Monthly Archives: March 2014

Islands in the Lava? – Lava Lands Visitor Center, Bend, Oregon


“Islands” of trees in the lava

Lava Lands Visitor Center is located about eight miles south of Bend, Oregon on Hwy. 97. There is a very small interpretive center, bookstore, trails, restrooms and picnic tables. The site is set up for visitors to Central Oregon to learn all about the volcanic history of the area known as the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Lava Butte is the focal point of this spot. The lava flow from this butte spreads out over nine miles in this area. There are “islands” of trees in the flow. “Islands” is the term the locals use. When we first arrived there was a fire from lightening and the news kept reporting that the fire was in an island in the lava flow. We wondered what that meant and finally found out when we visited the site.


More “islands”

To see this spectacular scene you can either walk one of the trails up to the top of Lava Butte or drive up in a car. There are only 10 parking spots, so when you enter the lower facility you are given a time slot and told where to park and wait. Then when it’s your turn you can start driving up to the butte (there is no cost for this part). It’s actually quite close and doesn’t seem very tall, at only 500 feet. The drive up is unique as it follows a beautiful red lava rock road that first weaves through a lava bed, then spirals up the hill.

Road up to top of the butte

Road up to top of the butte

Once parked in the parking lot, you can take a short, but rather steep walk up to the working Forest Service lookout. Inside the bottom floor of the lookout are displays on the walls above each window explaining each geologic feature you are seeing out that particular window. That’s when I realized there are a heck of a lot of buttes and mountains around there!

The views up here there are amazing! For such a short butte, you can see very far.


Amazing views!

There are two trails – The Trail of Molten Land and the Trail of the Whispering Pines – where you can take a leisurely stroll through the area, enjoying more views and looking for critters. What great names for trails!

Nothing cuter than critters!

Can’t resist the critters!

David enjoyed the walk on the trail.

David enjoyed the walk on the trail. Notice the lookout behind him.

After checking out the butte and the trails, you really need to stop in the visitor center and see the educational and interesting displays. There are four different short movies shown during the day that explain the different volcanic processes so they are worth seeing in order to learn more.

Lava Lands Visitor Center is a quick stop to visit while in the Central Oregon area, but an important stop that will help you understand the geology you are seeing. When you learn the story of how the landscape was created through such violent earth processes, you can’t help but view it in a different light and appreciation.

Lava Lands Visitor Center is a Forest Service Fee site so it costs $5 for the day or the $30 annual pass is valid there.

Lava Lands Visitor Center
58201 South Hwy. 97
Bend, OR 97707
(541) 593-2421


Categories: Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RV Adventures: The Great Wall of Poo


You’ll notice there are no other pictures in this story. I just wanted to portray a nice, serene setting first. You’ll soon understand why.

We headed out Thursday night to Long Beach, Washington just to relax and have some fun. Reserved a spot at the Pacific Holiday Resort (a Western Horizon resort) and found our spot about 9:00 pm.

We spent the next couple of days driving up and down the peninsula, eating out, learning about a haunted library and church, and hearing stories of bear problems (who knew there was a bear problem on the beach!)  The weather even cleared enough to ride go-karts and fly kites.

Ahhh, a nice relaxing weekend. Sunday morning we got up and got ready to go. David and Josh went out to break down camp and next thing I knew, I heard David cussing. Being the supportive wife, I just stayed inside doing what I was doing. Why get in his way if things weren’t going well? Then Josh was at the door saying in his low, monotone voice, “Mom, Dad needs some clean clothes.” Again, being the supportive wife, I didn’t bother to ask why I just gathered his clothes and handed them to Josh. I looked out the door and David was standing there with poo all over the lower part of his body. He was trying very hard to keep his voice modulated and controlled. He just said, “Can you also get me some soap and shampoo?”

That’s when he told me the gray water valve had worked its way open and the hose separated from the coupler as he was trying to put it away. He looked stunned, saying, “A great all of poo came right at me.” So now he was going to head down to the clubhouse showers. Thank goodness because I was secretly thinking, “Please don’t come in, please don’t come in.” This is why there are no pictures. Because even though I am such a supportive wife, I didn’t think it was a good idea to ask him to stand there while I took his picture because this would be an oh-so-funny story.

