Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hikes, Pickleball, Breweries and The Blitz


For some reason I had a sense that we didn’t do much this past week in Bend until I was thinking of a title for this post and realized we’ve been pretty busy here. I guess it’s because we had way too many days of highs only in the 50s with clouds and rain thrown in to cause me to forget we also had some decent enough weather to get outside and play.


We played pickleball two mornings at Pine Nursery Park, where they have 16 beautiful courts. Pickleball is a really big deal in Bend, and in order to play on 12 of the courts you must be a member or guest ($5 fee) of the Bend Pickleball Club. It’s very structured and you have to take classes to get to a certain level before you can even join in the play. I guess since they have hundreds of members it works best to do it that way, but four of the courts are open for anyone to use for free. We did manage to find two other couples to play with and if we lived here would definitely join the club, but for the less than two weeks we have left we’ll just drop by and either play singles or hope there are other visitors looking for a game of doubles.

One day we took a hike at nearby Shevlin Park, hiking along Tumalo Creek in the pines on the Shevlin Park loop trail. It’s a pleasant five miles on a ridge above the creek, but Jim thought there were too many trees.



This is the Hixon Crossing covered bridge.


A Google search found this information about the bridge: 

According to the Bend Parks and Recreation District, this small covered bridge was constructed by a movie company in the early 1990s in exchange for filming some scenes in the park, including the bridge.
The bridge across Tumalo Creek was built upon the footings of a much larger logging railroad trestle that spanned the canyon of Tumalo Creek from 1941 to 1957.


No hike in the Bend area is complete without a stop at a brewery, and our favorite from last time, Crux Fermentation Project,  just happened to be on our way home.


My favorite was still the Half Hitch IPA, but Jim liked one of their limited release specialty beers, Tough Love.


While in Bend in 2014 we volunteered to work at a mountain bike race, The Blitz, but a large wildfire encroached on the trails so the race was cancelled. A couple weeks ago we got an email from the volunteer coordinator who said they still needed volunteers for this years event, which was on the 16th. Since we knew we would be here then we signed up. Volunteers got a tshirt and a beer. Unfortunately it was 55 when we arrived at our post, with dark clouds all around, but we layered up and brought our rain gear. It’s always interesting to be behind the scenes of an event because you wonder how they ever pull it off. Nobody was sure where exactly we were supposed to be stationed, but they finally figured it out. And no one had blocked off the trail intersection so cars had already parked there and the riders had to thread between cars to cross the road.

There’s Jim manning his post at the road crossing, while I was farther down the trail directing the riders on which way to go, as other cars had parked in the dirt by the trail and made it very confusing.


Of course it started raining about a half hour before all the men had come through, so we got cold and wet as the temperature dropped into the mid 40s. We did head over to get our beer after but we had to bring it inside the clubhouse of the golf course to get warm, and they cancelled the arm wrestling contest which the riders normally do after they finish the race since it was pouring by then and all the spectators were leaving. It was still fun and a different way to spend the evening.

Jeanne arrived in Bend last week and joined us in the pasture, so on Friday we took a drive north of Redmond to Smith Rock State Park. We had hiked there before but wanted to visit it again as we remembered it being very scenic, and our memory was correct. Even though afternoon thunderstorms were predicted and it was overcast during most of our hike, we managed to finish the 4 mile Misery Ridge loop with just a bit of rain near the end of the trail.

The park is every bit as beautiful as we remembered. Jim was loving the lack of trees and endless views, which start right out of the parking lot.



Misery Ridge trail from across the Crooked River. It climbs 600’ in less than a mile over loose rock and lots of stairs.


Making our way up.


Jim and Jeanne taking one of many breaks.



But there was good reason to stop and take photos, and catch our breath.




Looking back down on the trail.


At the top. Jim was telling me to get closer to the edge but this was it for me.


Great views all around.




You can’t see them in the photo but there are huge houses scattered around that rock.


Jim did some spying with the zoom to see how the other half lives.



Monkey Face rock.


Looks more like a monkey from this angle.


I saw some people ahead of us stop and look at the ground next to the trail. When we got there I was curious to see what they were looking at and didn’t realize at first what this actually was, until Jeanne spotted the rattle. It never moved while we were watching it.


This is a climbers paradise, and they were out in force. They always make it look so easy.





The last easy part of the trail along the river is very scenic.




Smith Rock is a great place to hike, but unless you stay along the fairly level river trail be sure to bring hiking poles. The trails are covered with tiny stones that make your feet try to slip out from under you. We all managed to stay upright but we did see another hiker go down. And don’t expect much solitude on the trail as it’s a popular place.

We were hungry and thirsty after the hike, and there was a brewery in Redmond we hadn’t tried, so we stopped at Wild Ride Brew on the way home. They have a nice tasting room but no restaurant, just four food trucks parked outside. We had Caribbean wraps from The Jerk King that were excellent, and Jim found his new favorite beer, Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, while I liked the Dark Dynasty Belgian Dark Ale. We would definitely go there again.

