Friday, September 14, 2012

DAY 24- On My Way to Bend...

I loaded up my gear and took my last look around Timberline Lodge.  It was a fun place to stay and the staff was just wonderful and very helpful.  I also really liked the idea of staying at a National Historical Site.  It was all worth the little bit of splurge.  I headed down the curvy 6 miles down to Hwy 26 and headed east.  The end goal for the day was Bend, OR.
Photo- One last look at Timberline Lodge while I got in the car.

It was quickly that I got over the mountain range that the landscape changed to a very dry arid area.  It looked like kindling for a fire; with tall grass that looked the color of wheat intermixed with juniper trees.  There was an abundance of dark lava rock croppings here and there.  There were a couple of sections where I drove through that looked like a fire had occurred within the last couple of years.  Tall tree stumps stood charred like lone soldiers on the horizon while others lay fallen.  There were an abundance of signs prohibiting fires or throwing cigarettes out of vehicles.

Photo- The amazing scenic viewpoint with a 300ft. drop
located just off a rest stop on HWY 20.

I had been told by a couple of people at Timberline Lodge to look out for Smith Rock State Park.  It’s a rock climbing mecca in the area.  While looking for that park, I stumbled upon the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint.  It was a lava rock gorge area that went down for at least 300ft.  There was an older bridge that was part of a memorial highway and had a closed bridge that you could walk out on and look down.  I was getting dizzy from looking straight down.  But it was an amazing view and then there also was an old railway bridge that went over parallel to the other bridge.  Then, off on the other side was the bridge that the now Hwy 97 took over the gorge area.  It’s all part of a rest stop area for Hwy 97 and well worth the short walk to the overlook area.
Photo- Smith Rock State Park-- A mecca for rock climbers.

I finally found the turn off for Smith Rock State Park.  The road to it took you through a pretty valley area with horse ranches and farms with plenty of cows.  I saw a strange new sign I had never seen which looked like a person chasing a bike; strange.  I got to the park which was maybe 2 miles off the Hwy 20 and was kind of reminded of some rock areas down in southern Utah.  Some of these shear rock faces were about 200ft. tall.  I went down to the overlook area and asked where I could watch some of the rock climbers.  The lady said that it was too late in the day and that the rocks get too hot for the climbers to be on.  That was a bit of a disappointment.
Photo- Peacocks at the Peterson Rock Garden. 

Photo- Another peacock and the American flag done in rocks.
Photo- A wonderful bridge done in rocks.
Photo- A castle with its own moat at the rock garden.

The bar tender at Timberline’s Ram Head told me about a rock garden that was a bit off the beaten track and it was a bit run down but it might be a neat place to swing by and visit.  I stopped at the Peterson Rock Garden just south and out a bit from Redmond, OR.  A man did it as a little lifetime hobby of forming different sculptural pieces and putting gem stones on the outside of the pieces.  It kind of reminded me of a rock grotto that I had been to years ago in West Bend, IA.  I thought that it was a nice little place to stop and visit; all be it, maybe a little bit corny but still I enjoyed it.  Besides, the rock gardens there were about 6 to 7 live peacocks roaming the garden.

Next, it was finally on to Bend.  There was a great deal of hazy smoke as I got nearer.  I guess that there was a fire up by the Sisters area, a local mountain rec. area.  I wandered around the town and kind of totally got lost and turned around in their several round-a-bouts.  I think they have at least 10 of them in the city area and it makes it interesting finding your way around.  I just happened upon the Central Oregon Visitors center when I was looking through the Old Mill shopping Center; which is a cute new updated shopping center.  There was a bridge area and access to walking paths and bridges.  It was a very scenic little area with a great deal of people out enjoying it.  I got directions from the Visitor’s Center and went to the hotel.

Oooopps! I made the mistake and showed up a day early for my reservation.  I think I need to get a calendar!  The hotel was fully booked for the night but was nice enough to call a couple of other hotels in the area to find room for me.  I cancelled the next night’s reservation and followed a new set of directions to a La Quinta Inn in the south area of Bend.  Yep! I did it again and thank you Laura for pointing out that at least I’m consistent! J 
Photo- Bend's main street area.

Once I settled into the room, I was off to find some of the brew pubs I had gotten a map at the visitor’s center for.  I was off and back amid the round-a-bouts and really thinking I’ll be in need of a couple of beers after all of this. I was amazed that for a town the size of Bend (80,000) that it has 10 breweries.  I ended up McMenamin’s Old St. Francis for Happy Hour.  They have a Happy Hour?  Wow, that’s not something that you would find in Utah; course, you can’t get a pitcher of beer in most places in Utah.  McMenamin's is a 1936 Catholic schoolhouse in Bend that’s been retro-fitted to be not just a brewery, but also a pub, a bakery, a movie theater, an event space, and a hotel.  I guess that McMenamin’s is a chain that have done this with several other properties in the Oregon area but was told that this was the largest and best of them in the state. 

While enjoying my “Happy Hour”, I was listening (okay- eavesdropping) in on a couple at a different table.  It was a man and woman who had been friends for years and she was asking advice on what to serve a new boyfriend.  She described a dish and I was only half listening until he loudly said,” …with a side of bacon grease!”  I started chuckling and he told me he was sorry and that he would try that again when I was taking a swig of a drink.  I laughed and held up my empty beer glass and said hold on while I order another one!  We started chatting a bit after that while I finished my 2nd happy hour beer. 

After that I walked around in the main street and was basically blowing some time until a free band event was going to be playing there at McMenamin’s.  They advertise free concerts for all ages where you can purchase all kinds of beverages and even bring in food from the restaurant part.  The group that was playing was a wonderful folksy group mix with a female vocalist that had a voice that reminded me a little of Nora Jones.  It was just a wonderful group.  I ordered a beer and sat down in a chair along the wall.  The place started to fill up. 

I ended up striking up a conversation with a woman that sat next to me.  When the band took a break, Erie, yes like the Lake, showed me around and through to the back where there were fire pits where you could take your drinks and sit outside next to these fire pits.  It was wonderful. 

On the way, she even pointed out a 1937 picture of the Catholic school cheerleaders lined up holding stuff deer heads.  I asked if their mascot was a deer she said she didn’t know but she thought it was terribly creepy.  She and I talked for a while and finally it was time to go home for the night.  Erie, she was SO nice and walked me back to my car and told me an easier way to get back to my hotel.  Thank you gal.  I made it safely thanks to you!


  1. Hope you will be visiting Mt. Bachelor, take the chairlift up to the top.

    1. Hi Shelly,
      Unfortunately, I didn't visit Mt. Bachelor's chair lift. I was told that quite a few of the mountain resorts are currently closed in the area for maintenance in preparation for the coming ski season. I instead headed south to the Newbury Volcanic Center. Thanks for your comment!