After lots of hectic work and rearranging of schedules, we left the animals at home and headed off for our first vacation with just the two of us since our honeymoon. We didn't have a lot of time or a big budget, so we planned something simple and close to home. We decided to visit some of the Oregon wineries in the Willamette Valley and get over to Bend so Dan could see the high desert.
Day One - August 5, 2007:
We got off to a bit of a late start, but not too bad. We said goodbye to the dogs, knowing my boss/friend Mindy was going to be there around lunchtime to stay with them until Wednesday and hit the road. We drove nonstop until we got off the I-5 north of Sheridan, OR and stopped at a Quiznos for lunch around 12:30-1:00p.
We had got a wine map from the chamber of commerce in Oregon, but had no idea where to stop and what wineries would be best. Our criteria was that the wine wasn't super expensive and that we didn't have to pay for all the tastings.
Our first wine stop was Duck Pond Cellars. We chose that winery because it had a food market place where we could grab some cheese, bread and meats for lunch later on our trip. The wine wasn't that great. I felt like everything we tasted had a funny finish. Too acidic or too many tanins or something. Not a good choice for the wine, but we found a picnic pack in their food section with salami, some wine soaked goat cheese and come crusty french bread. We also found these little chocolate pieces that were called "Chocolate by numbers" or something like that and each box listed the percentage of cocoa in the candy. We ended up with one dark, one white and a milk chocolate that we snacked on for the rest of the trip.
Next we headed for Torii Mor Vineyard and Winery in the Dundee hills. We drove on the scenic route from Duck Pond, through some neighborhoods and up and up and up a scary dirt road. Just when I thought we were totally lost, we spotted the Japanese style garden at the winery and the sign. We went inside and were told that tasting was $10 each for all eight of their wines. This was probably the best money we spent on the trip as each and every wine was better and more amazing than the next!
We tasted all of these wines:
I thought the Pinot Blanc was fantastic, but we both agreed the best wine was the Deux Verres and we splurged and bought a $45 bottle of wine! We're going to save it for something special.
We walked around the gardens a bit before heading back to the car and on to our next stop at Erath Vineyards just a little ways down the hill from Torii Mor. We tasted their complimentary flight which included:
We also tasted a 2006 Gewurztraminer, Oregon and 2005 Dry Riesling, Oregon, but we didn't love either one of them. We bought a bottle of the 2005 Pinot Noir and some smoked salmon and herb cheese for our picnics and headed to the next winery.
By this time I was a little tipsy from slamming back all those taster glasses. We weren't alltogether displeased when we arrived at Markesh Red Barn Winery to find it closed. We needed a few minutes to digest the wine we'd already had. :)
Back to the highway we made our way to Amity, OR where we found Coehlo Winery. It was a little store just off the highway in town. They had lots of local artists' work to look at and a nice tasting room. We were the only people in there and chatted with the woman behind the bar. She asked where we had stopped and we told her about the wineries we had been to. From the tone of her voice, I guessed that Duck Pond was our big mistake. Like Berringer in Napa. :)
We tasted a flight of wine, but I don't have any notes from there. They had a cute book you could buy there where you could write down the wines you liked that you tried. Probably should have bought that. We did end up buying a bottle of their 2005 Marechal Foch. It's more of a table red, but was very complex and interesting. I also got some truffles made by some local monks in their gift shop as a thank you for Mindy. The server suggested that we not miss Firesteed down the road if we made it there before it closed, so we rushed out.
We managed to get to Firesteed with plenty of time before the 5pm closing. We went into their warehouse into a dark area they had set up for tasting. We had a charming and handsome young man help us with our wines. He was very knowledgable and helped answer several of our questions. I really liked the wines we tasted there. And we left with two bottles of their 2005 Pinot Gris (one for Mindy) and one 2001 Barbera D'Asti. It was very different from other wines we had tasted so we couldn't resist.
Leaving the winery, Dan kept insisting that the logo and name sounded familiar. I couldn't remember ever buying any so I said he was crazy. We got home to find that we already had a bottle of the 2004 Pinot Gris that my mother had given us the weekend before while we were attending my grandmother's funeral. Oops! Should have remembered to check our notes before shopping. But I guess okay since we liked it so much.
