Day 7: Crater Lake National Park, OR to Bend, OR

Today takes us from the elevation-chilled caldera of Crater Lake to the craft beer paradise of Bend along a series of troublesome logging highways…

Ours is a breakfast of three parts. First, we polish off the remaining salmon-brussels-sprouts-pasta dish from last night; second, we visit Pinnacles down at the end of the road that passes by the Lost Creek campground; third, we cook up some oatmeal and tea for a bit of warmth.

But first, Pinnacles: it’s awesome. Pinnacles is a series of rock spires, or fumaroles, formed by the river-aided erosion of soft pumice around these cores of geothermally-cured rock. Here’s a National Park Service plate from 1942 depicting these striking formations:

After our breakfast, we start on our journey around the rest of the East Rim, which affords many picturesque views over the caldera and Wizard Island within:

The road is cold, bitterly so, and we wrap ourselves up in every layer we have at our disposal to keep warm. Trouble is, our gloves are a weak point in this armor - we should really get something warmer than thin leather…

After 25 or so miles of meandering around the rim, we come at last to the road leading out through the Pumice Desert to the 138:

It’s then onto the 138, which is long and straight and bordered on both sides by intensively-logged forest. We’ve progressed into high mountain desert and semi-arid landscape, which in practical terms means our way down the 138 is only slightly less chill-inducing than the Rim Drive. Nevertheless, we persevere, and even manage to snap this photo of our scooter’s 5555.5-th mile:

The 138 Ts into the 97, which is a lot busier but no less straight, long, and cold, so that now we have massive logging trucks to contend with in addition to the other hardships. Halfway to Bend, we stop to fuel up at this small gas station, around the side of which there’s a Bud Light ad positioned next to a section of crumbling wall.

There’s also this sign, which speaks for itself:

Rolling into Bend, we find something we never expected to: a Laughing Planet franchise, which is apparently a Big Deal in Oregon now. It also looks all weird and corporate, in stark contrast to the unabashedly hippie-ish vibes of the original Bloomington location. The seasonal special is calabacitas, a sort of spicy sautée of summer squash with corn and chiles.

Now we just need a place to stay, so we inquire at the local tourism office. This turns out to be a surprisingly good way to get information most of the time, as long as you make it clear what you’re looking for - some places will try their hardest to upsell you at every opportunity, but not this office. We’re soon swimming in a profusion of maps: a map of local breweries and brewpubs, a map of pedestrian and cycling trails, a detailed state map of Oregon…

…but we still need somewhere to stay, so we decide to check out the Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast. Of note, there is a hot tub, which we promptly put to good use:

We’re in the Mt. Bachelor room this first night, which is festooned with posters of the mountain, skis, and a massive toboggan bolted vertically into the wall to double as a coat rack.

Bend itself is wonderfully situated on the river, with lots of parkland to stroll around in:

It’s not hard to see why there’s such an outdoors culture here, and we see ample evidence of it on our walk around town: kayakers testing their skills on the city-maintained Class 2 rapids, soccer games on the fields across the river, picnickers enjoying a late afternoon snack in the riverside park…

We even spot a family playing a fun game: their kids take turns doing Superman spread-eagle jumps off a rock into their father’s arms.

The approach Bend takes to its river is awesome - rather than posting “DO NOT USE, BLAH BLAH BLAH DEATH” signs everywhere, they provide helpful and useful information on how to navigate the river safely:

Enough exercise for one day - time for beer! Silver Moon wins the Savage “Information Visualization” award for sampler receptacle design:

And, of course, we make pilgrimage to the Deschutes brewpub downtown for a delicious (and very beery) dinner:

Liberally libated, we repair for the night to our bed and breakfast - we’ll likely spend tomorrow here as well, as we could use the rest (and we have a few practical matters to attend to besides…)