Adventures in the Pacific Northwest: Central Oregon

‘I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.’-Ransom Riggs

B and I talked a lot about what we planned to do when he got here. I knew I wanted to show him my favorite spots…Smith Rock and The Painted Hills. He had a couple of requests…Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and the Three Sisters. I said the latter would be simple as they are my view and the others, easy! Famous last words…

I was still teaching, so we had to plan around that schedule. His first full day, a Sunday, I took him to my work for brunch and then we hit The Painted Hills, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It is one of my favorite spots in Central Oregon and I was so excited for him to see. It was a bit gloomy and sprinkled occasionally but it led to very few people being there! We essentially had the unit to ourselves.

It truly is one of the most incredible places on Earth. The hills just appear. There is nothing about the drive to lead you to believe there is anything unique in the area. They just emerge out of the valley. Due to the recent rain, the colors were so vivid. B was able to see the hills at their best. He just kept saying, ‘wow!’ While I will miss a lot of things about living in Bend, my trips to John Day are near the top of the list.

While we had a template of what to do when, things changed a bit due to weather. Mount Hood became the issue. The original Tuesday plan was to go to Trillium Lake and then Timberline Lodge. Then it snowed…a lot. Trillium Lake was frozen over (it is a mirror for Hood), so that was out. Timberline also had a lot of restrictions that weren’t in place last time I was there. The only decent day was Wednesday but I had class. That morning was also a full moon/eclipse. So B ended up doing that on his own. He left in the middle of the night and headed up. I’m glad he was able to see Hood but it’s a bummer she was not in her full glory. He is a talented professional photographer and I’m trying to get him to post more on his instagram, so hopefully he’ll share some of the shots from that day!

Since Hood was bumped, we went to Smith Rock, my other favorite spot! Again, the weather was overcast and it rained more than once. Bend was really trying to show B a good time, ha! I told him about Misery Ridge (aptly named) and we decided to take it. I have done the trail before and it’s tough. I have a narrow windpipe so I get winded easily, some days it effects me more than others and that day, it just wasn’t going to happen for me. So I met B on the back side of Misery Ridge. It got really windy, so I made the right choice lol. When B made it down, we continued on the river trail. This section highlighted why Bend is known for birdwatching. We saw all sorts of things, including a heron and magpies. The best was seeing several bald eagles! I don’t think I have seen one in the wild and it wouldn’t have happened without B…literally, he spotted them!

The final stop before heading to the coast was Crater Lake National Park. B has been talking about going since I moved to Bend. I was excited to show him. The weather sucked but we held out hope that just maybe it would be okay in the park. We were in separate cars (after St. Helens/Rainier, B was continuing on to Glacier National Park) which was probably good as I would have tried to overcompensate as I knew he would be so bummed. Shock, the line was really short to get into the park. The ranger handed me a map and said to look at the photo because that was all I would see of the lake. He was right. The fog was so dense, visibility was very limited.

We had planned on going to In-n-Out on the way to Ashland, where we stayed the night. I felt so bad that B wasn’t going to see the lake. We kept an eye on the weather and the lake cameras and there appeared to be a break. So B drove back out to Crater Lake (about a 90 minute drive) in hopes of seeing something. He did but not much. Just means we’ll have to try again someday. I plan on going again before I leave but it would have been nice to experience with B, one day!

It was so fun to spend this time with B and show him around, including chasing a post-storm sunset at Pilot Butte! We ate, we hiked, we watched a lot of Friends and it was awesome. I am grateful everyday that he is my brother.

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