After visiting Crater Lake National Park on Saturday, we continued north on Highway 97 toward Bend on Sunday. On the way, we stopped for lunch at the Diamond Lake Junction Cafe. It’s kind of a hole in the wall, but it has fantastic burgers.
We planned to stay at Ten Mile Sno-Park in La Pine until Tuesday or Wednesday. However, we had problems with the cell signal there and ended up leaving early. This area is beautiful though, and we wished we could have stayed longer.
After arriving on Sunday, we set out in the Jeep to explore the Newberry Volcanic National Monument. This area contains two beautiful lakes, Paulina and East Lake. We did a short hike through the Big Obsidian Flow, which is also impressive. On the way back to the RV, we stopped by Paulina Creek Falls.
A few days earlier, we learned about the NEOWISE comet that is visible for a few days this month. We don’t stay up late very often now that Leigh is also a morning person. However, we made an exception this time. The Sno-Park was an ideal place to watch it, and we stayed up until 11:30 or so trying to take pictures of the comet. 11:30 really isn’t that late, but we paid for it the next day! I guess we are getting old.
Bend Elks Lodge
After dealing with lackluster cell signal and a heat wave, we decided to pack up early on Monday and continue to the Bend Elks Lodge. The lodge is not open, of course, but it’s very well maintained and has power hookups. This is the first time we’ve had power hookups in about a month, and it’s kind of nice. The lodge has a convenience store and excellent pizza place right across the street also. We normally cook every night, but we got pizza one night and liked it so much, we ordered it again the next night.
Explore Smith Rock State Park
On Thursday, we drove the Jeep about 30 minutes north to Smith Rock State Park, an area recommended by friends. The park is beautiful and reminded us a bit of Moab. We did the most popular hike there, Misery Ridge. The hike is around 4 miles with a significant amount of elevation gain. Along the way, we saw climbers all over the walls.
Huge Shopping Spree
One of the things we love about Oregon so far is that there is no sales tax. Everything seems so much cheaper and simpler when the price tag is the final price. Bend is also one of the bigger cities we’ve visited recently, so we took full advantage of the wide variety of shopping with no sales tax. We made trips to REI, Target, Walmart, and Goodwill for new hiking shoes, socks, shorts, hiking poles, beach chairs, laundry hamper, and paper plate holders. We didn’t realize how ratty some of our old things had gotten until we replaced them. In fact, Goodwill wouldn’t even take the nicer of our old beach chairs because it was “unsellable” (we didn’t bother taking the other chair – even we knew it was bad!).
Tumalo Mountain and Close Call
On Saturday, we had a relaxing morning before making more shopping stops on our way to a hike. We originally planned to hike to Moraine Lake near South Sister Mountain. However, on the way we realized we didn’t have enough gas to get there and back. This is becoming a pattern unfortunately! Luckily, there were closer options. We stopped at Tumalo Mountain and hiked the four mile round trip to the summit. It’s not what we planned, but it was perfect.
On the way back. we coasted down the mountain to the gas station. We both thought we might end up doing more hiking at one point! With a full tank, we continued driving through town. I’ve always heard great things about Bend, and it’s easy to see the appeal on a day like this. People are out swimming in the river, bikes are everywhere, and the weather is perfect.
Bend River Brewery
We stopped at Bend River Brewery for a beer before heading back to the RV. During the pandemic, we’ve tried to stay outside as much as possible, and the brewery had a great outdoor setup. Masks were still required when not sitting at a table and tables were spaced out, but it felt more normal than almost anything we’ve experienced over the last few months.
New Friends from Instagram
I’m not crazy about social media, but one of the positives is connecting with other full-time RV’ers. Our friends Kate and Curt Gallagher , recently introduced us to another traveling couple, Callie and Caleb Bloodworth. The Bloodworth’s happened to be in Bend the same time as us, so they reached out. We met up for a beer at Goodlife Brewery one night after work and had a great time. They are from Georgia, so we enjoyed hanging out with some southerners again!
On to Cooler Weather
Bend is a great stop, but the temperature in July can be brutal. We are looking forward to continuing out journey through eastern Oregon in Mount Hood.