Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More pictures from spectacular Central Oregon

We have had some adventures from the High Desert to the Rivers, Forest, and Mountains of Central Oregon. Here are some pictures to share :)

I hope you enjoy the pics!! We are living our perfect adventure and love sharing moments and pictures with you. The pictures are beautiful, but being able to see this for real is even better :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Awesome is not even the word for Central Oregon:It's even cooler than awesome!!

So, we've now been in Bend, Oregon for almost a month. I have a hard time coming up with words to call this place. It is by far the coolest place that I've ever decided to call home. So maybe we'll call it Spectacular!! It is quite interesting to be in the Cascade Mountains, which on the west side are a rainforest just like Brevard, NC, and then be in the sandy desert all in the same day. And both only a short drive from your house!! The mountains and the desert are so different geographically, but yet share a very similar volcanic history. The entire region of Central and even eastern Oregon have a long volcanic history. Which makes for a beautiful place to live that has a wide variety of geography!!!

What do most people think of when Oregon is mentioned in conversation? Most people think of rain, fog and cool weather. Well, Bend sits on the eastern side of the Cascades which is also the dry side. This area becomes High Desert and is also known as the Cool or Cold Desert, as snow does fall here.  The sun shines for 300+ days a year even on the cold days of winter and it is dry. Being dry is a good thing for those that dislike rain and those that love to play in powdery snow in the winter :). The downside is that in the warmer months it is prime time for forest fires and they do have them. However, when most people think of Oregon they don't picture this part of Oregon. Central Oregon has old volcanoes(and some remain active), old lava fields, lava tubes that you can hike through, canyons and cool rock formations, the sand, ash and rock of the desert. And lots of different looking mountains. The mountains of the Cascades are green and fluffy looking. The mountains of the desert are giant and yellow/brown with occasional trees on them. We have flat plains and flat pine forests all in the mix also. And of course there are the rivers and creeks that flow from the Cascades and yes there are beautiful waterfalls. Now do you get the picture? This area is like taking a rainforest and a desert and placing them right next to each other. It creates an outdoor adventurers paradise!!!!

So, Sunday we did an 11 mile run in the High Desert or the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. This is east of Bend and heading away from the Cascades. We started the trail run on a trail named the "Ancient Juniper Trail". We ran through wet sand and over the occasional volcanic rocks. The most amazing part of this trail was the 1000yr old Juniper Trees. These trees appear as if someone has come and twisted there bark around the tree and left them that way. They are quite fascinating to look at and photograph :). In the mix of Juniper Trees is tons and tons of Sagebrush and of course sand. And I pictured cowboys riding off through the desert. Ha!! This is not what most people think of when they picture the desert. Most people picture sand, sand, and more sand. and of course hot!! After running for a few miles we came to a very large rock formation that was climbable. This one was called Flatiron Rock and we also came to Castle Rock and Badlands Rock on this run. All of these rock formations were created by volcanic "burps". We played around and explored each of these for quite awhile before continuing on to the final 6 miles of desert running on that chilly Sunday. I have lots of pictures to share but iphoto is being goofy and not letting me find my last imported pictures :-/.

2 days later we ran a 6 mile loop on the west side of towm. We started off by crossing a bridge over the Tumalo Creek and immediately taking switchbacks up toward a ridge that appeared to have had a fire sometime ago. Before we knew it we came into a forest of towering Ponderosa Trees and more of an Alpine like setting. The Aspen Trees still had bright yellow leaves on them :). The forest was littered with pine needles and the occasional roots and rocks. At one place there were huge boulders strewn along the side of the trail. It looked as though someone was angry and had thrown them there. Ha!! We soon crossed over Tumalo Creek again and passed other trails that would lead one all the way into the Cascade Mountains and further. We then crossed the Old Historic Shevlin Railroad Trail, which even had a few remaining railroad ties present. This old railroad turned into trail will take one 27 miles to Sisters, Oregon along an old logging railroad grade used back when Bend was a mill town. We soon came into a flat area that was loaded with Ponderosa Pines everywhere and full of beauty. Too soon we arrived back at the parking lot. Boo!!! This trail is brought to the public by Bend Parks and Recreation, which is pretty freaking awesome. The trail system butts up with national forest land and there are endless numbers of trails to run, hike, or bike!! We loved it!!!

So, there is an accurate description of the variety one can experience in Central Oregon. And we are just beginning. I think we could live here a year and not visit the same trail twice!!  So, I'm excited to continue to share our adventures here in the Wild West!! Hopefully I can get iPhoto working so I can share pictures :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just a few pics from a trail run along the Deschutes River Trail. This river is interesting since it flows south to north. Hmm...  The scenery along this trail is spectacular!! One moment you are running through canyons with beautiful rocks and the next you come to an open meadow and forget that the mountains are on the horizon. The fall colors of yellow, orange, and red were quite vibrant. Especially among the Aspens. Their light colored bark make the fall colors quite vibrant. The trail winds it's way through a forest of pine(mostly Ponderosa) and Aspen trees. Chipmunks seem to be in abundance pretty much everywhere!! And they are not tiny little chipmunks. Ha!!! The river changes from a slow and quiet flow of turquoise water to rapidly moving whitewater as you make your way up stream. On the other side of the river is a never ending island of lava thousands of years old. The lava island is quite fascinating to look at!! Huge piles of jagged black rock reach in all directions with the occasional tree growing. And you find yourself climbing ever closer to the mountains :-)

At the turnaround point of our run was Benham Falls which was quite beautiful. At this point you  realize that you have been running towards the mountains. This waterfall crashes down into a pool of turquoise water with rock walls on both sides. I wondered if anyone had ever attempted to paddle over this waterfall, Hmm... The way back provided a different view and perspective of the forest we had already passed through. Now we were running north and downstream. It was a very rainy afternoon, but we never noticed one bit on this adventure. It appeared that no one was stopped by rain as we passed others hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. That says a lot about this community here in Bend, Oregon. People get out and do what they love regardless of the weather!!!

