Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Starting in October, lots of roads and mountain passes around Bend are closed due to snow. I've already been seeing Halloween stuff in stores, so we know it's creeping up on us fast! Every free moment we have, we're out roaming around. This week, we went to Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake, which is in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Paulina Peak is the tallest point in the park, at almost 8,000 ft elevation. You can see California's Mt. Shasta from the top, on a clear day.

So I have to admit that we cheated on the Paulina Peak part. Although you can hike to the top if you want, you can also drive there. Which makes the hiking part feel unnecessarily difficult, you know? Why do things the hard way?

the view from the top of the easily accessible Paulina Peak.

Paulina Lake, seen from the top of Paulina Peak.

The peak was freezing! We were wearing our winter puffy coats and it was still awful. And I learned - when you're supremely cold and hungry, it's really hard to be nice and understanding with each other. I'll admit, there was some yelling. So, we headed back down to a more reasonable elevation and temperature to walk around Paulina Lake (and eat a snack). To make up for our laziness earlier, we walked 2.5 miles to the campground at the other side of the lake, and then back again. We're slowly working our way up in mileage.

Mike adjusting his backpack at the edge of the lake.

Paulina Lake was formed when the top of the volcano caved in, leaving a crater. The crater filled with water, but then the volcano kept erupting. It ended up splitting the lake into two. Below, you can see Paulina Lake on the left, and East Lake on the right, with a giant obsidian flow/blob in the middle.

Photo by Tyson Gillard.

Mike scouting for mushrooms...

The walk around the lake was beautiful, and I really wish I could bottle the smells and transmit them through the computer screen to you. It was so fresh out there - pine, wood, clean, clear water - and just a bit crisp. 

The day's poisonous bounty.
And what would a walk in the woods be, without a little mushroom foraging? My favorite is the little "fairy house" mushroom at the top there, with the purple "window." How cute is it?!

We found a lot of different varieties than what we found around Todd Lake - most likely due to the variation in elevation. 

But when we brought them all home, they all came out with suspect poisonous attributes. We basically learned that we know nothing about mushrooms, other than how to find them.

When I got home, I signed Mike and I up for a mushroom and truffle foray in the woods in October. Hopefully we'll learn something and be enjoying a yummy foraged meal in the near future!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mushroom Hunting at Todd Lake

In Bend, summer will be ending soon, and although we're still having 80+ degree days, we're also having 40 degree nights. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway closes with their first heavy snowfall, which at those elevations, happens in September/October. Keeping that in mind, we figured we'd better do as much as we can - while we can!  

Our destination this time was Todd Lake. Todd Lake, like Crane Prairie Reservoir, is one of the many lakes off of the Byway. It's only about 30 minutes from our house. 

It's a short 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to this view of the lake:

Todd Lake is nestled in an ancient volcano, at 6,150 ft elevation. When the glaciers melted, they left behind this lake, which is up to 60 feet deep in some places. It's pretty shallow around the edges, though, and good for wading.

Mike on a fallen log that stretched out into Todd Lake.
tons of tadpoles - the Western Toad and Cascades Frog both live here
and are protected due to their threatened status.

Mike admitted to me that when I suggested a hike today, he was busy thinking of excuses, because he wanted to just sit around the house and work on our business websites. But once we were there, he got super psyched about mushroom hunting!

walking along the trail that runs around the lake.

There were mushrooms everywhere. It's been randomly raining, on and off, for the last couple weeks, so it's optimal mushroom weather.

We are still learning about how to identify them, so we gathered them all up on a handy bark plate to bring home and research.

We ended up walking about 3.5 miles around the lake, but if you aren't running around looking for mushrooms, it's probably only 2 miles or so. It's a perfect little spot to just relax or sun yourself. In the spring, there's wildflowers everywhere, and they have wildflower guides at the trailhead that you can borrow. 

gorgeous wide open fields, surrounded by pine forest.

Mt. Bachelor in the background.

The view of the lake from the trail, as we finished our loop.

Mike's excited about his mushrooms!

All in all, another beautiful day in Bend. Hard to believe that in just 6 weeks or so, this lake will be covered in snow!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gettin' Our Hike On at Tumalo Falls

Since we're in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, we thought we'd plan a big backpacking trip, and tackle part of the Pacific Crest Trail here in Oregon. We haven't done a multi-day trip in awhile, and they are a pretty amazing experience.

But you can't just go traipsing off into the wilderness, willy-nilly. Just like anything in life, it's a much more pleasant experience if you train a bit, to get mentally and physically prepared. I, personally, absolutely need to get mentally prepared, because I can defeat myself within the first few miles with my Jedi mind tricks.  

Tumalo Falls promised a waterfall or two, with options to hike more or less, so that seemed like a perfect start. It was only about 20 minutes from home, and this is what we saw as we approached:

gorgeous views, and we didn't even have to work for it!

This is a great sightseeing hike for anyone coming to visit Bend, and coincidentally, we had Mike's cousin and her husband visiting us - giving us the perfect reason to check out local spots. You can walk just a 1/4 mile uphill to a viewing platform and get a pic that looks like this:

Short walk, big reward.
Mike and his favorite t-shirt, the kitty shark.

I mean, seriously. It's like out of a movie or something. There's a trail that runs through the woods, along the stream, and overlooks the very top of the waterfall. When you have beautiful scenery, hiking is easy.

from the very top, looking down 97 feet. gave me butterflies!

