Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bend - Day 9 - Ridge Lake to Home

We chose one more small hike to do early in the morning before the long drive home. We couldn't have picked a more amazing place to go, Ridge Lake, right above the Sulphur Works.

We both agreed the lake didn't have nearly a good enough name. It should've been called Diamond, Emerald, or Exquisite Lake because it was.

Where's Marisa?

Walking back down the path to the car, I was bluesy but satisfied. This road trip had taken us to places I never dreamed we'd be when we left LA 9 days ago. We swam in lakes, rafted on a river, hiked amongst giant trees, hotspringed on sacred Indian Grounds, dined on delicious food, galavanted in Portland, ran a race in Bend, and laughed a lot along the way.

Spontaneous traveling is really my style but rarely does it end up being as seamless and smooth as this trip was. Marisa was the perfect partner in this journey, she has a calmness and confidence about her that I really admire. We are both spontaneous, adventurous and easy going so we got along great. With the assistance of Stella, her iphone, we were able to navigate and find whatever we needed. Gotta love the iphone!

Well, my restlessness from being in the city too long has been quelled. For now at least. More LOLA adventures to come!!

Bend - Day 8 - Lassen National Park

We all woke up cozy on the beach by the river. Marisa had stayed up almost all night watching the meteor shower. Dean had to get back to the OC that night so he left around 9am for the long drive home. Marisa and I packed up, had some coffee and cereal and headed down the 5 for Lassen Volcanic National Park. We stopped on the way for lunch at this glorious spot in front of Mt. Shasta.

We arrived at Lassen around 4pm and were lucky enough to find one of the last open campsites at Summit Lake North Campground. We rolled up, got our thermarests out, and took a nappy nap by the lake. It was absolutely serene.

I wanted to squeeze a short hike in before dark so we decided on the 3 mile jaunt up to Echo Lake. I had no idea how beautiful it would be.

We came pretty close to the lightning fires that were happening nearby.

Echo lake was peaceful and gorgeous. We played around on a log that had fallen in the water for a bit, soaked our feet in the crystal clear water...

and headed back to camp to make my favorite camping dish, The Cococnut Curry Concoction.

It was a fabulous meal to to eat on our last night of bliss.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bend - Day 7 - Rafting the Rogue

This was the best day ever and it happened Marisa's Birthday. After having a peaceful morning drinking coffee and watching the sunrise on Diamond Lake, we followed Dean to a town called Merlin which was off the 5. We stopped at the Rogue Rafting Center, where he arranged for someone to drop off our car at the take out point. I left my car there and we all got into Dean's car to drive to the put in at Hogs Creek. We pumped up the raft and took off for a 6 hour river tour.

This is Dean our sexy and fearless guide. He definitely knew what he was doing so we felt very safe.

We stopped at a rope swing.

That's me diving head first.

This is where we stopped for lunch.

Marisa paddles.

Trista relaxes.

We planned on taking out at Grave's Creek, which was a 10 mile stretch of the river from where we put in. However, what we didn't know was that there would be stretches of the river that weren't moving. To make things more difficult the wind was blowing up river so if we didn't paddle, we'd actually get pushed back up river. So there were a few really difficult times where we had to paddle our hearts out to get to the current. It was already getting dark and Dean kept asking people on the river how far Grave's was. Everyone said it was a good distance longer. We decided to get out at an earlier spot and hitchhike to get Dean's car at Grave's Creek.

We didn't have a campground yet and our goal was to find something that was out in the open so we could sleep under the starts and see the meteor shower. We had met some nice locals on the river who were camping at Alameda and they said it was a good spot for that. So it was actually pretty convenient that we got off the river at the campsite. Marisa and I checked out the open sites, there were plenty, and found a perfect end site with no trees and a view of the river.

We cooked Marisa's Birthday dinner. It was veggie stir fry with brown rice and whole grain bread.

We slept out on the beach under the stars and watched the shower. It wasn't as intense as I've seen before, but we did do a lot of oooing and awing.

Here's me in the morning after a late night of meteor shower viewing. We slept on a patch of beach. I took an early morning skinny dip in the river behind me to freshen up for out next destination, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Bend - Day 6 - Portland to Crater Lake

After dropping Kerry and Jill off at a godawful hour in the morning, 6am, Marisa and I slept in, repacked the cooler and finally got on the road to Crater Lake around 11. We met my new friend Dean (who I met at an online dating site) at the visitor's center, he was coming back from Montana and met up with us to take us rafting. It was almost too good to be true. I love rafting!

All of the campsites at Crater Lake were full so we drove out of the park and down the mountain to Diamond Lake. This campground was really awesome! Because we didn't have reservations we had to stay in the sites farther away from the lake but we still had a view of it. Because it was mid week, we had our pick of Loop H. The sites on the lake were out of control, they were literally right on the lake shore with a view of Diamond Peak and the surrounding mountains. We got there just as the sun was going down, had a yummy stir fry dinner and a great fire show that Dean put on from all the fallen dried up trees around us. The next morning it was off to find a place to raft. We knew we wanted to raft the rogue, but we hadn't figured out where to go yet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bend - Day 5 - The Race

I didn't get to register for the race because they were sold out so I dropped the girls off at Shevlin Park at 7:30am, went and had breakfast, then drove back to the park and found a place to park and meet them at the finish line. I ended up running my own trail through the park and it was awesome. The park is a small but long valley, with giant pine trees lining a creek that runs through it. The girls finished around 10am and I got there just in time for a photo op.

Everyone was sore, tired and hungry. We stopped at a health food store for some picnicy food and headed back to the river to soak our feet and freshen up. This spot on the river was soooo LOLA!

