After spending a couple of hours driving around Crater Lake, I continued inland to Bend, Oregon. High desert country.
A Tough Drive
It had been a long day, starting in Crescent City, California.
From Crater Lake, it’s about a two hour drive to Bend, and when I was about 45 minutes away from ground zero, exhaustion set in.
I’m not sure why.
I stopped several times at Crater Lake to take photos and walk the dogs. It was an easy drive around the rim. About half way between Crater Lake and Bend I pulled in to a rest stop for a short break. This last stretch was the only time on my Oregon vacation that I wished I had another driver with me to take over the wheel. I sure kept an eye on my GPS counting down the minutes when I’d arrive in Bend!
I arrived at the Motel 6, and it was a good thing I’d booked two nights in advance. There was a sign on the door saying they were fully booked and if you didn’t have a reservation, don’t bother coming inside.
I checked in, went to my room, brought in the dog beds, luggage, and other items I didn’t want to leave inside the car and crashed on the bed for awhile.
Motel 6 Bend, Oregon
I usually choose Motel 6 when traveling because of the dogs stay free policy, and the Motel 6 in Bend is the nicest Motel 6 I’ve stayed at. The room is large and bright, helped out by a bathroom with a full tub and a good-sized window. You know the bumpy bathroom type windows that you can’t see in or out of but light filters through. There was a queen size bed, a flat screen TV, a mini fridge, a microwave, table and chair, and a large counter sink at the back of the room beside the bathroom.
The grounds were neat, clean, and well maintained. A far cry from the dog shit at the back of the Motel 6 in Coos Bay! There’s a swimming pool but during my stay in late September, it was closed. Obviously only open during the summer.
I’d probably come back to Bend again for no other reason than to stay at the Motel 6!
One of the reasons I wanted to come to Bend was to shop at the Boot Barn. We don’t have them in Canada, and the closest one to where I live is in Eastern Washington. Certainly closer than Bend, Oregon but not in an area I’d planned to visit on this vacation. The Boot Barn has an online shop but unfortunately they use UPS to ship. Maybe UPS is a wonderful option in the US, but they suck in Canada! I only purchase from shops in the states if they use US Postal Service.
I checked out the Boot Barn, specifically I was looking for Ariat Fuse sneakers, which they carry online but not in this store. There was nothing else in the store that jumped out at me as a “must have” so I left empty-handed.
Keeping in mind that I can only bring $800 in purchases back to Canada before paying duty. And that’s taking the exchange into account, so there’s no point in buying stuff unless it really jumps out at me as a “must have” just in case I’m called inside at the border to show my receipts.
Next door to the Boot Barn is a horse and tack shop called Absolute Horse. I’d pulled into the parking lot at 5pm and noticed they were just closing up. Darn it anyway! I’d have to come back the next day.
I’d mostly been snacking on granola all day, so it was time to get something more substantial. I passed a Shari’s on the way to the Boot Barn and headed back there for dinner.
Generally my rule when traveling is to avoid chain restaurants and look for hidden gems. We don’t have Shari’s in Canada, so that doesn’t really count! I went in for the salad/half sandwich/pie combo. Perfect sized meal for me! I wasn’t too keen on the Asian salad I’d chosen, but the three-cheese grilled sandwich was excellent. I also made a bad choice in the marionberry pie, but seeing as how I was in Oregon, and didn’t really like the marionberry pie ice cream I’d had at Tillamook, I wanted to give it another shot. It just tasted like berry jam. And kind of a tasteless berry jam at that.
Sorry marionberry – I am done with you!
It was time to head back to my motel room to rest for the night.
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Bend for a couple of nights was to use it as a jumping off point to see the Painted Hills, about 75 miles away. I was tuckered out from the drive the day before and decided to take a day off driving. At least long distances. I made a last decision to skip the Painted Hills and go to the High Desert Museum instead, about a 15-minute drive.
I’m not a big museum person but I enjoyed my visit. I arrived just in time to join an ecologist giving a talk and outside tour of the trees, vegetation and wildlife of the high desert country. He ended his tour just in time for the presentation at the Birds of Prey encounter where we were introduced to Hope, a peregrine falcon from Seattle who when learning to fly, hit a building. She was rescued and taken to the High Desert Museum for rehabilitation. She can fly somewhat now, but wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild.
I was impressed that the High Desert Museum had other birds of prey and animals in their rehabilitation program that can’t be released back into the wild due to their injuries. It’s nice that they’re able to spend the rest of their lives here and be part of educating visitors. There were owls and eagles, a bobcat, a porcupine, an otter, and various reptiles.
Part of the museum includes the Miller Family Ranch where visitors can see the lifestyle of early settlers in the area. The museum is interactive with both indoor and outside exhibits.
Isn’t this horse and foal sculpture made from barbed wire incredible? So lifelike.
I loved this sign I spotted on a walkway.
