July 2-6, 2009

Bend, Oregon Trip

Lately there has been a shortage of good long trips in our life. We decided to use some of Dan's vacation time and get out of town for 5 days over the 4th of July weekend. This was our longest trip since we went to California for the family celebration of our wedding in Fall of 2004. I have been seeing a lot of articles about Bend, Oregon over the Winter and Spring. We still have a pretty long list of things we wanted to do from earlier trips, but couldn't due to road conditions. I read about some fireworks and a Pet Parade on July 4th. Reservations were made and plans were started.

After some obsession over checking road conditions, Dan convinced me that everything we wanted to do would be open in time and we packed the car and headed out.

Thursday July 2nd:

We got almost everything packed the night before we left, so we just had some quick gathering of last minute things and time to shower, dress and shove down a bowl of cereal before we left. I loaded up the dishwasher and went to look for other things to go in before I started it. (Fast Forward to Friday evening when it struck me that I forgot to actually start the dishwasher. Darn it.)

We hit the road at a pretty decent time and made it part way off the island before a quick turn around back to the house to get Dan's bike shoes. :) THEN we were off and on the road.

Dan had gotten the Google Bug a few months ago and had looked up John Tomac and found out that he has a line of Mountain Bikes, but none are sold at stores near us. He found a store in West Linn, Oregon and I had promised that next time we were going through, we'd stop and take a look. So a stop in West Linn was on the agenda for us.

We took 205 south to get down there. As we were getting off the freeway, we were talking about places to stop for lunch in the area. Then I saw a Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Being good democrats, we decided that if it was good enough for Obama & Biden, it was a good place to stop for lunch.

Dan ate a ton of peanuts while we waited for our burgers, fries & onion rings. It was crowded in the restaurant and too hot on the patio out front, so we took our greasy bag to a nearby park and had a picnic lunch.

During our lunch, my mother called to say that my dad was having foot problems and they had been at the doctors in Portland on their way up to Canada to visit Glacier & Banff.

After our lunch, we headed over to Cayuse Cycles so Dan could look at bikes. Lucy and I took a walk around the downtown area on Willamette Falls Drive. I forgot how fragrant the greater Portland area neighborhoods are this time of year. The smell of roses & star jasmine was everywhere!

We looped back around to the bike shop and spent a little while talking to the owner out front before we left. He had advice about the McKenzie River Trail Dan would ride later in the weekend and some other trails that we've heard of in our area. He was very nice and we enjoyed meeting him. Then it was back into the car and a brief stop to get some gas before getting back on the highway and on our way to Bend.

Unfortunately Highway 205 had other plans for us. It was a total parking lot. After about 20 minutes, we made it 2 exits or so down the road and had enough. I grabbed the map and tried to find us a shortcut. We headed towards Estacada and tried to find a shortcut to Sandy. We made good time until we got close to the highway and it was backed up again. I like to think we saved a little time taking our short cut.

Once me made a brief stop at the rest area at Government Camp, we were on our way down into the desert and to our hotel in Bend.

At the hotel we signed up for their new program. We are now able to add Lucy to our Red Lion Rewards Card. This is a bonus because not only do we no longer have to pay the $20/day to have her with us, but she gets 250 rewards points every time she stays with us, helping us to get free stuff sooner! The check in process was smooth and quickly we were unloading our stuff into our good old room on the 2nd floor above the pool. Dan was thrilled to find us with a view of Pilot Butte from our room. More on that later. :)

We took a few minutes to relax after unloading the car and get cleaned up from the road. It was pretty warm in Bend, but not too terrible. I'd guess it was about 85 degrees around 6:30 when we headed out for dinner. We found a good parking place in the shade for Lucy and headed across the street to The Old St. Francis Pub at McMenamins. We sat on the patio but Lucy couldn't join us.

I had a turkey and avocado sandwich with a really interesting aioli sauce. Dan had the mahi fish and chips and a Wheat beer. I had lemonade. It was nice to sit outside in the shade with the breeze.

While we were sitting, waiting for our food, some guy walked by on the sidewalk a few times and then climbed up into a tree in front of the restaurant and just sat there. At one point his wallet fell out of his pocket and I thought he'd come down to get it, but he just waited for someone to walk by and asked them to hand it to him. The lady didn't even blink. She just picked up the wallet and handed it to a guy in a tree. Bend is a strange place.

Dan went to find the bathroom or something and was gone from the table when the tree man's date showed up and wandered around looking for him. After she went to the back of the restaurant he called her to ask, "Why do you keep walking right past me?" She came back around the corner on her phone and said, "Where are you?" Of course he couldn't answer because he was in the tree right above her, but a lady at a table near us was trying to be subtle as she pointed up. Then the guy jumped out of the tree and laughs were had by all. (Well, almost all. I was still trying to figure out why a grown up would climb a tree. I need to reread Little Prince again, don't I?) After giving the group a hard time for giving his hiding space away, the couple went inside by the theater. Dan missed the whole thing.

After dinner we took a little walk with Lucy around town. Then we took the car down Newport Avenue to find a sushi restaurant I heard about and a grocery store that had a good deli. After that it was getting late after a long day and we headed back to the hotel for some news and sleepy time. Dan booted up the laptop and checked the road conditions to find all the roads at Crater Lake had opened on Thursday! HURRAY!

