From the Blog

A Weekend, A Tank Full of Gas, Chapter 6: Getting Bent

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Gas is $4.19 a gallon! Gah! But we couldn’t walk to Bend, Oregon. It was 163 miles. And there are, like, big hills and stuff. So we drove.

There are many ways to drive to Bend. To get there, we took Route 26 because it goes by Mt. Hood and I like big, fat volcanoes that could blow up and kill you. Except that this book says it has a magma plug in the top and that could mean that it won’t erupt anymore. Or, the Wikipedia link above says that Mt. Hood is considered the volcano “Most Likely to Erupt in Oregon.” So it seems like we might not really know if Mt. Hood is active or dormant. And sadly, disputes such as these cause epic street battles and bloody knife fights among geologists. Oregon is a hotbed of geologist violence.

We left Saturday morning and headed east on Route 26. The correct way to pronounce “route” is “root.” Mt. Hood is over 11,000 feet tall. Because of terrain and weather, there aren’t many great views of the mountain as you drive towards it. But every once in a while, you catch a glimpse. And even under the clouds, you can see a sharp ridge or a steep wall of snow. There is a huge mountain under there. It could explode.

Hood in Clouds

We stopped for breakfast in the prettily named ski village of Government Camp, altitude 4000 feet. We rolled through postcard Oregon in the tall Douglas Fir forests on the western slopes of the High Cascades. As we continued southeast, we tipped over to the drier, eastern side of the mountains. And we began to see land most people don’t associate with the Pacific Northwest.

Hi Desert

Sage, red earth, scraggy juniper, buttes of volcanic rock, and of course, clouds. We ARE in Oregon, after all. I was told it’s not usually so wet in the high desert. It rained for two of the three days we were in the desert.

Warm Springs

This was near Warm Springs on Route 26. Dave was my Co-Pilot. And also, Road Photographer. Any photos taken on the road are by him. Because he freaks out if I take my hands off the wheel for more than 30 seconds. Jeez.

You know why the high desert in Oregon is so high? It’s because the Pacific Plate is sinking under the North American Plate. And as it descended, it heated up and caused volcanoes to spew up layers and layers of lava that raised the elevation of the eastern half of the state. The layers of new lava covered up a lot of the geological history of the area. The interior of Oregon once contained an inland sea. Thousands of geologists died to bring you this information.

So we got to Bend and it was sort of raining, and we were sort of going to an outdoor concert. We brought rain gear, but I am ever an optimist, and I was pretty sure we wouldn’t need it. It’s the desert! It’s dry!

But sure enough, not only was it raining, but we got some thunder and lightning. Awesome time to stand in a field and listen to indie bands! We got there early because we were there to see one of my other boyfriends and I wanted to get a nice place to stand for 5 hours in the rain.

As we waited for 9 hours in the cold, wet, rain, I had the worst Philly cheese steak I’ve ever had in my life. The weather was crappy enough that I wondered if they were going to cancel the show. It took some fiddling to get the opening band on the stage. And when they played, their faces were grim. They were okay, I guess. They seemed kind of bummed out.

I was observing hipsters who had dressed to be cute, not warm, or dry or sensible. Girls with flip flops, guys in t-shirts. I have clearly rounded the top of the “Hipness Hill” and am speeding ever faster down to “Way Uncool,” because even though I was really excited to go to a Rock Concert, I dressed in something warmer than a bikini and leg warmers.

After 15 hours of thunder and lightning and cold, dreary, wet, rain, the sky seemed to lighten in one corner. And as our band took the stage, the rain had cleared and we were merely just wet, not utterly soaked through 5 layers of clothing, as we had been for the past 22 hours.

And The Decemberists were great! When I had seen last them live, they were playing with the LA Phil Harmonic. They were dressed in white suits and behaved in a completely civilized manner. This time, Colin Meloy was a total ham, directing hand motions, running through the crowd and telling false historical stories about the origin of Bend, Oregon. Besides being entertaining, the music was tight. It was a great show.

The Decemberists

Sadly, I was too cold (and unhip) to throw my bra on stage.

This concludes Day One of Bend, Oregon. Day Two tomorrow. Maybe.


  1. Meredith says

    Snowy mountains, kinda flat desert, steep drops off the side of guard rails, volcanos waiting to explode any second, rain, thunder and lighting, how nature-esque!! You could have put baggies inbetween your socks and shoes like we did sledding. I’ll always remember that tip.

  2. Wow, you did, like, research and stuff.

  3. Hey! I was there, too. No mention of Death Cab? I missed the shenanigans of the “history lesson” while waiting in line for pizza to warm the bf and I up.

  4. Death Cab was pretty good. But we were soooo cold by the end. And we (I) had such soooore feet from standing for soooo long. Plus, Ben Gibbard’s hair was not as cool as Colin Meloy’s. So we decided to leave early.

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