Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Grand Tour

It stayed warm most of the night, slowly dipping into the 40s, after it being so cold the last few nights I had prepared for a cold night - long pjs, extra blanket, closed the windows at the first chill, this meant I was hot almost all night! It was nice to wake up to warmer temps and be able to enjoy breakfast at my picnic table rather than huddled in my sleeping bag inside!

Our first stop of the day was Sisters Bakery. We'd walked by there yesterday and Mom wanted to try one of their doughnuts. I had a taste of Mom's doughnut and Dad's energy bar thing, both were good! We talked to someone who's been to bakeries all over Oregon and he says Sisters Bakery is one of the best! After our snack we went to the National Forest Service Ranger Station to find out about hikes and bike rides for tomorrow.

Next it was off to Smith Rock State Park. Smith Rock is a big deal fir rock climbers, it's one of the premier spots in the country for rock climbing. It's a huge volcanic rock uprising, it's really neat to look at, but it's all exposed with no shade at all. And it's out in the desert and it was over 100* today. They had some trails that looked interesting, but it was so hot and sunny and uncomfortable to enjoy them. Dad and I did hike down into the canyon and along the Crooked River - it was maybe 2 miles, probably closer to 1.5 - it was nice but so hot!


On the map of Smith Rock we saw The Cove Palisades State Park. We'd never heard of it and it was close so we went to check it out. This park was right below a big lake where they have dammed up the Deschutes River and the Crooked River. Two lakes had been formed with a giant butte in the middle. We sat by Crooked River lake for a little while, it was cool in the shade. There was a swimming area but it wasn't really appealing for swimming - lots of plant debris and stuff floating. Both lakes were down in canyons with high volcanic rock sides. The lakes were nice but the rest of the landscape was hot and desolate.

We noticed on the map that we could get back to Sisters a back way from this park so we set out. Turns out the back way was all desolate, isolated, dirt road. No houses, no towns, just dust, scrub pine and sage. The high desert at its finest. And hottest.

We got back to Sisters at 3:30 and decided it was time for a treat. We stopped at one of two ice cream places in town. All homemade ice cream with no junk! The Oregon Trail with chocolate ice cream, blackberry swirl and hazelnuts was very good!

After ice cream we headed up McKenzie Pass. I was expecting a normal mountain pass where you get to the top and you can see all the other mountains, maybe there's a meadow up there or maybe just trees. Well, not here. This mountain pass was a lava flow. Of course it was. All of Oregon is volcanic! It was actually pretty neat - it was lava rock as far as they eye could see! We also had views of the Sisters, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood was out there too but hard to see (we'd seen Mt. Hood earlier, bringing the trip full circle as we'd started there back at the beginning of the month.). At the pass there was a 1/2 mile interpretive trail, paved with signs about all the volcanic features and an observation tower.


Next we set out to find the other pass - the signs said we were on a scenic road that included two passes, I can't remember the name of the other one. When the road was headed steeply downhill we figured the other pass wasn't on this road so we asked the GPS how to get back to Sisters and it took us another back way - lead us out to 126 and back to US 20. This took us down the other side of the mountains which is not in the desert! It rains here! These woods were lush and green and cool! The total opposite of the terrain on the Sisters side of the mountain. We found several hikes that we could come back and do tomorrow as well as a lake to swim in!

By this time it was 7:00 and we needed to get back to run our generators and eat dinner. After dinner we decided to go check out the other ice cream place in town - I don't remember it's name but it's a drive-in type place right on the edge of town. I had an amazing blackberry milkshake! Real blackberries! Yum!



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