Category Archives: Oregon

Bend Whitewater Park

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On our last trip we were really disappointed to discover that we had missed the window to catch the whitewater play parks in Idaho and Nevada. When we learned that there was a new play park opening up in Bend we decided to stop and check it out, even if the waters were low! We paddled it at 1080 and 1400 cfs, both of which were still good.

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The Whitewater Park just opened in late September and is still working out some bugs, which is tough to do as the water levels are also dropping. It is located right in town on the Deschutes River and is a phased build, with a larger regional park also being built in the next year. Bend itself has a strong river trail system so there is a lot of activity going on along the river and lots of people excited to see the Whitewater Park come to fruition. This is a family friendly location as one of the channels is a floater channel so beginners can paddle or SUP down it or even float down in an inflatable kayak or tube.

Access to the play park is currently from a residential street just beside the river, right below the bottom wave. To get to the upper waves you take out on the rock island and carry your boat up which is no big deal. We were somewhat worried about parking since we are so large but found it to be fairly easy if we got there before the lunch rush. My guess is that during the busy summer season this will likely be a different experience.

Right now the upper or first wave is geared to be a kayak wave however they are having trouble with it not flushing due to the surging of the water. You can see in the left hand photo that there is an inflatable bladder that allows them to adjust the flow into the hole and they continue to tinker with it (and the others). Tim tried it on our first day but found that he flushed more than stuck so didn’t play much there.

Waves two and three are also works in progress – at the moment they are steep troughs and fairly shallow. They are working on developing them into surfing / SUP waves but they aren’t there yet due to water levels.

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We spent all of our time down at wave four which was a nice friendly consistent wave that allowed for lots of spin practice. It was wide enough for Tim and Hunter to both surf and spin at the same time and flushes out into a slow moving pool so no big deal for anyone if they swam. It was also easy eddy access.

Check out the video at our Facebook page to see Tim and Hunter surfing together!

Overall this is a very family friendly location and I have great optimism that they will continue to refine and improve the park over the coming year. We understand that they will be doing some work on it over the winter months when the water levels are really low. Water levels are expected to be strong between April 15th and October 15th each year. We stayed at the Scandia RV Park as it was under 10 minutes drive away and a decent price for a clean RV Park. If coming during the summer you should definitely book early as they fill up. The other option is the State Park just north of town, which would probably be a 30 minute drive to the park.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

tillamook cheese factoryThere were groans and odd looks when I said that we were going to do a cheese factory tour as part of our drive along the northern Oregon coast. What??? Huh??? How interesting can that be??? Well – the Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour was a hit (hah!).

Tim & Hunter as dairy farmersI’m sure it helped that they also make Ice Cream and as you walk in the front doors of the Factory you are presented with this very large Ice Cream shop… we held out and waited until the end for our treat.

a day in the life of dairy farmerTillamook is actually run by a cheese co-operative, with the dairy farmers as the owners. It is a pretty cool story and has been in place for over 100 years. It helps them ensure high quality standards and have an end to end view of the cheese / yogurt / ice-cream process. As cool as having cows would be, we all agreed that we are not ready to make the lifestyle commitment to become a dairy farmer.

There is a wonderful viewing area on the second floor that enables you to look down on the entire manufacturing process. Milk is delivered from the farms daily (to ensure freshness) and within 24 hours it is turned into a 2ft x 2 ft block of cheese. It is vacuum packed, put in a cardboard box and then goes off to aging storage for between 60 and 180 days. It then comes back into the manufacturing area where the block is cut into bricks and packaged up to go to the store.

At the end of the tour there is a sampling area where you get to test out 7 or 8 different cheeses. Hunter and Tim are pretty much Marble Cheese guys so this was a great opportunity to expand their horizon’s with minimal risk. We came away reaffirming that Tim likes Squeaky Cheese (cheese curds) and Hunter doesn’t. They also both discovered that they like smoked cheddar so we bought a small package of that at the handy retail store.

the Tillamook LOAFmobileWe all enjoyed our ice-cream (frozen yogurt) at the end and headed back into the rain to continue our drive northwards…

Tillamook cheese factory

Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Columbia Gorge (Oregon)

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It was another pouring rain day as we were driving along the Columbia River Gorge towards Hood River. Thanks to Tim needing to pee, we pulled off at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery for a quick stop. Tim ventured off while Hunter and I hunkered down in the truck, seeing no need to go out in the rain. The next thing you know, Tim is knocking on the truck window, holding our rain coats in his hands and telling us that we have to get out…

The Bonneville Fish Hatchery is a shared federal/state facility, which meant that it was actually open during the Federal Shutdown. It was built in 1909 and raises Chinook, Coho & Steelhead Salmon. The most amazing thing about the Hatchery is their Sturgeon pond/ viewing centre. Hunter is standing in front of Herman the Sturgeon who is 10 feet long, 425 lbs and over 60 years old!

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We were all in awe and probably stood and watched the sturgeon for 20 minutes. There were about 10 of them in the tank ranging from HUGE (10 ft) to BIG (8 ft) to little (2 ft) and they just swam around and around… It is amazing to think that these fish can live to over 100 years old. They have been close to extinction at times and now have very tight fishing guidelines to ensure their longevity is maintained.

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Bend, Oregon

Many good friends told us that we HAD to stop in Bend, Oregon as part of our adventures. We took their advice seriously and spent some time reading up on all that Bend has to offer, and it looked great – mountain biking, whitewater kayaking right through town, funky cafes and an outdoor oriented culture.

We had planned to spend 2-3 days (at least) to experience all it had to offer…

The bad news is, that we spent about an hour in Bend. After a cool and wet few days in Washington and northern Oregon, we rolled into Bend and stopped at the local kayak shop to get some intel. It was quite cool out(the staff in the store were wearing winter hats and light parkas) and the forecast for the coming week was for temps hovering around the freezing mark. That did not leave us feeling inspired. On top of that we learned that the water levels were really low and the only sections that were viable were class 4/5 (well above Hunter’s level).

After picking up an Oregon paddling book with ideas for places we could potentially hit on our return trip in March, we made the call to get in the truck and DRIVE. Betty, the magic GPS calculated that it was 14 hours from Bend to Moab and we were on our way south in search of sunshine and warmth. Within an hour south of town we could see the snow marching down the mountains and felt quite justified in our decision to move on.

I counted 4 vegetarian or organic places just on our drive through Bend to the kayak store and there looked to be some really cool architecture in the old mill district so I’m buying into all the advice and we will have to find a way to catch Bend at a better time. We will be back!