I've been told many good things about Bend, Oregon — they are true.

We just got back from a relaxing and wonderful week staying with some friends from Chicago on the Deschutes River south of Bend.

There's a lot to do in and around Bend. While we were there we fished, canoed, hiked, ate and drank but most rewardingly perhaps we sat by the River, soaked in the sun and views and watched the world float by.

view from the upper deck

When we arrived it was overcast, cold and rainy — definitely not why we left Bainbridge! To stay out of the rain we decided to explore the Lava River Cave. It was an underground walk more than anything, and dark. Three of us did manage to crawl on our hands and knees to the furthest reaches of the cave but alas, to my daughter's great dismay, we found no treasure.

lava lands

After the cave we went to Lava Lands Visitor Center hoping to drive up the Lave Butte (any bump on the earth around Bend is called a butte). Unfortunately we arrived a bit late and could only walk around the lava field, the drive to the top would have to wait for another day.

river before a storm

Back at the house my fascination with the River started. While I loved the view of Mt Bachelor (formerly Bachelor Butte of course!) I found myself constantly mesmerized by the River.

The next day we did two small hikes. The first was to a double waterfall, my first, named Paulina Creek Falls.

paulina creek falls

The waterfall was pretty; the mosquitoes were vicious. It also importantly marked the first blue skies we'd seen in Oregon.


From the falls my wife, daughter and I went to the Obsidian Flow Trail which was far more interesting than I anticipated. Obsidian is black glass formed when lava from a volcano cools rapidly.

views of paulina lake obsidian flow trail flowers on the trail

The trail itself was fun, winding it's way through rocks with some nice views of Paulina Lake.

fog over the deschutes

The next morning was still overcast and cold — oh but the River!

We decided that morning to check out the High Desert Museum which was interesting but I was grumpy because I wanted to be in the mountains.

mt bachelor from sparks lake blue butterfly

My family obliged and we drove up to Sparks Lake from which the views are stunning and the water flowing through the meadow is ripe with butterflies, toads, fish and endless opportunities for chasing nature. I took one of my favorite photos of my daughter here, back to the camera, scooping a small toad out of the water with blue skies above and the Sisters in the background — I love this photo.

sparks lake and mt bachelor

Sparks Lake is a extremely shallow and excellent for fishing so I'm told. I'd like to go back, camp along the shores and fish the day away.

sunset over the deschutes sunset over mt bachelor

Finally sun, finally sunsets.

baby duck

The next day we canoed a short section of the Deschutes River. In my paddling around the Island we've seen some great wildlife but never has a flock of baby ducks, clearly agitating their mother, paddled right up alongside the canoe!

catching a rainbow

On the last day I fly-fished on the Fall River and landed two rainbow trout. Unfortunately our timing on this trip was a bit off. We met a couple on the Obsidian Flow Trail who fished the day we explored the Cave and landed fish after fish in the overcast and cool conditions. When I went it was hot and sunny and the fish, which I could see plain as day on the river bottom, wanted nothing to do with our flies. Among all the fisherman out on the River that day we were the only ones landing anything.

ponderosa pine

We had fun on the way home too, stopping at some cool national and state parks with unique natural water features and enjoying the drive through the forests and mountains so different than our own.

wine and beer

It was a great trip. It was really fun to hang out with another family, eat home-cooked meals together on the River, drink our share of beer, wine and vodka, watch the Tour coverage each night and enjoy time together. I'd like to go back to the area — my only regret was not seeing the Cascade Cycling Classic. Maybe next year.

Categories: travel  photography 
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