Saturday, November 26, 2011


Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner
November 24-26

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          Rick and I left Baker City around 8 am on Thanksgiving morning – right at our intended departure!  It is cloudy and cool, but the roads shouldn’t be too bad.  In looking at the map, we have 3 passes over 5,000 feet to cross and 2 over 4,000.  Luke’s big challenge will be Tombstone at 4400’ and Santiam at 4800’.  The latter has had up to three feet of snow this past week, but it has melted quickly also. 
          We hit slush on top of Tipton and Dixie, but not the “packed snow” the internet indicated.  Truly clear sailing, and near Prairie City, when we stop at the rest area, we are greeted with sunshine which accompanies us until Prineville!  I take over driving in PC, through the John Day valley, Mitchell, over Occhoco to Bandit Springs Rest Area where we stop and switch drivers again.  At the top of Occhoco we seemed to run right into a front: the temperature dropped 10 degrees and the wind really picked up.  But the wind seemed only temporary.  The clouds did turn dark and ugly as we approached the Cascades.  Any idea of seeing the peaks was quickly squelched. 
          We arrive at Tumalo State Park a little before 1pm, check in, unpack, and touch base with Luke, who is currently in Sisters!  He arrived by 1:30!  Everyone here safe and sound! 
          We pull out the menu for our Turkey Dinner, Rick sets up the microwave on the porch bench, and we cook and reheat our meal.  Luke sets the table complete with tablecloth, decorations and candles.  It is THANKSGIVING after all!  By 2:30 we are sitting down to our fine meal! 
          After dinner and phone calls to family and Kady while Rick cleans up the dishes, we take a walk in a light rain.  It ends up longer than planned, much to Luke’s chagrain as he is still wearing what amounts to his slippers, and to mine as I didn’t have my camera with me!  We hiked to the top of a small butte above the campground where we had a great view of the Deschutes and the surrounding area.  Then we walked nearly a mile along the swollen river – it was flooding over its banks in places. 
          Back to the yurt to dry off and pull out the pies!  Luke brought an apple pie that Kady had made (it looked beautiful!) and I brought the pumpkin.  We took care of a third of each, complete with whipped cream! 
          Rest of the evening filled with good conversation and games.  Rick even played three games of bananas, prior to curling up with his book while Luke and I fought a 2/3 round of cribbage.  I won the first game, but that was the LAST game I won during the visit! 
          Friday dawned absolutely clear, cool, and sunny!  What a wonderful surprise!  I had come expecting rain off and on, and we ended up with incredible sunshine and warmer temperatures!  After breakfast (Rick ate pie, Luke pumpkin chip bread, and I finished the pumpkin cranberry bread) and a lazy pace, around 10 we headed in with the intention of finding the trail to Tumalo Falls.  Upon leaving the campground, however, we drove up to the top of a small hill and realized we could see ALL the peaks glorious with the eastern sun on them.  Our plans quickly were altered to head into town and hike to the top of Pilot Butte first! 
The three of us on top of Pilot Butte,
Three Sisters in background
          We wind through town following our gut instincts and a few signs and locate the parking area for the trail to the top of the butte.  The road is closed this time of year, so the trail is the only option!  But it is only .8 mile to the top on a well graded trail.  By the time you wind the entire circumference of the butte, you have enjoyed views in every direction!  To the Sisters and Bachelor, to Jefferson, Hood, south to Newberry Crater, and east to Powell Buttes. A nice panorama from the top with signs pointing to the various peaks.  And an easy 1.5 RT hike to start the day!
Near Tumalo Falls trailhead
          Back down and off through downtown Bend and along Drake Park on the Deschutes to find Skyliner Road to Tumalo Falls. Rick had photographed directions this morning from the signs at the solar shower, and then visited with the ranger lady at the top of the butte as to the alterations to find the road from Pilot Butte.  We easily followed her directions and within minutes were winding our way up Skyliner Road and into the snow!  The trailhead for the falls is about 10 miles west of town and is shady, so the snow was constant for over half of the way.  The last 2.5 miles to the main trailhead is on a gravel road that isn’t maintained or even open after September, so we parked and grabbed a bite to eat before taking off on the 5 mile round trip hike to Tumalo Falls – all of it on a snow packed road.  Hiking was definitely easier on the return trip as more people had packed down the snow by then! 
          Highlights of the hike were the every changing clouds in the sky!  Wispy, drifting, clouds ever changing.  We were following the creek through what was an old growth forest burned 30 years ago in a fire.  On our right was a massive rock cliff and peak, covered with new seedlings and an occasional burned out snag of a fire remnant.  The falls are 97’ in height in a straight drop off a notch in a side canyon.  They definitely had a cold feel to them today! 
Tumalo Falls
          By the time we arrive back at the car, the sky has darkened with clouds moving in.  Good time to be done for the day!  Seems to cool down some as well.  We drive back to the campground, following Mt. Washington Drive much of the way.  Rick and I test the solar showers (Luke tried it out this morning) and then some time to just relax and read, draw or fall asleep on a 5 star Sudoku puzzle (the latter two would be me!).
          Around 5 we start heating up our leftovers for dinner!  We plan out the Christmas Eve service for the church and then….it is game time!  Rick reads while Luke and I play two rounds of Quiddler, with Luke winning both by a TOTAL of 6 points!  Then two rounds of cribbage.  I didn’t get skunked, but Luke’s victories were considerable and easy! 
          In bed shortly after 10pm to read and…..goodnight!
          Saturday morning, I woke and turned on the light to read in bed for about 45 minutes.  Eventually all are up around 7:45 to clean up, eat breakfast, and pack up the cars.  By 9:40 we are ready to be on our way! 
A final picture before we leave our yurt. 
          We wave goodbye to Luke as he turned north to Sisters and we head towards Redmond.  However, we missed our turn to 97 somewhere and ended up at Eagle Crest Resort.  So we took a slightly longer route to Redmond and missed the cheap gas station!  Alas, alas! 
          Sunshine and incredible vistas all the way home!  Sprinkling of snow on the peaks, deep red ponderosas, red and golden willows, every shade of brown imaginable!  Rick drives the entire way as he is enjoying himself with a little light jazz on the CD!  Home by 2:30 to get Luke’s text that he was home safe and sound around 1:30. 
          Thanksgiving is for family and we joyfully spent the time with part of our family!  A wonderful Turkey Day in a Yurt!