A good place to walk the dogs in Bend is the Deschutes River Trail.
This is a well-maintained path, either paved or gravel, with a bridge to cross to the other side of the river, where I came across this amazing sculpture that was made of spare parts, stuff that was destined for the scrap metal pile.
There were many sculptures along the river trail that I enjoyed.
And check out this sculpture made out of kayaks that looks like a crazy windmill!
Apparently in the summer time the Deschutes River is a popular place to go inner tubing. I’d like to try that!
There’s also a fenced off-leash dog area. I passed that one by. My big dog Shadow doesn’t like boy dogs or little dogs too much and I didn’t want to be involved in a dog fight.
The Bend Motel 6 is a safe area to walk dogs. There are sidewalks and nearby businesses, shopping, and restaurants. It’s a busy traffic area and I was comfortable walking at night too in this well lit area.
Not too far from the motel, is a place called Pilot Butte. It’s a huge hill, or butte, that juts out of Bend. Just out of nowhere. There it is! The road spirals up around the butte, and at the top, just pull over to the side and park. There are a couple of designated handicapped parking spots near the washrooms. I like to see that. The handicapped spaces that is, not the potty! In the center of the spiral road at the top of the butte is a finished concrete platform area with viewpoint signs that identify the mountains off in the distance.
From the top of Pilot Butte you can see part of Bend, and the distant views of the Cascade Mountain range are great. Pilot Butte is popular for hikers, but a little too ambitious for me and my two senior dogs. It’s definitely worth a drive up to this scenic viewpoint, and the spiral thing is kind of fun to navigate. Stay on your own side of the road, it is kind of narrow!
I did manage to return to Absolute Horse on Sunday afternoon. There was a lovely lady working in the store, who upon hearing it was my first time there, immediately directed me to the back of the store where the saddles are kept. Yikes! I think the last thing I need is another saddle – don’t tempt me! Plus it would take up a lot of space in the back of my Mazda 3 where my dogs are already riding. Not to mention throw me off my budget for the dollar amount of purchases allowed back into Canada.
I had a good time chatting with the clerk and telling her I love visiting tack shops in the states because I can always find something that I wouldn’t be able to find back home. And sure enough I scored a horse theme nightgown called “pasture bedtime”.
Get it? Past your bedtime! I also bought a shirt and shorts sleepwear with horses on them. And here’s the kicker. They come from a distributor called Little Blue House in Quebec, Canada! Even with the exchange rate – I still got them cheaper at Absolute Horse in Bend, Oregon!
Then I spotted the sales rack and a couple of cute polo shirts with half a horse rounding the side made by Horseware Ireland. I’ve never heard of that company, but snapped up the two remaining shirts. I can never have enough horse wear!
I made a last minute decision to buy a purple and pink t-shirt that says Absolute Horse, Bend Or on it. So that’s my proof that I’ve been to Bend!
Really, I did not find anything at my other stops in Bend that would be touristy like that.
On the opposite side of town is another Shari’s. Actually that was the first Shari’s I’d spotted when I first drove into town, to be specific 61135 South Highway 97. It’s near Walmart and I needed to buy another Mr. Coffee Iced Tea maker before leaving Oregon, so it fit with my plan to go over in the evening, around 8pm or so when I finally began to feel hungry for dinner.
I parked my car with the back windows rolled down halfway for the dogs, but I felt nervous leaving them there because a man was sitting on the hood of his car in the Shari’s parking lot with his music blasting. Why just sit there? He gave me the creeps. I went inside the restaurant and waited for a table.
And waited some more, even though 3 staffers were moving around and could clearly see my waiting for a table.
A man who was probably a manager came over and got me a table. I asked for a booth by the window so I could keep an eye on my car and that creepy man hanging out in the parking lot.
Finally! A waitress showed up and apologized because they were short staffed that night. I’d already figured that one out, but the restaurant wasn’t what I’d call packed with patrons either.
As at the other Shari’s, I ordered the combo meal, same grilled cheese sandwich, but this time I ordered the garden salad, which I liked much better than the salad I’d ordered at the North Highway 97 Shari’s. I ordered the lemon blueberry sour cream pie and it was amazing! Much better than the marionberry pie that I’d had the night before at the other Shari’s.
The other Shari’s won for better service and for a better grilled cheese sandwich. North Shari’s would have won better overall if I’d made better decisions on salad and pie choosing!
When I woke up on Monday morning, there was frost on the ground. Keeping in mind this is the third week of September and the days were sunny and in the 70 range. I drove to the Deschutes River for one last walk and the temperature was just on freezing. Brrr! Good thing I’d brought a thick fleece sweater! That was the only time on the trip it was called into action!
Today’s destination is Portland, via the fake ghost town I’d heard about in Short Bridge, Oregon.
But before we head out of town, check out my video with photos I took around Bend.