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May 27 2011- Bend OR High Desert Museum, Newberry Volcano National Mounument

Friday May 27- We were up early again. I hope that our bodies change over to Pacific Time soon! My conference call for today was cancelled, so we worked on our plans for a little while. Since Crater Lake NP is still mostly closed we are going to punt and head out to the west. We decided that we will come back to the area when we tour California in a couple of years. We still want to see the National Historical Oregon Trail Interpretative Center in Baker City, Crater Lake and the Lava River Cave (not opening until July 1).  We went on Google Earth and ‘drove’ Rt. 138 and it looks like we can take the motor home over this route, although it is not a trucker’s route. We don’t have a choice, as the two northern route are closed due to snow at the mountain passes.

 At about 10am we went north on the Cascades Lake Highway to Sun River. Sun River is a resort area, where we stopped to pick up a USA Today. We went east to Rt. 97, then north to the High Desert Museum. This is a local museum, which was highly recommended to us by Jackie and Roy. We thought the museum was excellent, but we would never visit there again on a Friday. There were bus loads of kids from the local schools on a field trip. We tried to avoid them by going straight to the outside exhibits while they were in the inside exhibits. Didn’t work really well, as there were a lot of kids! We started at the Porcupine Habitat, then the Birds of Prey exhibit where we saw a Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Owl, and Fox.  We went through the replica’s of a cabin, sawmill, barn and stable. We followed the paved path which wound through plants explaining about the Ponderosa Pine forest and the various ground cover. The settlers were amazed when they arrived in Oregon to see the Ponderosa Pines, which are farther apart than other pine trees. They also grow very tall, with an open canopy, so the ground cover is able to flourish. This means that this is a high fire area, due to the proliferate ground cover. We thought this plant was a sagebrush, but it is a bitterbrush, different from a sagebrush.  We stopped at the Otter exhibit, where an otter was swimming laps in his pool. We wound back around to the indoor exhibits were we viewed the Bobcat Atrium and the Lynx Atrium. Both of the cats, being felines, ignored us and everyone else. We wondered through the Spirit of the West gallery which showed information on volcano’s and the Hall of Exploration and Settlement which showed us the history of mining and settlement in Oregon. We finished this side of the building touring the Quilt exhibit, my favorite exhibit. They had a woman, in period clothing, using a foot pedal, non-electric, Singer sewing machine working on a quilt. They showed quilts from many of the decades of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, different patterns from the time and a history and use of these handmade quilts.  The Oregon Quilters Association is trying to preserve quilts through the history of Oregon. It was very interesting. We stopped in the café for lunch, then proceeded to the other side of the building to tour the Hall of Plateau Indians. This Native American exhibit had a definite Mexican influence in the artistry of  beads and the use of turquoise.

When we left the museum, we drove a few miles south to the Newberry Volcano National Monument, Lava Land Visitor Center. We stamped our National Park Passport book in the visitor center. It was cold and windy, so we did not walk along the trails through the lava field. We drove up to the top of Lava Butte. 6000 years ago the Newberry Volcano exploded, sending lava for 9 miles. We climbed to the top of the butte and stopped in the Fire Lookout building. Only the bottom floor is open to the public, as the top is a working fire lookout. Inside the building they had a 4 sided map showing us the various mountains. Pilot Butte is a really good example of a butte! We saw this ground squirrel in the rocks, near the car. The difference between a ground squirrel and a prairie dog, is that the squirrel is smaller and does not have lines on the face. There is a ¼ mile trail around the rim of the cinder cone, but we did not walk around the trail as it was very cold and windy up here at the top of the butte. We were able to look down into the cinder cone.

We drove one exit further south, then drove east for 10 miles, the last 9 being a gravel road( at least Oregon has nice gravel roads) to the Lava Cast Forest. We walked through snow on the trail to end up looking at dead trees. We could have just skipped this little side trip, although it was less windy here, so we were able to comfortably walk the trail. Unfortunately, as we were leaving it started snowing!

We returned to the motor home and took the dogs for a long walk around the campground, ending up at the ‘off the leash’ area on the far side of the Family Center. When we passed the swimming pool and hot tub, we were surprised to see people in both. Brrrr! It was in the 40’s with a wind. Too cold for us! We let the dogs happily run off some energy, returned to the motor home and grilled pork chops for dinner. It rained later in the evening.

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