We knew we were going a little early in the season, and some trails were likely to be closed due to snow still... We got unlucky. All the trails were closed except for the one to the shore--and the road to that was closed. (I assume that with time and energy we would have been able to bike or walk there; that just wasn't feasible for us.) We literally couldn't do a single thing on this top 5 list of Crater Lake adventures... Not even the default of driving around the rim road.
|Admittedly, we did get a pretty big kick out of the snow.|
A small section of the rim road was open, so we could see the lake, and it was a clear day, so we saw it in all its glory. It's blue. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is really, really blue. No Photoshopping required!
|Llao Rock, an old lava flow pre-dating the lake's formation.|
Ultimately though, this was an exercise in frustration, and it was with much disappointment we drove on to Bend. This, at least, turned out to be much nicer than we expected. Having read about floating the Deschutes River at Bend, we ate dinner in the Old Mill District, so we could watch people bob past on air mattresses, tubes, kayaks and paddle boards.
|The Old Mill District, complete with a couple of air mattresses bobbing downstream.|
Our restaurant was Greg's Grill, which was an impressive building, though we preferred to sit on the patio and watch the action on the river and river walk. They handed out etch a sketches to the kids. They had never seen this classic toy before and were instantly absorbed. My son spent a good twenty minutes crafting a minecraft scene that put my childhood etch a sketch efforts to shame.
|I try not to be the "Look what my kid did!" parent, but seriously... Look what my kid did!|
However, float rental didn't start until 10am, and we were up and about earlier, so we started the next day by going to the Lava River Cave, a mile long lava tube. Lava tubes are formed due to the outside of a lava flow cooling faster than the inside, so a rock 'shell' forms which the lava flows through and drains out of, leaving a tunnel.
Warm clothing is a must as the cave is about forty two degrees. We didn't have a torch, but some pretty powerful lanterns could be rented on site. The light spot on the below pictures is invariably the center of my lantern-beam.
|You see a hole in the ground, you explore it.|
|Lava flow lines and a rock fall.|
|The sand gardens. Sand is carried through the tube as sediment. Erosion from water dripping through cracks in the ceiling causes these formations.|
|Ceiling gets pretty low in a couple of places...|
|End of the line. Just beyond the stop sign here, the tube ends in a sand plug.|
Once back out into the sunshine, we returned to Bend, more specifically Riverbend Park where we rented paddleboards from this on site trailer.
We had never paddleboarded before, and I soon realized the wisdom of their advice when I found myself struggling to make any headway against the current whatsoever. It took me about ten minutes to get past the small landing beach. My husband had less problem paddling, but didn't feel so comfortable standing up. (The kids sat on the front of our boards and generally couldn't see what the problem was.)
Despite this, we powered on. My husband and son far outpaced my daughter and I, but I got better at it--though ultimately, I just don't have the upper body strength to really be effective against a current. That said, if I paddleboarded regularly, I soon would. After about forty-five minutes, we caught up to where the boys were waiting for us and we all floated back down again together--which took about ten minutes!
|Relaxing as we go downstream.|
Three of us stayed dry. My daughter (of course, my daughter!) managed to fall in from a sitting position while messing around with one hand in the water. Fortunately, life jackets were included with the rental, and although she came up shocked and spluttering, she got herself back to the board with no problem and I was able to help her back on without falling in myself. She assured us that the river wasn't too cold. All three of us preferred to take her word for it.
With the boards returned and my daughter changed into dry clothes, we bid farewell to Bend. Like Missoula on our Montana trip, this is another city in the US where we would actually like to live. I wouldn't pick between the two of them, but my husband prefers Bend because of the river, the bike-friendliness and, of course, the (traffic) roundabouts. All in all, a great pick me up after the disappointment of Crater Lake.