A Semi-Regular Mix of Written and Video Documentation of My Travels

Oregon Day 1- Craters, Catches, and Craft Beer

Today was another big driving day, as I drove up the length of Oregon to Portland for the night’s open mic. To fuel up for this journey, I went to a nice local chain called Mellelo’s Coffee Roasters in Medford, OR. They had a cute dancing elephant as their logo and some mighty fine iced coffee. I was gonna need it.

The first stop on my Northward drive was Crater Lake National Park. Along the way to the namesake crater, I learned a valuable lesson that sometimes the simplest graffiti is also the funniest:


The first thing that struck me about the park was all the snow, which was such a contrast from the sunny San Francisco I had been in less the 24 hours before. For scale, I took this picture in the parking lot of the plowed snow banks almost entirely covering the front of the visitor center. Hopefully everyone got out of there beforehand…


Of course the real showstopper of the park was Crater Lake itself, which more than lived up to the hype. It was clear, blue, and massive, it took my breath away. The lake also has a lot of unique and interesting history, as it was once not a lake at all but a volcano called Mt. Mazama which collapsed roughly 7,700 years ago leaving a 2,148 ft. deep 23.3 sq mi crater which over the intervening millennia was mostly filled in by precipitation creating the stunning lake we have today. Clocking in at a depth of 1,949 miles, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and the 9th deepest in the world. Given that fact, an amazing feature of the lake is that there are no lakes flowing in and out of it! It’s just totally self contained and made up from years of precipitation and melted ice, which also lead to it being some of the purest water anywhere in the world being virtually free of any pollutants, which is astounding in this day and age. Some other fun facts about the lake that made me really happy include that the two natural islands in the lake are called Wizard Island and Phantom ship, strongly implying that they were both named by giant nerds, and that oral tradition among the Klamath tribe of Native Americans in the region actually dates far enough back to have records of ancestors who witnessed Mt. Mazama erupt and create the crater, which is sort of mindblowing to imagine. The story has been incorporated into mythology as a fight between the god of the underworld, Llao, and the god of the sky, Skell, which Skell won by destroying Llao’s home of Mt. Mazama. I feel like an eruption that large must have truly seemed only possible as the work of divine beings ~8,000 years ago, and it’s extra amazing to think that the story survived for so long with just oral storytelling. It could so easily have been lost to the crueler aspects of Western Expansion or simply sickness or forgetfulness, and it’s sad to think how many other stories we’ve already lost or are in danger of losing from just not listening. It was so serene by the lake, that I didn’t even really do any hiking I just took some peaceful moments to enjoy the almost unprecedented stillness and beauty.

From there, it was another 3 hour drive to the beautiful but hilariously blandly named town of Eugene. Despite being the butt of an occasional Simpsons joke or two (Matt Groening is from Portland after all), Eugene is a really charming college town with lots of natural beauty and a sense of quirky community. It was also the home of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tester, Ken Kesey, so it’s got a lot of strong authentic hippie vibes.

With all my driving, I had worked up a hefty appetite so I made my way to Eugene’s famous Fisherman’s Market because I was super excited to get some fresh Pacific Seafood. There were actually two famous seafood markets in Eugene, but when I saw Fisherman’s Market’s silly window art work by local artist Leif Lorenzen featuring prawns playing poker on a stoned looking turtle’s belly I knew I had found the right place.

I didn’t actually take this photo because I was so hungry I just barreled in, but I’m happy that someone else took a photo so I could see it again.

I didn’t actually take this photo because I was so hungry I just barreled in, but I’m happy that someone else took a photo so I could see it again.

For my food, it was so hard to pick just one thing to eat because everything looked so good and fresh. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to just take all the crabs they had, and I eventually settled on a sandwich they had called the Philly Fish, which was a take on a Philly Cheesesteak with fresh grilled pacific Wahoo topped with sautéed peppers, onions, and colby cheese, lathered with blackberry BBQ and Sarayo sauce served on a pub roll with criss-cut fries. It was super weird, but incredibly tasty and my god the fish was good. Plus it’s just fun to say Wahoo.