Friday July 3rd:

The problem with an east facing room is that the sun comes up really early when it's summer in the Northwest. We woke up before we were really done sleeping, but once light has hit me, I'm awake. So it was into the shower and off to the buffet breakfast at the hotel. I had little egg omelette things and Dan had the waffles. Yum! We brought a sausage patty back to the room for Lucy too. We loaded the car with what we needed and headed out.

We made a quick stop at the Newport Market to get a sandwich for lunch and a couple of local beers for Dan to drink on our trip. From there we made our way over to Highway 97 and headed south.

We have been waiting a long time to get to Crater Lake. I sort of recall going as a child, but nothing specific. We wouldn't have a lot of time to see everything and we were limited by having Lucy with us in the National Park where dogs are only allowed in parking lots (no more than 50' from the road) and campgrounds so no trail hiking for us that would take us away from the car for very long.

We stopped on the way down to look for the "BSR Dog Walk Cache". We found it pretty easily and had a little walk around with Lucy. She doesn't really understand the whole cache thing and isn't very patient when we're looking around. But we found a travel bug and were pretty excited about our find.

Dan at PCTOur next stop was at the trailhead for access to the Pacific Crest Trail. We had a potty break and looked around a bit. The mosquitoes were biting already, so we got out the sunscreen and bug spray and put a little on. Then we made the climb up into the park.

There was a small line at the entrance station, but it wasn't too bad. We drove up to where the East Rim Road cuts off to the left and stopped in the parking lot and climbed up to the rim so Dan could see the lake for the first time from the ground and not from flying over it. It was quite beautiful. I was surprised how much snow was still around on the ground.

Crater Lake 1st view

We took the East Rim Trail around to The Cleetwood Trail. This is the trail that climbs (waaaaay) down to the boat ramp for the boat tour and ferry out to Wizard Island. Lucy couldn't go, so we wandered around at the top of the trail while Dan went down a few switchbacks to see the views. We found ourselves not stopping too long in any location as the mosquitoes were thick out there.

Cleetwood Trail Views
Cleetwood Trail Views
Cleetwood Trail Views

From there we continued on the road, stopping at a few overlooks and vista points. We turned in at Cloudcap Overlook and made our way up the hill to the top. We found a good parking place and got out our sandwich. We each had half of the sandwich while we enjoyed the views and did some people watching. Some people went over the wall and climbed way out towards the rim. Idiots.

Cloudcap Overlook View
 
Idiots at Cloudcap Overlook
Click to embiggen and see the idiots on the rock at the bottom right

As we were getting ready to get back in the car and HUGE freezing cold raindrop hit me on the arm and made me yell out a little bit. Dan looked at me like I was crazy when I said it was raining. He could hear them hitting around him on the ground, but none touched him. I was already back in the car when he finally felt one and it started to pick up. The rain didn't last long though. Not too bad.

We took the turnoff to go out to the Pinnacles Overlook. We dropped in elevation and the temperatures climbed up pretty quickly. We didn't have the car with the temperature gauge, but I'd guess it was in the upper 80's to low 90's there. We snacked on grapes and cherries and had some interesting views of the Pinnacles on the way in. It wasn't quite what I was expecting when I saw "Pinnacles" on the map, but they sure are interesting.

Basically these Pinnacles are formed from fumaroles. A hot flow of lava came through and gas vents formed in the flow. As the flow cooled, these vents continued to do their fumarole stuff and cook the lava around them into a more solid rock. Now the looser stuff has eroded away, leaving these giant 100+ foot tall columns. They are hollow inside.

Pinnacles near Crater Lake
Pinnacles near Crater Lake
Pinnacles near Crater Lake

Again, Dan took off down the trail a short distance while Lucy and I walked around the parking area and on the road a bit. We had to keep moving because if we stopped for more than 15 seconds or so, a swarm of mosquitoes would attack. Ah, summer in the mountains!

We headed back to the rim and made the quickest stop ever at the Phantom Ship Overlook. We usually like to hang out and walk around and read all the signs, but just pulling into the parking lot, we could see the giant swarms of mosquitoes They were all over a car in the parking lot with two people inside. Those bloodthirsty little buggers were just waiting for them to get out.

We ran over to the sign where Dan did this:

Phantom Ship at Crater Lake
Phantom Ship Sign

Takes picture of Phantom Ship. Takes picture of sign. Mumbles something about reading the sign later. Runs back to car, swatting mosquitoes off his forehead, neck and arms.

I was standing there swatting my own mosquitoes and Dan was halfway back to the car already. I hadn't even seen the Phantom Ship yet. :) I took a quick look and chased after Dan who was already back in the car, trying to kill the mosquitoes that followed him into the car.

I've done quite a bit of camping and wandering in the mountains. I know mosquitoes, but these were kamikaze or something. They were VERY aggressive and persistent. Phew!

We made it around to the Sun Notch trailhead and found a nice shady spot to park the car. We left Lucy and grabbed our hiking poles and made the climb up to Sun Notch on the side of the rim. It was quite a climb for me at this altitude, but Dan scrambled on ahead to stay ahead of the mosquitoes I gave in and let them have at me when I needed a break. There was some snow at the bottom of the trail, but after that first little bit, the trail was clear.

