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S: Oregon Outback ~ May 2012

BC: May 4 -12, 2012 900 miles in nine days. Benjy Casey Mehlynn Evren


1: This book is dedicated to Uncle Benjy. You gave us mountains and volcanos, lakes and rivers, an endless blue sky, and enough joy and memories to last a lifetime. These are gifts we will cherish forever. We love you! Casey, Mehlynn, and Evren

2: Portland to Bend via Mt. Hood | And so it begins... We headed out on Friday, May 4, 2012, later than we thought we would (as usual). We drove through Portland and over Mt. Hood, where it was snowing like mad. A few minutes later, we were making our descent and almost instantaneously we were driving through arid desert. This was the first time seeing this type of landscape for Casey and the kids!

6: A Dalmation Cleaning Service van parked in front of sign warning of the danger the cliffs present to dogs!

7: Bend

8: The River Run Cottage This was our favorite place that we stayed. It had a hot tub, a shower with two shower heads, a beautiful kitchen, and plenty of thoughtful touches. We all agreed we wanted to move in permanently. We spent our two nights in Bend living it up with wine in the hot-tub!

10: Pilot Butte Bend is one of only a handful of cities with a volcano located within its boundaries. Pilot Butte is cinder cone that rises 500 feet up from the city center. It has magnificent views of Bend and the snowy Cascade peaks that surround it. The drive up was heart-stopping because there was nothing to break tumble straight off the side!

11: Three-Fingered Jack Broken Top | Mt. Batchelor Three Sisters

13: Bike trip to Baja Fresh for Cinco de Mayo dinner, with Casey screaming the entire way... Removable Botox...

14: Lava Butte On our way out of Bend, we caught a glimpse of Lava Butte from the road. "We can't not go there," Benjy proclaimed, and quickly turned in. It turned out to be a really good decision! It was spectacular! Around 6,000 years ago, lava flowed from the south side of the butte and blocked the Deschutes River. In the time that has passed since, the side of the butte remains barren and the lava fields cut a crisp line against the forest. It was dizzying looking into the 150 foot deep crater at the top of the butte!

19: You better lava me now or lava me not!

20: Our Outback Journey Begins... Bend to Lakeview

22: Fort Rock

24: Like a desert mirage, Fort Rock rises out of the barren, immense flatness of Oregon's high desert. An enormous near-circle of towering jagged rock walls make it seem like a fort. Somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, basalt magma rose to the surface and encountered the water and mud of the shallow lake that once covered this area. The magma cooled quickly and formed this "tuff ring". The southern edge of the formation was eroded by the lake's waves before it dried up. Evidence of human habitation around Fort Rock dates back to 13,000 years ago.

26: We hiked the ledges that formed the rock walls on the eastern side. We were able to look out over the vast desert for miles and observe the swirling dust devils and the perfect green circles of desert farms. The crack of target-practice gunshots as they ricocheted off the rocks all around us were startling and took some getting used to!

28: We traveled 17 miles down a gravel road to get to our next destination. Through the dust we saw exquisite desert scenery, hazy outlines of mountains in the distance, and large ranch pastures teeming with cattle.

29: The dust did a number on the Xterra, but Benjy loved it! Now, if only we could find those mysterious petroglyphs...

30: Summer Lake and Winter Ridge

32: "At our feet...more than a thousand feet below...we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountain...Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast." (Captain John C. Fremont, 16 December 1843, Report of the Second Fremont Expedition)

33: Abert Rim Abert Rim rises 2500 feet above the valley floor, finishing with an 800 foot sheer-sided basalt cap. Stretching more than 30 miles from Lakeview north to Alkali Lake, Abert Rim is also the longest exposed fault scarp in North America. Bighorn sheep were transplanted to the rim in 1975 and 1977 from nearby Hart Mountain, and are often spotted on Abert Rim. However, despite it being Benjy's only wish, we never saw the sheep, nor any mountain goats.

34: Hunters Hot Springs Resort There aren't words to describe the creepiness and dilapidation of this "resort". Some of its features were caved-in beds, torn bedspreads, haunted farm equipment, a slimy hot springs pool, bloody animal bones scattered about, a hot tub filled with dirt and rocks, and owners who made pizza with filthy nails. It could have been charming...but it wasn't. We moved to the Best Western as fast as the Xterra could take us, despite Evren's fascination with "Old Perpetual" (Oregon's only geyser) and his inexplicable affection for the resort in general.

36: Lakeview had its share of curiosities, including this "welcome" sign and a Sasquatch that was both embarrassed and embarrassing. | We drove 14 miles south and dipped two car lengths into California, just so Casey and the kids could say they've been there!

37: Goodbye creepy people... Goodbye Hunters Hot Springs... Goodbye hills with eyes... Goodbye cop that almost gave us a speeding ticket... Goodbye Lakeview!

40: Union Creek We drive throughhsurprisingly snowy highways past Crater Lake National Park and on to Union Creek. Our cabin there was rustic and cute (aside from the disgusting, creeping odor that the owner handled ineffectively with some "spray"). Here we enjoyed a woodland hike along a pretty creek, a night in doing puzzles and playing games, and dining at Beckie's Cafe.

42: Crater Lake

44: Wizard Island and Llao Rock

45: Crater Lake was formed over 7,700 years ago after Mount Mazama erupted, depleted its magma chamber, and collapsed into the empty space, forming a deep caldera. The caldera filled slowly with clean, clear water to depths of 1,900 feet, making it one of the deepest lakes in the world. Wizard Island is a cinder cone that rises nearly 800 feet out of the lake and is marked by a 500 foot crater in its center.

46: Breathtaking views of the lake at Rim Village | ...literally breathtaking...

47: Crater Lake receives over 44 feet of snow per year. The park doesn't open completely until mid-July, only to begin closing again in late September.

48: The Secret Garden at Belknap Belknap Hot Springs Resort was where we spent our last four nights. The first three nights we slept in a cozy cabin overlooking the McKenzie River, and the last night we slept in the spacious lodge. We loved swimming in the toasty hot springs pools and exploring the beautiful grounds. Just over the bridge and into the woods was the famed Secret garden, which was lovely and peaceful and a great place to play tag.

49: Campfires and Cold S'mores It will remain a mystery how the fire got started without access to Google instructions. Even more puzzling was how we made S'mores with sizzling roasted marshmallows and couldn't manage to melt the chocolate!

51: Whitewater Rafting on the McKenzie River (20 miles) We didn't know what we were in for, did we? Silly us for thinking wetsuits would adequately protect us from gigantic sloshes of 42 degree water! It was worth it though...hearing Evren's excitement over the "monster waves" and taking in the amazing scenery along this gorgeous, crystal-clear blue river was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Photo credits go to the lady we met in the pool and her musically talented(?) husband, Captain Jimmy.

52: Where shall we go next year?

53: Casey Izzet June 4, 2012

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