Home » 2013 Cross Country Road Trip

Bend, OR

Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 4:00pm by Lolo
293 miles and 6 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Tom organizing his climbing rack at the Crown Villa RV ResortTom organizing his climbing rack at the Crown Villa RV ResortBefore we left Tommy in Seattle a few days back, we made a plan to meet up again in Bend so he and Herb could go rock climbing at nearby Smith Rock State Park. Also, we very much wanted to see Bend. We had heard so many good things about it – great outdoor activities, terrific weather (over 260 sunny days, a year), and the Deschutes Brewery.

I really hadn’t looked at what our route would be, other than keying Bend in as our destination on the GPS, so we were delighted to find ourselves driving through the Mt. Hood National Forest with excellent views of the mountain.

While driving, I called ahead to reserve a campsite for two nights at the Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, a very highly rated campground that advertises as being a place for the “discriminating RVer.” I have a feeling they are a bit discriminating as well as to who they allow in, because there was a brief moment when I feared they weren’t going to have a site for us when I told them that our motorhome was a 1999. I think they had this vision of Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation” pulling in and sullying their fancy brick pavers. I very defensively explained that my husband is meticulous and that the motorhome looks like brand new. I even pulled the “Lolo Extreme” card and told them that they could look at pictures of it on our website.

Viewpoint approaching Smith RockViewpoint approaching Smith RockNot only did they give us a site, but they booked us one in the Platinum section of the resort—wow! a campground with social classes. When we checked in and were being told about the many fine amenities in the resort, the girl behind the desk explained that complementary coffee and newspapers were provided each morning in the guest lounge. However, when she realized that we were “Platinum” guests, she quickly corrected herself and informed us that our newspaper would be delivered right to our door. Now, that’s camping!

The Resort was one of the nicest kept campgrounds (excuse me, “resorts”) we have ever stayed in, rivaled only by Tiger Run in Breckenridge, Colorado. This was not your typical campground, but more of an RV land for the rich and famous, with million dollar RVs parked on pads constructed of decorative, paver bricks, professionally landscaped patios, a guest lounge, a spa and fitness center, a tennis court, and more. It was worth every penny of the $84 a night we had to pay.

Tom leading up the five pitch "Wherever I May Roam"Tom leading up the five pitch "Wherever I May Roam"That evening we drove the Subaru into town and had dinner at the Deschutes Brewery Pub, described in the guide books as a brewery that had very good food. We were fortunate to get a table on their upstairs outdoor patio, looking out over the action on Bond Street. They were right. The food was great and the beers were terrific. As always I had Tommy, my personal beer consultant, make the selection for me. The Fresh Squeezed IPA he ordered for me was unbelievable, very hoppy with a nice citrus touch. I have come to be very discriminating in my beers as of late.

After dinner, we strolled around town for a bit through Drakes Park along the Deschutes riverfront. It is a very lovely town and I can understand why it is the fastest growing city in Oregon.

The next morning we arose early to get ready for our trip to Smith Rock State Park, a world class rock climbing destination, just about ½ hour north of Bend. Each of us was busily working away at our assigned tasks. Tommy was laying out his climbing gear on the fancy, brick pavers to make sure he had everything. I think I can safely say that we were the only ones in the resort doing this. I was making sandwiches and packing the cooler, and poor Herb was ferociously jabbing at a clogged toilet with a coat hanger. I can probably also safely say that he was the only one in this resort doing that as well. Even I was beginning to wonder if we really were “Platinum” material after all.

Gratuitous Heel Hook by HerbGratuitous Heel Hook by HerbGear sorted, cooler packed, and toilet unclogged, we headed out in the Subaru to Smith Rock. Smith Rock was the reason that Tommy had driven all the way down from Seattle to meet up with us. Herb has been an avid rock climber since he was in his 20s, and in recent years the boys had developed a love, or more correctly obsession, for it as well. It’s nice when they get a chance to do some father-son bonding on the rock.

While Herb had always done traditional (or “trad”) climbing at the Gunks in NY State, Tommy prefers to do “sport” climbing. What that means is that rather than the traditional way of putting protection pieces in the rock as you climb to prevent you from falling, the bolts and protection are already permanently fixed to the rock. It’s a bit safer and quicker to set up a climb, which is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Tommy had known for awhile that Smith Rock, was a sport climber’s mecca, with over 1,000 bolted climbing routes.