Sun Notch Trail at Crater Lake
Sun Notch Trail at Crater Lake
Sun Notch Trail at Crater Lake

We got up to the rim and had a look around for a few seconds before the mosquitoes descended. We took turns swiping them off each other's backs. Dan continued on the loop up along the rim, but I'd had enough bugs and heights and made my way back down towards the truck. By the time I got all the bugs that followed me into the car out the window or squished, Dan was back and we headed for the Visitor Center. On our way it started raining again. Those drops were big and cold, even though there were only a few clouds with lots of sunbreaks.

According to the newsletter we got at the entrance, there are two visitor centers. One is at the Park Headquarters and shows a movie. We looked and looked for the sign, but never did find it. We found a place we thought it should be, but the signs had all been removed. I guess that visitor center was still closed. Nice of them to mention it in the newsletter. :) But we did find Rim Village pretty easily and found a parking lot quickly. It was raining pretty good when we stopped at the restrooms. By the time I came out, it was getting much lighter so I didn't want to go get raincoats. I told Dan that we weren't made of spun sugar and probably wouldn't melt. I'm still not sure he was convinced. :)

We went off to try to find the visitor center. We quickly avoided the gift shop as it was full of people trying to stay out of the rain. We kept walking and walking around the rim, but didn't see anything. The sun was coming out so I wanted to get back to Lucy before she got too hot so we decided to move the car further up and see if we could find anything.

We found a CCC looking building that had some rangers answering questions and selling books. I bought a road guide and Dan wanted to walk down the side of the rim a bit. I headed back to get Lucy while Dan headed down the trail a bit.

Lucy would have loved to go hike with Daddy, but she had to stay on the sidewalk by the road. What a bummer! I get it. Dogs can disturb the wildlife and people are awfully irresponsible with their dogs. On our way in to find a parking spot closer to the lodge, we saw someone with a big yellow lab stand there while he pooped on the grass and then just walk away without picking it up. We yelled "Pick up your poop!" out the window, but they didn't hear or chose to ignore us. What people don't understand is that it's not just a minor inconvenience. It's a problem and the only solution if you don't choose to follow the rules is to prevent those of us who DO follow the rules from having that option anymore. Thanks a lot, JERKS! But enough ranting.

While Dan followed the trail over the rim, Lucy and I walked the sidewalk around the parking lot. We found a patch of snow she seemed interested in and we stopped so she could chew on it a bit. I kicked the top layer of snow off and she went crazy! She started digging and eating and digging up the snow all over. I kicked more and she flopped over on her back and started rolling and rolling and rolling in the snow. After she was all cooled off and worn out, we headed back to the car to get a towel and dry her off.

Crater Lake Visitor Center

Dan found some visitor center type exhibits down the hill, but I was done with bugs and was getting tired so I was ready to move on. We stopped again at Discovery Point and the Watchman Overlook. Having the road guide was nice and helped us to identify things we'd been pointing at on the east side of the lake.

At The Watchman, we saw more idiots going past the "Don't go past this sign" sign. One guy was hopping around out on these rocks and I couldn't watch him. I was sure he was going to fall. Pretty much everyone was waiting for it to happen I think as nobody could look away.

Watchman Danger
Watchman Danger
Look! More idiots!
Watchman Danger
Watchman Danger
Watchman Danger

Back into the car it looked like we were close to our road that goes to the North Entrance. We'd really enjoyed the lake and made note of a few things we wanted to do next time we were nearby. I still want to do the one way gravel road that goes from the Lost Creek Campground over to the rim road by Vidae Falls. (We didn't stop at the falls on our way around because we were too busy watching ourselves swell from bug bites after the Sun Notch walk. Next time!) We also want to see the area near Annie Creek Canyon and the Godfrey Glen Trail.

PCT Trailhead inside Crater Lake NPWe stopped at another PCT access point on our way out and then it was highway back to Bend.

Once we were back in town, we stopped at Best Buy to pick up a cord to charge Dan's Blackberry because he left his at work. We also stopped at Sonic to try their burgers for dinner. We did the drive-thru and took it back to our hotel.

We'd eat there again. The burgers were good. But we could have gotten a larger size on the shakes and the french fries. The onion rings were really good too. Yum!

We hung out in the room for the rest of the night. It was about 8pm by the time we were done eating and we needed to rehydrate and put cortisone cream all over our many, MANY bug bites. :) Plus, we needed to be early to bed to avoid the abrupt sun beam alarm clock in the morning before we were ready.

Saturday July 4th:

After a good night's sleep, we were up early and headed to the breakfast buffet by around 7:30am. We read the paper and enjoyed breakfast. (This morning was breakfast burrito for Sonya and another waffle for Dan. He loves those things. Too many carbs for me!)

Around 9am we headed into town to find a good parking spot. We lucked out and found a great one right by Drake Park. We grabbed Lucy and our chairs and headed down to Wall Street to find a seat for the parade. Dan found us a shady spot on Wall St. We were right across the street from the TV cameras from the local station.

