We took off for Bend on Wednesday. I thought we would have no trouble getting into Tumalo State Park, but we got one of the last two spaces. The problem was that they had closed everything but Loop B. There aren’t very many spaces in Loop B. The two spaces were both nonelectric. I set us up for the following 4 days by going online. Now all we had to do was get used to no electric hookups. Our generator was not happy; it wouldn’t turn over until we turned the engine on. We hadn’t been nonelectric for quite a while.
The weather report wasn’t very good news for us. The weather was going to be iffy the whole time we were in Bend. On Thursday, we sat around during the morning and took off for Newberry Volcanic park in the afternoon. Would it clear up? No! Would we get to visit the Visitor’s Center? No, it was closed for winter! Would we be able to walk the Big Obsidian Flow Trail? Although it was 7,000 feet and snowy, yes, we could. We put on our boots and ventured up the steep stairs. We didn’t get much further, but we did the best we could.
The sunrise was red light on the clouds on Friday and moments of light here and there. I am quite tired of clouds. We are not motivated to go out when it’s so dreary. But we did have to take the LD into town to dump and then I did some grocery shopping at an Albertson’s, that as the cashier said “Looks like Albertson’s on the outside and Safeway on the inside.” One fewer choice in the number of supermarkets available.
To cheer ourselves up, we went to Spork for dinner, a recommendation that Jim and Gayle Cummings made on their last trip to Bend. It’s a small restaurant that was very busy when we walked in. You order your food up front and then it’s up to you to find a table. We thought about leaving but I’m really glad we didn’t. I ordered the Carnitas Sango and Dave had the Korean Shortribs. They have many inventive cocktails and I had a Pakarang – a concoction with Tequila, Pineapple, Basil, Benedictine and more! It was so small, I had to have another. The food came quickly and it was delicious. There’s a fried egg in every dish which seems a little odd, but that sandwich was memorable!
Mountains and Trails in the Willamette
Saturday was supposed to be the best day, weatherwise, of our stay in Bend. We decided to head for the hills no matter what. It was chilly, but we loaded up the Rav with half of the Lazy Daze and headed to the McKenzie-Santiam Pass Loop. A few miles north of the campground, we stopped at a mountain viewpoint and got our first glimpse of the mountains since we drove in on Wednesday.
After traveling through some miles of thin forest, we rose to lava country.
Dee Wright Observatory is a totally weird construction from lava, done by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Even the stairs up there are made from lava. It is not advisable to fall down in this building. Part of the steep path was still iced and very slippery.
After driving a bit further, we found a couple of ponds with thin ice breaking up on them, one of our favorite things to photograph.
Next stop, Proxy Falls Trail, a very popular place. We descended into the Willamette forest we recognized from earlier in the trip. Lush vegetation: moss in the trees and on every rock and vine Maple all over. One difference was that many of the leaves had fallen and recent rains had left them wet. No crunching through the fallen leaves. The first mile of the 1.6-mile loop took us more than an hour.
We were amazed when we got to the falls. They were so much more voluminous than we remembered. But we also remembered the other issue: there was really only one good viewpoint to capture the falls. We did scramble our way down to the lower falls but still didn’t get an unimpeded view.
We backtracked to the trail and went to see the upper Proxy Falls. Unimpressive. The end of the loop was short and not too photogenic.
Twenty minutes of driving brought us to our last stop of the day – Sahalie Falls. It was booming! An incredible amount of water was sluicing over the brink. I overheard someone saying that the smaller falls on the right weren’t there a week ago. I guess all the rain made a huge difference. There is only one unimpeded view of the falls so we dutifully made our images and headed down the trail that runs alongside the McKenzie River.
The rapid river was a lot of fun. I saw one guy skirting along the edge in bare feet. Not too smart. Had he fallen in he would have gone over the next falls downstream.
About a quarter-mile down the trail, we reach Koosah Falls. Nice but we couldn’t get a good shot of them without a lot of trees.
Once again, we drove home, tired but exhilarated. It was a good day.
Last Days of the Trip
We began the serious driving-home part of the trip. Three days, 465 miles to reach Auburn, where we saw Steve and Ellen’s new home. Day One was very windy and included periods of heavy rain. Day Two was the same. We drove right by Mount Shasta and never saw one bit of it.
Day Three was beautiful and sunny. We were heading south from Red Bluff to Auburn on roads with which we were unfamiliar. The Garmin had us make a turn onto Woodruff Road and immediately we were driving on a beat up road with flooded fields on both sides of us. It had to be a mistake, but it was too narrow to make a U-turn. We made a hard left and suddenly we saw hundreds of geese floating on whatever body of water we were traversing. It was amazing!
Eventually, we ended up on Highway 49 and realized the Garmin had provided us with a good route to Steve and Ellen’s place. But what a weird shortcut! We arrived at their home around 2:30 and it was a glorious, balmy day. It was hard to believe it had been raining for most of a week. After checking out their beautiful home, they made a great dinner of halibut accompanied by Greek Shrimp, Farro and Greens with Feta. Yum! We also became reaquainted with Jackson, the largest Golden Retriever I have ever met. He’s a sweet boy when he’s not tearing his toy shark to pieces.
The next morning, after showering in a shower that is bigger than our entire LD bathroom, we went out to breakfast at Katrina’s, and ate enough to not need lunch and maybe not dinner either. Then we farewelled our hosts and took off for the Auburn County Fairgrounds only ten miles away. As if Wednesday had never happened, it was misting to sprinkling once again.
A week ago, I had made the reservation for the one spot at the Fairgrounds with 50-amp power, water and a dump. All we had to do was dump the black and gray tanks and clean up for the trip home. When we reached the Fairgrounds, the office was closed for lunch and there was a trailer sitting in our space. So we bided our time until someone opened the office and she found a space for us with electricity. No water or sewer, but we can go to another area on the grounds tomorrow to dump. Whew! We weren’t looking forward to finding somewhere else to stay.
After rain all night, I was concerned about the drive home but it cleared up except for very light showers and there was no almost no standing water on I-80. The splashes made by passing semis can blind you when there’s a lot of water on the roadbed. We reached home around 1:30 and were happy to see our home after two months away.