While he walked to the showers, escorted by Josh, I just waited in the RV at the dining table. A few minutes later I saw a maintenance man come up in a golf cart, going around to the dump site. I just quietly and slowing slid down real low in my seat, hoping he wouldn’t see me. I thought, “No way I want to deal with this!” Have I mentioned what a supportive wife I am?

A few minutes later David came back, still covered in poo, and started explaining the issue to the maintenance man. I asked why he didn’t shower and he took a deep breath and said it was closed for cleaning. The maintenance man thanked him for telling him, said a lot of people will just go off and leave it and not say anything. He said he could tell it was an accident. Ya think?!

David eventually went down to the clubhouse to take a shower. A few minutes later I walked to the clubhouse and Josh was sitting talking to the hostess. She looked at me and said, “Are YOU ok?” I said, “Oh, yeah, I just stayed out of the way.” She said, “That’s what I mean, sometimes we can bear the brunt of it, are you OK?” I repeated, “Oh, yeah” and just laughed.

When David came out of the restroom all fresh and clean, he looked at the hostess and smiled a sheepish smile. She looked relieved and said, “I’m glad you can laugh about it.” His reply? “All I can say is – I’m glad I didn’t have my mouth open!”

Categories: Keatons Out and About, RV/Camping | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Beginner Snowshoers – White Pass Ski Area


Daughter, Brandy, snowshoeing for the first time (Photo credit: David Keaton)

“I love this, it’s like walking,” smiled my daughter, Brandy. “And I like being able to stop myself, not counting on boards strapped to my feet to stop me.” In case you can’t tell, she tried skiing last year. And didn’t particularly like it. Same with me. We’ve decided we have some sort of “hereditary” balance-and-control-challenge. So though we all tried skiing, it was not particularly successful. This year we wanted to try cross-country skiing. Everyone says we’ll like it better and can go on flatter terrain where we would be more comfortable. The only problem was there was so little snow this winter that it took forever for the trail to open. We finally decided to try snowshoeing, figuring it was less expensive plus we could check out this cross-country trail that was supposed to be nice and flat.

So on a recent Saturday we met Brandy and her boyfriend, Jason at the motel in Packwood and headed up to White Pass Ski Area – along with hundreds of other people who were there for the annual White Pass Winter Carnival. But it was actually not too bad, we found parking pretty quickly, and headed to the yurt. While skis and equipment are rented in the lodge, snowshoes and cross-country gear are rented out of the yurt across the street and behind the lodging. We just needed to rent snowshoes for Josh, David has an old wooden pair, Brandy borrowed a pair of Yukon Charlie’s from a friend and I borrowed a pair of Redfeathers from a friend. We noticed that the rental shoes appeared to be all Yukon Charlie’s. We paid $15 for Josh’s shoes, and $15 a piece for our trail passes.

Me Brandy

Brandy and Nancy snowshoeing for the first time! (Photo credit: David Keaton)

Then we headed outside to put on our snowshoes – which is where I ran into my first problem. Even though Brandy quickly and easily got hers on and the back strap fastened, I struggle very much with mine, until I had to have Josh fasten them for me.

Leech Lake

On Leech Lake

Then we all headed off down towards the frozen and snow-covered Leech Lake and the trail that goes around it. The snow was not as expected. It was covered with a light layer of ice and so it was frosty and crunchy when we walked on it. As we started walking down the hill to the lake area, that’s when Brandy decided she liked it. There would be no way either she or I would have been able to comfortably go down that little hill on skis.

Trail 1

Trail along Nordic trail (Photo credit: David Keaton)

By Brandy

Creek peeking through snow (Photo credit: Brandy Kirkendall)

Even though there were so many people up there, there were very few people on the trail. We only ran into maybe four or five other small groups around the entire trail. So we had plenty of space to ourselves. The weather was agreeable and the scenery was beautiful and serene. We took two hours to go around the trail because we kept stopping to take pictures. Snow makes landscape look so different. A creek peeking out through the little white hills. Bare trees with snow-caps caught on the top of them. Everything looks clean and smooth.

