Full disclosure, I’ve lived in and (mostly) loved Washington almost 50 years. But, I was born and raised in Oregon, and lived there until my early 20’s. There are many very special places there, and we recently got to visit three of them. We could have taken I-5; surprisingly the back roads are not only more scenic, but faster! Hence, we cut over from I-5 to catch I-90, and then jumped onto SR97. We stopped at Trevari Cellars south of Yakima for lunch. All they have is sparkling wine, but boy is it good. And just look at that lunch! Not to mention views of Rainier and Adams on a clear day.
After passing through Yakima, you encounter Wapato and Toppenish, blink-of-an-eye agricultural towns, then it’s nothing but hills and valleys for miles and miles. Peaceful, tranquil and beautiful.
Many miles later comes Goldendale; a steady descent to the Columbia River Gorge is imminent, and the views start to open up. Soon you cross the once-mighty Columbia; heads-up! This is pretty much the last gas (etc) stop for maybe 75 or more miles! We get pretty good mileage, so I thought we had plenty of gas, and blithely passed a chance to refuel. We quickly started climbing out of the gorge, but had to stop at this hillside covered with grain that were literally “amber waves of grain” being gently massaged by the wind. Breathtaking and mesmerizing, we had to stop and watch for awhile.
Soon there were miles and miles of miles and miles. While the earth-bound scenery was great, the stunner was the cloudscapes, huge and imposing, light and dark, beautiful and threatening. My gas gauge started sending me threatening notes … “Fuel Low!” Surely a town would show up soon? And one did – Shaniko. Four buildings and what purported to be a gas station, with pumps from the 1960’s still apparently operational. I just couldn’t do it. Culver? Nope. Terrebonne? Nope. Finally, Redmond. Under normal circumstances, Safeway gas would be my last choice, but it looked like an oasis in a desert at that moment. On to Bend, and my sibling reunion.
So, this whole sibling thing gets complicated. I’ll spare you all the rabbit trails of how the original five sibs became seven, and then nine; at this gathering the first five and final two step-brothers (and for those so equipped, spouses or spousal equivalents) were all there. Sister Susan and husband John moved there shortly after their retirement, and own a large and lovely home overlooking the Deschutes River. All but four of us stayed there.
I’ve traveled the West for years, and have never come across a city or town like Bend. It’s high desert, pine and juniper country, with a backdrop of multiple volcanic giants. Mt. Bachelor is well known to skiers, but the Three Sisters steal the show, and are beloved by hikers and climbers. The South Sister (10, 354′), while challenging, is not a technical climb; John and I did it for his 60th birthday. Just down the road from them is Cascade Lakes Highway (formerly known as Century Drive, so-named because it offers access to 100 lakes in a semi-alpine setting.) Camping and canoeing can’t be beat here!
The city of Bend is built right on the Deschutes River. The downtown is vibrant and delightful, with lots of great shops and restaurants. The Old Mill District is pretty snazzy, right on the river with – again – tons of shopping and fabulous restaurants, PLUS paved trails along the river (rent a two or four person quadricycle for fun and exercise), or rent inner tubes to float the river. Kayakers can run challenging man-made rapids as well. We went to dinner at Monkless Brewing, at the far north of the Old Mill District, with a view of the river. The food and beer were really good.
Oh, did I mention beer? Right now, Bend has 22, yes, 22 breweries! One day, I’m going to have to return and really check some of these out. Finally, there are tons of hiking trails all around, We did the Upper Falls – Lava Island hike, which was beautiful, and suitable for almost all abilities. The adventurous can also white-water raft the Deschutes. All of this just scratches the surface of things to do and places to go in the Bend area, but it’s time to head to the Oregon Coast.
2 thoughts on “Highlights from Oregon Part One of Three”
Bill, on my computer it appears you put captions on the photos but they didn’t format right. Right after you said camping and canoeing can’t be beat here …
*If you have much, give of your wealth; *
if you have little, give of your heart
Of course I’m loving reading this!!!