While we were at the Tiffin Service Center in Alabama last fall, we made some new friends, Bob and Sandy Thorn who were from California and highly recommended we visit Bend. They stay here quite often and told us it was a “must see” destination, so we have been looking forward to it for a long time.
We arrived on Sunday to a pretty gloomy day, but that has to be somewhat expected up here in the Pacific Northwest. However, Monday was also overcast, gloomy with a low temperature of 36 and a high of 44 and a stiff wind blowing. This is definitely not what I was expecting for the middle of June. It was too cloudy to do much sightseeing, so we opted to do some grocery shopping and chores around the RV. The nearest grocery store is 40 miles away, so shopping takes quite a bit of time. Just for fun, about 15 miles of the trip is on a fairly narrow Forest Service Road.
I called the Tiffin service center about my GPS not working and they walked me through what I needed to check and were very helpful. Unfortunately, some of the work was outside, so I opted to wait till Tuesday when the weather was supposed to be much warmer.
Tuesday was a much better day with expected highs around 60. I spent about an hour working on the GPS problem and then we headed out for some sightseeing. There are lots of lakes here even though it is considered the high desert with elevations from around 3,600 feet to 4,400 feet. They are all fed by the melting snowpack on the mountains, upwards of 10,000 feet, and the winter snowfall in the surrounding area.
We followed the Cascade Lakes Highway from our campground to many of the area lakes, Wickiup Reservoir, Cultus Lake, Twin Lakes, Hosmer Lake, Elk Lake, Sparks Lake, and Lava Lake. All of them are above 4,000 feet in elevation and crystal clear except where there are high mineral concentrations that turn the water a bright green.
One of the things that is so impressive is the denseness of the forest and the variety and size of the trees here. We learned from a ranger we chatted with that the huge pine trees we have been seeing, many over 200 feet tall and five to six feet in diameter are Ponderosa Pines. Their bark is reddish in color and he described it as dragon’s skin. Perhaps the prettiest trees we saw were the Grand Fir trees. They also can be over 200 feet tall, but their branches extend out with new growth on the ends being a very bright lacy green. Now that is some Christmas tree. There were lots of other types of trees that only grow in this part of the country and are huge.
The trees grow so thick and the underbrush so dense that you literally cannot see 10 feet into the forest. I can image how easy it would be to become disoriented and get lost. We passed several places that had been destroyed by fire. It was a sickening feeling to see what used to be so beautiful, blackened and charred. I can only hope it was caused by lightning and not someone’s carelessness.
As the day grew on, a lot of the cloud cover lifted and we could see the majesty of the surrounding mountains. They are part of the Cascade Mountain Range and either were or are active volcanos. That was such a treat.
As we made our way along the Cascade Lake Highway, we were treated to the views of The Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountains, all over 10,000 feet and Mt. Bachelor, a popular local ski resort. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground even though the temperature was in the mid 40’s.
Wait a minute, this is the middle of June, there is not supposed to be snow. We make it a point to only visit places where the temperature are between 60-90 degrees. I think I got a little ahead of myself with this plan. Oh well, the temps are supposed to be in the low 80s over the weekend. Wouldn’t you know it, we leave here on Sunday.
The total trip today was about 250 miles with trips into Sisters and Bend. It is hard to get used to everything being so spread out here in the west. Traveling 40 miles is nothing for these folks. We have to keep a careful eye on the gas gauge since the distance between gas stations out here can be substantial. In fact, one sign we saw while traveling from Burns, said, “Next Gas 99 Miles”. You get the idea.
To top off the day, we were treated to a couple of deer that were eating the fresh grass within 5 feet our RV. They are always such a treat to see.
Well, it has been a busy day and we had a blast. Tomorrow is round three of the GPS troubleshooting project and hopefully the fix. No matter, that is just part of the lifestyle, things shake loose or break and we try to figure out how to do the repairs. Oh, the joys of RVingTheCountry.