That was the end of our wine tasting day and we headed for Eugene. We took a small detour through Junction City to see them setting up for the Scandanavian Festival starting on Thursday 8/9. We saw a group of kids practicing their dancing in the pavilion. So sorry that we were missing it!
Got into Eugene and started looking for our hotel. We saw a pet store with a pile of puppy mill Papillons in the window. I was ready to bust the window and rescue them all, but Dan talked me out of it by saying, "Do we really need 5 puppies at home?" He's right. Poor doggies. Hope they find good homes.
We arrived at our hotel, the Best Western New Oregon Motel, and got checked in. I got us a room with a balcony overlooking the river, but it wasn't that spectacular. We dumped off our luggage and headed back downtown to a brewery we saw on the way in.
Had dinner at the Steelhead Brewery. I had a club sandwich and Dan had a blue cheese burger with a Hefewizen from the brewery. We ate out on the patio and watched Eugene go by.
We drove around and explored the area a little bit and then back to the hotel just in time to clean up and head to bed.
Day Two - August 6, 2007:
We were up early as we slept terrible. We have to remember to bring our own pillows when we travel as it really does make a big difference. We hit the continental breakfast in the hotel. Nothing special, but it was fast and we were packed, checked out and ready to hit the highway early.
We headed for McKenzie pass over to Sisters. I wanted Dan to see both Santiam Pass and McKenzie pass, but I decided on McKenzie because it had the most scenery and better stops. Plus, we do love a narrow and winding road.
In Leaburg, OR (just a little ways before Nimrod!) we saw this fantastic gallery on the side of the highway and we had to stop and get a closer look. We took so many pictures and I wanted to buy so many things there! The River Run Gallery featured sculpture from Ken Scott (kenscottsculptures.com). So many fantastic pieces. It was about 9am and we had a lot to see. Since the gallery didn't open until after 10am, we headed back out on the road.
Took some back roads back to the highway that unfortunately made us bypass the town of McKenzie Bridge. One of the people from Big Brother is from that town and I had wanted to see if there were any signs up for her. No big loss, but whatever....
We stopped at the Ranger Station to buy a Forest Pass so we could park at trailheads and grabbed a map of the loop and headed up towards McKenzie Pass. I can't tell you how disappointed and annoyed I was when I saw this sign!!!
We had a talk and decided to drive up until we couldn't anymore. I couldn't figure out how there was still snow on the pass this late in the year! We just headed up the road and tried not to think about it. We parked at the Proxy Falls trailhead and did the 1.5ish mile loop to both falls. Climbing over all that lava rock isn't great for my ankles, so we had the hiking poles. They helped a lot.
Loved seeing both waterfalls as they are both so different. The trail wasn't empty, but we were pretty much by ourselves out there. Saw some berry bushes, but couldn't figure out what they were. They looked almost like blueberries, but were more salmon colored. I was tempted to try a few, but decided that we had too much to see for me to risk dirahea for a few berries. ha ha
The second waterfall was the most interesting and it fell down a long cascade into a big pool. But the pool didn't empty out anywhere. There was no river running out of it. No fall down to another place. A good quantity of water was coming down, but didn't seem to go anywhere. We presumed that it just went down between the lava flow and ended up somewhere. Interesting. Too bad there wasn't a sign or brochure with more info.
Back onto the road, we came to the closure not too far down the road at Alder Springs Campground. We stopped to take a picture and talked to a road worker. He told us there was a big slide at Deadhorse Grade where the road climbs steeply on a series of switchbacks. I was so upset because I thought Dan was going to miss the big lava flow and the observatory at the top. I had been keeping it a secret and I told him all about it. I was so looking forward to coming over the pass and him seeing all that lava... SURPRISE! But I was so happy when the road worker told us that the road was open past the observatory on the other side. YAY!
We turned around and headed back for Santiam Pass. We stopped at Clear Lake for our picnic lunch of cheese, bread and smoked salmon. YUM! We set the blanket out by the side of the lake and it wasn't long until we were joined by a gang of ducks who were hoping for a handout. They came out of the lake like something out of a George Romero zombie movie, slowly getting closer and closer to us. They were quite persistant, but we managed to avoid sharing our lunch with them. The spot was gorgeous and the sun warm. Very nice picnic.
