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Published: October 29th 2007
When I finally left Crater Lake on thursday night, twilight bathed the forest and peaks in a calm blue light. After some curves through the forest, the road made an abrupt right turn. Ahead of me was 30 km of a downhill and lonely road, which I proceeded to test the maximum speed of my VW Golf yet again. 180 km/h was the maximum velocity, which had to save me at least 4 minutes on the 3 hour drive! For over 140,000 miles across the great American West this car has travelled, yet still it performed. I chain smoked cigarettes, burned through one after another like each one I smoked got me closer to enlightenment. I was exhausted and hungry by the time I got to Bend, but that didn't stop me from going to a liquor store to refill my cigarettes and to Wendy's for some fast food. I crashed at Jeff and Laura's quickly, but not before a few beers and catching up. Before I knew it I was waking up to an overcast day, but the Sisters and Mt. Bachelor were still visible from the guest bedroom. Even though they probably wanted nothing but sunshine to showcase Bend,
I knew the clouds would make for great lighting on my trip to Newberry Crater.
On my way I made a stop at the much hyped "High Desert Museum" just south of Bend. What I thought would be another boring hour snatching up tidbits about history and geography turned out to be very exciting! The museum has full scale Dioramas of High Desert life, from Native Americans to Ango Exploration and Settlement. An entire full scale old west town street was recreated, with building fronts for the blacksmith, general store, chinese herbalist, leather craftsman, sherriff... It was accurate down to the last antique bottle and horse spur! This was only one section, there are other sections on the Native Americans of past and present, a live River Otter with habitat, hiking trails, a live lynx, live bobcat, historical map display, huge giftshop and the thing I was most impressed with- a miniture Scale replica of a Sawmill that actually worked! It was about 6x6 meters, and had a miniature steam engine. You could literally put marker size pieces of wood in one end of the mill, and tiny planks of cut wood would come out of the other!
Newberry Crater was really nice, a massive shield volcano that erupted and breached the crater walls. Whats left was two depression where gorgeous lakes formed, and forest that covered all parts of the crater. 4000 years ago a lava flow occoured, which was almost pure Obsidian glass. A hike through the Obsidian was how I spent most of my day. It was fascinating and surreal.
The next day I took a scenic drive up to the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. This "day trip" was actually nothing of the sort- the drive was less than an hour! Before I knew it the mountains were looking down on me, beckoning me to slow down and enjoy the views and passing clouds. I hiking up some lava, around the forest covered shores of a lake. That seemed to be the theme for the entire trip- Lava, Forest, Lakes and Volcanos. It was certainly refreshing after being used to so much ocean, granite, rivers and fields of California.
My impression of Bend is highly positive, its a vibrant community at the foot of the most spectacular mountains in Oregon. Its on the eastern side of the Pacific Crest, which means more
sunshine and less rain. Its small and not plagued with traffic problems or pollution, its close to several ski resorts and still just a few hours from Portland. Ahh, if only there jobs available in Bend....
I left early on a sunny Sunday, the fist sunshine I'd seen in days. The Cascade Volcanos were all standing proud on this day to salute my visit. All the way home I relished in the self-indulgence usually granted to ancient kings, if it wasnt copious amounts of food I was stuffing my mouth with cigarrettes. My drive home saw me smoking over 18 cigarrettes over 9 hours. I arrived in the darkness of a fog enshrouded Bay Area summer night. My lungs were killing me, as was my back, my eyes and my gas pedal leg.
Many things changed after this trip. I bought a new car, liquidated my vacation time and found out my incessant smoking was helping feed a cancerous tumor in my bladder. I realized the geography of the Pacific Northwest is more akin to Chile than any other part of the Pacific Crest of North America. I realized I could be happy in any of the towns
I passed through. Why do we feel so tied down to one particular place? Something tells me we stay in one spot because of the security of thinking there's a place called "home". Road trips temporarily remove that notion, and what is uncovered is that we can be home anywhere we are at, as long as we are enjoying the scenery- and the ride.
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