Sunday, August 19, 2018

Oregon Summer Road Trip

We love Oregon in the summer. Our family of five flew out to Portland OR in July, rented a SUV, and drove a big loop around western Oregon in one week.

Enjoy the video above, which was made by my very talented daughter. Our itinerary & photos following below with some captions:
- Landed in Portland and had our rental car by 11am on Saturday morning.
- We drove straight to Cannon Beach and took a beach walk there by the famous Haystack Rock.
- We continued south and stopped by many viewpoints along the coast and stayed in Newport that evening. 
- Sunday we continued south along the coast and stopped at many different state parks. One the cool things about the Oregon coast are all the state parks and lack of development along most of the coast. We got as far south as Umpqua Lighthouse State Park before turning east back at Gardiner so we could get to Crater Lake National Park that evening.
- All the lodging inside Crater Lake National Park was sold out so we stayed at Union Creek Lodge outside the park. We spent all of Monday driving around the rim of Crater Lake, did some light hiking on the rim, and explored a little bit of the Rogue River around Union Creek. We stayed at the Union Creek Lodge again that night. We couldn't have had better weather and light that day for great pictures (see below). We were lucky. After we left, they had smoke from a nearby wildfire. 
- Tuesday morning we got up early and drove to Bend. We arrived for 9am breakfast at a great spot, Jackon's Corner 
- After breakfast, the family dropped me off at Pine Mountain Bikes, which is the closest bike shop to the area's famous Phil's Trail System (200+ miles of trails to choose from). I rented a bike there, and rode the bike to and from the trails, while the family went off and did some exploring. 
- After a great late lunch at Spork, we went tubing (rentals & shuttle riverside) on the Deschutes River through Bend and ended up in some fun rapids at the end. We ended up at Bend Brewery, then Wild Rose downtown for great Thai food. We stayed at an AirBnB house that night. 
- The next day, we drove north out of Bend and stopped at some fun sights on the way to Hood River.  Steelhead Falls on the Crooked River about 30 minutes north of Bend was a beautiful spot and offered some fun rock jumping into the cool river.  On the way there, we saw an Alpaca Farm so we stopped there to look at the big herd of Alpacas. After all that, we stopped for more views of the Crooked River, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Hood.
- We stayed in Hood River Wednesday and Thursday nights (at AirBnB condo) with two full action packed days (windsurfing, stand up paddle downwinder, and swimming) Thursday and Friday.  Bette's Diner for breakfast, along with 6th Street Bistro, Double Mountain Pizza & Brewery, Solstice Pizza, and Pfriem Brewery offering up the great food and brews.
- We drove back to Portland Friday evening for the red eye flight back to NC.

Hood River is one of our favorite places ever and we'll always go back there.  But we also loved Bend as another great outdoor town. It was our first time there. We want to go back and spend some more time there too and do more exploring of the mountain biking and hiking trails and the surrounding National Forest land. Would love to ski at Mt Bachelor one of these days too. Crater Lake National Park was stunning. It ranks up there along with Glacier National Park, Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon in terms of just being completely awestruck at the beauty and views. The Oregon coast was also beautiful.  Giant green hills with giant trees sloping right into the ocean. We saw lots of wildlife - grey whales everywhere, seals, sea lions, tide pool critters, elk, and deer.  It's a great place to be with the cooler temps (we had high 60s/low 70s) when a heat wave is hitting the Gorge area.

Some nice views on the flight out to Portland

The Grand Tetons

Mount Hood (Mt Jefferson and Mt Bachelor in the distance)

One of the many lighthouses along the Oregon coast

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

We saw many grey whales along the coast, but there were several together very close to shore at Depoe Bay

Newport sunset

Newport sunset

Those are seals on the rocks

Lots of wildlife and tide pool critters at Otter Rock/Devil's Punchbowl State Park. These were the biggest starfish I've ever seen.

Devil's Punchbowl

ended up at Union Creek Lodge, outside Crater Lake National Park...and it had this nice creek running along the property...a nice place to unwind.

Crater Lake National Park was stunning, left us completely awestruck at its beauty. We got very lucky with the weather and lack of fog, clouds, and wildfire smoke.

That reflection though

The deepest clearest blue water I've ever seen

Phantom Ship Island - those spires are as tall or taller than the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

That reflection on the water!

The Pinnacles

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country and the 9th deepest in the world. Its so deep, you could put the Empire State Building in it, and the top still wouldn't stick out of the water. This is why the water is so blue - All the color wavelengths/spectrums get absorbed into the water by the sunlight, leaving only a deep blue. Crater Lake was created by a volcanic eruption over 7700 years ago leaving this giant bowl that was eventually filled with rain and snowmelt over the last few hundred years. The surface level of the lake is just under 6200 ft elevation....taller than Grandfather Mountain (NC). Parts of the Rim Drive & trail viewpoints exceed 8000 ft elevation. This place is covered in snow 8 months out of the year (average annual snowfall is 44 ft) and the Rim Drive doesn't completely open until July most years.

There are no beaches anywhere on Crater Lake and there are no roads leading down to the water. The only boats on the water are National Park ferry boats and they were brought in by helicopter. 

The only trail down to the water is Cleetwood Cove trail - 1 mile of switchbacks to the water (and back up!).  There is a great spot to jump into the water off a giant boulder.  The water was 55 degrees but air temps were 85 & sunny, so we went for it.  Shocking when you first jumped in, but felt good later on after we got a little more used to it.

Rogue River near Union Creek Lodge
Bend mountain biking!

Mountain biked approx 20+ miles of Phil's Trails System

Super fun downhill trail with lots of ramps

While I mountain biked, Kris and the kids went exploring and found this cool waterfall not far from Bend.

Bend Brewing Co along the Deschutes River

Bend is a great outdoor town. They have seemingly done a great job of controlling growth and development (no tall buildings), traffic wasn't bad, great restaurants & breweries, and they have a wonderful centerpiece in town - the Deschutes River and surrounding parks. The downtown whitewater park has three channels - one for expert whitewater kayakers and also has a standing wave (pictured above) for surfing, another channel with smaller rapids for fun family floating (which we tubed on), and the third channel is strictly for habitat. 

The Habitat Channel

the view of Bend and the Three Sisters mountain range from Pilot Butte

Fun tubing on the Deschutes River through Bend


Steelhead Falls on the Crooked River

More hucking ourselves into the water

I was imagining Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid riding over that hill and down to the river.

Mount Jefferson


Welcome to Hood River!

Windy day - 35-45mph on the Columbia River

I got spanked, over-powered on a 3.7 in 45 mph gusts at Doug's Beach, WA. Head high swells in the river channel.

The Gorge Downwind Championships were happening while we were there. It was good to see some familiar faces and paddle ohana friends from the east coast. 

Wind foiling is growing at Hood River - saw several folks out foiling in strong wind.

the kids love river hucking!

SUP downwinder with my daughter on the Columbia River, from Viento to Hood River (8 miles). It was blowing 25-35 mph that day and we had fun swell and long glides. 

Many other paddlers were out there too

On the drive back to the Portland Airport, we stopped for the mandatory viewing of Multnomah Falls.