We went into this parade thing without really knowing anything about it. I thought it was going to be sort of rinky-dink like our local 4th of July parade where all the kids groups get together and walk around downtown. It was no surprise to me when I saw the local Boy Scouts come by with the flag to cheers and "Hi Brian! Look over here!" being shouted from picture taking mom's in the crowd. But what came after that was something I was not at all prepared for. The Pet Parade.

Pet Parade. Okay, I understand english and expected it to be like our Winslow parade. The "Basset Hound Club" comes out and walks with their 5-6 Bassets. Then about 15 minutes later after the soccer team, la crosse team, baseball team, softball team... etc.. you get the picture, we get about 10 golden retrievers with the "Golden Retriever Club". Right? Wrong! This was something else entirely. I have never seen more dogs in one place before in my life! It was about 90 minutes of dog after dog after dog after dog. Some were in groups, but mostly it was pretty random.

We saw a sign that said "Pet Parade" as a guy went by on a recumbent bike with his dogs harnessed to a frame on either side of him. Then a sign that said "Big Dogs" and there were a bunch of Great Danes, Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, St. Bernards (all shaved short haired for the heat), etc. A sign appeared amidst the dogs that said "Toy Dogs" and there were Yorkies, Pugs, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and even TWO Papillons that weren't Lucy. One was a red & white with the lightest eyes. Beautiful!

Later there was a sign that said "And The Rest" and then it was a free for all. Dogs of all sizes, kids carrying turtles, snakes and iguanas. I saw a few kids pulling wagons with hamsters and guinea pig cages in them. I even saw a kid whose face was painted like a dog wearing knee pads and crawling his way down the street barking like a dog with mom & dad on the other end of the leash. I saw a girl walking one of those "ghost dog" joke leashes where it's just a leash wired up to look like there's an invisible dog on the other end.

Lucy watches Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade

You can see from the pictures and they don't even begin to do justice to how many dogs were there. And they just kept coming and coming and coming. It was heaven! :)

The stand out dogs in the group are these:

Bend's Pet Parade

A three-legged dog dressed up in a wet-suit with a surfboard on his back with a bite taken out of it and a giant shark balloon following him. He was probably a little hot in that wetsuit and having to hop his way around the parade. He sat down in the shade right by us and wouldn't get up. Someone brought out some water, he had a drink and was good to go! What a trooper!

Bend's Pet Parade A terrier mix (maybe some yorkie?) dressed up like a bee with motorized wings that flapped on his back. I couldn't even get Lucy to wear the antenna, let alone a set of flapping wings on her back!

But the dog I'll remember forever was a little chihuahua in a harness, floating beneath a bunch of helium balloons above the crowd. At first I couldn't decide if I felt sorry for the dog with his paws moving slowly in the air, or if it was the most brilliant thing I'd ever seen. The dog was safe and not too traumatized and don't we all inflict a little trauma on our dogs from time to time for our own amusement? I know Lucy still hasn't forgiven me for the princess costume a few years ago. I'm going to try to post this video here. Sorry it's a bit blurry, but with the pictures, you get the idea.

Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade

Then there were a bunch of horses in the parade and behind them, to thunderous applause from the crowd, came the "Road Apple Brigade" with their rakes and bins of road apples. And that was the end of the parade.

After the crowds cleared out a bit, we packed up our chairs and took them back to the car. We had parked right next to Drake Park in the morning because we knew the party was moving to the Art Festival thing by the river. We stopped at the bathroom and then wandered off to see the booths. Lots of local pet sitters, dog boarding, rescue groups, therapy dog groups, organic dog cookies, etc. had booths there and we stopped to see them all.

We got some micro-brewed Ginger Ale from one booth and some hot dogs from the Rotary Club booth to support the locals and found a spot in the shade by the river to eat. The ginger ale was really good. It tasted like the candied ginger they give you with sushi but carbonated and cool. The hot dogs were good too.

We saw another Papillon with a Therapy Dog group and stopped so she could say hello for a few minutes. It's just a giant festival of cute when more than one papillon get together.

Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade
Bend's Pet Parade

We stopped at the local dog advocate groups who were working on off-leash dog parks and trails in the area. They've managed to add 5 parks in the last two years, which is huge. They also have created several miles of dog-friendly trails. We talked to a guy at the booth for awhile who lives in Ballard, just north of downtown Seattle. Small world. He encouraged us to sign their petition, even though we weren't local. I signed while he and Dan talked for a bit. Everyone is always so friendly and welcoming when we're in Bend.

I was feeling pretty tired and it was getting really hot so we headed back to the car and drove back to the hotel. I wasn't feeling 100%, but thought it was just from the heat. I drank a bunch of water, but it didn't seem to help. We got back in the car. Dan wanted to find us a nice shady spot somewhere by a river where we could just hang out and read our books for a bit. I had suggested Tumalo Park and somewhere up by Mt. Bachelor as good places to look. We headed out on the road to Tumalo Falls.

Tumalo FallsBig mistake. :) It's a pretty waterfall, but it's not in Tumalo Park at all. That's the other direction. It's just a dirt road that had a waterfall next to it with a big dusty parking lot and tons of traffic and people wandering around looking for a place to get away from the heat. We found something resembling a place to park and were out of the car to look before I had time to grab water or put up the parking pass, etc.

