August 15, 2010

caves, rivers, and obsidian

Less than 24 hours after a great weekend camping with friends at Lake Sonoma, we packed up the car and drove 500 miles north to Bend, Oregon, to visit dear friends we see only once in a while but who are definitely of the "friends for a lifetime" variety.

A word of warning to those attempting this trip:   You may be tempted to stop a the Taco Shop in Redding when you gas up.  But you'd be better off going across the street to Del Taco or around the corner to Taco Bell.  Remember the movie "Coming to America" with Eddie Murphy?  How his future father-in-law runs a restaurant called "MacDougall's" or something like that, and he literally stole the McDonald's handbook?  Yeah, this place was essentially that place, only a white guy stole the Taco Bell handbook.  It passed as sustenance.  That's about the highest praise I can offer.

We rolled into Bend in the early evening.  I love Bend.  I could move here and not look back.  The Deschutes River is beautiful, and you can see Mount Bachelor and the other peaks from most of the town.  The downtown is charming, with a ton of art and coffee shops without the self-righteous elitism of some outdoorsy liberal granola type places.  It feels welcoming, even if it lacks much diversity.  Neighborhoods near downtown or west of the river sport elegant charm in their layout and architecture, with pertly maintained yards and kids zipping around on bicycles.  Haven't been much on the Wal-Mart side of the highway, but I get the sense it turns more deserty and ranch housey and gun racky in the back of pickup trucky.  Ish.

So Wednesday I took the boys to the Lava River Cave just south of town about 30 minutes.  It's this very cool pipeline cave originally carved or formed by lava millions of years ago.  We took our flashlights and hiked the mile or so to the very end, where you have to crawl on hands and knees the last 60 yards or so.  No photos except this one at the entrance to the cave:

Into the abyss!

In the afternoon we visited the Bend farmers market and bought some of the most luscious blackberries I've ever had.  In a "welcome to Oregon" moment, there was a real hippy looking family there with a naked three year old boy, and they bought some fruit and sat right in the middle of the grass smack in the center of the market and had their picnic.  No one seemed to care much.

Thursday was a busy day.  We left early to go to Lake Paulina for a six mile hike around the lake.

The Dudleys and our hosts, including pup Angus, at the trailhead.

Besides the amazing scenery, the lake offered two special treats.  Below are a select few photos from the hike.  I couldn't put too many of them here because I was always the last hiker, which meant most of my photos of my companions were from the rear, which I have learned in 20 years of marriage does not make for a good suite of photos of your wife to post to a public forum.

The trail mostly followed the edge of the lake in single file.  We only encountered a couple of other small groups all day long.

At some points the lake reminded me of Tahoe; at others, it had more of a high desert look.  But it was beautiful everywhere.

One of the special treats along this hike is the obsidian flow.  The boys scrambled up it looking for the purest samples.

Some obsidian rocks Ethan liked.

After scrambling  back down the obsidian flow, we hiked on.  Our intrepid guide and hostess, Tiffany (yes, the same Tiffany we stayed with on our trip to England), led the way to "the beach."

Alpine lake marshy meadowish place, with squishy footing and a marshy smell.

Ethan in one of the hot springs dugouts, with Angus splashing in the lake behind.

The other big treat along the hike was an area of hot springs at the northern end of the lake.  It's not quite three miles from the campground to the hot springs.  The boys sat and had a hot soak before lunch, and Ethan especially enjoyed the warm water.  The "beach" comprised an impressive collection of pebbles without a single grain of sand, so some mile splashing was accompanied by a chorus of "ow! ow! ow!" when Sam tried to wade into the lake itself.

Angus and Ethan, again.

One other great thing about stopping for lunch here was seeing a bald eagle soar over.  Unfortunately, it flew past before I could really understand what I was seeing, and it lit in the top of a tree and never took off again until after we left.  If this isn't a bald eagle, I hope someone will tell me.  I'd never seen one before as far as I know, so this was a cool sight.

The eagle from far away, at the top of the dead tree.

Zoomed in crop of the same photo.

No, this isn't a bird's eye view from the eagle's perch.  From the beach, the trail pitched pretty much straight up a big hill, then along the side of the hill around the rest of the lake.  The views were astounding, and even after six miles of hiking this I was not at all tired of the scenery.

That night the ladies went into town for dinner and a free outdoor concert while the boys and I stayed back at the house.  The boys watched the movie Spaceballs, but I got online and worked--our big software installation of the year was Thursday night, and as with all such endeavors it was not without hiccups.  In the end, it succeeded which allowed me to enjoy our Friday activities with less sense of stress.

Friday I worked some more with a phone meeting an lunch with a local colleague, then in the afternoon I joined the families for some lazy tubing in Tumalo State Park.  Beautiful day, nice lazy river, not too crowded.  And the water wasn't as cold as you might expect.
Sam especially enjoyed the tubing.  So much so that he fell out of his tube at least twice.

On Saturday, we visited Chandy and had a nice relaxing day of it with a walk in her neighborhood and another along the river walk near the Old Mill shops around twilight.

View from a bridge looking downriver, too dark for my blackberry camera.

Today, Maria and Ethan will visit with Chandy and her family some more, but Sam and I will join Tiffany and her son Henry for a rock climbing adventure.  Sam has his climbing merit badge, and Tiffany and Henry have climbed multiple times in spots around the world.  I'm the novice in the group.  So maybe the next installment will include some photos of me hanging cheerily from ropes wrapped comically around various appendages.  Stay tuned.  Then unfortunately tomorrow we have to head home to real life once more.


Phoenix Sullivan said...

*Sigh* Why isn't real life more like vacation punctuated by short periods of work?

That does indeed look like a bald eagle. There's a refuge about 20 miles from me where some bald eagles nest. Sadly, I've only ever seen one flying over my property. Amazingly, I've seen a bald eagle flying over my property! How cool is that?!

Too bad summer's almost over...

PJD said...

Phoenix, I'm right there with you. And it's very cool that you have seen a bald eagle soaring over your property. The best I can do is say we had two hawks perched atop our neighbor's redwood tree a couple of years ago. (The didn't live there; they were only resting for a bit.)

pacatrue said...

Our housecat took a hawk out of the sky when I was a kid. I never messed with her again.

Amazing pics and story, Pete.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Was your house kitty related to the Addams Family's Kitty, Paca?

jjdebenedictis said...

Ooh, I've been to Bend! Lovely place.

I find it very amusing that, as a Canadian, I've seen more bald eagles than most Americans have.

However, I live near big swathes of forest in the right part of the continent. It's mostly a fluke.

PJD said...

Paca: really? Our cats used to get tormented by blue jays. Occasionally the cats would win. But a hawk? Really?

Jen: Sounds like you live in eagle country. Do you see lots of bears, too?