After such a fantastic meal, I wanted to spend a little more time in Eugene since I figured I wouldn’t be able to come back this way later in the week. To make the most of my time here, I decided to do the very Oregon thing and check out a local brewery. I went to Ninkasi Brewing, which I later found out is one of the top ranked breweries in the state but I just picked it because it was closest. I loved it, partly because the beer was so good and largely because they had an outdoor patio and it was such a beautiful day. I got a fantastic beer called the Vanilla Oatis Oatmeal Stout. It had a rich and sweet but not too sweet vanilla flavor, and it was very relaxing to just sip and sit in the lovely weather.


To counteract the beer and prepare for my next 3-ish hours of driving, I got some more coffee at a place called Glass House Coffee Bar which had great coffee and some funky architecture, which I really loved looking at. In true Oregon fashion, the Glass House was also across the street from a glass shop and dispensary which made me chuckle.


Refueled with coffee, I finally made my way to Portland, where I checked in at my Air BnB (which was so much nicer than last night’s and also somehow cheaper, oh the joys of finding cheap lodging each night) and promptly fell asleep. Luckily, I factored in my long drive and general sleepiness and signed up online for a late night open mic at a fun Portland bar called High Dive. They had that hipstery dive bar-chic, with great service, a huge beer selection, and an outdoor patio where everyone could hang out, smoke, drink, and generally have a grand old time. For beer, I got a drink called Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewing which I mostly got because the name gave me a very immature giggle, but which turned out to be rich velvety porter.

For a late night open mic, the crowd was very good and there were a lot of strong comics which made for a fun night. The comics also brought some of that trademark Portland weirdness with more conceptual theatrical bits like one comic having his buddy as a planted heckler who initially seemed to be ruining his set until it morphed into a weird faux-therapy session for the heckler that was very unexpected and funny. It made for a very fun introduction to the scene.

Some Highlights:

Heather MacGowan- People like to judge strippers, but I used to bartend at a strip club and strippers always tip which makes them better than most people.

Rochelle Cochran- Facebook knew I liked women before I did 

Cam Strong -My hair hasn't receded its ceded

Leah- I have a form of synesthesia where to me number have colors. Imagine my rage about hearing the band name Maroon 5. In what world!

Chase Anderson- Being a drunken stupid person at a baby shower is like being a porcupine in a petting zoo 

Nathan Hall- Staying in a bad relation is like being a bad hostage negotiator. “Hey you and those terrorists had some good times”

My personal favorite comic of the night was a woman named Corina Lucas, who had both really clever material and completely owned the stage. My favorite line of hers was “I’m a white trash bitch. I like eating bologna and trying to steal your boyfriend”

My own set went pretty well. I was fairly late in the lineup which was quite late in the night so there was a bit of comedy fatigue set in but I still got some solid laughs so I felt like it was good start to the week.

Favorite Random Sightings: Taxidermy and Cyborgs (odd and specific); Wamba Juice (the evil Jamba Juice); The Fella's Barber Shop (for the fellas); a dispensary on Highway 5 called High-5 (not sure highways should have dispensaries, but credit given for a solid pun); “Shoes Right Here!”

Regional Observations: For how snowy things got up neat crater lake, the rest of Oregon I drove through was greener than I could believe.

Albums Listened To: South Park: Chef Aid by Various Artists (A silly tie-album to an episode that shockingly sticks the landing thanks to Isaac Hayes and a fun mix of ringers, a totally goofy hidden gem); A Space in Time by Ten Years After (fun psychedelic blues rock); Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast (an uneven but occasionally genius double album); Specials by the Specials (a stone cold classic); Sphere by Sphere (a jazz supergroup heavily influenced by Thelonious Monk)

People’s Favorite Jokes:

Again with so much driving, I didn’t see enough people to get anything today so here’s one from the internet:

Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom? The P is silent

Songs of the Day:

Such an immature joke, such incredible execution. Having a soul legend didn’t hurt

good song, good message

This song and video brings me such joy

A very mean very fun song

I wonder how many punk fans have no idea this is just tucked away on a South Park album

Joseph PalanaComment