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Posted on Aug 17, 2015

Adventures in Oregon: Central Oregon

There’s really no good title for our most recent adventure as it turned out to be a sampling of all different places. Our trip began one bright and early Saturday morning as we loaded the car with camping gear and debated whether or not to take Annie with us. We had already arranged for a pet-sitter to stay at the house and look after all the dogs.

But Annie was looking at us with that look. The one that says ‘I know you’re going somewhere awesome so won’t you pretty please with a cherry on top let me go with you? Puhpuhpuhleeeease?’

We were going to Bend after all – one of the most dog-friendly places in the country and certainly in Oregon. How could we go without a dog, Annie asked us.

There’s really no arguing with that logic. So, we added a few more items to the car and Annie got to pretend that she was an only dog for 36 hours.

Our first stop was Bend. Ever since we moved to Oregon, once people learn that we have dogs, like beer and love hiking, they tell us with dead certainty ‘Oh you’ll LOVE Bend!’

We hit up McKay’s Cottage for lunch and it was phenomenal. Their outdoor dining area was perfect – lush green grass, tables with umbrellas and tall trees shading everything from the toasty sun. This was Annie’s first time ‘dining out’ in public and she was so well-behaved that the folks seated next to us commented on what a calm dog she was. They also asked what kind of dog she was and now two more people in the world know the awesomeness of hounds 🙂

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We strolled around downtown and wandered through Drake Park. Tons of people were out, enjoying the beautiful day – and yes, every other person had a dog. The Deschutes River was full of people paddle-boarding, kayaking and floating along on inner tubes.

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I have to say, Bend probably has the most charming homes I’ve seen – so many adorable Craftsman bungalows with neat little lawns and cheerful flowers. I probably could have spent all day just admiring the houses but we had more to see!

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After a quick stop at a giant bottle shop (for Andrew) and Dutch Brothers coffee (for me), we went off in search of a campground. This was no easy task. Our original plan was to camp along the Metolius River. We didn’t realize this was also the plan of about a gazillion other people. Every single campground was full. So, we headed south of Bend and happened upon Fall River Campground which turned out to be perfect. Situated right next to Fall River, it’s a small campground with plenty of space between campsites. The amenities are pretty spare (vault toilets and no water) but we had everything we needed with us anyway and the site fee was only $10.

We pitched our tent and then cooked up a dinner of black bean burgers followed by the absolutely vital camping dessert of smores.

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I was concerned about how Annie would do with hearing random noises at the campground. She’s our ‘perimeter’ guard at home, always alerting us to any odd noise on the other side of the fence. But the only time she made a peep was when someone set up camp at the site next to ours later at night, letting out a soft growl of warning.

The next morning, we woke up before sunrise and made breakfast – fried eggs, toast and coffee.

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It was quite chilly so I put on pretty much every piece of clothing I brought with me and then we set off on a short, impromptu 2-mile hike along the river to see its source, coffee mug and all.

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The river was so quiet and peaceful and it felt like we had the world to ourselves – I’m afraid we startled many a squirrel who was surprised to find company so early in the morning.

After checking out the springs that feed the river, we returned to our campsite, packed up and hit the road.

First on our tour was Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We checked out Paulina Lake and hiked another 2-mile hike up Little Crater.

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(isn’t that tree crazy??)

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There was a good deal of smoke in the air, making for a rather hazy view but it was still a gorgeous place that we definitely want to return to for further exploration. Paulina Lake is about 250 feet deep and located in the giant Newberry Caldera. It feeds into Paulina Creek and sustains the twin Paulina Falls.

The falls were beautiful and we couldn’t resist another quick little hike down to the base.

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After leaving Newberry, we turned onto the Cascades Lake Scenic Biway, a driving route that tours past all kinds of natural wonders: alpine lakes, the Three Sisters Wilderness, Mount Bachelor, and various geologic formations – just to name a few.

Time constraints only allowed for a few stops so we paid a visit to two alpine lakes:

Devil’s Lake

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This lake has a brilliant greenish turquoise color, so bold that you think for half a second that someone must be dying the water. It’s relatively shallow and very popular for paddling. We even saw a paddleboarder with a canine passenger 🙂

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As we were observing the lake, we suddenly realized that someone was observing us  (look very closely in the photo below to see who was watching us!)

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Sparks Lake– We did another quick little hike at Sparks Lake, taking in the sweeping views of South Sister and Broken Top.

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This site was chosen to honor Oregon’s photographer laureate, Ray Atkeson, and boy, it is certainly a beautiful place to commemorate one of the nation’s greatest nature photographers. I can’t even imagine hauling all the heavy equipment he would have used in the 30s-50s … a good reminder not to complain about my relatively lightweight camera 🙂

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From there, we headed home, talking all the way about where we’d like to return to explore further … which was pretty much everywhere we visited. So, we will have to head back for a longer camping trip. And Annie’s already asked if next time, Sasha can go as well. After all, if one dog is going, why not two?

And who can argue with that logic?

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