OREGON=VACATIONLAND--(Or how I saved Oregon from complete devastation!)

     Do I have your attention?  First, we finally made it to Oregon for our appointment to upgrade our electrical system.  Oregon is one lucky state as it has everything Nancy and I could want for a vacation.  Spectacular mountains, beautiful rivers, fantastic beaches, great breweries and wineries, and non-stop entertainment/activities (music, hiking, biking, fishing, etc.).  We can drive from desert to lush forests in less than an hour while traveling over breathtaking mountain passes.  This state is perfect!
     On our way to Oregon we stopped at Bear Lake State Park in Utah.  Bear Lake is near the Wyoming border and is shared by both Utah and Idaho.  It is a large, turquoise lake, surrounded by red mountains, and is in an very dry region.  Of course, Nancy went rocking hunting and discovered tons (emphasis on "tons") of beautiful rocks.  Great, more weight to haul around the country!
A small sample of Nancy's new rocks.

    Now for Oregon.  We stayed for a week in the town of Sisters, Oregon which is located near the city of Bend.  Both Sisters and Bend are very up-scale and are well worth an afternoon exploring.  Sisters has a population around 2,000 and is located higher up in the mountains whereas Bend has a population around 80,000 and is located on Oregon's high desert.  Sisters is named after 3 snow capped mountains known as North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister.  The 3 sisters dominate the skyline in Bend and Sisters.

The Sisters as seen from Sisters

     There is way too much to do in this area.  One day we went to a free, all day concert with the headliner being the Indigo Girls.  Another day, I fished the Metolius River, which is considered (by the locals) to be one of the top trout creeks in the country.  After a few hours on this gorgeous river, I determined that the trout had no interest in playing with me.
Metolius River

Metolius River

     I also managed a nice hike up Black Butte Mountain which provided a fantastic 360 degree view of the area.
View from the top of Black Butte

Black Butte Mountain

     The highlight was the scenic drive over McKenzie Pass.  We followed a narrow winding road to an amazing viewing area known as Dee Wright Observatory in McKenzie Pass.  The observatory featured a massive lava field surrounded by snow capped mountains.  What a cool, lunar-like environment.
McKenzie Pass.
Featuring a lava field with North and Middle Sisters. 

     Now on to the "teaser."  Yes, I actually saved Oregon and I expect to be profusely thanked by my 2 nieces, Heidi and Heather, when we visit them in Portland.  Here goes the story--Nancy and I were touring Newberry Volcanic National Monument near Bend.  We decided to visit Benham Falls on the Deschutes River.  When we arrived we realized that there was an approaching T-Storm.  Since it was a 1/2 mile hike to the falls, I made the decision to set out a chair and take a nap instead of hike.  So--nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, RAIN!--run to the car for cover.  Now major T-Boomers hit the area.  A couple of the boomers were so close that Nancy let out a small scream.  We sat in the car for several minutes and read until the boomers stopped.  Once the boomers stopped I started the hike even though it was still raining, so I had the trail to myself.  I then made the hike to the falls and rapids and hiked back.  When I was approximately 1/10 of a mile from the car I noticed smoke rising from the other side of the river.  I stopped to look thinking the smoke might be steam from a hot spring or some campers.  However, the smoke suddenly erupted into 6 - 10 foot flames.  YIKES!!!  I then ran back to the car and called the visitor center to report a forest fire.  After the call, I waited for the emergency squad to arrive to show them the spot.  They arrived within 5 minutes and by then the smoke was getting very heavy and was filling the parking area.  After describing the location of the fire and knowing we were on a road with only one way in or out I "got the heck out of Dodge."  My timely discovery of the fire combined with an immediate phone call prevented the fire from spreading and, since this was a dry, heavily forested area, I am convinced I prevented the entire state of Oregon from burning to the ground!  Nancy was heard to sigh and say "my hero!"  I even heard that Smoky is looking for me to give me a high-paw.