We stopped at the pass to walk a little ways on the Pacific Crest Trail and take some pictures for Dan's sister, Geolyn, who is making her way north from the border with Mexico. At the trailhead we saw a white bucket. I wanted to open it and see what it was, but decided that wasn't good trail etiquette. We just decided to wonder what was in there.
We got down to where the McKenzie Pass road comes out and headed up toward the closure. We got up to the Dee Wright Observatory at the top of the big lava flow. We climbed up to the top of the observatory and hiked the Lava Loop trail there. Lots of interesting sights. We drove on to the closure on this side of the road, stopping at the PCT Trailhead to take more pictures for Geolyn and then headed back down the mountain.
We headed down into Sisters, OR and parked the car. My mother had been through Sisters earlier in the year and bought a T-shirt for the Quilt show. Unfortunately, she bought the wrong size for her and the right size for me. I have a new shirt, but mom didn't get one for her. I went to the Stitchin' Post to see if they had a large for her, but they were sold out. I called her and asked if she wanted an XL, but she said no thanks. We stopped at a grocery store and got some cole slaw for our dinner picnic and headed off to Bend.
We didn't have a good map, but somehow managed to use our master-navigational skills (or mastervagator skills) to find our hotel in downtown and got checked into the Red Lion. We dumped our luggage in the room and headed out for Mt. Bachelor. I had hoped to find a place open, but we were too late and the road up to the ski area was already closed for the night. Instead we drove around to Sparks Lake where we had another nice picnic with our coleslaw and bread and cheese. Yummy and a beautiful spot. We finished dinner just as the sun went down behind the mountains and it started to get dark. Back to the hotel where we got organized and quickly fell asleep after a long day.
Day Three - August 7, 2007:
We had the free continental breakfast in the hotel lobby and got cleaned up and ready for another day out. I was feeling tired and out of sorts. I think maybe I was dehydrated from yesterday and vowed to drink more water. I also wanted to take it a little slow and easy for the most part.
We stopped for coffee and some yummy banana bread for a snack later on at Strictly Organic Coffee Roasters. Then we drove up to the top of Pilot Butte in Bend for the 360-degree view from up there. So beautiful! We saw lots of people out doing their morning fitness climb up the butte.
Our next stop was the High Desert Museum. It was a very interesting museum with lots of great exhibits and many animals that live in the High Desert. Dan talked to one of the "living history" women about her pioneer garden. She kept calling him "Good Sir" which was too funny for me, so I wandered off to look at other things.
We stopped to see the Bird show, but it wasn't very interesting considering the GREAT one we saw in British Columbia on our honeymoon. I'm afraid that has spoiled all raptor shows for me in the future. :)
We stopped in Sunriver to get some more water for the cooler and for poor Sonya. Dan went into a Real Estate place to talk about home and condo rentals. Dan's coworker was just there last week so we drove up to the lodge to check it out. I'm afraid that we're not really the Sunriver Lodge type. Too chi-chi, rich for my blood. I liked some of the rentals in the area. We might go back there some day.
Back on the highway, we headed for Paulina Lakes. Had another picnic by the shore of East Lake at a lodge on the far end of the road. Then we stopped and did a little hike near the Obsidian Flow. I didn't climb all the way to the top because I was still so tired, but Dan went up to check it out.
On the way back down we did stop to see Paulina Falls pouring out of the crater. Such a beautiful waterfall. It looked like there was another viewpoint upriver and across on the other side of the falls, but we never could find a place to cross the river anywhere. We hiked up through the picnic grounds, but couldn't find a bridge. Would have been nice to have a map.
From the highway, we headed south towards LaPine and cut over between Wickiup and Crane Prarie Reservoirs to the Mt. Bachelor Loop. We stopped at a number of gorgeous lakes. Dan got a little excited about wearing his Teva's and headed out into the lake. I was curious about a sign we saw and so we drove up to the trailhead for a place called Winopee. Really? Wino pee? Ewwww.
Back on the road, we looped around and got to Mt. Bachelor before the road closed and went up to the ski area so Dan could take a look around. We browsed around the store for a little while and then headed back down to our hotel.