Tom at Summit of "Wherever I May Roam"Tom at Summit of "Wherever I May Roam"Although I have done a bit of rock climbing in the past, I never really got that comfortable with the heights, so I usually choose to hike or run when Herb is climbing. Fortunately, this park had beautiful scenery and plenty of miles of trails to entertain me.

The rock formations in the park are spectacular – multi-colored, jagged ridges of basalt, formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago, when lava flows entered this canyon and cooled. Winding between these basalt peaks is the lovely Crooked River, which twists and turns its way for miles through the park.

After parking the car, we took the trail down to the river, crossed a bridge, and then followed the River Trail along the banks of the Crooked River. Rivers have a tendency to not take the quickest route from Point A to Point B, so Herb and Tommy abandoned me when we got to Asterisk Pass, a rather steep rock scramble over one of the ridges to get to their desired climb.

Tom "On Rappel"Tom "On Rappel"I actually started up Asterisk Pass with them, but turned back when I got scared. That was fine. I wanted to hike anyway. It was only about an extra mile and a half or so to follow the river around the ridges to the base of where they would be climbing. As I got closer to where I thought they would be, I kept calling out their names and scanning the rock cliffs to see if I could see them. Finally, they answered me, but I saw no good way to get up from the River Trail to the base of the cliffs. Not able to find a real trail up, I scrambled up the rocky slope, grabbing at vegetation to keep from sliding back down – probably not the recommended way up. I later learned that if I had only gone a little further, there was a better trail up to the base of the cliff.

The climb up “Wherever I May Roam” (the name of the climb) took a good part of the day, but I was perfectly content reading my book below and gazing out at the scenery. Herb and Tommy absolutely loved the climb and eventually rappelled back down, exhilarated and happy.

Before going back to the campground, we searched for a place in Bend to swim in the Deschutes River. It took us awhile, but we eventually found a small swimming beach in McKay Park, across the river from the Old Mill District, and a short distance downstream from a small waterfall on the river. Tommy and I went for a quick dip, which was fun, especially when we went out a short distance and floated downstream in the strong current from the nearby waterfall. However, the real way to experience the Deschutes through Bend is to float it in a tube, but since we didn’t have any, we had to watch in envy as people entered below the waterfall and happily floated by. Next time—and there definitely will be a next time in Bend--I will have tubes.

Herb and Lolo Hiking at Smith Rock - TJGHerb and Lolo Hiking at Smith Rock - TJGAfter drying off, we cross the bridge over the waterfall and walked around the Old Mill District. This is a really nice part of Bend with lots of shops, galleries, and restaurants, but we were a bit too wet still from our river dip to take advantage of these. Instead we strolled along a lovely river walk and also spent some time admiring a very unique 18-hole, golf-style fly fishing course, where anglers can practice their casting skills.

It had been a really great day, but I was a bit sad because we would be parting ways with Tommy tomorrow morning, and I was unsure when we would see him again. However, his move to Seattle would provide us with lots of excuses to come back to enjoy the many wonderful places of the Pacific Northwest.


Herb viewing "Monkey Face"Herb viewing "Monkey Face"Bend is the largest city in Oregon east of the Cascades. It is located in the high desert, along the banks of the Deschutes River on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range. A major reason for Bend’s popularity, both as a place to live and as a tourist destination, is its sunny skies. With an annual average of 158 clear days, 105 mostly sunny, and the remaining still with some sunshine, it is the sunniest city in the state.

Bend is also an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca and there is so much to do in all four seasons: skiing the powdered slopes of Mt. Bachelor, kayaking or rafting the mighty Deschutes River, hiking the Three Sisters, golfing at one of its many fine courses, fly fishing the lakes and streams, mountain biking the miles of backcountry trails, and on and on.

For the less active, or for those after an exhausting day of outdoor activity, there is the lively downtown area with its many fine restaurants and shops.

About 25 miles north of Bend is Smith Rock State Park, whose jagged peaks of basalt attract rock climbers from around the world. Considered to be the birthplace of American sport climbing, it has over 1,000 bolted climbing routes. Its stunning location in the Crooked River Gorge also makes it an ideal place for hiking or mountain biking along its many miles of trails

Bend location map in "high definition"

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