a different kind of sunset

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part four) Relaxing and eating is what I do best in Bend (and on vacation, although this comes only very recently, after years of practice and feeling like I should be more productive). But we did do a couple of interesting things the weekend we were there (in addition to relaxing, eating, and spending time with family). On Saturday, for example, we took the ski lift to the summit of Mt. Bachelor. I remember doing this at least once during a childhood summer visit, but the lift hasn't been open during the summer months for a good ten years or so. While I enjoy cross-country skiing once or twice a year, I'm not a big fan of speed, so I don't downhill ski or snowboard, which means I don't spend a lot of time on ski lifts (the most treacherous memory of my first and only time snow-boarding was the getting-off-the-lift bit at the top, with one boot buckled in and one dangling free). So the summer things works well for me.

Without a substantial base of snow below your feet, though, you're suspended precariously high off the ground, nothing but a metal bar keeping you from falling forward, to your death. More nerve-wracking were the yards upon yards of cable we noticed lying on the ground directly below us. What was it doing there? At least there weren't empty lift chairs and rotting carcasses or anything. But it's still a little scary. The view on the way up (and down) and at the summit, though, is indeed breathtaking.

Here's the view from the other side of the mountain.

Normally, you can see Bend pretty clearly in the distance, but the view was hazy because of recent and ongoing wildfires to the west. Here's a shot on the way down.

On Sunday, we were guinea pigs for my Dad's newest toys: two inflatable two-person kayaks. I think it took us longer to inflate the boats than the amount of time we spent floating down the Deschutes River. I did little to help, spending most of the pre-float time swatting mosquitos off my legs and arms. It was also the first time in years that I had to, uh, find a tree off in the distance, if you know what I mean. I like indoor plumbing...

On Monday, our last full day in Bend, we spent the late afternoon and early evening "para-waiting", as paragliders refer to all the time they spend waiting for the perfect, flyable wind conditions. Earlier that day, in town, we stopped at various windsocks and flagposts to scope it out, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was a definite possibility and ultimately making the half-hour drive to Pine Mountain. Sadly, for my Dad at least, the wind was too gusty. We flew big kites instead (one so big - nine square meters or something like that - it actually "plucked" my Dad off the ground and then drug him a good thirty feet or so before he let go).

Here's Neal with the smaller, tamer kite.

As the sun was beginning to set (another thing I like about the west coast...mountain sunsets, when the peak silhouettes look like paper cut-outs), we made the drive back to Bend, catching dinner and a movie at the old St. Francis School, one of many locations in Oregon and Washington renovated and reimagined as pub, art gallery, movie theater, and hotel by the Portland-based McMenamin brothers. We saw "The Da Vinci Code." I was thoroughly confused during most of the movie (maybe it was the "ruby" beer I was drinking), but I think it might just qualify for my summer film festival, ignoring Tom Hanks' role, of course...

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