The last part of my wonderful trip to Oregon took me to one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen—Crater Lake. I stayed in a very rustic cabin in the park area and then made my way to a mystery house which I’ll describe later.IMG_4838

As I made my way around the roads and up to the top edge of the caldera, my first view of the lake took my breath away. It lived up to the hype for sure. The deep blue, clear water is pristine and beyond the tree topped caldera is a scene of mountains and valleys.

IMG_4844Crater Lake was once a very large volcano reaching 12,000 feet—it was called Mount Mazama. Nearly 8,000 years ago a violent eruption caused a collapse of the volcano in on itself forming the crater. Over the millennia, snow and rain filled the crater and created the lake we see now. It’s the deepest lake in the U.S. and one of the purest in the world.

IMG_4833I drove around the west side up to the northern rim and got out a few times to take pictures. At one point I started on a hike and ended up walking over quite a bit of snow that was still on the trail. Finally I had to turn back when the hillside was covered ahead. The scenes of the lake changed as I went around and stopped at different areas to hike. All the views were spectacular and I saw some wildlife including deer and cute chipmunks, and marmots which looked kind of like ground hogs.

IMG_6071The visitor center had a nice video of the history and science of Crater Lake and the rangers were very helpful. Some of the roads were closed but I did get down a little south to see some pinnacles. These structures are called fossil fumaroles, and were formed when steam and gases were released. They became hard after a time and stand out from the softer ground around them.

After a few hikes and lots of photos I drove back to the cabin area. Since there was no cell service and no Internet, I went down the road for another hike in the woods to see a natural bridge over the beautiful River Gorge.IMG_6086

The Vortex

On my last day, I drove a bit south and west to Oregon’s Mystery House—a place where there is a vortex that causes physics to be questioned. Many years ago the Indians that lived here avoided the place because their horses would not travel through the vortex. Miners came later and their mules had the same reaction, but because there was gold in the creek there, the miners stayed and set up shop. IMG_6152They built an assay office but soon abandoned the building to storage since the balances they used to value the gold were “not quite right.” The building later fell down the hill in a storm and sits at a weird angle.

As we toured the area our guide had a number of us stand at one end of a balanced platform and then switch places. It seemed our heights changed as we switched places. When we were in the building, some of us had severe motion sickness. I stayed to see the experiments such as watching a little girl roll a bottle downhill and watch it come back to her and I balanced a broom on its own. I was surprised how many people showed up there—considering it was in the middle of nowhere. But well worth the visit.

Final ThoughtsIMG_5263

Our northwest states are stunning and I encourage everyone to visit and take in the pure nature and beauty of the area. The people of Oregon respect that beauty and take good care of it, using alternative energy and recycling. The air is clean and people are nice and I am very happy to put this visit on my completed bucket list. I had a wonderful time visiting my niece and while I miss her, I’m glad she is living in such a wonderful place that’s good for the soul. God’s beauty can be seen everywhere in Oregon.

















Drake park in Bend.

My Oregon vacation continues with several days in Bend. It is in central Oregon and while there is a substantial population it has a small town feel of a kind or resort town. There is a mix of expensive boutique stores, outdoor sports enthusiasts, and new age hippies. With beautiful snow-capped mountains surrounding a cute pedestrian friendly downtown, residents enjoy hanging out in the expansive park along the Deschutes river and sitting outside in café’s and trendy restaurants serving local food.


Archer meets a new friend.

My adventure in Bend began in the morning of July 4 when we walked from my rented condo apartment into downtown to check out the first of several parades that day. These parades actually rival the infamous Horton Bay parades up in Michigan. The first parade was for dogs and other creatures. Dogs small and large were dressed up and walked or carried down the road. I was amazed at the number of them and then even more so when I spotted other creatures—chickens and roosters, miniature ponies, goats, horses, and bringing up the rear some large snakes.


Archer gets lunch on July 4.

We then headed down to Drake Park, a beautiful grassy area along the river filled with rows of retailers, artisans, and food tents. There were wonderful local businesses selling soaps, t-shirts, woodcarvings, dog products, recycled artwork, and much more. We gave McKenna her first taste of a delicious cheesesteak sandwich. It was the loveliest day and we enjoyed lunch on a blanket near the river in the shade of a warm sunny day.

The girls’ dog Archer was a fan favorite—about a hundred people asked what kind of dog he was—some of them insisting on his combination of breeds even though they were wrong. Archer is a funny looking and really cute guy—a lab, beagle mix. We took him over to the bank of the river to have a little swim. And he met many new friends, including a massive dog 10x his size.


The endless bike parade. July 4 in Bend.

It was then time for the bike parade which basically was several hundred people on various bikes coming down the street cheering loudly—many drunk and/or stoned and in the most colorful outfits. The people of the town were very friendly and in spite of the revelry pretty much orderly and kind. We spent the afternoon swimming and resting before meeting for a delicious dinner and fireworks. We went to a school under the Butte in Bend where they set off the fireworks and evidently with the dry climate, they inevitably set fire to the place. Some geniuses near us set fire to some brush with some of their own stash.


A view of nearby mountains from the river as we floated.

The next day we “floated the river.” The Deschutes river in Bend is very shallow (and cold) and it’s a daily activity for the residents to rent tubes (or many have their own) and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area. We floated about an hour and passed by neat homes–some old and small and some newer and bigger. Many of them had cute decks and yards—one even had a bed. There were some rapids we bypassed and some random logs and such we sometimes missed and sometimes had to awkwardly maneuver around but the scenery was lovely the entire time—including some mountains, birds, and interesting people. We landed back at the park in town and caught a bus back. Our very fun day was topped off with another delicious dinner at Anthony’s—which had a wonderful view of the river. The food was mouthwatering and was made better by wonderful conversations and good company.