There was this tall, dead tree right next to the waterfall, that was home to a bunch of squirrels! See that tiny little hole to the left of that crack? Here's the zoomed in version:

a little squirrel, poking his head out! he lives like 9 stories up in the penthouse.

We hiked another mile and a half back to Middle Tumalo Falls, along a nice shady trail. It was pretty much perfect - no mosquitoes and lots of mushrooms for Mike to hunt out.

the river that feeds Tumalo Falls.

Middle Tumalo Falls is two-tiered and falls 65 feet.

It was short, as far as hikes go, but totally worth it for the scenery. It reminded us how much we love being outside and how much there is to see. Sometimes it's hard to motivate and get out there (which is why guests are a total blessing), but once you're there, it's amazing. So make some plans and get out there, you'll be so glad you did!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oregon Life

Mike and I finally had a nice long stretch of time here in Bend (2 weeks and counting!). As much as we love to travel and adventure, we also love hanging out at home, and exploring our new little town. One sure way to do this is to have out-of-town guests - then you get to play tourist in your own town, which is really fun. In fact, in Los Angeles, that was the only time I ever went to go see the Hollywood sign.

Here in Bend, the main attraction is the scenery. Mike's parents came to visit for a weekend, and we finally made it up to Bend's version of the Hollywood sign - Pilot Butte. That's pronounced with a long "U" sound, in case you were wondering.

Sunset view from Pilot Butte. We live down there in those twinkling lights!

The view from the top is spectacular. You can see almost all of Bend in one shot, with the mountain range in the background. Since there's been so many wildfires lately, the sky is super dusty and you get some nice reds and pinks in the sunset.

We also took them to the Saturday farmer's market, which was very fun and great for gifts. I even crossed one person's Christmas present off my list!

One of Bend's more popular veggie farms, which also does a CSA.

Mike with the gorgeous flowers Michelle bought for us!

Spending time in town has really paid off. We found the best donut store, the best taco truck, and the best Mexican restaurant (we have been missing Mexican food something CRAZY!).

Street tacos and tortas just like we're used to. Just hope they're open in the winter!

This Mexican joint uses local pasture raised beef, and makes their own horchata. Love it!

The local favorite - blueberry fritters. These are DELICIOUS.

Have you ever had a fritter? They're basically chopped up little chunks of donut dough, mixed with whatever flavor (in this case, local blueberry preserves), made into patties, and fried. I don't even really like donuts, but these are SO GOOD! Made fresh every morning, and they sell out by 10am. 

Other fun local things we've noticed:

You are allowed to park any which way on the street you want.

No one in Bend locks their bike. Even the expensive, mountain bike ones.

Everyone has a "Bend Love," Oregon heart, or "Be Nice, You're In Oregon" sticker on their car.
And a roof rack, usually with bikes or kayaks strapped to it.

A deer on the street where the new SubieTech HQ is located! Lots of deer, everywhere.

We're still suffering a little bit of culture shock - I mean, a tamale plate is $9.00 (WTF), and we really must buy an umbrella one of these days - but we're adjusting, and enjoying the change in scenery. We're in for the long haul. This is as good a time as any to announce that we've officially opened up SubieTech Headquarters in Bend, Oregon! Wish us luck!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Practicing For Our Moon Landing

The final stop on our road trip was Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It's a 618 square mile lava field on the Great Rift, which is where two plates are pulling apart. It erupts about every 2,000 years, and guess what? It's been about 2,000 years since the last eruption. I always joke about apocalypses but it's only funny until something actually happens!

some dumbass in the early 1900s brought his dog for a hike here, and the
poor doggy got his feet all cut up, and had to be carried.

looks sort of like wood, huh?

In 1969, astronauts actually trained in this lava field, to prepare for a trip to the moon. So if you're interested in being the best moon walker when we all finally get to go, better take a trip to Craters of the Moon.

a giant mound of lava sand. those are people in the middle of picture!
we skipped this hike because we didn't bring sunscreen and it looked brutal.

We climbed a couple of spatter cones, which are basically mini-volcanoes, formed by the lava exploding out of the ground and spitting up all over itself. It builds and builds on top of the previous explosions until it makes a little mountain (with a big hole in the middle).

they paved the route up to the top of the spatter cone, so it's pretty easily accessible.

it was SO windy that I could hardly walk!

looking down into the spatter cone. I can see China!

Aside from cool volcano mountains to climb, there are also several caves to explore! Just like our previous lava tube experience, these are also caves formed by lava, and found when part of the roof collapsed in. New caves are being discovered all the time.

This first cave was called the Indian Tunnel and had a few "skylights" in it, thanks to the roof caving in. It was beautiful. It's been speculated that the Native Americans used the tunnel for ceremonial purposes, and it's easy to see why.

Imagine viewing the night sky through that hole!

The floor of the cave. Not for those with bad balance.

a close up of what the ceiling looks like (this piece fell down).

We checked out the Dew Drop cave next, and it was eerie and stinky, due to the condensation that forms inside (because it's so cold and underground). This cave was a lot darker and harder to climb through. The Native Americans would use this and other "wet" caves to collect water, so they could cross the lava field. I guess the water's drinkable, but I'm sure glad I didn't have to try it.

just be glad you're not smelling anything through the computer screen.

Stinky, wet cold air or baking in the lava field? It's a toss up.

After the stinky cave, we decided we'd had enough and hopped back into Big Willy to get home to our pets! All in all, it was a great roadtrip that we would totally do again, probably a little slower and with more time in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Maybe next time we can drag a few friends along for the ride and do a van caravan! Who's interested?

Van selfie!