Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Things To Do In or Around Bend

After chaperoning on a recent orchestra trip to Bend, Oregon, I can't wait to go back up and over the mountains to see more. Granted, I only saw a little bit of town and a lot of one of their high schools, but the scenery going over the moutains and the amazing, jaw-dropping view to the southwest has me practically drooling for more.

Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Highway Department.

I'll share my photos and more details of our orchestra trip soon, but meanwhile, my friend Todd, who used to live over there, emailed me this list of places to visit on our next trip over the mountains. Some places I'd heard of, others were new to me. All of these include his own comments, except for the info about rock collecting, which may have come from some unknown website.

Here are Todd's suggestions for our next trip to Central Oregon:

Petersen’s Rock gardens
This is a quirky strange rockery that celebrates America and various landmarks. It was mostly built during the 30’s -50’s

Smith Rock State Park
This is very beautiful to look at and hike around. It is also a rock climbing Mecca so if you do any climbing you will love it. http://www.oregonstateparks.org/images/pdf/smith_full.pdf

Lava Tubes & Ice Caves
Lava river caves
They actually only let you in one of the caves due to collapses in the past but I have sneaked into the blocked off cave once in the middle of the winter. It is fun but there are not any stalactites or stalagmites it is far too recent geologically speaking for that to have occurred yet. There is a day use fee… http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/newberrynvm/interest-lavariver.shtml

There are about 12 various lava tubes and ice caves out China Hat Rd. I have been to most of them; however they may not be labeled from the road anymore due to vandalism. If you stop at a ranger station in the bend area they should be able tell you how to get there. But you will need your own ropes and lanterns. http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2008/01/lava_caves_show_off_bends_dark.html

Lava Lands Visitor Center
It is being redone so I’m not sure how it will be when it opens again, but before it hasd very cool dioramas with rumbling floors and interesting lighting and sound EFX.

The High Desert Museum

This is a kind of a hybrid Zoo/Living History museum it is very worthwhile and fun. Probably one of the best museum’s in the state. http://www.highdesertmuseum.org/

Pine Mountain Observatory
This is cool I believe one of the largest collection of large telescopes in Oregon. I’ve been here several times it’s only open in the summer because the roads become inaccessible during the winter. http://pmo-sun.uoregon.edu/

Shaniko Ghost Town
Never been here but I found it looks strange and interesting.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Part of the national parks system this fossils bed allows you to keep small fossils but not anything large. I have personally found fossilized shellfish here. http://www.nps.gov/joda/

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
A collection of 20 or so alpine lakes along about a 50 mile road very picturesque very pretty and very crowed on the weekends this is probably a much better byway than the one over by Sisters. Scenic America named it one of the nation's 10 most important byways. http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2144/

This is a resort with golfing fishing boating shopping and more it is a very nice place to get a vacation home rental for a week. There are bike paths everywhere so you don’t need to use your car once inside. http://www.sunriver-resort.com/

Rock Collecting
There are several sites in and around bend for rock hounding. It is a fun hobby but the sites are too numerous to mention here if you are interested there are guides at the library.

Thundereggs -
Oregon’s state rockUnimpressive on the outside, these spherical rocks contain colorful silicic material and when sliced and polished, make beautiful collector’s items. Oregon’s state rock can be collected at fee and free sites in central and southeastern Oregon.

Agates and Jasper -
These semiprecious gemstones can be collected at many sites along the Oregon coast, including Agate Beach at Newport, in some of the streams draining the Western Cascade, near the town of Antelope and around Prineville in central Oregon, near Hart Mountain and Lakeview in south-central Oregon, and at Succor Creek in southeastern Oregon.

Obsidian -
This volcanic glass can be collected in central Oregon at Glass Buttes on Highway 20 between Bend and Burns. An enormous flow of obsidian can also be seen at Newberry Crater, south and east of Bend, but no collecting is permitted in this national monument.

Gold -
Gold has been mined for many years in the Blue Mountains, the Western Cascades, and the Klamath Mountains. Oregon has set aside fee and free sites for recreational gold panning. Gold panning is also usually permitted on nearly all banks of stream and rivers running through state land and through BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) campgrounds in Oregon.

Oregon Sunstone -
Oregon’s state gemstone.In color, the gems range from water clear to pale yellow, soft pink, and blood red to deep blue and green. Oregon sunstones are a rare type of feldspar crystal that is of gem grade and large enough to cut stones for jewelry. Found in Lake and Harney Counties, where they are dug from the soil and the underlying lava flows. It may be collected on Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) land and fee sites near Lakeview, but collecting on mining claims is prohibited.
- Pam's note: I have seen earrings made out of sunstone and they remind me of tourmaline. The sunstone used in the earrings is a cloudy tomato red at one end and flecked deep amber gold at the other end. As the color changes from red to amber, the cloudiness changes to crystaline and all the copper colored flecks sparkle within. They're very striking.

Beads courtesy of Mcfarland Designs

Earrings courtesy of Rogue Gems

See? And you thought Oregon was all moss and rain...

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