a tour of Northwest porto potties...and other things

Another spring break, another long weekend visiting family and filling up on good Mexican food in Bend, Oregon. And man, was I ready for a break by about the middle of last week. This semester has been busier and a tad more stressful than I thought it'd be, with lots of visiting artists and lectures and committing myself to things I probably shouldn't have. As the semester winds down, though, I'm starting to check things off what became a pretty long to-do list and finally negotiating resolutions to some unexpectedly overwhelming situations. Combined with four days of doing very little amongst the friendly folk of central Oregon and I feel ready to tackle the final four weeks of the semester.

The weather wasn't quite as warm and sunny as it was during the same weekend last year, which I wrote about here, but we managed to do something outdoors every day (Bend is a very outdoorsy kinda town, year-round), dodging the occasional snow or rain shower throughout the long weekend. On Friday we took a tour of nearby Sunriver, stopping for lunch at Cafe Cintra, where I enjoyed a tasty bowl of their Portuguese stew. It was snowing at the time, so we decided to pass on a visit to the High Desert Museum, between Sunriver and Bend. One of the few rainy day activities in Bend, at least half of the Museum is, still, outdoors (like I just wrote, Bend is a very outdoorsy place). Instead we headed back to town, which was surprisingly snow-free, enjoyed a cup of coffee downtown, followed by an easy hike through Shevlin Park.

This covered bridge is as quaint as it appears in this photo but the bathrooms back at the trailhead were the first of several downright raunchy "facilities" I visited over the course of the weekend.

On Saturday, we tried unsuccessfully to hike to a couple of nearby waterfalls. Most of the roads leading to the trailheads were still covered in snow. Instead, we headed north past Smith Rock (where The Postman was filmed...I worked at Baja Norte at the time - now El Jimador - and made a strawberry margarita for Will Patton one night...) to the Crooked River Gorge.

The bathrooms were a little better here but they post these really morbid signs warning that many dogs have plummeted to their demise over the short wall separating the trail that runs along the gorge from a 300-foot fall, complete with a graphic of a dog flying through the air. I should've taken a picture...

Anyway, here we are standing on the old bridge, looking over at the new bridge, built just a few years ago (the bridge in the picture above is for the railroad).

It's always hard to do justice in photographs to the depth of the gorge, but I think Neal did a pretty good job in this pic, looking straight down (and I should add that Neal took all these pics).

If you don't suffer from vertigo, it's fun to look down and try to make out all the objects and things people have dropped or thrown over the edge. In addition to the occasional beer can and cowboy hat, if you look closely at the pic above, you can see what appears to be a child's bike.

Isn't that kind of sad? I wonder how it got down there. I guess it could be worse, though (it could've been a dog!).

While all of the restaurants we ate at on the last trip were new to me, on this trip, we mostly stuck to the tried and true, having Mexican food at the downtown El Caporal on Friday night (mmm, mole enchiladas), Olde Towne Pizza on Sunday (ah, a sit-down pizza place), and burgers at Deschutes Brewery on Monday (where I was obligated to try their house-made veggie burger and deemed it quite excellent, possibly even a bit better than the veggie burger you can get at the Salt Lake City airport). On Saturday night, however, we tried a newish Thai food place in town called Typhoon, a Northwest chain. I tried the Phad See Ewe, something I always eye at Boston's Brown Sugar but have never ordered. It was pretty good so I'm eager to try something other than one of the three dishes I always order at Brown Sugar next time I go.

Anyway, where was I? On Sunday we headed north again to check out the beginning of the Metolius River, something I have fond memories of from past trips here, just like the Crooked River Gorge. The river just sort of bubbles up out of the ground, as you can see here, close to the base of Black Butte.

By Camp Sherman, just a few miles away (and home to by far the raunchiest porto potty of the weekend, complete with an emptied six-pack of Coors Light on the floor), it's a full-fledged river.

After our outing, we stopped at the Sisters Bakery, which produces the largest maple bar I've ever seen. I usually get a marionberry scone, but this trip shared a cheesy breadstick and insanely rich and sweet cream cheese frosted brownie with Neal.

For most of Monday, after enjoying breakfast at the Original Pancake House (another Bend favorite) with my Grandma, we shopped, first at the Outlet Mall, followed by a little window-shopping at the much pricier shops downtown.

We never made it to Goody's or the local Dairy Queen, where they have this really tasty chocolate macadamia nut coffee, but all in all, it was another pleasant return to the town I called home almost twelve years ago.

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