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Two-Week Road Trip Through Oregon with Friends: Part 4

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 10 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated a month ago

Keith and I continued our two-week road trip through Oregon with friends. Our agenda for the next few days would be to visit Bend and the surrounding areas of Smith Rock State Park, Redmond Caves and Sisters, Oregon. This leg of the trip felt very touristy with a few random stops. It kept the trip quite interesting.

Touring Bend, Oregon

Our plan for day 10 was to tour some of what Bend is known for. First, we headed over to the Old Mill District for breakfast at Sisters Coffee. We took our goodies to-go and sat by the Deschutes River to enjoy a slow morning.

Next, we visited the High Desert Museum which features history, wildlife, and art. There are exhibits indoors and outdoors and I especially enjoyed seeing animals. A porcupine was tasked with finding vegetables in various locations with the enclosure. An informational discussion at the otter exhibit was very interesting. The highlight of the museum for me was the birds of prey area. All the animals were rescued after being injured and their stories were available to read about.

Deschutes River

At this point in the day, Kristen wasn't feeling well so they went back to the house while Keith and I drove around Bend. We attempted to visit Mt. Batchelor Ski and Snowboard Resort but it was closed at the entrance due to some maintenance work being performed. This was disappointing since we're always interested in seeing ski destinations.

Our next stop was kind of a joke at first. While planning our agenda for the day, we found a one-review, 5-star location called Love the River Bench. We decided to check it out and it was a great choice! We drove through some neighborhoods to find the parking, found the bench, and wandered along the river edge taking pictures and climbing on rocks.

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Evening in Town

Thankfully Kristen was feeling better by dinner so we chose Pine Tavern Restaurant. We were seated in the bar area, but the restaurant area has some unique features including a giant ponderosa pine tree growing right in the middle of the dining room!

After dinner, we walked around a bit and found some dessert options. Goody's Chocolate and Ice Cream is a family-owned chocolate, candy, popcorn, and ice cream shop with an old-fashioned feel. I prefer chocolates so I chose my dessert from this shop. The guys wanted gelato so we drove to nearby Bonta Gelato. We knew it was going to be good since there was a long line out the door. There were some unique flavors and we were encouraged to taste as many as we wanted. Everyone raved about their orders!

Another day in Bend and the Surrounding Area

Our first stop of the day would be specifically for Keith. Since he decided to attempt the Tour Divide next year, he has been researching racks for his bike. One of the companies, Old Man Mountain, is located in Bend so we were able to visit and see the racks in person. He placed an order when we arrived back home in Utah.

I may have found a top 3 coffee shop in Bend, Sparrow Bakery. My top coffee shops are rated on coffee, food, and atmosphere. Walking in I had a big smile on my face because of the atmosphere and just looking at the bakery case I knew it would score 2/3 right off the bat. The coffee is excellent too by the way!

Our next stop brought us back to our childhood, Blockbuster Video! Known as "The Last Blockbuster", this store offers rentals, and retail, as well as movie memorabilia displays, and is a popular tourist destination.

The store stocks around 1,200 titles and has an estimated 4,000 members who regularly rent movies.

Redmond Caves and Smith Rock State Park

Redmond Caves is a group of five caves formed by volcanic flows of molten lava from the Newberry Caldera. It was easy to find, park the car, and begin exploring. It didn't seem like a popular site, so you'll likely only run into a handful of other people. Good shoes and a flashlight would be recommended. Our cell phone lights were fine, but a flashlight would have been better.

Smith Rock State Park was our next stop. There was maintenance going on within the park so we were limited on what we could do. That was okay since we had quite a bit of driving left to complete. We drove around the park, it looked like a beautiful area. The park is known for its hiking and rock climbing. We saw several groups of people returning from climbing and spotted a few climbers on the rock faces.

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Sisters, Oregon

After driving for a couple of hours we arrived in Sisters, Oregon. Named for the three mountain peaks, this cute old western town was the perfect place for lunch and a stroll. We roamed around the streets going into various shops. There was a little bit of everything here; a small market, restaurants, candy, antiques, health and beauty, a bookstore, greeting cards, unique gifts, etc. This is also the location of the flagship cafe and roastery for Sisters Coffee Co.

We still had several hours of driving until we arrived at our hotel for the night. Originally we planned additional stops at waterfalls and lakes that I was pretty excited to see. These were locations I found through social media and the pictures looked amazing, almost fake. I knew it wouldn't look the same in person so my expectations were in check. Unfortunately, my research didn't dive deep enough into the details because all of these locations had been closed for three years due to fire damage!

Only a Few Days Left, but a Packed Agenda

I think by day 12, I expected that the best was behind us, but there were so many more exceptional sites to visit. This trip truly felt magical as each day brought something new.

This morning led to a few random stops. The first was the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. This is by no means a highlight or even a place I'd recommend stopping, but it did bring some good memories of the Oregon Trail computer game.

Our second stop was "Big Ol Parkin Arrangement." This was something Keith found on Google Maps, once again a 5-star, four people reviewed tourist stop. It was just a parking lot! We took our chances at stopping in hopes of there being something unique there. There wasn't! 🙃

A Giant Troll and Bigfoot

Our next stop was Nordia House. This Nordic cultural center features an exhibit hall with national traveling exhibitions on a variety of Nordic topics, a gift shop, and a Swedish cafe. The grounds also include Fogelbo, a home filled with Nordic antiques and art on the National Register of Historic Places. Fogelbo was not open while we were there.

About a month before our visit, a 19-foot (5.8 meters) giant troll, named Olebolle, was constructed. It took 10 days, over 60 volunteers, and 500 hours of work to complete this project. Olebolle is peering into a red house and is looking for a giant cookie jar. The scene is based on a poem the artist wrote.

What do you know about Bigfoot? What do you believe about Bigfoot? I wasn't sure what to expect walking into this roadside attraction. The North American Bigfoot Center addresses several aspects of the phenomenon of the Bigfoot. The size of a bigfoot, why bones would never be found, what they eat, etc. It was more interesting in some ways than I expected, but it didn't convince me of their existence.

A Big Day

This was only half of day 12! This was a day of various activities. Everything from shops, restaurants, and a state park to the Bigfoot museum, caves, and a giant troll! I loved the randomness and assortment of settings we found ourselves in. The next post will continue with our day ending in Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge.

Do you have a completely random place you visited while on vacation that probably wouldn't be a highlight to anyone else? Maybe it created an inside joke or a specific memory for you? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬

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