We stood by some dusty picnic tables and talked about what we wanted to do. I said something like "This is hell. Why are we here?" and we decided to just take a quick look at the falls and then go look for somewhere else to go. While we were walking we saw a big family group walking past us and a couple of them slipped in the dirt and fell down in the road, further solidifying my feelings that I didn't want to stay around there and get injured myself. If you can fall somewhere, I'll find a way. :)

We walked up to the falls. It really is quite lovely. I felt really hot and thirsty at the waterfall and was ready to go when Dan was. I wanted to get back to my diet coke I had just opened in the car. You know how when you're super thirsty and you start to drink, it goes a lot faster than you think it will? Well I chugged about half of my soda in 10 seconds and blah. I felt awful. I switched to water as we made our way back towards town to head out on the Cascade Loop Highway. By the time we got back to town, I just wanted to lay down for awhile. Turned out that Dan didn't feel like driving all the way out to Mt. Bachelor, so we headed back to the hotel.

I closed up the room, maxed out the air conditioning and Dan changed to go down to the pool with his book. Lucy and I got comfy on the bed and turned on something mindless on the TV and dozed while Dan headed downstairs to the pool.

I think both of us really needed the break. Dan came back up to the room after an hour or two. I felt better, but not 100%. I drank a lot of water and enjoyed what we could get out of the AC. As dinner time rolled around, we talked and decided to get something To Go from the Black Bear Diner next door. Dan called in the order and walked over to get it for us. We ate in front of the TV in the room (just like home!). I had an avocado burger and Dan had their B.L.A.S.T. sandwich (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Swiss cheese, Tomato) with a side salad. I ate his cucumbers. :)

We watched a little TV and relaxed a bit. Dan opened the local beer he bought, Cascade Lakes Brewing Company's Paulina Lakes Pilsner. Around 9:30pm we got ready to go downstairs and set up chairs in the parking lot.

Here's the thing about our hotel. It's not gorgeous. It's old and looks it. The pool is a tiny square of concrete in the middle of the parking lot behind a Black Bear Diner on the Business route of Highway 97. It's just far enough from downtown that we drive it whenever we go in. Dan's ridden his bike over a couple of times, but it's just a tiny bit too far for me to walk (just a little less than a mile to Drake Park).

But it's so great for us. For the cost, we're about as close as you can get to downtown and they take dogs. Now that we don't have to pay extra for her with their new pets program (LOVE YOU RED LION!) it's an even better deal. We get a clean, comfortable room, in a good location, for a price that doesn't kill our budget too badly. Every morning we get free breakfast that isn't a stale danish and bad coffee.If we're bored with that breakfast we're about 100 feet from the best breakfasts at a chain restaurant, in my opinion. I managed to avoid eating their Biscuits & Gravy on this trip, but yummmmm it was tempting.

One other thing it has going for it. The rooms inside the horseshoe shaped hotel that face due east have a view of Pilot Butte. Bend is in the high desert and although there are some amazing mountains off to the west a bit, the rest of Bend is pretty flat except for this one lone butte that pops up out of nowhere. We drove up it on our first visit to Bend. There's nothing up there but a vista point and some signs about the surrounding area and history of town. Lots of walkers and runners there every morning and evening. LOTS!

Pilot Butte
Borrowed from Wiki

I read that Bend has fireworks on the 4th of July. They used to have them in Drake Park on the west side of downtown, you know, about a mile from the hotel. But because of traffic and crowds and flaming debris falling on the park and people watching the fireworks, they moved them to Pilot Butte. You can see the top of this little hill from anywhere in the area. And one of the best places is our room at the Red Lion. YAY! After I read that, we booked the room and started planning.

Dan had called the front desk earlier and asked for the radio stations playing the music to go with the fireworks. We picked the Adult Contemporary over the Pop and Country stations. 100.7 I think. Dan opened the back of the truck and opened the window between the shell and the cab so the radio pointed only at us. He set up his glass of beer on the tailgate and set up our camping chairs next to the tailgate, looking at Pilot Butte as it got dark.

Right at 10pm the fireworks started. I have to admit looking on Google Images for pictures of previous fireworks. You can't tell how cool they are unless you are there. (Same with all fireworks photos, I guess.) Our radio wasn't exactly synched with the show, but it was good. We started off with Kate Smith and God Bless America. Then there were three songs I don't remember. Sorry.

The fireworks were pretty great. There were lots of ones I hadn't seen before and some of the sparkly ones that I love. Lucy did great with us, except when another dog was barking and she felt the need to give her opinion too. Otherwise she was quiet and not at all phased by the noise or lights. She never seemed to notice either. She just didn't know what all those people were doing outside with us.

At one point during one of the songs I don't know, there was this huge mushroom cloud of flame that shot way up into the sky from the top of the butte. At first I thought "Uh oh!" as I'd heard that Pilot Butte sometimes catches on fire during the show, but that seemed too big to not be on purpose. As I was thinking that, from behind us at the rail of the 2nd floor, a guy said, "That was COOL!... I mean if it was supposed to happen that way." and the whole place burst out laughing. Then there was another giant mushroom cloud of fire and a lot of people said "Cool!"

The show wrapped up with The Star Spangled Banner, including the second verse (stanza?). I'm a sucker for "land of the free, home of the brave" during the Olympics every other year and the goosebumps came again this time too. It was quite a finish to the show.

