You've Got a GPS in Oregon

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Ellen Lyle of Raleigh, N.C., is the latest contributor to our Your Vacation in Lights feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to share the dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip can be the next guy's day-maker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report -- and become eligible to win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.

THE TRIP: A U-shaped turn in western Oregon: south down the Oregon Coast, east to Crater Lake, then north alongside the Cascade Mountains to Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. We flew into and out of Portland and rented a Subaru Outback for the drive.

WHO WENT? Me; my husband, Hank; and our new GPS device.

WHEN? July.

WHY? Depends on whom you ask. For Hank, three of the nation's highest-rated golf courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. For me, that gorgeous Oregon scenery.

HOW LONG?11 days.

GETTING THERE WAS . . . supposed to be easier with our GPS and almost always was. Hank picked a model that spoke directions out loud, so he wouldn't have to read while driving. The voice was female; he called her Jill. On the day we drove from Crater Lake to Mount Hood, I started calling her the Other Woman because of her strong difference of opinion with me over the best route.

IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT WHEN . . . Mount Hood suddenly popped into view on a lonely stretch of U.S. Forest Service road, just after we'd wandered half-lost on a long section of an unmarked one-lane road. The mountain was smack above the middle of the road. We never saw a better view of it during the rest of the trip.

I GRITTED MY TEETH HARDEST WHEN . . . our GPS went quiet on that section of one-lane road connecting scenic routes on the western side of the Cascades to a highway to Mount Hood. That's a grand total of one lane, not one lane in each direction. As shadows grew long, I felt a twinge of fear. Fortunately, we made it to our hotel room before dark.

CHEAPEST THRILL: Searching the tide pools at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area near Newport, which cost five bucks for the entry fee. We saw translucent green anemones with pink-tinged tentacles; sea stars colored purple or peach; crabs in a variety of colors, including brilliant red; and deep purple sea urchins.

FAVORITE MEAL: The pizza at McKee's Pub at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Best I'd had in years.

BIGGEST SPLURGE: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, at just over $1,800 for four nights, three rounds of golf for one, and most meals. It was worth it.

WORST THING ABOUT OUR HOTEL: The tiny room at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. We had to choreograph our movements. The Timberline is such a neat old hotel, with incredible views and a fine restaurant. I'd stay there again, but only in a bigger room.

ONE THING I'D DO DIFFERENTLY: Take insect repellent. I'd read so much about how pure the water in Crater Lake was that it didn't occur to me that the lake would be a nursery for mosquitoes. Still, it was worth it for a close-up look at that unbelievably blue water.

Want to see your own vacation in lights? We'll highlight one report on the last Sunday of the month. To enter, use the categories above as a guide (use as many as you wish or add your own; for a list, go to and send your report to Your Vacation in Lights, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; or

Entries chosen for publication become eligible to receive a Canon PowerShot A610 (or equivalent) digital camera at the end of the year. Entries will be chosen on the basis of humor, originality and usefulness; are subject to editing; and become property of The Post, which may edit, publish, distribute or republish them in any form. Employees of The Post and their immediate families are not eligible. No purchase necessary.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company