I was still pretty tired so we had a quick dinner at the Black Bear Diner next door. I went back to the room and Dan took the car into Downtown Bend to walk around and see the sights. He stopped for a martini at the Bend Distillery and walked around the riverfront park. When he got back to the hotel, we got a movie on the TV and relaxed for the night.
Day Four - August 8, 2007:
Last day of our trip! We had breakfast at the Black Bear Diner next door to the hotel and got packed and checked out. We swung by Strictly Organic Coffee to get a couple of coffees and some espresso beans for Dan. They were out of that fantastic banana bread. Darnit.
We headed north out of Bend, taking a quick detour to see Petersens Rock Garden again. I remembered it bigger and more interesting. Dan wasn't impressed. :) We did find the old highway and took that north until it met up with the main highway.
Our next stop was at Smith Rocks. My aunt and uncle had been telling us that we had to stop there so many times that I almost felt obligated. But as soon as we saw the rocks off to the East, we would have had to stop there anyway. :)
I was still pretty tired, so we just walked around a little bit. We still had a lot to see, so we didn't do any big hikes, but we walked the rim and took some pictures. I'd love to go back there and hike when we have more time.
I wanted to swing by Ka-nee-tah to show Dan the teepees and the hot springs. As we drove out there, we saw lots of wild horses all over the desert out there. Beautiful! I was surprised to see a HUGE building on the ridge where I thought the campground was. Turns out they have built a big casino and lodge out there.
We got to the camping and hotsprings area only to find that we'd have to pay $5 to park and walk in. I decided that was too much money to take a picture, so we drove on. The detour we took was a little longer than we would have liked, but the scenery was spectacular.
We got to the turn off for Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge around lunchtime and headed up into the clouds. I was really worried that Dan wouldn't be able to see the mountain. That's happened to us a few times at Mt. Ranier. We got up to the lodge and parked without trouble. We went into the lodge and had a FANTASTIC lunch in the Cascade Room. I had a chicken foccacia sandwich with avocado and a cranberry walnut chutney along with a strawberry lemonade. Dan had a Salmon BLT with a glass of the Yamhill Pinot Noir. By far it was the best meal of our trip.
After lunch, Dan ran out to the car to get our coats as the wind was blowing and it was clouding up. I wandered around the lodge a little bit and managed to find a tour of the hotel just starting. Dan came back in and joined me on the tour. Our ranger guide was named ErickA and she was what Seinfeld would have called and up-talker. Every one of her sentenCES, ended with her voice going up on the last syllaBLE. Almost like she was constantly asking a questION? It was annoying, but the information was interesting and the tour wasn't that long. :)
After the tour, we snuck down one of the hallways so we could check out a room. The front desk told me the rooms start at around $100 a night. That seems like a lot for that tiny bed and old room. I was glad we got to see a room though.
We stopped in the lobby to ask the ranger where we could find the Pacific Crest Trailhead. She was giving hiking advice to a couple in front of us. The woman looked a little like whacked out Brittney Spears and the guy was about 10-15 years older. I couldn't figure out why she was spending so much time telling them about hikes when they were both wearing sandals. ha ha We finally got our directions and headed up so Dan could take some pictures for his sister.
I didn't want to do the big climb, so I stayed closer to the lodge and the amphitheater. The sun was out again and I didn't need that jacket Dan went back to the car to get for us. Oh well. I wandered around and watched some kids snowboarding up on the mountain and watched the hikers coming down from the trails. Met up with a very happy Dan and headed back to the car.
It was about 4pm when we hit traffic near Gresham and cut over to the 205 north. Got on I-5 and made good time on the way home. Stopped for fast food in Belfair for dinner and got home to two dogs that were very happy to see us! The cats were glad to see us to, but it's not the same as a happy dog. :)
We had a nice trip. Once again, I felt like I needed a few days of vacation after my vacation, but Thursday morning found both Dan and I back at work. It was nice to get away and I think Dan enjoyed exploring around an area he really hadn't been before. We came home with 6 bottles of wine (5 for us) and lots of pictures and memories. I hope to get back up there and explore more in some of the areas we saw.
I'm still disappointed that we didn't get to drive over McKenzie Pass, but we did manage to see everything that had been on our list as well as a few surprises. All in all, it was a great trip!
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