We packed up the chairs and did a potty walk for Lucy before bed and then off to sleep for another big day.

Sunday July 5th:

Breakfast at the hotel again. We talked about reading the Sunday paper in the morning, but worried about the heat later in the day so we headed to the trailhead right away after eating.

McKenzie River Trail Start
McKenzie River Trail Start

I dropped Dan off at Clear Lake on the north end of the McKenzie River Trail. We stopped and looked for a cache before he left, but we couldn't find it. The area was pretty tree covered and GPS was jumping around a lot. Plus, not having cell service makes the GPS software almost useless on the Blackberry. If we really want to do the geocaching, we should get a Garmin. We gave up and Dan was on the trail around the back side of the lake by 10am.

Dan's ride report is down below this section.

Lucy and I got back in the car and got organized. She worried a bit when we took off, but once I told her we had to go "Find Daddy" she was good to go. We took off and drove out of the campground as Dan rode around the backside of the lake.

Just a few miles down the road I stopped at the Sahalie Falls parking area and loaded up my pockets. Gee whiz! I probably should have brought the backpack, but it was getting hot already and it didn't seem like that much. I had my walkie talkie for communicating with Dan on the trail, the Blackberry, my water, Lucy's leash, car keys, and the papers for the geocaches in the area, all stuffed into my pockets. I'm surprised my pants stayed up! :)

I headed out on the trail to the top of the falls a short distance from the car. It was quite pretty, but Dan had the camera on his bike ride, so I just enjoyed the view for a while. I decided to try to find a cache up the trail a bit. I found the location, but was too scared to climb down near the pool while I was out there by myself. Did I mention how accident prone I can be?

I ran into some people on the trail and asked where the trail went. One guy said it went up to a bridge and I knew that was where Dan had the option to take the back route and avoid the pedestrian area by the highway. Lucy and I climbed up to the bridge, hoping to catch him before he went through. I saw a lot of bikes coming down my way so I thought maybe we'd see him. It was a nice trail along the river with enough climbing to be my cardio for the week. :)

Eventually we got to the bridge and there was no sign of Dan. We have these walkie-talkie things that work pretty good. If we're within .5 mile of each other, we can communicate pretty effectively. We have used them on other rides or hikes where we meet each other somewhere in the boonies. I pressed the call button that sends out a little alarm, but there wasn't any answer. It was about 10:40 or so when I got there and I decided to hang around until 11am. I figured it would take Dan an hour tops to get around the back of the lake and to this point. So if he wasn't there by 11, I had missed him and needed to scramble to the lunch spot.

We waited and waited, but he didn't come by. We saw lots of people on bikes, including one group who had passed us earlier on the trail coming back up the hill to the bridge to cross over to the other side of the river. One girl was not too happy about having to come back up the hill I think. At 11am, I gave one more call on the radio and headed back to the car. I wasn't rushing, but I was starting to worry that Dan was ahead of us and was going to be waiting at the trailhead when I got there. Silly me. :)

Lucy and I stopped to find a cache that was just off the highway. I couldn't find a way to climb up the lava pile there that didn't make me afraid I'd end up in the hospital, so I skipped it and headed off to meet Dan for lunch.

Here's his ride:

On our last full day in Bend I was to ride the McKenzie River Trail.  While Sonya meticulously researches everything ahead of time, I avoided learning too much about it in advance, wanting to savor my own discovery of a place new to me.   I was aware this was a well-known and popular trail, listed on several top mountain bike rides lists.  I was also aware parts were technically challenging, but surely it would be no match for this veteran of several NORBA cross country and Kamikaze Downhill races.

I began at the Clear Lake resort on the west shoreline of Clear Lake on Highway 126.  My bike was outfitted with brand new set of tires, the same kind used in my racing days.    I typically average about 8 mph on round-trip off-road rides and maybe 12-15 mph on downhills, so I figured the 24 miles from Clear Lake to the McKenzie Ranger station would take 2-2.5 hours. I said goodbye to Sonya & Lucy and set off riding around the north side of the lake to experience the technical east shore.

Clear Lake
McKenzie River Trail at Clear Lake

Near the north end of the lake I saw first-hand why they called it “Clear Lake.”  From where I stood on the shore the bottom of the lake descended steeply, and I could clearly see details at least 20 feet down.  Further south, there were several boats on the lake, and under them I could see the various shades of light to deep blue on the lake bottom.

But most of my attention was soon occupied by the challenging terrain.  Much of the western shore is lava flow, so the trail was a series of short climbs and descents of short ridges of sharp, jagged lava rock.  Some of it was unridable, so I just walked my bike over these sections.   About  mid-way down the side of the lake the trail is paved with asphalt, which made it a fast and twisty ride through the lava.

At the bottom of the lake, I made my first mistake due to confusing signage,  riding about a half mile up the east side of the lake  before figuring  out what the signs really meant.   My next questionable turn was south of the lake across the highway.  There is a trail intersection with a sign indicating the McKenzie River Trail running both ways on the east side of the river.  The crossing trail went over a bridge to the other side of the river, but there was no indication where it went.   I recalled Sonya telling me there was bike route and a no-bike route at the waterfalls, but nothing at the intersection said that, so I descended down what the sign said was the MRT.  I soon met a couple who riding up who asked me if I had seen a bridge crossing the river.  I told them yes, and asked where that trail went, and they told me down past the waterfalls.  I asked what was downhill on the trail I was riding on, and was told I was also headed toward some beautiful waterfalls.  I somewhat confused, but a downhill trail past some waterfalls sounded great to me, so I kept descending. 

