Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bend, Oregon: Revitalized by Nature

Yoda's first snow - he wasn't happy!
Although it has been nice spending time in bigger metropolitan areas, it was with a small private sigh of relief that Yoda and I loaded up Princess the Prius and hit the country roads again.  The quiet beauty of nature truly does rejuvenate one's spirit, and mine certainly has been in need of a kick-start.  We left Portland on a welcome sunny day and headed to Central Oregon via Mount Hood.  The mountain had received a fresh blanket of snow the day prior, so the air was crisp and the view spectacular. 

Three Sisters Coffee, Government Camp
After stopping in the charming alpine village of Government Camp for organic coffee at a quaint coffee shop named Three Sisters (I miss my 3 sisters so it was an obvious choice), I decided to drive 5 miles up the mountain to Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

Timberline is a historical monument surrounded by the Mount Hood National Forest.  Built in the 1930's and rich with history, it even served as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in the movie The Shining.  

Snow at Timberline Lodge
Although we didn't have time for snowboarding, Yoda had a personal first at Timberline:  SNOW!  Keep in mind, Yoda the dog is always channeling his inner-cat. Constantly grooming himself, he would rather walk around a puddle than get his paws wet.  Needless to say, I think I traumatized my poor Southern California boy by our brief walk in the snow.  Before we left, I closed my eyes and inhaled as slowly and deeply as possible to fill my lungs with the clean, cool, mountain air.  Ahhh. Something about winter air makes me feel awake...turns out I didn't need that coffee from Three Sisters after all. 

Hiking at Smith Rock
Continuing on towards Bend, we stopped for a hike at Smith Rock State Park.  The grandiose rock spires in Smith Rock overlook the windy Crooked River.  It's a very different terrain than what I've seen in Oregon.  Although I am not a rock climber, the park's several thousand climbs up the welded tuff (rock formed by volcanic ash) and basalt cliffs makes me want to become one.

It's alive!
It was within this dramatic high desert volcanic wonderland that I looked around me and saw life everywhere.  Really, everything in the world is alive, yet sometimes it takes the quiet and solitude found in nature to really feel the energy.  The rock seemed to be pulsating with life force, so much so that I had to reach out and touch while I said a quiet thank you to the Universe for creating such beauty on our planet.

Hike along Deschutes River in Bend, OR
We ended up staying in Bend for 3 nights, in part because I needed to recover from a lingering sinus infection, and in part because I wanted to harness the area's love-fest with nature and outdoor activities.  In true Kee Kee road trip style, we landed in Bend during the off-season (an on-going theme for this trip).  Given Bend is a gateway to both the mountains and the high desert, it is a popular launching pad for both summer and winter sports.  Autumn, well not so much. 

That said, we still enjoyed a drive through Newberry National Volcanic Monument (of course most of the roads on the volcano are now closed for the winter).  We also took a couple hikes along the beautiful Deschutes River.  I need to come back during the summer months as this river screams an invitation for kayaking and white water rafting.
Newly invigorated by the power of nature and the battery charge received by spending a few days alone, Yoda, Princess and I left the heavenly State of Oregon on Monday in search of our next lessons of the road. 

Deschutes River hike

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