Part III – Oregon Sampler

We have traded the rugged, beautiful coastline for rugged, beautiful snow-covered mountains.  And thanks to the splendid weather we have loved our stay, so far, here in Sisters, OR.

We left Newport on Monday and started eastward towards Sisters.  The drive was pretty amazing.  All I remember about the first part is seeing lots of blossom trees in full bloom, signifying spring is in full swing.  By the route on Google Maps we knew were were in for some interesting mountain driving as we passed over the Cascades, signified by the very wiggly and squiggly line on the map.  And the highway did not disappoint.  What a beautiful drive.  We got some great views, but what was most interesting was the ‘red snow’ everywhere.  Oregon uses volcanic pumice as winter traction, and with the amount of snow this year, there was tons of it on the shoulders and in some places far into the trees.  But it holds no salt so there is no harm to nature, except a few tons of rock!  

We also noticed as we got higher into the pass that there was significant fire damage on the trees, and a lot of dead trees, now bleached white.  We learned, from a roadside exhibit, that there was indeed a huge fire in 2003 (20 years ago), and so we were amazed at how much was still visible.    We maxed out elevation at about 4400’ I think, and since Sisters is at 3100’, we didn’t descend all the elevation we gained. 

Driving into Sisters, we felt that we were arriving on a western movie set.  Cute little stores of every type, housed in colourful wooden buildings made it entirely charming.   (These are not my pictures!)

Tuesday was our bike ride day with Matt and Jason. Given Jason’s injury, he unfortunately could not ride, but since it was a 1-way trip, we didn’t need to spot cars, since he was able to pick us up at the end.   The ride was so great.  The weather was perfect; sunny and cool (reached 22C by the end) and the scenery so varied and interesting.  We started from Sisters, and made our way through a bit of forest and then wound our way through very prosperous ranch lands. All the farms were incredibly well maintained, with large houses, and we got to say hello to horses, lambs, donkeys, cows, and alpacas.    From the high ranchlands, we made our way down towards the Deschute River, where the land changed to more sandstone with hoodoos and interesting rock formations.  Yes, I had another flat, but Bill fixed it.  (more on that later)  We continued o our 60km ride all the way to Smith Rock State Park, which was stunning; high cliffs of sandstone with the Crooked River running through the canyon.  If we had more energy we would have done some hiking but we called it a day!  We had a wonderful meal, all together on our last night.  Matt and Jason went home today. 

To see the full ride, and pictures, please see the video HERE.  You can see the varied landscapes and happy bikers!

Today we expected some rain and were going to chill in Bend (1/2 hour away), but the weather turned out to be warm and sunny, so we decided to do the ride we planned for tomorrow:  Ascend McKenzie Pass to 5200’.  It is cited as the most scenic bikeway in Oregon and with just 24 km and 700+m of elevation gain we figured we could go up, with as much battery assist as we wanted and then just coast all the way down!  Everything we read indicated that it would be spectacular -potentially large snowbanks along the road and spectacular views from the top.  These are the pictures, from a blog, that inspired us.  

But it was not to be.  It didn’t start well, I had ANOTHER flat about 2 km up the road, so a great little bike shop in town quickly replaced my tire and tube, and we started out again.  The amount of snow this year, however, means that the road to the top is not yet clear.  We made it a couple hundred meters past the snow gate, and we couldn’t really go any further.  Even though we didn’t get to the top, we had some great views and a nice ride among the trees in warm weather.  HERE is the video for that ride. 

Probably the best part of the day were the views of the 3 Sisters:  South, Middle and North Sister.  With the clear skies and tons of snows ,we stopped and appreciated the view both going and coming today.  Not too much of a stretch to figure out where the town’s name comes from!

Tomorrow we have another day here; we may go to explore Bend and its surroundings.  We shall see what tomorrow brings.

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