Labor Day Lounging in Bend, Oregon

When I was growing up, Labor Day weekend always marked the end of summer. Blah blah blah… I hear you… “Labor day was over a month ago!” I still have a draft blog about the Jensiuchi trip to Asia from May, so shut it. Maybe I’ll just change the year and pretend I went in 2013.

So back to my story and the billion (seriously, there is almost 100) photos below…

Labor Day weekend used to be the last weekend you had to stay out late in the summer nights with your friends, or for parents it was the last chance to take an extended weekend family vacation before school started. So for us it meant ROAD TRIP!!!

I love abandoned shacks in the middle of nowhere

Necessities for our vacation kitchen

Necessities for the rental fridge

Now that I’m an old fart with no kids and no summer vacation from school, we took an adults-only holiday weekend road trip through Eastern Washington into Bend, Oregon where we rented a house with my dad and his girlfriend, Amy. Adults-only trips mean late nights, early mornings, and lots of eating and drinking. I love being an adult.

Yeah, I took this while driving Amy’s new truck

Road trip snacks on the side of a highway


Yeah, I’m an adult who brings my teddy bear on vacation… And he likes snacks too!

Costco is a must-visit on my family trips

Possibly where my driving navigation went wrong

And as much as I despise driving, I have to admit that there is something about those wideopen back country roads where you can roll down your windows, rock some shades, and get lost in 90s pop music. I’m sure my dad loved being back in a vehicle with me after getting rid of me for over 10 years. At least I didn’t subject everyone in the car to Cypress Hill and Tupac like I did in the actual 90s. I did however manage to get so lost in my 90s jams during my driving shift and took us on a three-hour detour. oops.

Transportation for the cool kids at Sunriver

Sunriver had an adorable brewhouse

My husband, the pepper snob

Slices of ice cream

Free bikes for use in our rental house

YAY! I remembered how to ride a bike!

Once we got to Bend, our rental house was awesome cause we could cook and eat when and what we wanted to. We did discover that we need to plan a little better with some staples like quality knives and ice cream scoops. BUT the house had bikes (many with flat tires) and a cute little community area with activities and restaurants. The house was just south of Bend at the Sunriver Resort, which I had been to as a kid, so it brought back lots of memories being back again.

Northeast Oregon…

If you are unfamiliar with Bend, Oregon, let me tell you… It’s a weird environment. There are trees like western Washington, lava fields like Hawaii, fields like eastern Washington, and this weird desert-y vibe that is almost Arizona-ish. And based on the location and environment, we tried to cover all the cliche Pacific Northwest activities.

Scary gravel road up to Paulina Peak Overlook

Gorgeous views of the Oregon mountains

Good thing I brought my skateboard instead

Tourists. Psh.

Happy Asian tourist

Lava flow in the Newberry caldera

Attempting to geo-cache, but AT&T is dumb

Base of Paulina Falls

We went hiking in the Deschutes National Forest where we played in waterfalls and saw a large obsidian lava flow in the Newberry Caldera.

Glass mountain!

Stairway to the big osbidian flow

View heading to the top

Bossing my dad around

Dad’s response to my directions


I’m no geologist, but these are “cool” rocks…  get it?  Lava that’s been cooled?

Piles of obsidian

Prepared lava tube explorers have headlamps

Tube on tube lava action

Park ranger told us the crawling portion was closed cause people were peeing there. Idiots.

The end, where I look like a crazed cat

We explored the Newberry National Volcanic Monument by climbing the Big Obsidian Flow and felt our way through the pitch black Lava River Cave. Lucky for us this time, we were prepared with lights. Years ago we tried to do the 2-mile upper Ape Cave at Mt. St. Helens with cell phones as our only light resource… and this was before iPhones, so I am talking FLIP phone light action. Most fun disaster ever, minus the snake on the trail and Amy’s tears in the cave.

Sweet rides to the river

Ready to go rafting!

Our river guide… I’ll remember his name later, but I call him Chad

All aboard the rafting party train!!

The cool kid boat, obviously

Mid-rapid action shot that apparently caught a random passerby

Bad-asses handle rapids while sitting on the nose of the boat

Calm water after the storm

They made us stop before the giant waterfall

We went whitewater rafting with the Seventh Mountain River Company down a freezing cold portion of the upper Deschutes River.  Our guide, who I cannot remember his name was awesome and let two of us sit on the nose of the boat on a section of the river.  I swear I was using every ounce of finger strength to hold on, so we should be so lucky that my fingers are stronger than my arms…

Brew skies at the Deschutes Brewery

Brewery tour time!

Jeff (again, making up the name) showing us hops, that look like something illegal…

Deschutes Brewery is all about damn tasty beer

Tap only, Chipocalypse beer. BEST EVER.

We took a tour and did a tasting at the new Deschutes Brewery, which is one of the largest independently owned craft breweries. In their tasting room we got to try a handful of beers, but I “tried” the Chipocalypse beer twice. It was sooo good and made with dried chipotle chilies and 8 POUNDS of 84% dark chocolate from Seattle’s own Theo Chocolate! Love them and this brewery now! I also love that they tout that their beer is vegan, which I never realized was a thing with beer until recently!