Yesterday was cold and drizzly, but Jeanne and I decided to check out the Saturday farmer’s market while Jim ran some errands and took advantage of his Silver Sneakers membership to go work out at a gym. There were quite a few people at the market but I felt sorry for the vendors, especially the gelato guy, as it was not an ice cream kind of day.

No big plans for this coming week, but it’s supposed to be getting back into the 70s and 80s so we hope to get in some more biking, pickleball, and a hike or two, and I suspect there will be beer tasting.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Bend Again


Beautiful Deschutes River.


We spent 5 weeks in Bend, Oregon during the summer of 2014 and liked it so much we even looked at a condo, so we have been looking forward to coming back to see what we think a second time around.

We’ve been here since Thursday and have been busy taking care of things, like replacing the microwave oven that quit working last week. The original was a Dometic model, which of course was discontinued in 2014 and the replacement model is not the right size. So we just took out the old one, measured the opening, and went shopping. Home Depot, Lowe’s and Best Buy are just a couple miles from where we’re parked, so we hit them all and found only one that would fit the opening, a $79 Magic Chef. Jim had to drill holes in the top of it to attach the trim piece, but was unable to screw in the bottom trim so we just screwed it into the wood and hope the top piece will be enough to keep it from sliding out when we’re driving. At least it didn’t involve any cabinet modification.

Our parking spot is on our friend Marial’s property and the pasture had not been mowed this year, so she cleared a spot for the Lazy Daze and Jim took care of the rest.


Didn’t think I would ever see Jim do yard work again! It was not his favorite part of home ownership.


Marial has a friend who is a Beer Angel (a group of women who combine their love of beer with charity fundraising), and she recommended we try Bridge 99 Brewery, which just opened last year. We loved the Imperial Pioneer Porter, Bull Trout Stout, and whiskey barrel-aged Imperial IPA, so I’m sure we’ll be back.

We also took a walk along the Deschutes River from Farewell Bend Park. Such a pretty river, and on Saturday evening there were plenty of people out walking, biking and floating on the river.




Biggest dog park we’ve ever seen, with separate large and small dog areas.


Yesterday we took a bike ride along another section of the Deschutes River trail that we can access less than a mile from here, and this morning we plan to check out the pickleball courts and see if we can get in on a few games. I think our three weeks here are going to pass very quickly.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Oregon’s Only National Park



Although Oregon is a state full of natural beauty, it is home to only one national park, Crater Lake. With a maximum depth of 1,941’, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and the clearest due to the fact that it has no inlets or tributaries but gets its water strictly from rain and snow melt. Its depth and clarity contribute to the deep blue color of the water. It was formed by the eruption of Mt. Mazama over 7,000 years ago, which collapsed on itself and left a caldera that eventually filled with rain and snow and formed Crater Lake.

Our first view late Wednesday morning under cloudy skies.


When we visited previously in mid July of 2009 we were able to hike some trails and drive around the lake. This time in early June none of the trails are open yet and the West Rim Drive is the only part of the rim road open to cars due to snow. After our hot week in Ashland it was hard to believe there could still be that much snow at 7-8,000’, but they weren’t kidding.



The only choice for a “hike” was a five mile portion of the East Rim Drive that is open for foot and bicycle traffic. We met Jeanne at the nearby parking area and headed off. We missed her dog Riley joining us, as the sweet boy died from his seizure disorder a couple weeks ago. Very sad.


The forecast called for cloudy skies in the morning and partly cloudy skies in the afternoon. Since this was Jeanne’s first time here we hoped the sun would come out so she could see the spectacular blue color of the lake.

We walked 2.7 miles to the first overlook where we began to see some blue sky. It was in the upper 40s and breezy. No complaining about the heat here, and no mosquitoes.


This cute little golden mantle ground squirrel was working the overlook, begging from everyone who came by, even though nobody was eating.


You can see the line of pine pollen in the water.


With the sun starting to come out we decided to turn back at that point so we could drive down West Rim Road to Rim Village.


By the time we got there and wandered around the gift shop in the village the sky had cleared considerably and the lake was just gorgeous.


The small rustic rim visitor center is hidden in the trees and snow. We had to trudge through quite a bit of it to get there.



This Clark’s nutcracker was giving us a hard time. Don’t know if he was begging, too, or just warning us off.


On the way back to Diamond Lake we stopped at every overlook along the West Rim.







We even got to see some UFO-like lenticular clouds.


Crater Lake is definitely worth a visit. With its deep cobalt blue water it is truly the prettiest lake we’ve ever seen. If we come back it will be in the late summer to do some hiking on the 100 miles of trails after the snow has melted.