PNW

June 3-9

Leaving Crescent City and the Redwoods was sad; it’s a special place. You can find big mountains in a lot of places, but the redwoods of Northern California are a unique sight to behold.

We set our bearings toward Bend, Oregon, as we climbed further into the Pacific Northwest. Crater Lake National Park was nearly on the way, adding only an hour to our trip. So we made a stop around lunchtime at the impossibly blue lake. We’d visited it once before, on our last northbound trip to Seattle a couple years ago. It’s very cool to see, but in our opinion, unless you’re camping or backpacking there, it’s not worth the hefty detour you’ll likely have to take to get there. It’s rather isolated in Oregon.

We moved along after lunch and some photos at the crater rim. Bend was a couple more hours, and we made it there in good time. First stop was at a clinic to get our bloodwork completed. When that was all set, we made another exhilarating trip- to the mall to buy scrubs. We were told that our facility where we’d be working did not allow nurses to wear blue scrubs, which is the only color we have. After the errands were done, it was time to enjoy Bend.

We reserved a campsite at Tumalo State Park for our first night there (Thursday). Friday and Saturday was all booked up at the campground, so we’d be finding some wild campsites for the weekend.

The campground showers were hot and didn’t require quarters. How luxurious.

Friday morning we got a slow start. I find myself saying that more and more as our trip carried on- I think its because we find the Nest to be quite comfortable, and moving about and being active all day has us pretty spent by bedtime.

We set out to Smith Rock State Park, north of Bend and a big hub for rock climbers from all around. It reminded me of our trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, though a less dramatic canyon.

The Crooked River meanders through the park, lighting up the riverside with lush green grasses and abundant happy flowers. We climbed up along some switchbacks to a vista of Smith Rock and the surrounding wilderness and distant mountains, then descended down to the riverside for a stroll along the stream. Interestingly, the river-side of the trail was vibrant and healthy, while the cliff-side was distinctly dry and deadened vegetation, longing to be closer to the river.

After getting back to town, it was time to do more things for our upcoming work assignment. I had to complete a handful of computer modules and trainings. So we grabbed the laptop and a blanket and made our way down to the Deschutes riverbank.

Bend is a beautiful town situated along the Deschutes and just east of the southern Cascade mountain range, with endless outdoor opportunities throughout the year. Jamie and I joked that we wouldn’t qualify to live there, as we weren’t hardcore enough. Everybody had a mountain bike or rock climbed, and every car had at least a roof rack of some sort to transport various recreation equipment.

When it was time to search for a campsite, we jumped back in Arch and drove into the Cascade foothills and the Deschutes National Forest. It didn’t take long to find a forest road and some decent spots to camp. But man, it was dusty. A dust bowl, really. It covered everything.

But the site was quiet, and secluded, so we set up our camp for the night and settled in.

By this point in our trip, we were pretty speedy at setting up camp!

The following morning we had planned a hike to a lower elevation summit with excellent views of the Cascades. But as we started along the trail, weak snow made each step rather difficult. We rerouted and decided to hike up Vista Butte. We figured, if “vista” is in the name, it must have decent views. It felt good to get out and stretch our legs, and the hike entertained us for a few hours.

Cascade Lakes Brewery sits in the western region of Bend, and upon entering the town again from the west, it was the perfect stop for an app and a beer or three. (No shortage of breweries in Bend- it has the third most breweries per capita in the country behind Portland ME and Asheville NC). We made our campsite plans for the night: we’d head up the Cascade Lakes Scenic highway, another route into the mountains, and find a wild site along one of the many 4×4 roads. It didn’t take us long to find an adequate and flat campsite. Essentially, we give ourselves an hour or so to peruse an area with potential campsites, and hope to pick out a decent one (if there are any available). The casual strategy has worked out, so far.

The Commons Cafe in Bend was our first stop the next morning, for coffee and a bagel. We stayed a few extra minutes and checked out the local art exhibit on display within the cafe. Really incredible stuff.

Charley really wanted to check out the downtown area, so we strolled through and popped into some shops. Lots of good stuff, but we don’t have any space for more things, so all there is to do is look and not buy.

Yet another brewery in the afternoon, this time Deschutes. They had a really excellent selection of west coast IPAs, so naturally I bought a growler before we left and filled that sucker up.

That evening, we were able to book a spot back at Tumalo State Park Campground. If only for the hot showers and dustless camp site.

Not shockingly we visited another brewery that evening- Sunriver. In my defense, when visiting a city whose beer scene is highly touted, it’d be near criminal not to see what the buzz is about. Their nachos were excellent too.

Afterward, we crossed the street and went to The Lot, a food truck haven with ample long tables beneath heaters in a covered space.

We enjoyed a campfire that night before turning it early. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a bunch of folks at the group camping area close by that decided it wasn’t bedtime. AND I swear it must’ve been an acapella group reunion or something. These guys were rattling off 90’s and 00’s tunes for probably almost 2 hours.

The morning June 7 it was time to leave Bend and move on. I do hope that we make it back there again sometime.

For the next two days, we camped near Mt Hood, an hour or two east of Portland, and did a couple hikes and visited a few more breweries. Some spots had excellent backdrops of the volcanic peak in all of its majesty.

Solera and Mountainview breweries in Parkdale were some excellent spots, and Solera had Monday night live outdoor music, adding another layer to our evening.

On June 9, it was time to finish our epic journey. After a few thousand miles, we were ready to arrive in Seattle and start the next chapter. We cruised along the Columbia River Gorge westward to Portland, and followed I-5 north until we hit Seattle. We’re spending the first week in an extended stay hotel, until our apartment lease starts own the 18th.

Work begins on the 11th, and we’re just about ready to jump back in to the hospital. Seattle for the summer and we couldn’t be more excited.

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