As soon as we get up, we drive back to Drake Park where there are real (and real clean!) restrooms. I make coffee for us and we take it outside to have in the sun. It’s another one of Bend’s 300 days of sunshine and a nice slow Sunday.
After coffee, we stroll around, meeting ducks and geese, wander through downtown some more…then back to our rig for breakfast of fruit and cereal before heading out. On the way, we drive up to Pilot Butte where you get a huge 360 view of the area. From this vista point you can see all the mountains, cinder cones, forests, etc. out there.
A circular marker in the center has lines radiating out to various mountains. You can even see the Southwest-ish walls of the rocks at Smith Rock State Park way off to the northeast. Mt. Washington is jagged and black. Mt. Jefferson, the second highest mountain in Oregon at 10,497 feet, is craggy, glacially scarred and snow frosted.
We get a great view of the Three Sisters, the volcanic trio rising beyond 10,000 feet. And slightly to the south, there’s Mt. Bachelor, another popular ski spot.
We backtrack to Sisters, then, take Route 242. The road gets very narrow at times and is closed to vehicles longer than 35 feet. It also goes through a lava bed. Dee Dwight Observatory is in the middle of this ancient lava flow. I say ancient but then I read that this lava is from one of the most recent examples of volcanic activity in North America. We thought the observatory was one in the astronomical sense but, no, it’s a lava rock tower from which you can see various mountains through cleverly positioned view ports. A small interpretive trail takes you through the lava bed.
Oregon, we find out, is also Land of Covered Bridges. They date back to the mid-1800s and were covered to protect them from the damp climate. During their heyday, there were about 450 covered bridges in the state, though by 1977, there were only 56. Still, Oregon boasts the largest collection of covered bridges in the West and we come to a few along this route. The Belknap Covered Bridge has been around since 1890 but the one you see today is a newer one built in 1966. The original one was washed out during a storm and flood that wrecked havoc all along the Pacific Northwest.
FR-19, known as the Aufderheide Drive, is a scenic route going south from Rainbow, along the McKenzie River. It goes by Cougar Dam where we stop for a look. There’s a display showing you how they are preserving the salmon eco-system (despite disrupting it) by creating ladders for them to go up and getting the water flowing back into the river at the right temps for the fish. Just past the dam is Terwilligen Hot Springs. Apparently there are several pools of varying temps. However, the parking lot is packed and we can find nowhere else to park so we have to blow it off. I am hoping that maybe we can go in the morning so we stop at a campground not too far from it. Cougar Crossing Campground AKA Hippie Hollow. It’s a simple campground with pit toilets and no running water but along a pretty river.
Dinner is fresh wild salmon with pasta and zucchini. The salmon attracts hoards of yellowjackets and I have to throw them pieces of the salmon skin so they will leave me alone.