Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hanging out in a Happy Place: Bend, OR

We're spending September in Bend, OR, one of our very favorite places. Crown Villa RV Resort, a swanky RV park at the south end of town, lowers their rates in September, making autumn the perfect time to visit this lovely town. The weather is starting to feel like fall, most of the tourists have moved on and there are fewer crowds at the most popular outdoor recreation sites.

One of our favorite places to walk or hike is along the Deschutes River. There are paved trails along the river through town and beautiful single track trails along the river further out of town that go through forests and lava flows. (Here's a detailed post about the Deschutes River Trail from our stay in 2013.)

Rafters approaching the little rapids at Big Eddy.
Note the lava flows along the opposite shore.
 
Scenes like this are commonplace along the Deschutes River.

Dillon Falls tumbles through a lava chute.

Enormous Ponderosa Pine.

Steelhead Falls is reached by a short hike through juniper and ponderosa studded ancient lava beds near the rural community of Crooked River Ranch, about 30 miles north of Bend.

The Deschutes River has cut a deep path through ancient lava beds.

Steelhead Falls is small but mighty.
Looked like good fishing all along this section of river..

On a week day we were the only hikers, and just a couple of fishermen...so peaceful!
 
I'm still babying my foot due to plantar fasciitis so all of our hikes have been short and easy. We did a nice 5 mile out and back on Soda Creek trail, which could be turned into a beautiful 12 mile loop when my foot finally heals.

Crystal clear Soda Creek crosses a meadow surrounded by pine forest.


South Sister looms above the forest.
 
Devils Lake is a turquoise beauty along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.

The whole family enjoying a Saturday paddle.

My search for easy, uncrowded hiking sites turned up Metolious Preserve. Managed by the Deschutes Land Trust, a group that works to conserve local wild lands, the Preserve was a peaceful place for an easy stroll among pines, over small streams constantly on the lookout for the deer and elk whose tracks we were following. A grouse surprised us by bursting from the scrub and patches of fall color popped against the green pines and golden grasses.

 



We met up with former fulltimers Pam and Vic who now live in Bend and shared a couple of meals and a wonderful afternoon kayaking on Elk Lake. They have a lovely home near the center of town, perfect for enjoying everything Bend has to offer.

Tasty picnic lunch with Pam and Vic.

Thanks Pam and Vic for sharing this fun afternoon with us!

We also had a fun meet up with Laurel and Eric who were in the area for the Sisters Folk Festival. Laurel writes the wonderful blog Raven and Chickadee, which caught my eye years ago for her beautiful writing style and incredible photography. We had a fun hike in Shevlin Park and a delicious Mediterranean lunch at Kebaba...next time perhaps I'll remember to take a photo!

We love this town and have all sorts of plans for our remaining two weeks, including a special visitor...stay tuned....!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Two Weeks in Portland

We spent the last two weeks of August in Portland having a blast with local friends, RV friends and a San Diego friend passing through. We even had to replace a bolt that holds the leafspring to the frame on the 5th wheel...talk about a harrowing project for the two of us to tackle! But it all worked out in the end.

We love the McMenamins "chain"; it's a company that buys up historic buildings and revamps them into bars and restaurants, some with hotel rooms and spas and movie theaters. They fill these venues with art created by local artists that represents the history of the property. A walk through any of their historical buildings is a treat, add in a delicious meal and some of their own brews or wine, or even spirits and you've got a great afternoon. Our friend Kathryn from San Diego joined us at McMenamins Kennedy School (a former elementary school).





Boiler Room Bar, much of the decor is made from old plumbing pieces.



Kathryn joined us on a day trip up the Columbia River Gorge. Although we only drove about half of one side of the Gorge, we easily saw half a dozen waterfalls, and ended the tour with a tasty brew along the Columbia River at Thunder Island Brewing, and then dinner at McMenamins Edgefield (a former county poor farm).

View of the Columbia River from Vista House.

Latourell Falls, 249 ft.

Columnar basalt.





Latourell Falls, with crazy people at the top...

Looked like a scary descent to their resting spot!




Multnomah Falls upper level.

Hans, Lisa and Kathryn!

Bridge of the Gods with stern wheeler.

Veggie garden at McMenamins Edgefield.

Another day we toured Pittock Mansion. Built in 1914, the mansion was home to one of Portland's influential families. The last of the Pittock family moved out in 1958 and the house was heavily damaged by a major storm in 1962. When developers proposed demolishing the building (the last historic mansion still standing in Portland) to build a subdivision, a grassroots effort was successful in helping the city buy the property and refurbish it for the public to enjoy in 1964.

Pittock Mansion

City view from Pittock Mansion. On a clear day Mt Hood would hold center stage in the distance.

St. Johns Bridge

We enjoyed many other outings during our stay in Portland such as the Organic Beer Festival (52 organic brews to choose from!), several evenings of live music, and a visit with a surprise RV neighbor, Suzanne of Take to the Highway fame and her brother Don. We always enjoy a stay in this vibrant city, even though the traffic can be annoying.  ;-)

We've now moved on to Bend...a happy place for us! We'll see what kind of shenanigans we can get up to during our month in beautiful Bend!



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Eagle Creek Trail, the Perfect Place for a Blogger Meetup

We've stayed in Portland numerous times and, as usual, I look for new and interesting places to hike. One search a couple of years ago acquainted me with Linda, a Portlander who hikes (and skis) and writes and photographs for her blog: Linda's Lens.  We started following each other and have finally managed to meet up...over hiking and beers, of course!

Breakside Brewery was a tasty place to meet in person and choose the hike we'd do together. Eagle Creek Trail is probably the most popular trail in the Columbia Gorge, which may be the reason Hans and I had yet to hike it. Fortunately Linda was happy to take a day off from work so we could be at the trailhead early on a Tuesday. At 8:30am there were about a half dozen cars in the parking lot...when we left in the early afternoon it was overflowing.

The trail passes in and out of lush green forest.

The forest occasionally opens up to walls of lichen covered basalt and views across the canyon
with Eagle Creek tumbling along far below us.

Look away at the wrong time and you just might miss Metlako Falls,
seen from afar as it bursts from the opposite canyon wall.

Several small streams flowed into Eagle Creek from our side of the canyon.

A couple miles into the hike we reached lovely Punchbowl Falls.This is a popular turnaround point for many people, so it can get busy. I was surprised to learn it is a 100 foot drop, it did not seem that tall to me. It's a stunning setting, crystal clear water and high rock walls dripping with water and greenery.

Punchbowl Falls 
 
Hanging garden.

Linda in her element.

Moving on we came to a viewpoint of the top of Punchbowl Falls...
looks a little scary, doesn't it? We did not go there!



A tree fell on this bridge many months ago but it was easy to get around with the low seasonal creek flow.

Loowit Falls

It's very difficult to see due to heavy foliage, but this is a deep, narrow sliver of a gorge...

Fortunately there was a bridge over the gorge so we could look straight down into shimmering, clear Eagle Creek.



Turning around at High Bridge we made our way back into the forest...

and back along the sheer cliffs.

We followed up our beautiful 6.5 mile hike with beer and a view at Thunder Island Brewing, just down the road in Cascade Locks.


Stern wheeler on the Columbia River.

It was so much fun to meet Linda and hike one of the most iconic local trails with her. She takes full advantage of living in an area chock full of incredible photo opportunities...check out her blog for some excellent hiking ideas and her gorgeous photography. With any luck we'll meet up again down the road!