this post is long over due… over Memorial Day weekend ( May 22 – 25 ) we spontaneously headed for Oregon, with Bend and Smith Rocks as our target. after this trip I am a huge fan of just getting in the car and going! the hubs and I had joked a few days leading up to the weekend, “we should go somewhere,” and so we did. we didn’t even make the decision to really go until 3 pm on Friday and we we both raced home early for work and were on the road by 5:30 pm. the plan of where we were staying (although, we had planned to car camp) was never nailed down, and it made it more fun that way!
// warning: this is a long post (#sorryimnotsorry) about our adventure, beer + eats //
// FRIDAY – Day 1 //
Packing went quickly! We didn’t bother with the camping box (stove, pots and pans, dishes, etc.), because we just didn’t want to deal with it all and we knew we could always find something a long the way. We did throw in our cooler, you need cold beer, our sleeping bags, pillows, and tent just in case. Of course all our climbing gear got thrown in as well. All and all packing took roughly 30 minutes, since everything is pretty well organized in our house. Lastly, we packed up Bogie and his kibble and we were off!
The first pit stop was Safeway in Reno for gas and “dinner” aka sandwiches + coffee at the deli. We were quickly on our way and headed North! We took 395 towards Susanville to 139 and were driving through Klamath Falls, Oregon by around 9:30 pm. The goal was to get as close to Bend as we could. Knowing we were going to car camp, and it was a holiday weekend, the options were going to be slim. After searching for campsite options, I found a little “park”, Rosland Campground, in La Pine (little town about 30 mintues South of Bend), that seemed like a pretty good option. We pulled in around 11:30 pm, there was only one other campground in use, and situated our sleeping bags in the back of the Subaru with Bogie. We ended the night with beer and boxed wine, and were pretty proud of ourselves for just going!
The view from the windy road as we departed from Sierraville.
// SATURDAY – Day 2 //
We woke up around 7 am. After rolling around in the car, and waking up, we realized the dark campground we rolled was actually pretty nice! We fed Bogie, and packed up pretty quick, because we were jerks and forgot to get cash to pay the $10 for the site fee. We had planned to pay when we returned later that night, because we realized it was probably our best option if we couldn’t find anything near Smith Rocks, which was our destination for the day!
Bogie and the Hubs snoozing together.
But, first… coffee! We headed to Bend and after a little Yelp research, we went to breakfast at CHOW. We arrived and there was a 25 – 30 minute wait, which didn’t seem bad for the crowd, plus they gave you coffee while you waited on the porch! The food soo tasty, fresh, local, and they make their own salsas to top off the dishes. I would highly recommend stopping, and just the special of the day. After lots of coffee, and stuffing ourselves, we were finally on our way to the climbing mecca of Oregon.
The drive into the park is stunning! The big walls just pop-up out of the land and are viable the second the get into Terreboone. As we drove closer to the park, through farm land, open space, and a few house, we noticed the lines of cars already outside the parking lot. The campground, which is first-come firs-served, was already full, so it was looking like that option was out! We drove around down to the end of the loop, and got the last parking spot off the road inside the main area! We knew there were a lot of cars, but we were not prepared for how many people we were about to face. Each car had to be packed! The walls looked like flypaper, with climbers everywhere! You could only walk a few yards until you passed another group of hikers. Almost everyone had a dog, which Oregon you rock, because all your parks are dog friendly! We knew it was the holiday weekend, but we didn’t expect this type of crowd… not at all.
Our experience was pretty interesting as we walked around to scope out a few easier climbs. The rock was totally different, a little gritty, and felt sharp. Unfortunately, the attitudes of a few of the people we came across mimicked the rock. People just didn’t seem as friendly. It also just wasn’t our jam; stick-clips, lots of boom boxes, no-body really said hello, etc. But, we won’t worry about that. Other than the short hike down into the canyon, the approach is similar to those in the Truckee area. Short, with well built trails. There were stairs built into the hillside everywhere, and most of the trails hug the base of the rock and work around the whole park.
After working our way around, trying to find something that was open, we we tackled a little 5.7 crack. Shortly after, we hiked around a bit more in the heat looking for something else, but ultimately called it a day in the mid-afternoon after the crowds started to feel a bit much. We walked backed to the car a different way and enjoyed another pieces of the canyon. There wasn’t much shade, so by the time we got back to our car, we were happy to be parked under little tree and it was time to water the wiener dog! It was great to check out the area, because it is beautiful and such a unique formation, we just learned we need to come a little earlier in the spring, and not a long weekend for sure!
On our way out of Terrebonne we stopped at Redpoint Climbers Supply for a beer and iced coffee. Guys… this place is awesome and we need one in Truckee! The shop has an espresso machine, coffee, and a growler filler station. Plus lots of climbing gear and all the guide books. What more could a dirtbag ask for! After cooling down, and doing a little internet research for open campgrounds in the area (with no luck), we headed back to Bend in search of more beer.
Chris had his heart set on Deschutes since we began tossing around the idea of going to Oregon. Nick (Chris’ brother) had brought back and insulated Deschutes growler the previous summer, so the mission was to eat dinner, drink lots of beer and fill-up of course!
