Crater Lake

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Wyoming, Crater Lake, Snowy Range, Laramie, fishing, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Your LDS Radio, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Many years ago we lived in Laramie, Wyoming. I love the state of Wyoming … the antelope, the sagebrush, the rattlesnakes. Okay, maybe not the rattlesnakes.

I could wax poetic about the town of Laramie, as well. The kind of poetic that resembles Edgar Allen Poe’s darker works. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give Laramie a minus fifty-two. The town has two seasons—“Almost Summer,” which lasts from June 1st to June 2nd, and “Definitely Winter,” which runs the rest of the year. In addition, no matter which of the two seasons you’re not enjoying, the wind blows every day. Every single, solitary day.

Lest you think I’m just being negative, I’ll tell you that Laramie does have an up side. During the winter, it only snows once. After that, the wind just blows ice crystals back and forth across the town in a perpetual blizzard.

All kidding aside, Laramie does have some nice features. All right, I’ll tell the truth; Laramie has one nice feature.

It’s a set of mountains called the Snowy Range*, which contains a beautiful azure lake named Crater Lake.

Back then my family liked to fish, and all the old-timers said Crater Lake was the place to go. The fish there grew ten feet long, weighed two-hundred pounds, and were all starving to death. I could never quite figure out how a fish could weigh two-hundred pounds and starve at the same time, but that’s what people told us.

At any rate, we decided Crater Lake was the place where we most wanted to fish, so one day, we packed up all our fishing gear, got a lunch together and threw the dog in the car. By then there was no room for our seven-year-old son, Davey.

“Should we tie him to the windshield?” Russ grinned in jest.

“Naw, then we’ll just have to pick bugs out of his teeth,” I said. So, Davey squeezed in the back seat with the dog, and off we went, like a herd of turtles.

Now let me ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to do something all by yourself, with no help from anyone else? That’s how we felt that day.

Wait, let me rephrase that. We didn’t want help from any people. Cows, deer or elk could offer suggestions. A GPS receiver was allowed, too, but since it hadn’t been invented yet—to be truthful, this was so long ago that fire had barely been discovered—we pulled out an old, tattered map. After finding the little blue speck on it that was the lake, we headed on our way. According to our calculations, it was about a seventy-mile drive on the highway, a five-mile drive on a dirt road and then we’d be on the shining shores of Crater Lake.

The drive on the highway was fine; it was the dirt road that turned into a problem. Apparently, no one had bothered to tell the mapmaker that there were three different dirt roads every time the map showed one.

We drove around for five hours on bumpity roads. Finally, Russ stopped the car and pointed to the right of the car. “Look. We’ve finally found it!”

Davey, the dog, and I all leaned out the window. “Where?” I asked, cocking my head and wondering if Russ has been sniffing gas fumes lately.

“Daddy, all I see is a mud puddle.” Davey patted the dog’s head before pushing her out of the way so he could point at the puddle.

“Yup. That’s probably the closest we’re going to get to anything even resembling a lake,” Russ said with a laugh.

I tossed the map on the floor. “That is so not funny.”

We drove on … and on. Finally, we spotted a lodge. Real men don’t ask for directions, but real women do, so we stopped and walked inside.

“Are we anywhere near Crater Lake?” I asked. “Like maybe on the same planet?”

The guy at the front desk said, “Oh it’s real close by. You just go down the road about a quarter mile, and turn onto the first dirt road. Drive down that for another mile and you’ll see the trail that leads to the lake.”

Raising my eyebrows, I looked at Russ. If there was one thing we’d learned in life, it was that when something sounded easy, it usually wasn’t.

“Do we need a truck?” Russ asked. His voice held a note of suspicion—we’d seen plenty of muffler-crumpling boulders already in the trek.

“Oh, no, I drive it all the time, and I don’t have a truck.” His voice cracked causing me to look more closely at him. His peach-fuzz face indicated he didn’t know how to shave. Did he even own a driver’s license?

Ignoring the mental warning flags that waved at us like a matador taunting a bull, we climbed in the car, full of optimism at continuing the journey. When we got to the first dirt road, things went a little haywire. Russ took one look and said, “The guy said he drove this road without a truck? It must be because he had a Sherman tank.”

Despite the fact we were tootling along in a Chevette—a car that resembled a roller skate on steroids—and that the vehicle sat a mere six inches off the ground, do you think we’d let a little thing like that stop us? Of course not …

(To be continued.)

*Photos from Snowy Range Views, photographer unknown.

What's playing in my head (and on my computer): Long Lost Child by Mindy Gledhill (on Your LDS Radio)

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