It's been a busy week and a half; we got to Bend, Oregon 10 days ago after driving north from Crater Lake and found ourselves in probably the nicest campsite we've (ever?) stayed in. It has all the facilities of a private campground but each site is tucked away in its own clearing in the woods making it more like a National or State Park - only civilised!
Bend itself is a wonderful place; it's close to the ski resort of Mt Bachelor, and this time of year it is full of hikers, mountain bikers, climbers and general outdor types - so it has a great vibe. It also has a fair smattering of micro breweries and their beer gardens; who says America can't make decent beer!!! So most of our days have been hiking along the gorgeous Deschutes River, or kayaking down it, (being bowled over by the most amazing houses that pop up out of the forest on its banks every mile or so) followed by the occasional pub lunch!
Whilst we were in the area, (200 miles away is in the area over here!) we took the opportunity to re-visit Jan and Kase, (distant relatives on Helen's side) who live over in Portland. We spent a great couple of days with them, eating well and lazing in their huge hot-tub in the cool clear night - thanks guys!
Of course it has been 4th of July this week so the country has been celebrating their independence from us; although naturally we've been made very welcome wherever we go. There's many celebrations - and of course they do it in style. Every place, person, vehicle, pet etc has been covered in red, white and blue bunting, flags have been out even more than normal and every spare acre of public land seems to have a picnic, a b-b-q, fireworks or some sort of party going on. We went to the local fireman's picnic where the kids were being encouraged to have hose fights; like a tug-of-war but instead of pulling the other team over, you just knock them down with high pressure water. I had a deprived childhood!
That evening there was a free concert laid on at one of the resort golf courses called "Rhythm on the Range". The golf course was littered with picnic blankets and easy chairs and there were tents selling candy floss, hot dogs, burger etc and of course the obligatory beer tent where you could buy wine in a glass - yes, a real glass, made out of glass! Imagine that at an outdoor event at home!
Tomorrow we're leaving the area for Idaho and the Midwest; we now have less than three weeks to get ourselves across four states, covering 1800 miles to pick up the other Helen, (my sister) and her two kids Callum and Lauren for what we hope will be their holiday of a lifetime!