Teeny storefront of the Bend Distillery

My dad is a thief and tried to steal a vodka keg

Mini bottles of Bend Distillery‘s Crater Lake Pepper Vodka

The greenhouse where all the peppers are grown for the Crater Lake Pepper Vodka

Pepper plants!

One of the many pepper varieties here


Drinks from Bend Distillery after the grand tour

My dad forced us (yes, forced) to do a tour and tasting at the super adorable Bend Distillery. Their entire operation would seriously fit into my house. It was amazing and so local, from their water to the peppers that go into the delicious Crater Lake Pepper Vodka. I also turned a new leaf and took a sip of a bloody mary without feeling like I was going to die.

Going Food Network Chopped style by using crackers as flour in the pizza dough

More experimenting with the cracker pizzas on the grill

Final grilled veggie cracker pizzas were a delicious success!


A few of our choice beverages

Bryan and Dad tried to burn their guts out with HOT hatch chilies that they put in EVERYTHING

My way of “helping” when Dad is cooking

Kitchen entrance required wine, beer, or soju

Goober participated in the veggin’ out too

Fried mochi from my dad’s mochi machine

Even with all the activities during the day, we still found time to play and stuff face at our rental house in the evenings. Next time I am totally bringing some board games or something cause there was a major lack of entertainment. I’m pretty sure we just ate and drank ourselves silly each night, which is A-OK with me! What else is an adults-only vacation for?

You KNOW I had me a milkshake

Roadside BBQ joint

Housemade BBQ sauces

Finger-licking saucy meat on stick. Gross

No one liked me photographing their BBQ pigout

Roadside dining entertainment

Those that don’t eat BBQ relax in the sun

Eventually we had to head back home, but we took a different route and went through the Hood River Fruit Loop in Oregon. We started at the Apple Valley Country Store, which was adorable and had an outdoor BBQ restaurant. Since I was unable to eat anything there, I scoped out the huckleberry milkshakes and enjoyed one of those while lounging in the sun.

View of Mt. Hood from the Draper Girls corn field

I’m a sucker for sunflowers and blue skies

Baby goat posed for my photo!!

Apple that I almost plucked and ate

Outside the Draper Girls store, where I demand that someone do a photo shoot

Peaches and plums from the Draper Girls farm

There were a few other random stops as well, such as the the Draper Girls Country Farm. I was in love with this place. If I was a photographer, I would bring people here to take photos. There were baby goats, giant corn fields, u-pick trees, vintage looking toys and paraphernalia, homemade goodies galore, and masses of beautiful vibrant flowers. I am pretty sure everyone tried to drive off without me cause I couldn’t stop taking pictures of everything.

Time for WINE!

Wine cottages exist… in Oregon

Wine tasting? Twist all our rubber arms!

This sign cracked me up for some reason

Oooh, and I have to mention the Cathedral Ridge Winery we stopped at on the way home too!!  You can’t complete a PNW trip without a wine tour and tasting! It had the most varieties for our group, since typically I’m the dark malbec, Amy’s the light cab/syrah, Bryan’s the full-bodied pinor noir, and my dad is a reisling…  What a group, right?  But, I wasn’t super impressed with most of my tastings, except a surprising German style strawberry wine that I will never be able to pronounce; halbtrocken.  It was delicious!!

Excited to find Tofurky distribution center!!!

New addition to bucket list… learn to windsurf.

This guy had to be freezing, but he ruled the river waves. Is that a thing?

As we inched our way closer to the Oregon/Washington border, we pulled over for a final stop in Hood River, Oregon.  Another spot that I am adding to my “must return to” list.  There were tons of wind surfers, kite surfers, local places to eat, Full Sail Brewery, AND the Tofurky distribution center!!  I’m totally coming back for a surfing/eating expedition.

In a plane, in a train, Starbucks…

Yakima is hot stuff

Dad loves his fresh strawberry lemonades


Proper way to consume a cinnamon roll the size of your head

Eventually, everyone realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day except coffee, coffee, and some fruit, since most of our stops were heavy on the spice and meat… so we pulled over at some diner dump in Yakima and plowed down some greasy goodness. Then they all made me drive the rest of the way home. Not cool. I change my mind cause I remember that I hate driving… and 90s music does NOT make it better.  Driving is still BO-ring.

Wind turbines are EVERYWHERE in Eastern Washington

I had to finish with a photos of wind turbines because in 4 days, Bryan and I took over 2000 photos and I am pretty sure 300 of them were of wind turbines. Ridiculous. I have since scrubbed the photos down to about 1200 (more scrubbing is desperately needed). You would think that we had never seen a river, windfarm, or mountain before. I may be working on (and even making progress!) eliminating clutter in our house, but my e-clutter is another issue that we won’t ever discuss.