Sahalie/Koosah Falls
Sahalie/Koosah Falls
Sahalie/Koosah Falls

Sahalie and Koosah falls were spectacular, but the trail had a lot of steps built into it.  I don’t care to ride down steps, so this meant a lot of dismounting.   But other sections were smooth and fast, plunging from summer heat into refreshing waterfall-cooled air.  The bottom of this section dumps out at Carmen Reservoir, again with no signage where to go.  I found what appeared to be a trail at the next to the dam, but it petered out.  So where is the trail?  I looked up steep slope next to me wondering if it was up there when I saw a guy on a bike whiz past. 

So do I scramble up the slope with my bike, or backtrack several miles uphill to the aforementioned bridge?   Fortunately, about a quarter mile of flat dirt road behind me was a restroom next to a trail that joined the main MRT.

McKenzie River Trail BridgeA short distance down the trail crossed the river on one of the scariest bridges I’ve seen.   Spanning a deep gorge was a large log with the upside flattened to make a walking surface, and a single guardrail.  This type of bridge is actually common in the Northwestern back country, but this time I had to get my bike safely across as well.   I didn’t want either tire slipping over the edge, so I walked with my bike between me and the rail.  But because the handlebar is at the same level as the rail, I had to lean the bike slightly, which meant that I had to lean slightly over the abyss.   The last section had no handrail at all, which meant that I had nothing to hold onto.

The next section of trail had little elevation drop, but was instead a seemingly endless series of short climbs, descents and twists over lava ridges.   It was getting very warm, and I soon ran out of water.    No biggie, I figured.  The trail will soon smooth out, and I will get a refill when I meet Sonya at a campground about halfway through the ride.

McKenzie River PoolIn this section of the McKenzie river valley, the river apparently seeps underground into the porous lava.  After some distance, it emerges in a beautiful blue pool and continues rush down its channel.   There were several people stopped here and one of them told me it was lunch time.   Having been out for about two hours I agreed. 

I had a Cliff bar, but no water to wash it down.  I remembered that Sonya had thoughtfully packed an apple for me, which really hit the spot.   Before leaving, I asked the folks there if anyone had some water to spare (I’ve shared my water with thirsty mountain bikers in the past, so I felt that karma had a favor I could call in). 

A woman said she had plenty of water, reached into her insulated backpack and pulled out a large freezer-sized baggie of ice cubes!  She then put few handfuls of ice into my bottle, and then emptied a bottle of Crystal Geyser into it.  I thanked her profusely and continued on my way up and down countless more lava ridges.   My new half-bottle of water didn’t last long, and I became concerned that I was getting too fatigued by the jack-hammer riding to ride safely such challenging terrain.

McKenzie River TrailAfter a few more miles of bumpy lava riding, the trail finally smoothed out into…  a climb!  I was surprised that my legs felt better than my arms.   The hill then flattened out and began a fun rollercoaster descent. Through the trees I saw a road down the slope before me, and I heard Sonya’s whistle and the trail dumped out at a road near a campground.   

By this time I was hot, thirsty and tired.  In 2.5 hours I had covered 14.7 miles, and was concerned that fatigue would affect my bike-handling skills over the remaining 10 miles, and as I continued descending into the mid afternoon it would get still hotter.  So I decided to call it a day, and leave the last 10 miles (as well as the other waterfall trail) to a future visit.

 

I pulled off the highway at the road to the Trail Bridge Campground. I saw some picnic spots just before getting to the campground that looked nice and shady, but I wanted to know where the trailhead was so Dan wouldn't miss me. After driving right past it the first time, I got turned around and found the trailhead and after a couple of tries, found a good visible parking space in a spot that would stay shady and cool for awhile.

I set up my chair under some maple trees, got Lucy a place to lay down and some water and settled in to wait. I started my new book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Saw it in the Seattle Times book review and knew I had to read it. Did I mention I was waiting? About 1 hour 20 minutes later I heard the radio crackle and I jumped out of the chair. I tried to call back, but no answer. Then another crack and I thought I could hear "..nya" in Dan's voice. But he didn't answer back. So I waited some more. About 10 minutes later I got a "Hello Sonya?" and Dan was at the top of the ridge above the campground and headed down. He sounded tired.

A few minutes later I could see him up in the trees above us. As he came down the steep hill I whistled. He shot out onto the road and after a few turns spotted us and got turned around to stop by the car.

We had a quick picnic in the campground and loaded up the car. We drove down the road a few miles to Belknap Hotsprings. Neither of us had been there before, but both of us had been told to stop there. I had printed out one of three geocaches in the area, hoping we'd have cellphone service there. What was I thinking? I didn't know anything about this place other than it's a public garden of some sort and there is camping there. I didn't know if dogs were allowed or if we had to pay to get in, just thought it might be a place we could check out.