The artwork around the restaurant was interesting. This sign was made up of silverware and railroad spikes.

My last day in Bend continued with another delicious meal—brunch at Chow—an interesting place with local artwork placed around the house, and a garden where they grow some of the herbs and vegetables they use in their meals. We all had tasty mimosas and yummy eggs and such. We sat outside because the weather was once again warm and sunny. Dogs were welcome and we had more wonderful conversations before heading out to Bachelor Mountain.

A short drive from Bend took us to the mountain where skiing is enjoyed in the winter and hiking and biking are prevalent in the summer. There was still a lot of snow on the ground so we couldn’t hike down, which was fine—we took the chair lift up and back and had wonderful views of the mountain ranges. The Cascades were in the distance and close by were the Three Sisters and The Broken Top Mountain. Little lakes dotted the valleys in between them. We took a little hike around the top after lunch throwing snowballs and taking in the views.


McKenna and Zenia atop Bachelor Mountain. The Three Sister s in the background.

We spent some time exploring the shops and bookstores in Bend before I left for the south. We met some interesting people in town—a guy who set up a table with his small paintings and a book he wrote—about traveling around the west with mules. I can’t say I would be comfortable with his lifestyle but I really admire free souls like that who embrace life and nature. One of the wonderful gifts of traveling is meeting people who have such a different outlook and lifestyle as you—it gives you a new perspective of the world around you and makes you appreciate people much more.


My niece and I on July 4 in the park in Bend.

This was the best few days I’ve spent in a long time. If I could live without working, I would rent a little place on the Deschutes River for a time each year and float on the river for some peace and rest.

Next stop and post, Crater Lake.




The girls and Archer in Drake park, Bend, OR. July 4


Archer wants that stick!


The view outside Anthony’s in Bend. We floated the river there earlier that day.


The houses on the river had the cutest yards like this one.


This house knows how to enjoy the comfort of the river with a bed under a canopy roof.


A view of the river as we floated along.


McKenna takes the rapids and ends up flipping over.


Lots of geese hang out on the river, some seem to walk on water and others were swimming alongside us.





I think this is Mt. Ranier with windmills turning from the heavy winds blowing across the fields.

On my second day in Oregon, I got up from the wonderful home where I was staying in Hood River and headed east along the Columbia River. The scene was gorgeous and soon I was starting to see more desert landscape. The scenery was magnificent and changed continuously as I drove east and south. At one point as I was driving through low rolling hills and endless fields with wind generators dotting the horizon, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a huge snow-capped mountain. I pulled off the side of the road to get a good look and then scanned to the left and saw another mountain in the distance. I’m pretty sure the one was Mt. Rainier in Washington. I don’t think any other mountain that far away could have been as huge as the tallest peak in America. I saw it once from a plane and now viewed it from land.

While I normally dislike the journey and am more of a destination kind of person, I fully enjoyed the drive and stopped to take photos as the landscape called to me. Oregon has a natural history filled with geological turbulence and regrowth. Ice ages, volcanoes, water, weather patterns, storms, and more formed the beauty we see today. Fields and prairies, hills and low bushes, tall beautiful trees, mountains in the distance, and windy rivers all captured my attention and made me relaxed and happy.


The stage coach station in the old west town of Shaniko.

I stopped at a ghost town called Shaniko. In the old west, it was a thriving place but when the railroad passed it by, it became desolate. So the locals now make some cash from selling antiques in the old stagecoach station and from people like me who stop off to see a little tiny old west town.


The Clarno Unit of John Day Fossil Beds.

After my short visit, I continued on a somewhat deserted road that turned sharply up and down the hills of central Oregon toward one of the locations of John Day Fossil Beds Parks. There are three sites that make up this park. I first went to the Clarno Unit, where I hiked about a mile and a half through in the high sun and along rough paths through ancient rocks. The scene of the tall rock monuments changed as I wound my way around the paths. These rock cliffs were formed from volcanic mudflows that swept through the area 44 million years ago and preserved a diverse assortment of plants and animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest. My heart was palpitating when I got to the top of a 450 foot elevation on a small rough path ending under an arch and a fossil of a tree embedded in the cliff.

I was in want of ice cream when I finally made it back to my pickup truck—the so called “economy rental”, but alas, no civilization was nearby so I continued along the windy roads to the next park, the Painted Hills. These colorful hills were beautiful. Reds, yellows, and spots of black flowed through the rolling hills as a result of ancient volcanic flows.


The Painted Hills

The Painted Hills is one of those places where the view keeps getting better and different as you move along the paths. The hills look like sand but when you see it up close, it’s more like very dry, crumbly rock that has been colored. As I was making my way down from the top of one path, I noticed many people with dogs—they are allowed on leashes. And then, my eye caught one woman walking her little goat. He was on a leash, so I guess that works! One of the cool things about traveling is seeing all kinds of people who make it interesting enough to write about.

IMG_5306With my Fitbit buzzing at 10,000 steps, I called it a day and drove the final leg down to Bend where I would get to see my niece and her friend. More mountains dotted the landscape as I reached hippie town, USA. Seriously, it is a lovely town, about to burst at the seams as more and more people (and students) add to the 80,000 population. More on Bend and my fun with “Grasshopper” on my next post, but once again, I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through this gorgeous state with seemingly vast resources and open land.