Still loving this place!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Land of unique geography

Well, we have now been in Central Oregon for almost 2 weeks. What a cool place to be!!! I am very intrigued with the unique geography of the region. We have been on several trail runs since arriving and not one is similar or even close to looking the same. Having lived in 3 different areas of this beautiful country I have a great appreciation for the unique beauty here. So I will share with you all what it is like to step out the door in Central Oregon.

First of all Bend is at the start of the high desert. Walking out the door reminds me of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, only with huge beautiful orange barked Ponderosa Pine trees. Some of the trails in this area are sand covered and littered with pine needles and pine cones. Only the sand is a dark grey/black from volcanic activity many years ago. There are also fields of lava rock just out in the middle of the forest. You also come to large rocky areas like Eagle Rock near Sisters, Oregon. The trail winds around this rock until coming to the top. At the top there is a 360 degree view of all the mountains. And yes the mountains received snow and the view of the snow covered peaks is amazing. Yet when you run down the other side and return to the Pines you almost forget that you are surrounded by mountains as this landscape has a few rolling hills, but is otherwise flat and sandy. There are also hundreds of Chipmunks all over and the biggest one's I've ever seen!!This area is the beginning of the high desert. We will move on and discover other parts of the region.

The next region to explore is the Cascade Mountain Range. You can find yourself among snow covered peaks at 9,000+ft only a short drive from town. We ran up there last week and will most likely now have to wait until spring due to snow. It was an absolutely perfect day in town today. But, up in the mountains a winter wonderland was in the making!! You will find yourself in a more Alpine environment while up in the mountains. Full of snow covered peaks, glaciers, glacial ponds and dormant volcanoes. The trails become more dirt filled and rocky with the occasional root system to hold your attention when trail running. There are rivers, creeks, streams and of course waterfalls to be found. There are plenty of steep mountains to climb and views that make you feel as though you are on top of the world. When the snow falls this place becomes a winter wonderland with opportunities to cross country ski and snow shoe and for the very daring back country skiing and snowboarding down steep trails. There is so much to explore in the Cascades that I will be snowshoeing this winter and look forward to lots of exploring next spring/summer :-).

The last part of my recent exploration is the canyons!! Yes, there are canyons that make you think you are on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Most are along rushing rivers with large rocks throughout and  are turquoise in color. Running on these trails affords views of the rocky canyon walls that make a climber drool. Smith Rock State Park is a fine example of this. The park has a trail system that runs around and over the large rocky canyon that was created by a blown volcano long ago. The beautiful Crooked River runs at the bottom of the canyon. The canyon is huge towering above the plains below. Smith Rock is a paradise for climbers, trail runners, hikers and the everyday outdoor adventurer. The Deschutes River Canyon is another beautiful place to be. You can follow the trail from downtown along the river. Before you know it the canyon walls are reaching up next to you. At the same time you are running along a fast moving river flowing from high up in the mountains into the high desert. Quite a unique experience!!!

I'm sure I will have much more to share over the next few weeks, months, etc. Feel privileged to have grown up in the Northeast, and then lived in the Southeast. And now living in the Northwest. It sure gives me an appreciation for the spectacular geography in which I now live. Excited to explore everything!!!!

More to come soon :-)

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Adventures in the Land of Volcanoes

So, I've promised for months to start an adventure blog. Well here it is!! I keep my promises :-)

It's been a fun year of adventure!! Never thought that I would move to the west coast in this awesome year of 2014!!

 And the story of how moving to Oregon came about is pretty awesome too!! Dwight and I went on vacation to Savannah, Ga and while sitting on the beach in Tybee Island we talked about where we saw ourselves in the future. We both were drawn to Oregon and had thought about moving here in the past. So, the planning started!! We both are the kind of people that go out and do/get what we want :-) So, we decided on an October 1st move. The only thing was that October 1st was less than 2 months away!!!! Let the fun begin!!!

A few weeks later we traveled out west to check out Bend, Oregon and each applied for nursing licenses in the state of Oregon. What a crazy adventure that trip was!!! We flew to Vegas and drove to Bend(all 15 hours of driving!!!!). What we found in Bend was a very cool town that was smaller than Asheville and cleaner without a ton of homeless. The beer was quite good and access to trails was great!!The geography of the region is pretty cool also. You can be in the Cascade Mountains with snow capped mountains and glaciers in a short drive from town or be in the High Desert on the other side of town. Yes, Oregon has a desert and it doesn't rain here all the time either. The other interesting aspect is that Bend is surrounded by volcanoes and yes some remain active to this day. There are cool Lava flow fields to see while out trail running or just while in the park. There are canyons and waterfalls, etc etc!!! Bend is in a very unique location!!! The next important aspect is that winter comes here, and though not too snowy in town, the close by Cascades can get 10+ft of snow. Yes, I did say 10+ft!!!! There are oodles of maintained snow parks for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc!! And a ski resort 20 minutes from town. That equals fun!!!! The outdoor adventures to be had here are endless and to be honest the West is one giant playground!! And we are excited to be living here and ready to explore!!!!

Stay tuned for our adventures!!!