We found a parking spot right outside what turned out to the be the lodge. We headed out to find the cache. There was a small pool behind the lodge that was the hot springs I guess. There was a nice river flowing nearby and we crossed a bridge over to the other side. We walked through the gardens. It was pretty hot, but the paths were shady and the water everywhere helped too. After a couple of detours, we found the area where the cache was supposed to be below a gazebo. A guy told me he found one up on the gazebo table and that turned out to be where Dan left our stash when we were up there before, so he climbed up to get it. :)

We found the cache but don't want to give away any details that aren't already on the site. It involved some searching. Not all of the searching needed to happen, but we fixed it for the next people, left a couple of goodies and moved on.

We put Lucy in the car and went inside to get an ice cream. We ate in the car and then I drove back into Bend. I was worried about traffic in Sisters as there was some quilt thing happening from 10-6 and I wasn't sure if this was the weekend for the big show or not. It wasn't, so traffic wasn't terrible. Just a bit of a slowdown through there.

Back at the hotel, Dan jumped into the shower and got changed and we were headed back into town for dinner. We parked right across the street from the Deschutes Brewery & Pub, in the shade for Lucy. We got a table right away and they even had the Tour de France on the televisions for everyone's viewing pleasure.

Deschutes Brewery SamplerFor Dan's birthday my mother wanted to include a gift certificate for a beer sampler at Deschutes, but it wasn't as easy as it seems. They had a shipping charge that was about half of what the gift certificate was to be, so instead she mailed me a check and I promised to make sure he got his beer sampler on the trip. So that was the first order of business.

Here's what Dan ordered:

  • Mirror Pond Pale Ale
  • Obsidian Stout
  • Rooster Cream Ale
  • Pilsner 005
  • The Headless Horseman Black IPA
  • Black Butte XXI Porter

He also ordered the Brewery Sausage special with pasta and marinara sauce and a side salad. I had the BBQ Pork Sandwich and a lemonade. Our food was pretty great. We enjoyed our meal and seeing the hilights from the day's Tour de France.

We got Lucy from the car and walked down to Drake Park. Dan brought a cigar from home and wanted to celebrate a great trip watching the sunset by the river. During dinner I had noticed that my mother had called while we were up in the mountains and I listened to the messages in the park. She had to cut her trip short because my dad needed to get home and take care of his foot according to a doctor in Canada. They were so close to Glacier too! I knew my mom was going to be upset, but I also knew they had to go home. I felt bad for her. Dan and I talked about it and I compared it to us driving to Las Vegas, getting as far as Victorville and having to turn around. I'd be so crushed! I know that I'd feel bad if I was the one who made us turn around too! What a bummer.

The other bummer is that they missed us on the way up to Canada because we were on our way to Bend. We had plans to spend the day together on their way back down through the area, but since they turned around, they were going to pass through Seattle before we got back home, so we would miss them.

I tried to call but got her voicemail. I left a message about how we'd miss them in Seattle. Dan and I commiserated for a few minutes and then we turned back to reflecting on our last evening. Caught some sunset pictures just as the last of the light faded out of the clouds. We walked back to the car and back to the hotel. I organized some things for the ride home, but mostly it was some news and bedtime. Big drive home tomorrow.

Drake Park Bend Oregon Sunset

Monday July 6th:

We had our last breakfast at the hotel. We were back to the omelette things instead of breakfast burritos. Dan had a waffle of course. :) We had cleaned up, loaded the car and checked out of the hotel by 8:30am. Dan wanted to make a "quick stop" to find a cache in Drake Park right near where we were the night before. After a couple of detours, he found it and we were on our way a little bit after 9am.

It was already getting warm on our way out of Bend. At one stoplight I watched the temperature/time thing at the bank go up 2 degrees. I had enough 95 degree days to last me the rest of summer I think. I drove in the morning to give Dan and chance to look around on the way out of town as he's usually the driver.

We managed to get most of the way out of the desert before we got into some rain. It was drizzling and cold at Government Camp where we stopped for a break. We all seemed to be wearing sandals, no matter which direction we were coming from. That was a lot of cold, wet toes in the ladies room! The next temperature thing we saw said 58 degrees. Brrrr. That's a big change from 95!

We needed to get some gas and lunch and decided to stop in Gresham. We found a Carl's Jr and pulled in there. We don't eat there often since moving away from California so Dan likes to make a point to stop there when we're in Oregon. We had some giant burgers and I got another voice mail from my mom that they were on their way out of Portland. After we ate, Dan took over the driving.

We got over to I-5 headed north and buckled in for the ride. I called my mom and talked to her finally. They were trying to make it to California. I felt like I couldn't complain about our long ride home considering hers was a lot longer than mine!

There were times I wasn't sure Dan was going to make it as we drove on that long stretch between Shelton and Allyn in WA cutting up to Belfair. I don't know why, but every time we are driving home and get to that section, it feels like there should be a LOT less distance between those two towns. We were both trying to stay interested and awake I think.

We made it home and got the car all unloaded and most everything put away. I made a quick dinner and we crashed out in front of the TV.

Good trip!


Dan's been reading more about the McKenzie River and has started wishing he could go back and try again, making some minor adjustments to the route. I'm sure we'll be headed back to Bend really soon.

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