Hiking out to Moraine Lake, 01-Sept-2019

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Sunday, 01-Sept-2019

Bend, Oregon

 

It had been a week.

Not one of those good weeks, but the opposite – one of those bad weeks.

A busy, hectic, urbanite nightmare of bad traffic and workplace emergencies that all piled on top of each other into a twisted heap of unhappiness. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stay in that heap – Sarah was still house sitting down in Bend, and as soon as Friday was over I escaped the insanity, driving like mad to escape to the oasis of calm.

 

The drive itself was glorious – It was clear and warm, and I left the top down for the whole drive.  I left a bit after work, so traffic wasn’t bad at all, and I even found a driving-buddy car who kept pace with me for a good chunk of the drive.  It’s always fun when there’s someone to dodge and weave through traffic with – especially when the traffic is crazy-huge lifted bro trucks that belch smoke when they try to accelerate… and then get completely stomped by two zippy little cars.  Haha, your fancy de-tuned engine isn’t actually more efficient, and you should feel bad.

(Ed Note: for those who might not know, this is a thing.  See “Rolling Coal” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_coal)

I did lose my driving buddy south of Mt. Hood though, when I saw a car stopped on the side of the road with their hood up.  I stopped, but thankfully they were okay – it was actually someone waiting for their friend, who had picked up the driver and taken them to a nearby gas station to grab a fill up.

I doubled-down on my good karma gathering when I saw a second car stopped not 5 miles down the road – this time I couldn’t find anyone nearby, and the car looked like someone was just randomly backpacking… Maybe it was an early-season hunter, or something?

Either way, I drove onward to Sarah!

 

 

The hike was on Sunday, after we took Saturday to explore Bend and just relax a bit.  Like I mentioned, the week had been singularly unpleasant, and a day off was exactly what the doctor’d ordered.

Sunday, we headed out mid-morning.  Not early, but not late either.  Our original plan had been to head up Tumalo Mountain, but we found out that the trail wasn’t actually dog friendly.  And since we had both Ollie and Scout (our neighbors dog) with us… dog friendly was pretty critical to the adventure.  So we pivoted, and headed toward the Green Lakes trail, to go and explore Moraine Lake.

Green Lakes is one of Sarah and my’s favorite hikes – it’s nestled in between four major glaciated peaks, and always has glorious view.  Moraine Lake is off that main trail by a bit, and so we hadn’t ever checked it out… Since we were taking it easy with the two dogglets, this was the perfect time to explore a bit, and take the road less traveled.

The hike itself was exactly what you’d expect – we trundled, and did a bit more trundling until we stopped trundling at the lake. We also stopped a few times on the way; beautiful sunlight through the trees trapped us once, and exploring some beautiful rock formations caught us another time.  But mostly – we trundled.

 

I don’t really know what else to write, if I’m being honest.  The hike was lovely, and the views were just as lovely, but the photos really do that part justice… it was a really good hike.  A good chance to get into nature, let the dogs run a bit, and to just rest and relax after a crazy week.

Two weekends in Bend!

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Weekends of 24-Aug and 31-Aug, 2019

 

Our old neighbors moved to Bend a year or so back; Sarah had kept in touch with them though, hearing about life in the high desert and what it was like getting acclimated to the town.  Bend’s definitely an interesting city, from what we heard – similar to Hood River in a few ways, but much bigger and a bit more intense.  Also, with more activities that Sarah and I are into, so… definitely worth hearing about.

When they messaged Sarah, asking if she’d be free and willing to house-sit and dog-sit for them while they were away on a family road trip, the answer was a very quick “yes!”

 

We packed up, and hit the road.  The plan was for me to start in Portland for the week, and to come out and visit during the weekends – That way I wouldn’t have to burn up too much vacation time, but would still get to join in for some of the adventures and exploration.

The hiking can be seen in a few other posts (Ed. Note: See “Hiking Misery Ridge”, along with “Hiking out to Moraine Lake” for those!) but for here, let’s talk about Bend itself.  It’s absolutely an interesting city, and we had a really good time exploring and playing tourist for a few days.  It’s fun, you know?  We effectively took a vacation to a strange city and explored, all without having to get on a plane or anything.  It makes me curious how many other cities are nearby that we should explore…

 

Back to Bend, though.

It’s a neat place!

