Cruising Around Oregon
Cruising around Central Oregon for over a week has been a blast. It offers a bit of everything. Cool towns, awesome landscapes, the most beautiful lake in the universe, incredible sand dunes, and a respectable wine country.
For a slide show of this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_OR_CentralOregon.asp.
We started our week in Bend, Oregon. Bend is a hip town where bicycles are as common as cars, people are friendly, and the landscape is rich. On Sunday, the Old Mill area had live bands playing and lots of people kayaking on the river and enjoying the day.
This area has a volcanic history. There are lots of buttes caused by ancient volcanic eruptions. We zipped up to the top of Lava Butte, just one of their buttes created by lava. From here, we had a spectacular view of the surrounding area.
Have you ever experienced a Lava Tube? We first learned about them on our trip to Ecuador. Lava tubes are formed when lava travels beneath the surface of the ground, expelled by a volcano during an eruption. As the hot lava leaves, it creates an underground tunnel, similar to a cave. Below is an example of a lava tube we saw in Bend. It is actually a mile long. There were no lights inside, so we took our flashlights and stumbled our way through.
Upon leaving Bend, we journeyed to Crater Lake — the most beautiful lake in the universe. When I sat on the edge of the cliff that surrounds the lake, it almost felt like a spiritual experience. I felt one with nature and the serenity of the lake. It is hard to explain unless you experience it for yourself. As you can see below, I took tons of pictures, but all fell short of doing it justice.
We wanted to take a boat to Wizard Island, the small island inside the lake. However, it is still not considered Summer so there was too much snow to get down to the launch point.
Oregon Caves National Monument
We trekked on to Oregon Caves National Monument and had a great tour of the cave. It was discovered in the early 1900’s by a hunter whose dog chased a bear into the cave. Following after his dog, he discovered the cave and brought national attention to it until it was later dubbed a National Monument.
Riding the Oregon Dunes
One of the funnest things we’ve done so far is to take a dune buggy ride on the massive Oregon Dunes. The dunes span over 40 miles of the Oregon coast. For a nominal fee, you can get a hands-on tour of the dunes by dune buggy. These things go fast. They accelerate to 50 or 60 miles an hour in a few seconds. The driver would go straight up a high dune and turn in on a dime and zoom back down the hill. Exhilarating and just great fun. Lynn loved it too. At the end of the ride, you had sand in places you never knew you could get sand in. Enough said :).
Oregon Wine Country
Willamette Valley Oregon is home to some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the country. We took a day and toured several wineries just outside of Salem, Oregon. The Pinot’s were the star but we also stumbled onto some pretty good Riesling. The cost of the tastings were reasonable – only $5. Compare that to Napa Valley whose price is normally $20 per tasting.
On our way to the wineries, we stopped by and saw the University of Oregon (go Ducks!) and Oregon State (how ’bout them Beavers!).
Our final stop before heading to the Oregon coast was Portland. It is a bit more of an industrial city than I expected. It is a town of hipsters and free thinkers. If you have not heard of hipsters, they are a group of younger adults that like alternative music, prefer organic vegetarian or vegan food, and have a fashion sense that is not considered mainstream (normally wear plaid shirts, retro glasses and hats). Portland is haven for hipsters. There is a TV show called Portlandia that spoofs hipsters. I find them cool and groovy :).
We happened to be in Portland when a parade was going on, so we got to see a little of it. They also had a naked bike ride that took place on the last night we were there. Imagine the saddle sores you could get doing that (sorry for that visual). Not my thing, but to each his own :).
Powell’s Books is supposed to be the biggest bookstore in the country. Who knew?