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Weekend Away: Sisters and Bend, Part II

So we enjoyed Sisters, Oregon. It was the first time we’ve gotten to spent some time there. We are usually just driving through. The whole town was getting ready for Annual Sisters Rodeo this weekend. As much of a spectacle that must be, I’m glad we visited before the rodeo hit town, on just a “regular” weekend. We had amazing warm weather, the town itself and that whole part of the state is just gorgeous. It sort of felt like we were visiting a different part of the country, not just a different part of the state. Especially after spending the last year on the drippy north coast.

I moved to Portland in the beginning of 2008. But I had also seriously considered moving to New Mexico. I researched Santa Fe as I was thinking about Portland. It was a real toss up, where I would move to. I really like the desert. I like wide open spaces. I like big mountains in the distance, and I like the smell of sage brush. I could have seen myself building a straw bale house amidst arid hills and desert pine trees. I still love that idea.

Ultimately, I wanted a bigger, progressive city. And looking at the job market between Santa Fe and Portland made the decision much easier. Santa Fe was expensive, and most of the jobs seemed like get rich quick scams. Whereas the jobs in Portland were more plentiful, and more like don’t-get-rich-ever scams. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that moving to Portland has been among the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

I still like the desert. I forget how much until I actually visit. And then it revives a dormant spring of energy, like a fond old memory, or a part of myself I’ve forgotten. Central Oregon is pretty where ever you put your eyes, almost to the point it makes my heart ache. It’s been a couple years since we’ve been out that way.

We wrapped up in Sisters and headed southeast to Bend. We checked into the Old St Francis School. It was First Friday, and downtown Bend was hop-hop-hoppin. One of the first things I noticed was that a lot of people were dressed up. We were walking around in dusty, comfortable road clothes and Portland sweatshirts. And I noticed lots of women in heels and short skirts. Like, real heels. And it created a disconnect in my mind for a moment, before I realized that Bend has more of a California influence. I hadn’t seen that many people dressed up for a night on the town since leaving southern California.

We were able to walk in and squeeze into a table at Zydeco, which has rave reviews. It was slick and pricey and the bar was packed with people. It was quite the scene. The food was excellent. And Dave and I realized, as we observed Bend’s early evening nightlife on a warm spring day, that we are not really “foodies.” We like food, and we like going out to eat. But neither of us are really into the pomp or the pageantry associated with hip dining. I was glad that Zydeco actually found room for us without a reservation, and our food was very good.

We walked up and down Wall and Bond streets, watching everyone luxuriate in the lovely weather. It was a festival atmosphere, albeit much more dressy. I’m not as able to walk for long distances with my big fat belly and my swollen feet, so we headed back to the hotel.

We tucked in for the night and slept fairly well. Except. Except that we weren’t sleeping in our own bed, of course. And I’m seven months pregnant with twins. I’ve been lucky enough not to have too many aches and pains so far, beyond fatigue if I push myself too hard.

I woke up feeling like my back had broken in the middle of the night. It wasn’t a regular pain, like lower back strain, or hip pain, or upper back tension. This was a new pain. It was right in the very middle, like where my rib cage connects to my spine. And it was so bad, I could barely breathe. I slowly got up and moved around. Sitting hurt. Laying down hurt. Standing hurt. It all felt like my rib cage was too small. And it was in just such a weird area, right in the middle, the no man’s land, where you couldn’t hope to guess what might be causing it.

Back pain during pregnancy is not completely unexpected. It’s one of those “not if, but when,” symptoms that you can’t really hope to avoid. It was just stunning how quickly it came on, and how intense it was. And how weird it was. It was weird. Thankfully, after a shower and some walking around, it slowly went away. It could have been hours of driving, or hours of walking, but I suspected it was the too-soft bed.

It had rained through the night, and the scent of the desert unfurled in the breeze. We got a lovely breakfast at Chow. Then we got coffee at Backporch Coffee Roasters.

(taken by Dave via Instagram)

By the way, if you visit Bend and you’re looking for local advice on where to go eat, go visit this guy: Bend Oregon Restaurants. I remember visiting that site over two years ago, last time we were in Bend, and I was happy he’s still going.

We visited the Des Chutes Historical Museum, not far from our hotel.

Dave’s dad grew up in Bend, and Dave has been able to find mentions of him in the Bend Bulletin archives on Google. We roamed the halls of the museum, looking at photographs, searching for his name or for other family members. We didn’t have much luck, but the museum was interesting, the staff was very friendly and helpful, and there was a giant log.

Here’s what the little flags say, starting from the outside:

1. 1919 World War One ends
2. 1865 American Civil War
3. 1776 American Revolution
4. 1585 First colonists arrive in the New World
5. 1533 King Henry VIII marries Ann Boleyn

And here is the sign describing the log.

Holy crap. I’m a total dork for stuff like this.

From there, we decided what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day. It’s nice to have a vacation weekend in a new place with no obligations. We thought about going to the High Desert Museum (website still sucks). We’ve been there a while ago and liked it a lot. It would have been $15 each for us to get in. And like other situations when measuring the true cost of something, we calculated our combined ticket prices to be equal to 6 to 7 beers. Seemed a little steep. We do like the High Desert Museum, and recommend going at least once.

We decided to take a drive up to Mount Bachelor. Neither of us have ever been there. We followed signs and headed west out of town, thinking we were on the right road.

But no. The signs disappeared, and we just drove and drove. We figured we went in the wrong direction when the road just ended in the woods, and we were not on top of a big mountain. Thankfully, we were near Tumalo Falls.

Pretty awesome. And lucky us, it was a free day at State Parks on June 2nd, so there was no fee for us to visit.

Here’s another description of the area, from people who actually hiked the area, with some lovely photos. I declined to hike up the falls, even though it was only a quarter mile. I get out of breath even with one flight of stairs and it makes me feel flabby and sad.

We headed back into town and consulted a map. Okay, yes, we are dummies about getting around in Bend. We had barely looked at a map all weekend. But this is what happens when we don’t have time constraints, and we aren’t worried about getting lost. I always seem to get my north/south and east/west mixed up in Bend. Now we took the correct road to Mt Bachelor, and it was pretty easy to determine we were going in the right direction.

That’s a lot of snow! That was the most snow we’d seen since our first trip to Mt St Helens together.

Mt Bachelor was all somber and gray and shrouded in the clouds. Though there was snow everywhere, everything was shut down for the summer, because, you know, it’s June. We kept driving to get a look at some of the Cascade Lakes.

This is Elk Lake, where we turned around, and Dave got a beer at Elk Lake Resort.

Elk Lake was named by J. Roy Harvey, first supervisor of the Dechutes National Forest. It covers approximately 390 acres. It’s maximum depth is 75 feet. The lake has no surface outlet.

We saw that the “75” had been inserted into the sign. We wondered what would have made them change the depth of the lake, and what it may have been before.

Devils Lake.

Cold Dave.

Here’s the northwestern flank of Mt Bachelor, as we drove back to Bend. Dave got out and might have stood in the snow to take this photo. There may have been whining.

One last stop at a view point before heading back to town.

The above photo is bigger, and you can click on it. The whole right half of the horizon is the Newberry Volcano. It’s a big shield volcano 20 miles in diameter. As I understand (I read somewhere, now long forgotten) that the Newberry Volcano is expanding and is pretty active. That shit could erupt and stuff.

You can click on the panorama above for your large viewing pleasure.

So, a good day of driving and sight seeing. I like central Oregon. I know it will be a while before we come back. But we’ll bring the little dumplings maybe next year.



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