Into the Mountains (Aug 6 2016)

In the morning, Bailey walks in to greet J with lots of wiggy-wagging. We’d be wagging, too, for the great coffee and hot showers!

Cleaned up and caffeinated, we are ready to hit Silver Falls State Park, not too far from Salem.

It’s all stunning farmland on the way, with lots of Christmas tree farms.

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The Park charges $5 to get in and has campgrounds but the campground is full this summer weekend. They don’t allow dogs on the canyon trails — although there were a few people breaking the rules — so Bailey has to stay inside Sprockets while Big Dog and I go on the 5 mile loop that takes you by 7 of the 10 water falls. Some of them you walk under! Deep down in the canyon, it is almost a rain forest, with trees all covered in moss. Once again, I am impressed at how WET Oregon is.

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This central part of Oregon is heavily forested but you can still see entire hillsides clear-cut of all the trees. (California tends to hide its clear-cut areas from highway viewers.) There are many active mills and you will see a few huge logging trucks as you drive through Oregon.

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Highway 22 takes us to Detroit, site of a big dam. Oregon has lots of these, too, which makes sense. Lots of rivers, lots of dams, lots of lakes. As you continue towards Bend, winding through the forest, you sometimes get a peek of the snowcapped mountains – most of them one-time volcanoes – Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, the Three Sisters… The road goes through Santiam Pass, near the Pacific Crest Trail (450 miles of it run through Oregon and most of the movie “Wild” was shot here), and then to the town of Sisters.

Sisters, a pretty little tourist town deep in the Willamette National Forest, is a mecca for skiing in the winter and has a sort of Aspen feel. The storefronts are 1800’s-ish Western architecture and pretty shops line the main street, lampposts festooned with flowers. It all feels kind of expensive and gentrified.

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The town of Bend is not too far from Sisters, both in the Deschutes National Forest, but the outskirts of Bend are pretty bland. We are thirsty and stop at the first brewery we see, Bend River Brewery, for a sampler of 7 of their microbrews. One is called “300 days of sunshine” which is a strange name until you find out that Bend is known for its more than 300 days of sunshine.

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Bend Brewing Co. is in downtown Bend

Downtown Bend is several clean and tidy blocks. We cruise through, looking for a place to eat and settle in at the Bend Burger Co. for dinner. Since we are eating at one of the outdoor tables, Big Dog goes to get Bailey and once again, she is fawned over by locals and visitors. (All over Oregon, I’ve been impressed with how dog-friendly it is. Here in Bend, too, many places have set out water bowls for the animals.) After dinner, it’s a walk around Drake Park along the Deschutes River. It is gorgeous and there are lovely, nicely landscaped (and very expensive-looking) homes on the other side.

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A raucous group is pedaling a multi-passenger vehicle through town.

“Like Hobart Brown’s People Powered Bus!”

“If the vehicle were artier, it could be a kinetic sculpture!”

But this is not like any of the kinetic sculptures we’ve seen racing during the Great Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race. It is a moving PUB. The passengers are also the engine (and driver?) as well as beer imbibers. Maybe other towns have these Cycle Pub Tours, too, but it seems to be popular in Bend.

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Not my photo — this one was taken from a site advertising Cycle Pubs

No idea where we are staying but it is too late to look around much so we just drive to a quiet neighborhood and park.

As we stroll around the ‘hood, the noisy Cycle Pub people appear. They are louder and happier than before. I guess with all the cycling, a little alcohol can go a long way.

We’re all ready to settle in for the night but the sudden burst of food in my stomach has woken up my digestive system. Uh-oh. Big Dog tells me there are porta-potties downtown so we start walking, but halfway there, we spot a porta-potty on the corner. There’s construction going on there, so it’s probably for the workers, but it’s after dark, the workers have gone home long ago, the porta-potty is unlocked, and most importantly, I am ready to GO, so without hesitation, I go in and do my business. Big Dog follows.

“You know, we were in the Old Mill section of Bend,” I tell him later. There were some cool bars, restaurants and B&Bs. We never did go into any of them. Just that porta-potty.