Monday, July 13, 2015

Days 21-25: Bend, Oregon

~ Just the Facts ~

Liza keeps a close eye on the weather as we travel using a couple of apps:  Weather (built-in to the iPhone) which allows for quick comparisons of temps for places we've been on our trip and places we are planning to go; and Dark Sky, which gives micro-forecasts for just where you are.  All of this is to say that when we left Walla Walla, we knew it was going to be cooler in Bend.  We were excited.  To get there though, we had a long, hot drive ahead of us.  Beautiful though as most of it goes through the Columbia Basin.  

We had lunch at Sonic in Pasco, WA (part of the Tri-Cities area).  But, then, the motorhome wouldn't start when we got ready to leave.  An hour of fiddling and cleaning connections and unhooking and re-hooking things in 105F heat wasn't as much fun as it sounded.  But, finally, the big engine roared to life and we took off in relief.  

We stopped at this WWI memorial which is a life size replica of Stonehenge.  Pretty amazing.  It was very hot up there and a hot wind was blowing up the river.  Delightful.  

We decided to stop for dinner, let the motorhome cool down some, and then push on to Bend.  Or as close as we could get to Bend.  We took Hwy 97 which goes up and up and then comes out in this beautiful high prairie with views of Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson looming.  The sky was amazing. 

We did not make it to Bend, however.  We drove until about 10:30pm and called it a night at the Cow Canyon Rest Area.  We nestled in next to the big rigs, locked the doors, and slept until morning.  Worked great.  

We were so glad to arrive in Bend.  We stayed at a really, really nice campground (RV Resort!) in Bend.  We had decided to splurge for this part of the trip.  Beautiful grounds, spacious sites with paved slaps, storage for your personal items, hot tub, steam rooms, etc.  We arrived in mid-morning and after we set up camp, we took a drive to figure out what Bend was all about.  We had lunch at a fantastic Pho place and explored downtown and along the river.  We found a spot to rent kayaks and SUP (stand-up paddleboards) for the next day and made those arrangements.  Bend is a cool town.  For dinner, we tried the HIGHLY recommended Crux Fermentation Project.  Greg and I did a flight of beers and both found a beer we really liked.  His was the X Bock, a wheat bock beer and mine was Impasse, a saison farmhouse ale.  YUM!  The food was great.  The atmosphere too hip for us.  We loved it.  

Our friends on Instagram pointed out that Greg looks like the Most Interesting Man in the World here.  Certainly drinking a more interesting beer!  

Greg and the kids rented kayaks and I tried SUP.  I don't have as many pictures as I'd like of this adventure because SUP is fun and fairly easy but still took a great deal of care and coordination and taking pictures just wasn't high on my list.  :)  I did get up on my feet for several minutes but the first time I tried I did a fairly spectacular back flop into the very chilly Deschutes river.  It's probably best to try this sport for the first time in water that isn't moving so quickly.   I absolutely loved it though!  Greg and the kids had great success in the kayaks, of course.  A hugely fun adventure that we'll definitely try again sometime! 

I loved SUP! 

Ruth kayaking with me.  The boys left us so no pictures of them!  
After collapsing in a heap for a while, we went to the High Desert Museum which is part museum/part zoo.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  Most of the animals at the facility can't be released back into the wild and are living their lives in the museum.  We got to see one of their bird handlers show us an adorable Kestrel who came to them when the falconer who was raising her realized something was wrong.  She was malnourished and therefore very small for her age.  She's healthy now but not a full-size kestrel.  So cute though.  

Burrowing Owl

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

Barn Owl

Close-up for our kestrel friend

Porcupette (baby porcupine) getting ready for bed.  

Chickens at the pioneer living exihibt

Chippity-munk helping himself to some water

Our favorite display was the river otters.  They were awesome.  Obviously people have fed them as they were blatant beggars.  They are so cute and playful.  

Another big day was heading out to Smith Rock State Park north of Bend.  It's a great hiking and climbing area.  The Crooked River cuts through some remarkable rock formations and there are great trails throughout the park.  Rock climbers love this place and you can sit and watch people doing amazing things.  Greg and the kids set off to hike.  I set up a base camp near the rangers station with my camera, spotting scope, binoculars, and settled in to watch birds.  I saw lots of amazing birds including nesting Peregrine Falcons which was very cool.  

Greg and Gage walked down into the canyon and along the river.  Ruth decided to hike the trial known as Misery.  It climbs 1000 feet in 2/3 of a mile.  The views are amazing.  I was able to digi-scope her (using my iPhone camera in conjunction with my spotting scope) as she sat at the high point of her hike.  Amazing kid! 

