We start the day with a nice long WhatsApp chat to “Kooks”, Katy, who is still on the Kenyan coast. The normal bit of morning admin catching up on emails and family group chats and then off to Bend Info centre to make sure where we plan to go is open. This is the season when some roads are closed for the entire winter season because no snowploughing takes place. The info staff are warm and friendly and we get chatting to find out that the male member of the staff a gentleman in his 70’s is coming to southern Africa for a big safari starting in Cape Town and including Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – he sounds excited. It’s interesting that most Americans we speak to in the various areas during our travels are not originally from the area they now reside in. It’s not a live and die in the town you were born in society many are transplants.
stop in Sisters at the Sisters Coffee Company
search of pumpkin pie that we have been dying to try for a long time now but regretfully,
settle for a pumpkin muffin and a pumpkin cinnamon bun washed down with two
16oz Americano coffees.
We are now on the McKenzie Pass – Santiam Pass, Oregon Scenic Byway that runs through the Willamette National Forest.
The rock formations on the side of the road make for a worthy photo shoot. While we are busy about 6 top-end Harley Davidsons roar by. This is a great road for biking. The lens was cracked before we took the photos.
Wright Observatory further along the road is built entirely from volcanic lava
It is in the middle of a volcanic lava field and offers spectacular views of the lava flows, cinder cones and surrounding mountains from portals constructed within the walls. Each portal focuses on an individual element of interest with its name on a plaque adjacent to the portal. Too many to record but the views are expansive.
Some gnarly old trees that have done their time bear witness to the harshness of life on a lava flow while ambitious youth looks surprisingly healthy and lush while perched tenuously on nothing of substance.
meet Pilar and Tim, newly-weds on their honeymoon, and a large group of
motorcyclists whilst visiting this unique observatory.
Volcanic rock produces some very interesting shapes and scenarios as one wanders past. Can anyone else see Julius Caesar complete with laurels and toga with Brutus whispering in his ear, just before he plunges the knife in his back? Et tu Brutus?
Sisters viewpoint shows off North and Middle Sisters, and a rather smaller
South sister from this angle. The Two Big Sisters are shown above, and the
third sister is a bit small and unworthy of a separate photo.
then pop into a nameless picturesque little lake half frozen over.
sign on the side of the road tells a sad story about the Pioneer Mailman and how
tough it was back in the old days.
Lake has a lovely picnic site with near perfect reflections that we could have
used had Martie packed a picnic lunch. Bernie is left to reflect on the
reflections and the thickness of the ice.
Just after Obsidian trailhead we see this sign.
No sooner have we seen it than an ambulance rushes past, a helicopter flies overhead and this guy blocks the road.
of the motorcyclists we were chatting to earlier has come off his bike and has
broken his leg. He lost control when he skidded on some loose sand going around
a sharp bend. Could have been worse, there are some ugly volcanic rocks adjacent
to the road.
2-km Proxy Falls trail is next up.
beautifully green area in comparison to the lava flow surrounding Dee Wright Observatory.
Just shows what a little moisture can do.
and little mammals abound. The Falls are in two parts, cascading over ferns and
mossy banks on lava rocks.
arrive at Belknap Hot Springs. After a microwave bite Bernie opts to explore
the gorgeous voluminous river in the hope of the American Dipper with the local
bird guide. Martie becomes the American Dipper for a restful hour in the pool
overlooking the McKenzie River and overlooked by the tall and varied conifers.
Bliss for both.
adds a Japanese garden to his list and what is a Japanese garden without a
Japanese maple tree!?
opts for the full hot spa package with musical accompaniment.
still on the Oregon Scenic Byway which continues to the Tamlitch Pool, better
known as the ‘Blue Pool’ – it is an unbelievable iridescent blue.
pass other worthwhile views, in particular Clear Lake, the Sabrina Pass, Suttle
Lake and Black Butte, a cinder cone of six and a half thousand feet, before
reaching Sisters, onto Bend and home.