After a killer veggie burger, bison burger, and Chris got his fill of beer the next stop was La Pine again. The sun started to fade, and the evening got interesting! We arrived in our spot from the previous night to find it FULL! It was also full of some interesting people. For the first time on the trip my nerves set-in. I thought I was fine with the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants idea, but wasn’t prepared to just sleep some place totally random either. After a little frustration, we checked out nearby La Pine State Park and poached a vacant “reserved” spot. It all ended up fine, and I was actually a little excited now, because I had never just rolled up and stolen a spot. I was never the rule break as a kid. Things to note about this campground; we never saw a ranger, the gate was unmanned, clean bathrooms, had showers (didn’t use them), and it was very quite.
- CHOW | farm to table, local ingredients, breakfast + lunch
1100 NW Newport Ave. Bend OR
- REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY | coffee, growler filling station + gear
8222 N Highway 97, Suite 101, Terrebonne OR
- DESCHUTES BREWERY | craft brewery + pub
1044 NW Bond St. Bend, OR
// SUNDAY – Day 3 //
The day started off with breakfast at 1 of 2 options in town. It was basic eggs and coffee and Norma’s, but it fit the trip. Then we headed out towards Crater Lake, which was also a big reason to head to Oregon for the weekend.
- NORMA’S RED ROOSTER RESTAURANT | greasy spoon, cute old husband and wife
51425 HWY 97, La Pine, OR
I had been seeing photos every where, and Chris and I talked about we couldn’t really remember being there, but knew we had been there as kids. We got lucky that it was the first weekend of the North entrance was open for the year! We also lucked out with the weather. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions, especially since I had seen that it had been foggy and overcast a few days before.
If you plan a Crater Lake National Park, cross your fingers for big puffy clouds and no wind! It makes the lake reflections glassy, and perfect for picture taking.
Remember Bogie was on this trip! The little adventure wiener hammed it up in the park. There was lots of “OH he is sooo cute” and of course he got lots of hugs, and pets. The down fall of going here during this time of year, was the lack of hiking. All of the trails still had heavy snow coverage, and once we found a beer at the Crater Lake Lodge we were feeling more motivated just to relax and enjoy the view.
We left the park back through the North Entrance and drove towards the Umpqua National Forest. I should write a whole post about our next adventure on the trip aka “The Search for the Umqua Hotsprings.” If you know me in real life, seriously ask me about this, because the story is ridiculous!
The search for the hot springs started here at Lemolo Lake. We actually sat and enjoyed the view great view of Mt. Thielson. After being told I took us very very very off course, we got back on the road and headed for the Tokette Campground about 25 minutes away. The forest was incredible. We dropped in elevation quickly, with Chris wondering if there would be poison oak, and the smell of moist dirt in the air.
After not having a campsite the night before, we claimed our spot first, and then went to find the hot springs. The picture above was our view from the site. The road was beyond the trees and past a small meadow, but it was peaceful there and our neighbors weren’t to close either. We moved things around in the car to make camp, and gathered twigs for campfire later when it cooled off. We went exploring over towards the “river” to check out these lovely pipes running up the mountainside and to see the dam. I have seen a dam before, but this was my first “damnation” experience of wondering why the heck anybody would put something so ugly in nature.
So after feeling less in nature, being bombarded by disrespectful and trashy campers we headed back to camp to ignore it all. We ended the evening around our first fire of the trip! We had lots drinks and ate our dirtbag dinner of champions! Yes, we had planned ahead for dinner! That morning in La Pine we went to the grocery store and bought, beer, wine, cheese, crackers, salami, and popcorn for dessert.
// MONDAY – Day 4 //
We got up really early the next day to try soaking in the Umpqua Hot Springs since we found them the night before. Let’s just say I can see how were amazing at some point in time, but they aren’t now. They were dirty, not what I imagined, and not how everyone’s pictures and descriptions made them out to be. I only took one bad photo of them, that isn’t worth sharing. We did take a quick soak, but it just wasn’t my thing. That’s me being polite about the experience, but in general they are overrun by people that probably just live in the forest, and desperately need a real shower. Moving on…
The saving grass was the pretty leaves, and the luck we had after eating breakfast.
- BECKIE’S CAFE | greasy spoon + FAMOUS PIES
56484 Highway 62, Prospect, OR
There is a turn out right before you get to Beckie’s, which is the start of the Rouge Gorge! We walked up and down the path and checked out the river. Chris had rafted the Rouge when he was a kid with a family friend, who was our last stop on the tip. So, the stop to see were the river starts and follow it down to the lava bridge + tubes, and then down the highway as we headed towards Ashland was a lot of fun!
We ended our adventure by wandering around Ashland (sadly, I didn’t take an photos) and I joked about moving there, because the town is so quaint. We walked to town after meeting up with Chris’ family friend, enjoyed lunch, the warm weather and strolled through the park on our way back. After killing most of the afternoon, we made a late start back towards California and all the way home!
It was lots of driving, but worth every bit to get out, explore, and do so much in a short time! Thanks for hanging in there on the long post if you made it this far! I will break it up next time!