On the third evening of my stay at the yurt in Tumalo State Park, I was joined by a dear friend from the Tri-Cities, Marilyn. It turned out that she needed to pick up her grandson in Central Oregon the same week that I would be there camping, so she called and asked if she could come see me there and check out the yurt. Of course I welcomed the company and told her to bring a sleeping bag along and stay the night — the yurt sleeps five, so there was plenty of room.
Marilyn is originally from Portland but knows all of Oregon very well, and since the day I arrived in the Northwest, she has been my travel consultant — but this was the first chance we had to actually do some touring together. I was more than happy to let her take the driver’s seat and show me around. It’s easier to crane your neck and look at all the glory of Creation surrounding you if you don’t have to worry that you might run your car off the road over a cliff.
Our first stop was the Lava Lands Visitor Center in the Deschutes National Forest 15 miles south of Bend, but we learned upon arrival that they were closed until the next day. After my drive on the Cascade Lakes Byway the day before, I really wanted to stop and see a lava field up close, so I decided it would be worth it to drive out of my way to come back to Lava Lands when they opened again (look for that blog post tomorrow) — how on earth could I drive all the way back to Washington without seeing the lava fields and the fire lookout tower on Lava Butte up close and personal?
From there, Marilyn drove us back north of Bend to the Crooked River Gorge, 9 miles north of Redmond, not far from Smith Rock State Park outside Terrebonne. I happened to be looking down at something in the car when she pulled onto the bridge on Highway 97 that crosses the gorge, and when I looked up I saw we were 300 feet over the river at the bottom of the gorge. I gasped out loud — some of you may know that I’m afraid of heights and of bridges in particular (remember my Capilano Suspension Bridge story?), and I wasn’t quite prepared to find myself in that spot. Truly breath-taking. We stopped for a while to walk around on the old two-lane bridge. This photo is of the nearby railroad bridge over the gorge, and you can’t see it because of the angle of the sun and the color of the sky at that time of day, but the Three Sisters of the Cascade Range are sticking their heads up over the bridge.
Next, we headed further north towards the town of Madras and the Cove Palisades State Park, where the Crooked River flows into Lake Billy Chinook, and you can stand on the edge of the cliffs and look down into the water hundreds of feet below, or miles and miles into the distance at Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters, and Broken Top.
By this time I was feeling like old friends with the peaks of the Cascades. Each time I saw them from a different vantage point was a reunion of sorts.
Thank you, Marilyn, for making my day.