July 19- Once again showing contention for my One Given Talent (art, music and athleticism being right out), I managed to find the coolest place. Last night I had a sensible-sounding campsite all picked out, but then suddenly, on the basis of a spot on the map, some words on a sign, and a little voice in my head going "No, go *here* instead" - Rob really loves it when I activate that on short notice while he's driving, btw—we stumbled across one of the coolest places we've been.
The sign we so screechingly followed pointed to "Newberry Crater." We stayed at a lovely but less sensible - no hookups, $14 for a place to park-- campground, that's the Forest Service for you. This morning we headed up to the features of Newberry Crater, part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Chief among these is the "Big Obsidian Flow," which is what had got my attention. Turns out, this was an understatement: Big, in this case, meant about 2 miles long by a mile across. We hiked a loop trail which seemed to take us across an endless stretch of volcanic glass and pumice, and the map showed that as only a tiny corner of the entire thing. Obsidian has always been one of my favorite items in the rock shop, it's hard to describe being surrounded by acres upon acres of it. Even better, we were in a caldera similar to that at Crater Lake, but with just two small lakes in the bottom, as well as a cinder cone in the middle, and the ring of the caldera all around. Actually, the caldera was within a much larger caldera, including much of the surrounding area, including where we camped (don't worry Dad, it erupted 100,000 years ago). Anyway, there are only a few spots in the world that have such huge concentrations of obsidian, and Native American arrowheads and weapons with the chemical signature from Newberry have been found hundreds of miles away.
Next we drove a little north and stopped at the Lava River Cave, another feature in the same monument. It is a lava tube cave over a mile long. You pay $5 at the entrance (or in our case, flash the Annual Pass and a smile), rent a lantern or take flashlights, and head on in. No guides, no timetables. Just you, your lights, a mile-long lava tube, 42 degree temperatures, and, of course, the other people doing the same thing—which was a pretty steady stream for a Monday morning at a Monument we'd never heard of before yesterday.
So in all, the serendipity of Newberry National Monument totally made up for missing Lassen, and we didn't even do the cinder cast forest or the drive-up cinder cone. If you ever find yourself in central Oregon, consider it a must-do.
We spent the afternoon in Bend, getting a fantastic lunch at the Deschutes Brewery, and wandering around town. Rob had heard of Bend being an outdoor mecca along the lines of Boulder or Moab, though my sense of the town was that the people fit that impression, but the retail was more artsy—lots of galleries, froufy clothing, and banks. My part-time quest for a new pair of Keens went unfulfilled.
We drove through the early evening to the Mt. Hood National Forest, staying at another Forest Service Campground, so I am blogging by LED flashlight to conserve batteries. Planning to explore the Mt. Hood area tomorrow, and then drive to be poised to do Mt. St. Helens the next day. Haven't decided yet if we are going into Portland. It's a pain to take the RV into cities; on the other hand, Rob made the possible fatal error of reminding me about Powell's bookstore. . .