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|Vacation Locally : Columbia River edition : Monday, 26 January 2015 00:20 PST : a service of The Public Press|
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by Linda Pinkham
Whether you were planning to fly or drive, travel costs have risen at a much higher rate than incomes. Along with the high cost of travel, prices for food and everyday necessities have gone up as well, due to high shipping costs, which have made nearly everyone budget conscious.
Most of us are unwilling to give up our vacations entirely; and we don't have to. A couple of new vacation strategies -- the "staycation" and "slow travel" -- have come to the green movement's forefront recently as ways to lower your carbon footprint. Both strategies will ensure that you have a relaxing and affordable green vacation, while also helping out local economies at nearby tourist destinations that are experiencing higher vacancy rates and lower attendance numbers this season.
Be a "Local" Tourist
A "staycation" involves little or no travel. You actually stay at home (but no work is allowed), and become a tourist in your own town. For example, residents of Ashland could take the kids to the Science Works Museum, and then head off to Emigrant Lake's water slides for the afternoon, and maybe even camp overnight. For a more romantic and adult outing, a couple could take a walk in Lithia Park, go downtown for supper, and then take in a Shakespeare Festival play -- maybe even book a room at a local B&B. This year, locals get to play the parts of those tourists who have failed to show up and clog the streets and shops of Ashland. Go ahead, put on that Hawaiian shirt and don't forget to wear your camera around your neck!
Linger Until You Loiter
"Slow travel" is a strategy that involves going somewhere, but instead of speeding through a huge itinerary, travelers instead linger long enough to learn everything about their destination and experience all that it has to offer. You don't need to travel far this season to have a fabulous vacation. Our region has no shortage of places to see and things to do.
Our vacations in the past were almost always "great escapes" and long distance "getaways." In reality, most of us have not taken the time to actually experience where we live. For example, we had lived in Southern Oregon for more than 10 years before going to see Crater Lake. If you haven't experienced seeing the deep blue, crystalline clear waters of this national park and local landmark, why consider traveling to some other more distant vista?
Secret Local Vacation Getaway #1
In the vicinity of Crater Lake, you can find plenty to do. Our cover this issue portrays one of the nearby activities -- exploring the canoe trails through the marshes in the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. On a recent trip to the refuge, we saw bald and golden eagles, osprey, grebes, pelicans, beavers, otters, mink, pileated woodpeckers, ducks of all types, herons, western tanagers, and more. The marshes absolutely teem with activity.
For years, the overnight stopover for travelers to Crater Lake was an old-fashioned motor court camp at what is now Rocky Point Resort -- off of Westside Road, which runs along the west shore of Klamath Lake. At Rocky Point you can stay in one of the historic cabins, or rent a tent site right on the shore of the lake. Camping amenities include showers, toilets and spring water. If you have an RV, sites with full hookups are reasonable. The resort rents kayaks and canoes, and can give advice about routes to explore in the marshes.
In addition to activities on the lake, we use Rocky Point as our base of operations for hikes in Crater Lake National Park, and Mt. Thielsen and Sky Lakes wilderness areas.
Secret Local Vacation Getaway #2
When was the last time that you visited the Oregon Coast? Even though the commercial salmon fishing season is closed, that leaves plenty of salmon in the rivers for sport fishing enthusiasts to catch. All the coastal rivers are still open, and a very limited season for salmon is planned in the ocean. You can still charter a boat for bottom fishing, and you can go crabbing and clam digging. If fishing isn't your pastime, you can buy the freshest fish around right at the docks in any of the towns, and they'll even pack it on ice and/or ship it for you.
If you want to leave the fishing to the professionals, you can have a great time exploring all the tide pools and beaches between Crescent City and Bandon. You can hike 300 miles of the Oregon Coastal Trail, or parts of it, and bike along the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the West. You might try surfing or wind boarding, with rentals and lessons readily available.
Along the themes of being a tourist, you can visit the Trees of Mystery, pet a shark, and see cheese being made and taste samples at the Rumiano Cheese factory in Crescent City. Further north, you can visit the botanical gardens in Brookings, drive over the tallest bridge in Oregon, eat fresh crab on the dock and throw the shells back in the bay, take a jet boat ride up the Rogue River, climb Humbug Mountain, and take the kids or grandkids to the Dinosaur Park. You may find that you need to travel slower than you had planned just to fit it all in.
Have a great summer and don't forget: "vacation locally!" It will revive both you and the local economy.
More carbon lite travel tips appear in our Green Notes.
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