While in Bend, we had our own personal tour guide, our friend Alex. One of the first places he took us was to Tumalo Mountain. Tumalo is a shield volcano that is only a 3.6 mile round trip to the summit, with beautiful views of South Sister, Broken Top and Bachelor.
We ended up staying in Bend about 3 weeks total, and really dug our time there. We soaked in the salt water pools at McMenamins, took in the Supermoon Eclipse on the top of Pilot Butte, climbed up to a hidden crater lake on Broken Top Mountain and explored miles of Lava Flow. We camped in town for the majority of our stay, as Tumalo State Park was booked for months out. Staying in town meant we were able to bike to breweries, parks, bike trails, and that we were only a 20 minute drive away from the Mountains. Bend was such a dog friendly town, that we took Buford with us as many places as we could. He became really spoiled with all the city parks around us, and especially loved Farewell Bend Park.
During our stay, we made the two hour drive out to the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Park. There are three units, but we arrived mid day, and only had a chance to check out the Painted Hills. The Painted Hills are a pretty small unit, but are pretty amazing, and we hung out until the sun set.
A little closer to town was Smith Rock State Park. We arrived on a Saturday around 12 and were lucky to find a parking spot, as the place was packed with climbers. We immediately started hiking Misery Ridge and were blown away at how beautiful the park looked from up above. From the top, you can also make out "Monkey Face", 350 foot spire thats a favorite among rock climbers. While Britt has climbing shoes, she does not have a harness or ropes, and was pretty bummed not being able to attempt any of the 1,500 routes Smith Rock offers. Smith Rock reminded us of a mini Zion National Park, and we really fell in love with it.
Approaching our third week in Bend, we decided to head out and camp off the Cascade Lakes Byway. Just before we headed out of town, we were invited to a fellow RVers home and met 4 new friends who full time. It was great to swap stories and to spend an evening with others who could relate. Leaving town on the byway, we noticed that many of the campgrounds were already gated off for the winter. We kept searching and found a free spot right on Little Lava Lake and looking out onto Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, and Broken Top. Nick had the week off, so we were able to live off our solar and propane for awhile and it was great. We don't get to do this as much as we would like, as Nicks computer sucks energy.. but its definitely what we prefer. Our friends Alex and Hannah came on over to send us off, and it was a great night around the campfire, listening to the coyotes yip.
From our camping spot on the Cascade Byway, we drove about an hour and a half to visit Crater Lake. It was pretty hot, even in October, so Britt stayed back with Buford, and Nick took the trail down to the waters edge. The boat to Wizard Island was closed, and we were pretty bummed to miss out on exploring the island. We stayed until about sunset, and Nick decided to climb up to Watchman Peak and snap some pictures.
We are sad to say goodbye, but we are headed off to the Oregon Sand Dunes next!