To Bend and Back...

Bug and I traveled over to Bend on one of her last long weekends (Sun-Wed) to camp and explore the area. What an amazing place! We saw the High Desert Museum, hiked in the Lava Lands, crawled down into the Lava River Cave, and climbed a huge obsidian flow at Newberry Crater near Paulina Lake.

We drove up 126 to Sisters, OR and headed down to Bend, stopping just short in Tumalo to pitch our tent at Tumalo State Park on the banks of the Deschutes River. We explored the riverbanks from atop the cliffs on the opposite side from the day-use area and found a cache and a letterbox in the vicinity. The letterbox claimed that we could hear coyotes singing at times, but during our stay the only thing we heard was the peeping of frogs and scurrying of ground squirrels.

That evening, we drove into Bend to grab a few caches and find a few letterboxes. We saw a lot of public art and some really cool downtown areas. Drake Park was not to be missed! The Deschutes River winds its way through Bend and this beautiful park that is home to many migrating bird species (especially geese and ducks). The riverbanks reminded us of the stone fences of Kentucky, but were made of round stones instead of flat, and the sunset through the willows made this park seem more like something Olmstead might have designed for a bigger town.

We were up early the next morning, and after showers and a pancake breakfast, we hit the road to see everything we could! Our first stop was at the High Desert Museum. While there, we learned about the Native Americans that lived in the region and how they lived off the land. We also saw how tribal customs and heritage crafts and cultural traditions are being passed on to the newest generations through hands on activities and educational displays. There were galleries of western art and explorations of the culture of the area. One of our favorite parts was walking outside into the scrub forests and seeing the animal exhibits and the pioneer homestead.

After that, we headed over to the Lava Lands visitor center to pick up some information about the Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. We drove up to the top of Lava Butte and could see for miles from the forest service's observational tower at the top. It was so clear that day that we could see Mount Hood over 125 miles away! We also had beautiful views of the Three Sisters wilderness area, Mount Bachelor, Diamond Mountain, Little Brother, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Washington, Mount Jefferson, and Black Butte.

It was getting sort of hot, so we decided to cool down by heading underground into the Lava River Cave that is operated as a seasonal attraction by the Deschutes National Forest. This cave is actually a defunct lava tube that emptied itself several thousand years ago.
We picked up our propane lantern at the entrance and headed over 100 feet underground where the temperature stays around 40 degrees F year round. It is a semi-wild cave that is closed to the public during the winter, when it is a home to several thousand bats during their hibernation. We had to take a lantern because this cave is not lit by any other means. If your light went out while you were down in the cave, you would have to wait for another visitor to come along and guide you out. It was really spooky but extremely cool, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was looked different because it was formed by lava instead of water, like other caves I have visited. My favorite part was the phosphorescent minerals (I think?) on the roof of the cave that glittered like stars when we shone our lights onto them.

More to come later


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