Yes, after going down the hill to the lake, the first 1/3 or so of the trail was pretty flat. But then it started slowing climbing, and probably what other people would still consider flat, we decided would still have been too much of a hill for us. See, there’s that hereditary inability to appreciate hills, speed, and skiing..

The walk around the lake took the perfect amount of time (there was a restroom available about ½ way around if anyone needs it).


Restroom, if you can get to it (Photo credit: David Keaton)

We enjoyed our walk, appreciated the views, felt we got a great workout and worked up a hunger. When finished, we headed back to the yurt to meet Jason for a lunch that we had packed. Time to take off the snowshoes and again I had a problem. I couldn’t get the back strap off and again had to have Josh do it. So bottom line, I would not get the Redfeather snowshoes because I obviously want to be able to put them on and take them off by myself, and Brandy had no problems with her Yukon Charlie’s and neither did Josh.


Inside Yurt (Photo credit: David Keaton)

Since most of the people visiting White Pass Ski area head to the lodge to eat, we were actually able to get a table inside the yurt to enjoy our lunch. While we brought our own food, they do have some snacks and beverages available. It was also quite cozy and warm and the staff was very friendly and helpful with our questions.

We had such a successful experience that there has been a great follow-up. Brandy bought herself some Yukon Charlie’s, in a kit with the poles and a carry bag – and she bought a set for me for an early Mother’s Day present! How fun is that!

Brandy Josh

Brandy and Josh celebrating successful snowshoeing! (Photo credit: David Keaton)

Categories: Outdoors, Skiing, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lions and Tigers and Snow, Oh My! – White Pass Winter Carnival

ozLions and tigers and snow, oh my! OK, that’s not exactly how it goes, but when you combine 75 years of the Wizard of Oz with the White Pass Winter Carnival, that’s what you get.

This past weekend, March 1 and 2, the White Pass Ski Resort held their 28th annual Winter Carnival and decided to use a Wizard of Oz theme. This resulted in a fun and imaginative display of snow/ice artwork and great costumes.

Dorothy’s house was dropped on the Wicked Witch of the West.


Dorothy’s House on the Wicked Witch of the West

The Snow Castle (representing the Emerald City) incorporated the characters into the set – you can see the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Toto.


Oz Characters on the Snow Castle

You could watch the sculptor making creations with his chainsaw. A snow sculpture competition began the day, which explained why we saw people walking around with things like a snow owl and a snow dog.


Snow Sculptor

The Snow Castle is also a giant slide – for free! Josh spent about four hours sliding down that thing over and over.

Photo by Brandy 3

Snow Castle/Slide (photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

Since some of us older folks aren’t oblivious to the cold like Josh is, we went into the lodge to imbibe in some “anti-freeze”. While there we were entertained by “The Lollipop Guild” singing and dancing. They were quite a hit!

Photo by Brandy 5

Lollipop Guild (photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

Other outside activities include more carnival games for the kids and vendors were set up to display and demonstrate their new snow-related products. There was a Ski Patrol Poker Run, a ski competition for kids, an obstacle course, and face painting.


Kid’s Carnival Games

Evening events include a fireworks display and parade, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see because we had to leave before they started. But we hear they were wonderful.

Photo by Brandy 4

A good time was had by all! (photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

The White Pass Winter Carnival is very quaint and unique to see. I expected it to be much larger and completely jam-packed with people but it wasn’t. Since it was my first time going to it I don’t know if it was typical attendance or not. But I didn’t find it more packed than any other days when we’ve been there so I was pleasantly surprised because I was dreading terrible parking conditions and a huge crowd. But it was a lot of fun, not too big, and a hit with the entire family. We’ll definitely go back next year and hopefully take the grandsons!

For more information about White Pass Ski Resort go to

Categories: Festivals, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Skiing, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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