A week in Oregon: Bend, Sparks Lake, and Smith Rock

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Ryan (Liza's friend from medical school) and his family were so welcoming and generous to us, who were complete strangers, from giving us beds and putting out snacks to playing private tour guide. We spent 4 days with local Oregonians - Ryan, Kyle, friends, and family - and I am sure our experience would not have been as rich, unique, and exciting if we hadn't been blessed with their enthusiasm to show us the best of Central Oregon.

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Camping on Sparks Lake

Our first day, we packed up camping gear and headed to Sparks Lake, which is an "alpine lake" nestled among the peaks in the area: the Three Sisters, and Mount Bachelor (which is known for its skiing). 

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We drove up, put our stuff on paddleboards and kayaks, and traversed across the lake to a secluded beach, where there were no other people within probably a 200 yard radius.

The evening passed quickly as we played mafia, drank beer, swam, and had a campfire - I'm starting to think I would be wildly successful in starting 21+ summer camp!

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I absolutely loved waking up naturally to the light, and washing my face in the lake; it reminded me a lot of my trek in Patagonia last year. The perfect combination of serenity, nature, and good company made this the highlight of my entire week, by far!

We spent our second day at the lake and then having a low-key night at Ryan's house, with some Backporch iced cardamom coffee in the afternoon and some local beer with dinner.

Smith Rock State Park

On our third day, we were joined by Kyle's friends, who actually had driven up from Oakland. (I was surprised to find out that it took only 7.5 hours!) We all drove half an hour to Smith Rock State Park, which reminded me SO much of my experiences in western Colorado and Utah during Bike and Build.

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We did a 2 hour hike that took us up to the top of the cliff (where we took a selfie), back down, and around along the river.

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Smith Rock is known for its rock climbing, - a man was slowly making his way up Monkey Face solo, catching the eyes of many surrounding hikers, including us.

A tour of Bend's finest breweries

We celebrated our last night in Bend with a self-made brewery tour, hitting the most popular local spots: Crux (where we played cornhole at dusk), 10 Barrel, GoodLife, and Deschutes.

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While all the beer was really good, I was reminded of why I don't drink a lot of beer often - it's filling! I could barely finish my 3rd glass; I must say, as a true northern Californian, my stomach capacity is much more suited to wine tasting.

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Deschutes River and Sunriver

On our last day with Ryan and his friends, we took a small easy walk along the Deschutes River.

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The end of our walk led us to atop a huge field of lava, which really seemed like another planet.

Then, as expected in Oregon, we parted ways with our new friends over beer and grub at the Sunriver Brewhouse.

Trips like these really remind me the power of relationships, and how there is no limit to love and kindness! We were so lucky to have Ryan and Kyle's hospitality, enthusiasm, and friendship, and it really warms my heart to think about how these four days were entirely a result of good friendships, between Liza and Ryan, between Yena / me and Liza. What a great reminder to leave Bend with!

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