Posts Tagged With: Bend

Urbanspoon Scores! Pour House Grill, Bend, Oregon

Appetizer, Pour House Grill, Bend, OR

Appetizer

We were hungry, but didn’t want any of the usual chains. But we were in a town (Bend, Oregon) that we didn’t know very well. We decided to get brave and I pulled out my i-Phone and tapped the Urbanspoon app hoping for at least a somewhat good idea. Up popped the Pour House Grill – with a 90% “Like” rate. We decided that was good enough to take a chance.

As we pulled up to the restaurant, we were worried we wouldn’t find any place to park, it was so busy. Another good sign! But we did find a spot, and headed inside. We were immediately greeted and seated by a very friendly waitress, who was also very helpful in answering our questions about the menu.

They had a nice variety of appetizers, burgers, and beer. They have some wines and even a few of my new love – hard cider.

We ordered appetizers and then our dinners. We were pleased with the portions, the prices, and the service. So much so that when we were looking for a place for dinner again a couple of nights later, we wound up back at the Pour House Grill to try some other menu items. Again, we weren’t disappointed with either the food or the service.

Bend’s Pour House Grill is definitely a go-back-to spot again next time we are in the area.

Do you use an app or review site to help you choose where to eat?

For more information, menu, and prices check out their website at http://www.thepourhousegrill.com/.

 

 

 

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Categories: Food, Wine, Cider, Oregon | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Firefighters on the Butte: Watchers and Teachers

Fire Smoke

Fire in the lava “island”

Smoke in the distance. In the Bend, Oregon area this happens rather regularly. When that happens while we are visiting we like to drive up to a little cinder cone south of town because it has such a fantastic view, probably a couple of hundred miles.

This time when we got to the top, we saw a US Forest Service fire truck and several firefighters. They weren’t in fire gear, just wearing blue uniforms. Ironically, when we were here eight years previously, there was also a thunder and lightening storm and when it was over we went to this same cinder cone and there were firefighters on lookout then as well!

We stepped out of the truck to take pictures. The fire was an impressive sight from up there. It was in the “lava island” at Lava Lands Visitor Center (see the article posted March 24). We could see the smoke actually billowing up. We went up to talk to the fire crew, and one of them started explaining everything to us – which fire that was, why they were letting it burn, that there was significant lightening expected that day, that they had just gotten back from fighting the fire at Warm Springs. Anything we asked he answered and more.

Watching

Keeping watch

We somehow started discussing timber management and the differences in how timber grows on the coast and how it grows here. He told us that the trees are supposed to be close there but here they are naturally spaced about 40 feet apart. He said low underbrush naturally grows here and when a fire starts it burns just that lower part and doesn’t reach the canopy so the trees survive. He explained to us that past poor management over-planted the trees so now they are closer together. The firefighters are trying to play catch-up by thinning some trees but this is also a controversial practice politically.

He also explained that the practice of NOT putting out fires has been detrimental as it has allowed low undergrowth to get taller, and when it catches fire now it can reach the canopy and kill the trees as well. He believed he knows proper management techniques that would make the forests healthier as well as cost MUCH less and save taxpayer money, but that, again, politics interferes.

While he was explaining all this, he was also kind enough to open one of the equipment doors on the fire truck and took out a whiteboard marker and illustrated the tree and undergrowth for us. It was really quite educational!

Fire truck white board

Fire truck “white board”

Josh made himself at home while we were being “educated”. He talked to the other crew members, and they allowed him to climb on fire truck to take pictures from that vantage point.

Just before we left a state police pickup pulled up just to check on the crew and find out what they were seeing. He also told them that that a woman he talked to was a little panicked when she saw the smoke because she thought a volcano was going off!

We wondered how long that crew stayed up on that cinder cone watching for fires. We really appreciated their willingness to welcome us and take their time to educate us – and we were especially grateful for the job they do to protect beautiful Central Oregon.

 

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

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

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“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.

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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.

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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

Rivers of Glass – Glass Butte, Oregon

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Obsidian “Flow”

Rivers of black glass, gleaming in the sun. Chunks of obsidian, shining like beacons saying, “I’m right here, come and get me!”

Glass Butte in Central Oregon is one of the best rockhounding areas in the northwest. It’s on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, set aside for rockhounds to access for free. Obsidian is formed from lava that cools very quickly. This area had a huge lava flow millions of years ago so there is a LOT of obsidian. Obsidian has also been called “volcanic glass” and has been used over the years for arrowheads and knives. Today it is mostly used for jewelry, garden features, and other decorations. That’s part of the fun of obsidian, that it has such a variety of uses.

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Glass Butte – the middle of nowhere!

Located 77 miles east of Bend on Highway 20, you’ll see a plain brown sign on the south side of the road showing you where to turn. You’ll really feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing to see for miles and only a couple of small trees. But this is where there truly are hidden gems.

Slow down before mile post 77 because it’s easy to zoom right past. There will be a dirt road. Go slowly and carefully. It can have deep ruts from heavy rainfall and chunks of obsidian may have washed down onto the roadway or exposed by the rain. Obsidian can be very sharp. While we have never had our tire punctured by it, we did hit a piece hard enough to poke a hole in our oil plan. So just be cautious.

Then head on into the property. There are several roads to follow. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t be able to get off BLM land and onto private land because it is all fenced. Also, don’t be surprised if you see tents because people are allowed to camp there.

There are two books that are really helpful in this particular rockhounding area: Gems Trails of Oregon by James R. Mitchell, and The GPS Guide to Western Gem Trails by David A. Kelty. This is where the treasure hunt begins. There are many different colors of obsidian – black, snowflake, mahogany, gold sheen, silver sheen, rainbow, and fire. And most of these colors are here in one place! You can stop in one spot and only find black or stop in another and find mostly mahogany. They can also be mixed. Rocks come in different sizes and shapes, small shards to HUGE pieces! Again, be careful – it is sharp and can cut you. It also gets very hot sitting in that Central Oregon sun.

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Black and Mahogany Mix

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Silver Sheen (see the silver streaks?)

The rainbow and fire, in my opinion, are the most elusive. You have to hold the pieces up to the sun to see the fire or rainbow properties. The color glistens like a rainbow dancing on the edges of the rock. The fire obsidian shows like a flame in the center when the sunlight hits it just right.

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HUGE Piece of Obsidian

Sometimes you have to break open a rock to see the lace/snowflake which are white lacy or snowflake looking shapes inside. Again, it’s sharp so use eye protection when breaking obsidian. You will also want to take gloves in case the rocks are really hot.

Remember, this is the desert. Take plenty of water (and a picnic. We believe in picnicking every chance we get.) Then make sure you stop picking up rocks before you are too hot or too tired. That 77 miles is a long way back when you’ve worn yourself out. And it’s easy to do. The first time we were there we were so excited but what we were seeing and how easy it was to find, we just simply didn’t want to leave. But by 3:00 it was dangerously hot.

Please remember that collecting rocks on BLM land is for personal use only. You can collect up to 25 pounds per day or 250 pounds per year. So please be respectful and don’t take more than your share.

Other than that just be careful of the heat and the sharpness of the obsidian, and have fun in one of the best rockhounding places in the country!

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Rockhounding/Gold Panning | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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