Welcome to Oregon

With the prospects of exploring a new state, we crossed our first state line in 15 days and were filled with excitement as we made it into Oregon. First up on our agenda was a stop at Crater Lake.

The deep, rich blue colors that emanate out of Crater Lake seem otherworldly, and it’s pretty mind-boggling that the beautiful lake was born out of a catastrophic geological turn of events. What is now calm, placid lake water was once a mountaintop that exploded in a volcanic eruption, creating a caldera that is as deep as the sheer cliffs surrounding the lake are high. It’s America’s deepest lake, and it seems as though the underwater ecosystem remains rather mysterious even to this day, with few expeditions into the deep blue lake to chart the strange creatures at the bottom.

Crater Lake moss

Crater Lake plants

Little pinecone

We explored a few overlooks and hiked up to a few vistas, and it was beautiful. From one spot, there were so many grasshoppers out that it sounded like the tic-tic-tic-tic-trrrrrrrr of sprinklers. At another spot, neon chartreuse-colored moss balls clung to dead trees and rolled around on the ground, seemingly looking for another home. The tiny pinecones were also rather endearing. After a few different vantage points, we kept on trucking further into unknown territory, a city we've been planning to visit for a long time...

Bend, Oregon, is a charming little outdoorsy town that could definitely end up being a relocation destination. This part of Oregon is sheltered from the coastal rainy weather by the mountains, so it therefore enjoys better weather (which has been a drawback to a few of the places on our relocation list) than much of the state. It’s also very close to skiing (Mount Baker), and a couple of hours from Eugene and Portland. We stocked up at REI - Loren replacing some age-old khaki pants that were at least 3 sizes too big for him with some better camping pants which he may have found in the boy’s department (it’s not easy finding 28x28s or men’s XS).

While driving to the downtown area, we passed the cyclepub and kicked ourselves for not having the camera ready. It’s exactly as it sounds: a pub that’s on wheels, with patrons all facing in on each other pedaling to move the pub from one spot to the next. Drunk cyclists? not really - the contraption appeared to be commandered by a sober coxwain-type, facing forward at the back of the thing.

So we parked and mosied our way around the historic downtown parts, window shopping at a few closed stores (it was after normal business hours), before sitting down for dinner at a cute restaurant called Zydeco Cafe. True to Oregon style, this restaurant focuses on high-quality, organic, sustainable, local foods, and the food was a treat from our couple of nights in a row of campfire meals.

Zydeco in Bend, Oregon

Loren’s dish was wild boar! Absolutely delicious. Kristen’s dish was a safe steak, which was also mouth-wateringly yummy. What made both dishes even more memorable was the roasted veggies side - butternut squash, green beans, peppers, and pearl onions - we couldn’t have done it better!

We drove through a couple of sleepy neighborhoods after dinner, even though it was dark, which confirmed our suspicion that we could see ourselves living in this quaint town. Then we headed for the hills, where we found a campsite at a National Wilderness area. We set everything up in the dark and quickly retreated to our sleeping bags.