning at Hayward Field watching the 2009 Prefontaine Classic.

Looking down on Eugene from some random viewpoint

Looking down on Eugene from some random viewpoint

A hapless bald eagle at the Raptor Center. This was a wonderful place, and we ended up hanging around the birds for close to three hours.

A hapless bald eagle at the Raptor Center. This was a wonderful place, and we ended up hanging around the birds for close to three hours.

I won’t go into exhaustive details as far as the Prefontaine Classic is concerned. I’m sure there are plenty of excellent recaps out there in the usual places, such as LetsRun and Flotrack. But I do have some shots worth sharing.

Hayward Field is interesting. It’s set up for world-class track meet activity, with this taking the form of huge “warm up” areas. They have a special warmup tracks (both a loop and a straightaway), as well as a giant warmup “field” including open space and areas for privacy tents and massage tables. The back of the stands overlooks this area and it’s a bit like going to the track zoo. You can stand over the warm up area and gaze upon the track stars doing their little pre-race routines.

I have to admit that I felt a little sorry for the meet participants, having to suffer the indignity of being scrutinized by loser douchebags like ourselves. But it was fascinating to be on the observing douchebag side of things.

Here's Kristin Wurth-Thomas doing some dynamic stretches.

Here's Christin Wurth-Thomas doing some dynamic stretches.

Shalane Flanagan and Erin Donahue. Both would go on to run badly. Flanagan looked tense and unhappy warming up (we wondered if she was injured). Donahue just looked nervous.

Shalane Flanagan and Erin Donohue warming up. Both would go on to run badly. Flanagan looked tense and unhappy (we wondered if she was injured). Donohue just looked serious.

The meet featured some great performances and races. For me, the highlight was the women’s 1500m race, which was loaded with great names. I was rooting for Jenny Barringer, the college phenom who I think will continue to do great things during her professional career. She did not disappoint in this race. Here’s a shot of her late in the race, hanging back in ninth place, right behing her 3000m steeplechase rival Anna Willard.

Barringer bides her time on lap number three.

Barringer bides her time on lap number three.

And here she is during the last few seconds of the race, during which she rocketed forward in an attempt to nip the winner, Ethiopian Gelete Burka, at the line. She missed by just .01 of a second. But in the process ran the third fastest time ever for an American woman at that distance, breaking 4:00 and slashing 8 seconds off her PR and nearly 6.5 seconds off the college record. Go, Jenny, go.

Just .01 seconds shy of the win for Jenny B.

Just .01 seconds shy of the win for Jenny B.

That’s all for now. Next up: Corvallis and the Hood River area.

10 Responses

  1. It’s a shame you got Crater Lake on a grey day. On a sunny blue-sky day it really is gawk-worthy. Silver Falls State Park is worth a look if you’re in the area – it has some good walking trails.

    That must have been some last lap from Barringer. Sub-4 is a good barrier. Apparently it was the second fastest drug-free time for an American woman.

  2. Looks good and nice pics to see!.

  3. Running along the BRP this morning found those gosslings that were small when you left getting pretty large. And the geese are walking and sitting right on the path and leaving their droppings, taking advantage of your being out of town. So get back soon. They scare me.

    Remember, we have great views and you needn’t drive 4 1/2 hours to get to them.

    That warm-up area beats the one at Icahn, which is a parking lot below the RFK (nee Tribourough) Bridge. But the Big Apple Circus is next door! Say, which is Jenny B? Oh yeah, the one not wearing one of those yellow shirts.

  4. I raced with Erin Donahue in March at a 5K, she’s a local girl. Took your picture to realize she was such a big deal runner (I’m embarrassingly unaware about such things).

    That blue water is amazing. I live for water shots like that. Thanks for the fun photos.

    • Small world. I did a dinky 5K today and it wasn’t till afterwards that I noticed a cute girl with an Olympic style jacket on, having to do obligatory “great job”s to the finishers. It was Erin Donohue! I finally got my guts up and introduced myself saying a friend had just posted her pic from the meet on her blog.

      She was very nice, was there for one of the teams. So anyway, thinking of you (and your blog) today.

      • Cool. Donahue is supposed to be a class act — very friendly and down to earth. A year ago Kevin wrote about her (and the two runners with whom she trained under John Cook, Shannon Rowbury and Shalane Flanagan; only Rowbury remains with him now). That’s Rowbury in position 7 in the lap three photo of Barringer’s race, by the way.

        Check it out:

        Congrats on that nice 5K time (and 2nd OA). You are getting mightily fast, chica.

      • Thanks girl, now get on home soon, I’m seriously missing your writing.

  5. Very cool that you go to see one of the fastest women’s 1500 m races ever! Stunning to see Barringer take such a huge leap forward.

  6. ohhhh- I would have LOVED the raptor place!!!!

  7. […] Where was she? Not to be found, and not on the results. In the event, she got lost. She can drive hours and hours to find a lousy lake in Oregon and can’t find a beautiful River (even if it’s not a […]

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