We got stuck in traffic on the way back to Portland. It wasn't exactly torture with this view.

The car was overloaded with all our stuff. Kerry and Jill were squished in the back. They needed to stretch.

Our dinner at Slow Bar in Portland was fabulous. It was a warm night and the beers were just right.

Bend - Day 4 - Heading to Bend

Marisa wanted to take us to a great breakfast place in downtown Portland called Mothers, but unfortunately when we got there, it was a 30min wait so we walked down the street to Morning Star Cafe. We loved our food and the prices were right but we had to wait almost and hour for the food because the head chef had walked out that morning. We could of just gone to Mothers. Oh well.

The 3 hour drive to Bend was gorgeous, we stopped along the way to pee and enjoy the trees and bridges.

There was a cool bridge we stopped at. I'm not sure what the girls are doing with their arms but it's cute.

We registered for the race at the Foot Zone in Bend and had a bite to eat at The Tavern. The chicken sandwiches were amazing.

Our campsite at Tumalo just outside of Bend was a sweet little family campground. Our site ended up being right next to the playground, so it wasn't exactly private but we were only there for one night. After setting up our tents, we took a short jaunt to see the lovely Deschutes and went to bed early for the big race the next day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bend - Day 3 - Portland Bound

In the morning after breakfast, we played with our pet deer and chipmunk. Actually those little chipmunk buggers were quite invasive and tame. They were trying to eat with us for every meal and one even tried to jump in my car where the food stash was.

We headed to Portland to pick up Jill and Kerry. Their flight was scheduled to arrive around 7:30pm. We rolled into town around 4:30 with some time to kill. Then we found out we had even more time to kill because their flight was delayed due to weather until 10:30pm. Apparently they had met a guy in the airport bar and were having a great time with him. He asked them to join him and some friends at a bar called McFadden's in downtown Portland. They said they'd take a cab with him from the airport and we should just meet them there. Marisa and I checked into our hotel in Vancouver, Washington just across the bridge. Marisa got a great deal on a room at the Marriott because her friend works for them. We showered and gussied up to go out and eat downtown. Kerry had done research all day on healthy hip places to eat and had scoped out a place called The Observatory in SE Portland.

The Observatory was delicious and had a great vibe. The Quinoa-Mushroom Veggie Burger left me salivating for more and Marisa loved her Shrimp Curry Rice plate. Prices were very reasonable considering the ambiance and health factor - $8 for the burger and $10 for the shrimp. (According to Kerry, they've got great cocktails too.)

It was only 9pm by the time we were done. We went downtown and parked near the river front. McFadden's was not exactly what we were in the mood for. It was actually a dance club that hadn't gotten going yet. We walked in to a nearly empty club with TV's hanging everywhere playing 80's MTV videos, the one currently playing was "I Wanna Sex You Up" and the Color Me Bad boys were dancing and singing it up oh so awkwardly. (I think JT and Andy Samberg were inspired by these guys when they wrote Dick in the Box.) I was riveted by the videos but Marisa gave me the ole let's go sign and we set out on our tour of downtown Portland at night.

After an hour of walking, we found the perfect little corner loungey bar with a 20's jazz trio playing and a cute couple dancing. It was the Living Room Theater and was attached to a real theater playing independent films. We sat down at the bar, ordered some drinks and awaited the girls arrival. They showed up around 11 without the guy from the airport. We sat at a table, caught up and had some drinks and tapas while watching the couples dance. Loved that place. It was so LOLA. For some reason, we weren't taking pictures as much that day. Wish I would've captured more of Portland.

Bend - Day 2 - Oh Stewart

Thunderstorms were headed our way as we ate breakfast in camp. Marisa's iphone (Stella) confirmed it so we decided to go explore in Gwen and see what we could find. It was chilly, rainy and we were in a volcanic area, what is there to do? Oh yeah, lets go find some hot springs. We consulted Stella who told us about a place called Stewart Mineral Hot Springs just past Weed, CA. It was actually our only nearby choice so we gave it a shot.

Turned out to be locals day so we got half price ($12) but had to wait an hour and a half for our tubs. The time was spent in the cozy waiting room reading books, chatting with a cute couple that just got back from spending a month with Sai Baba in India, and trying to understand a girl who was on mushrooms and would start to say something then take 5 minutes to finish her sentence. We were finally called by the hostess who explained the system to us.

First we got our own room with a bathtub that we'd fill with the mineral water. It has silica in it, a natural detoxifying mineral, and you're not supposed to rub your skin while you're in the tub. The silica is like little glass shards that could rub your skin off. After about 10 minutes of soaking, you get up and go into the co-ed wood burning stove sauna where nakedness abounds. It was a little difficult to relax with so many people in there, all staring at each other like monkeys. The lighting was a little bright for my taste. At one point a guy randomly said to the room "Hey guys, I'm having a great experience." That was hilarious.

After about 10 minutes in the sauna, you walk out in your sheet through the cozy waiting room, onto the deck, down the stairs and throw yourself into the very chilly river. I loved this part and had no qualms about being naked here for some reason. I sprawled out on a rock to cool off, let the rain drops drip on my face, and soaked up the healing energy of the sacred grounds. We did this 3 times which took about an hour and a half and it was absolute decadence.

After the soak it had stopped raining and this was our view of Shasta as we drove back to McLoud.

We hiked around the McLoud area again, made some dinner and had some fun taking pics by the campfire. Fowler was great cause there was free firewood and kindling everywhere around our campsite. I'm used to having to buy it in bundles.

This potentially bluesy day turned out to be one of my favorites.