"I am a woman in process. I'm just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience,and learn from it.
Life is never dull." ~ Oprah

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Time flies when you're having Fun!

My second week in Oregon is already here and I'm getting sad about leaving.  I have enjoyed every moment that I've spent here so far, I just can't get enough!  All of the animals I've encountered, all of the trees, the mountains, the cool air, the beauty everywhere...

The last few days, I've been to the Newberry Volcanic Monument area (for me, this included Lava Land, Lava Butte, the Lava Cast Forest), Benham Falls, Diamond Lake, Crater Lake, the High Desert Museum, La Pine State Park...

Wanderlust Tours took 4 of us into Skeleton Cave.  Great guide!  He was kind and considerate...had some great stories, too ;)

It's so dry up here at this elevation that I ran out of lotion quick, so  I picked some up at Whole Foods. Wild Carrot Herbals is locally made, smelly-good stuff.  I love it so much, I might have to order some via the internet when I run out!

I arrived in Bend on Thursday afternoon.  It's a wonderful little town, full of life with Spring flowers!  I enjoy the fact that I can walk nearly anywhere I want to go.  And they have a fantastic Library, too.

Thursday evening after taking a walk around town, I stopped into McMenamins Old St. Francis School - I listened to Alice DiMicele's singer-songwriter deliver her earthy rhythmic grooves, then cruised down the hallway to watch "Your Highness" in the theatre.  There, they had couches to sit on and food/drink to order.  Cool place  :)  and good sweet potato fries!

On Friday night, Megan and I went to the Parrilla Grill to check out another local band called Dela Project.  They were a lot of fun!  These two guys played a number of different instruments, from the cello to saw.

I've been Couchsurfing with my new friend Megan in Bend, OR for the past two nights.  What a great way to learn a little about a new town and a new person!  My first host has been superb...I hope she hasn't spoiled me, but I'm happy if she has.  Love Her!

Well...I'm headed out to meet up with Sun Country Tours.  I'm going on "the McKenzie" today.  My first time on whitewater.  Yay!  I'll let you know how it goes...

I've got to wrap it up for now, but we'll talk again soon.  I'm headed into the woods for my final few days & will be out of wi-fi range (which I am happy about).  So we'll catch up when I make it home to Austin.

TTFN!  Lots of LOVE

Monday, May 23, 2011

This is The Life

I'm in Oregon.  Lovely, lovely Oregon.  With tall pine trees, a multitude of waterfalls, gorgeous snow-topped mountains, speed limits less than 60 mph, full-service gas stations (it's the law), and wildlife galore!  The weather has been fantastic - bright sunny days, high temps in the 50-60's, and just a few splashes of rain to keep things nice and green.
I arrived in Portland on Wednesday night about midnight, after flight delays, then picked up my rental car from Enterprise (2011 Sonata, after free double-upgrade), then headed to the  Northwest Portland Hostel for the night.  I slept very well in a room full of five other ladies, as I had the top bunk  :)  The hostel was awesome & I would totally stay there again for $21/night.
I was eager to get started on my adventure the next morning and hit the road about 08:30am.  I left Austin's sister-city of Portland on I-84 to drive along the Columbia River Gorge.  I planned on doing parts of the Infinity Loop on my way to Bend, OR.
canopy trees on Historic Route 30
Multnomah Falls
I decided to jump on the Historic Route 30.  The scenery in this area is stunning and I enjoyed every moment, stopping along the way to hike & see the waterfalls.  One of those was the beautiful Multnomah Falls where I hiked from another set of falls, then made it up the hill to the bridge where I let the spray nearly soak me and my clothes - it was divine!
The rest of my day included a stop at the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, breath-taking views of Mt. Hood, a jaunt through the High Desert, and a stop at Trader Joe's in Bend to stock up on a few days of food.
Mt Hood
my room at the condo (complete w jacuzzi tub)
About 5pm, I checked into my condo in Sunriver.  Many people ask me "how in the world are you able to stay in these nice places and travel so frequently?"  Well, the answer is this - I have a timeshare that I "inherited" from my divorce 5 years ago.  

Fact is, I kind of make payments for the majority of my vacation(s) all year long.  I suppose it works out pretty well for me b/c I always end up in great places!

I'm liking this place quite a bit.  It has a heated pool and hot tub, bicycles are included in my condo rental (along with everything house-related I might need), there are walking/biking paths throughout the entire community, a Nature Center and Observatory, access to the Deschutes River and several other natural amenities that I have yet to explore.

I've done so much and then nothing at all.  I feel quite balanced and am loving the fact that I'm not in the city.  Or working those 12-hour shifts...

DAY TWO:  I chilled out most of day starting with an extended 'morning routine' then I went for a 4-mile bike ride :) which included a visit to the Nature Center and walk on the Nature Trail.  I was pleased to know that they only cage animals while they are nursed back to health from injury or sickness. The raptors, like this handsome barn owl, are released once the caretakers are confident they are well  =)

having fun! 
DAY THREE:  I planned on venturing out on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.  I started this adventure in Bend, following the guidelines I found on MyScenicDrives.  Well...there happened to be a bike event that morning which created a number of detours, so I just kept asking the traffic attendants "can you please point me in the direction of the Cascade Lakes Highway?"  They were all very helpful and I eventually found my way.  First stop - the Overlook - what a view!  My day continued with visions of Mt Bachelor, hiking at Crane Prairie Reservoir, and a stop at icy Lake Paulina (which occupies a volcanic crater).  Many places on this particular journey were still covered with snow, but all the roads were clear and driving was quite enjoyable on the unfrequented scenic roads.  
Lake Paulina

My night concluded with a visit to the Sunriver Observatory for a star party.  I truly enjoy them every time I go to one, but seriously...can I find some warmer nights to attend them?!?  Whew!  It was cold (even the locals thought so).  It didn't help that I had the bright idea to WALK there and back, although I certainly enjoyed my interludes with quite a few sweet creatures :)  The most fantastic part of the evening was being able to see Saturn, clear as a picture in a science book.  Much like the one on the wikipedia page I've linked to here...check it out.  I saw the planet through three different scopes...simply amazing!  Last time I was at a star party in Texas I got to see Jupiter and four of her moons - very cool indeed.  Last night, I also got to see Messier 13, or "M-13," and honestly, I didn't know what I was really seeing at the time, it just knew it was incredible.  I got to hold a few different meteorites, and see some other star clusters that shone brilliantly like diamonds.  

DAY FOUR: today I met with some wonderful friends for coffee & conversation in Bend at Backporch Coffee; stopped by Whole Foods to pick up Matcha and food for the rest of my week; enjoyed an evening bike ride to the Deschutes River; then finalized my night with a relaxing ZUM salt bath in the jacuzzi tub.  Ummmm - heaven!!!

Tomorrow is another day and LIFE IS GOOD.  
May you enjoy yours  :o)