Fish-eye lens on iPhone -- just for fun

Ruth at the top of Misery, enjoying the view! 

Greg and I walked down to meet her as she returned -- clearly she was doing great.  

Greg and I went back to Crux that evening.  The kids opted for leftover pizza and chillin' in the FMC.  Date Night it was. 

We had an extra day in Bend as Crown Villa was able to give us one more night.  We moved sights and had a chill day on Friday.  Greg got some work done.  Gage and I went into downtown to get him some new running shoes so he'd be ready for running camp in Mammoth.  We grocery shopped and got ready for the rest of our trip down Hwy 395 to Carson City, June Lake, and dropping Gage off in Mammoth.  

New territory ahead so we're excited! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Day 18, 19, & 20: Walla Walla, WA

~ Just the Facts ~
Camping:  Blue Valley RV Park
Restaurants:  La Cocina de la Abuela, The Maple Counter Cafe, Clarette's Diner
College:  Whitman College

So, Walla Walla, WA was unseasonably hot.  Hotter than Spokane had been.  We'd planned to camp at this cute little spot called Chillville.  However, they only offer 30AMP service which means, for us, that we can only run one air conditioner not two.  Given the well over 100F temps, we decided to cancel those reservations and stay at Blue Valley RV.  It was perfect for us.  Lots of power, nice clean bathrooms and laundry, quiet and pleasant.  My only wish would have been for SHADE to help keep the motorhome cool.

Even running the AC constantly, we were not about to cook meals in the FMC so we tried the fine dining that Walla Walla offers and were very pleased.

The mochas offered at The Maple Counter Cafe

Wild smoked salmon scramble at The Maple Counter Cafe

Swedish pancakes at The Maple Counter Cafe -- I've been told I MUST learn to make these!

Walla Walla sunset at about 10:30pm.  Finally cooling down. 

Our campsite in Walla Walla

We spent the 4th of July in Walla Walla.  Greg and Gage went to the park and enjoyed the festival that was put on which included great food carts and vendors.  Ruth and I chilled out at the coach -- the heat was really getting to us.  

We beat the heat by seeing movies:  Inside Out, Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, and Spy.  Loved all of them especially Inside Out and Spy. 

On Monday, we got to visit Whitman College, the last stop on our whirlwind tour of liberal arts colleges in the northwest.  Great school, loved it.  Stayed on the list! 

Ruth's name in lights!  :) 

What we didn't do in Walla Walla?  Wine tasting.  It's a huge wine area but it was just too hot to do that.  There were some really good museums that we thought about visiting, too.  Again, too hot.  We'll have to come back again.  More to do and see in Walla Walla.  

Day 15, 16, & 17, : Spokane, WA

~ Just the Facts ~
Camping:  Driveway surfing, Spokane, WA

We were so excited to visit The Cobbs in Spokane. They are lifelong friends of Greg's family. We driveway surfed at Stephanie and John's house which was SO much fun! As we pulled into Spokane, we were told that we would be paying for our entertainment by making Killer Milleritas (yum!).  We were happy to oblige.  

Killer Milleritas - Liza's recipe for margaritas!  So yummy!

Full moon over Spokane

John and Stephanie have a horse, two miniature donkeys, a dog, several barn cats, several chickens, two ducks, and two geese.  I don't think I missed anyone!  :) We loved it as you can see below. 

Honey says hello!

Bailey, their golden retriever (who had just gotten a summer haircut and looked like a Labrador) was our buddy for the trip.  She is the sweetest dog!  She also has a friend who likes to hang out at John & Stephanie's.  He's a Landseer Newfoundland.  Amazingly huge, sweet, playful dog.  

Frank and Jill have a spot out on Coeur D'Alene Lake.  We went there for the day and had such fun!  It was very hot there so being at the lake was awesome.  We swam, paddleboated, took a long boat drive looking at houses, and generally had a GREAT day at the lake.  

Our last day in Spokane, we drove around the city, looked at some of the local colleges, and then got out of the heat and hung out with Frank and Jill in their air conditioning.  It was such a great visit.  

As we got ready for bed that last night, Bailey wanted to come with us on the rest of our trip.  She was quite at home on my bed in the FMC. 

We are sad to leave Spokane.  It's a great place (when it's not 100F) and it's so awesome to have friends-that-are-really-family to visit and spend time with!  We miss you guys!  

Next stop:  Walla Walla, Washington