Oh, oh, oh, Oregon! Its beauty steals my breath away. Walls of Douglas firs and hemlocks towered over us as we drove on the Rogue/Umpqua scenic byway toward Crater Lake. And the lake itself? Deep blue water with touches of turquoise so magical you think it must be a painting, it just couldn’t be real. A few hills still had snowpack and adventurous kids slid down  on saucers.

We camped at nearby Diamond Lake and hiked through the Umpqua National Forest visiting three waterfalls.

Everywhere wildflowers enthralled the eye: acres of blue penstemon with dabbles of orange agoseris, yellow arnica, dull rose Douglas dusty maiden, cerise fireweed, red Indian paintbrush. Deep in the forest we spotted rare gnome plants that send cluster of peachy inflorescence just a few inches above the soil with no leaves at all.