 

In the “downtown” area, the contrast between old and new is really stark; it seems similar to Hood River in that way.  It may just be my perception, but it seemed like Bend was a town that was quickly trying to grow and catch up to the people in it – and the line between “things for boomers” and “things for millenials” was very stark here.  Literally a river, in fact…

 

On one side of the river, we walked through tiny boutique shops full of vintage, single-source, hand-crafted jewelry and art, sprinkled with cute bistros and small cafes.  All of them situated in small reclaimed buildings that were small and sometimes cramped, but every one looking like it could have been a house a few days ago.

On the other side of the river, we explored an outdoor mall, with sit-down family restaurants and familiar stores.  All custom-built, with soaring entries, beautiful woodwork and interesting sculptures dedicated to the history of the town and the area.

On the banks of the river we explored the Art in the High Desert festival, attended primarily by older and more affluent folks browsing art priced from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

On the river itself, we saw young tech folks floating, carousing, and enjoying the weekend off from their jobs.  Some in kayaks, but most on inner tubes… and some in huge inflatable castles.

We never really found the “main city center”, though we did look around.  The area above was more of the new Bend, which looked to be less than 10 years old maybe?  Farther out was a more familiar desert town, with some amazing Mexican restaurants and your standard assortment of grocery stores.  Even a LEGO store, interestingly enough.

 

Of note – the food in Bend was excellent, and the lines / waits were quite reasonable.  A big difference from Portland, and very much a welcome one.  Especially when Sarah and I went out to brunch and only had to wait a few minutes for our table.

 

Thankfully for your intrepid adventurers, we weren’t alone on this exploration.  No, I don’t mean Ollie.  She was around, but… she wasn’t any more helpful than she ever is.  She can find dog treats from a thousand yards, but can’t help us find an interesting comic shop or neat cafe to have lunch.

Our neighbors, however, were excellent hosts even if they weren’t there in person.  They’d left Sarah a whole list of places to explore, which her and I worked through one by one.  We found awesome bookstores, interesting breakfasts, and other explorations.  It was fun, and a really good chance to re-connect and relax together while exploring a new place.

Hiking Misery Ridge, Sunday 25-Aug-2019

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Sunday, 25-Aug-2019

Smith Rock, out near Bend

 

It’s been ages since Sarah and I’ve been out to Smith Rock – injuries and new jobs, backpacking and house projects.  Lots of other things we’ve been doing, but when we finally had a weekend in Bend, we jumped at the chance to do some exploring!

While climbing would have been really fun, it wasn’t quite in the cards.  Ollie was with us, and the weather was pretty hot… turns out, August in the desert isn’t quite ideal climbing weather.  Who knew?  Us, that’s who.  And that’s why we got up early, grabbed our pre-packed bags, and zipped toward Smith with the top down and the music cranked up.

 

We got to the parking lot early enough to find a nice parking lot, but not so early that it was still freezing out.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t quite hot out yet either.  But it was nice – just on the warm side of cool, and perfect temperature for us to start into the hike.  We zipped down, and started our traverse of Misery Ridge after chatting a bit with a ranger to catch up on trail conditions and other details.

The hike itself was lovely – it warmed up quickly, and didn’t stop until it passed “yes this is August in the desert thank you please stop getting hotter” in the dust.  I don’t think it actually got much above 95, but the higher altitude and cloudless day, combined with the steep terrain, meant that we were definitely being good about hydration.  Ollie wasn’t at all a fan of the heat, at least on the up-hill portion… but we kept her close and stopped often to keep her hydrated.  Slowly but surely we ground our way up to the top, and to our lunch stop.

Overlooking Monkey’s Face, we made our sandwiches and chatted with some fellow hikers.  It was gloriously cute – there were two ladies hiking with a younger kid; one lady was visiting from Carolina, on break from her work as a teacher at space camp.

Yup.  Space camp.

So we learned about that, and shared some sandwich and granola with them and the young boy – who, we learned, hadn’t remembered to pack his own lunch for the day, even though he’d been reminded to multiple times.  His Mom made it clear to him that he shouldn’t ask us to share ours, since that would be weird, but since we overheard the conversation we offered some snacks up of our own volition – in trade for space camp stories, of course.

It was lovely, and a great chance to just hang out and chat with some interesting people.

 

The rest of the hike was simple and beautiful – going past the Monkey, around the long riverside trail… it was lovely, and we had a great time just enjoying the desert air and staying in the shade as often as we could.