If you have been reading my website at endlessroaming.com you would be aware that I have been blogging and photographing about my 8-month road trip around the world in 2019. This is the final leg, my 4 week road trip through the USA and now heading for the town of Bend and further west. If you wish to catch up on my first post “Roaming the USA” you can refer to the following link 2019 Seattle to Portland.
Now usually when I head somewhere I like most people tend to plan whats ahead so as to get the most of my adventure, however I decided not this time. My final destination was to be Las Vegas for my flight back to Australia and I had a few weeks of car rental to make it there. The night before picking up the car I spoke to a few people in a bar in Portland and one mentioned something that caught my attention, the Bend Brewfest. Bend is a town Id not heard of so I quickly Googled some images, it looked like a nice enough place so I booked a hotel through my favourite discount hotel app, Agoda TIP use Agoda there is no substitute, much like Skyscanner should always be used for booking flights. The following morning I headed to the airport to pick up my car and after some arguing about not wanting to pay for a car upgrade I went and picked up a brand new Toyota Camry and was on my way. TIP if the car rental counter is almost insisting that you take an upgrade on a car that you don’t want don’t pay for, more often than not when you go into the car park to choose your vehicle, the “upgrade” car will also be available at no extra cost… in my case it was a Toyota instead of a smaller Kia.
I was now on my way to Bend and heading through some amazing mountain and forest roads passing through beautiful Oregon. The drive was 4 hours or so and included stopping off at the spectacular Detroit Dam for morning tea. I checked into my cheap hotel on the edge of Bend and walked into town. It was around midday and the Brewers Fest was well on its way already so I decided to walk around town before joining in the revelry. The towns estimated population is 100,000 and is named because of the Deschutes River that “bends” around town. I walked across a bridge there were hundreds of people sitting on tyre tubes floating down the river, it looked pretty awesome and a great way to relax. I then headed into the downtown area, unfortunately I had only one night in Bend due to the cost of the hotel and the festival but could already tell I wished I had time to stay longer. Something had caught my eye; it was a Boxing Kangaroo flag handing outside a bar.
It was now 2pm and probably a little early to start drinking but I hadn’t seen a Kangaroo flag in a long time and was curious as to it was being displayed so prominently outside a bar in the middle of Oregon. Thee only person indoors was the publican, I sat down, ordered my favourite Australian beer and a meat pie which was on the menu, this was all truly surreal. It turned out that the publican was from Bend and had met his Aussie bride a few years ago while traveling in Australia and this is where they’d decided to settle. It was a great pie, good beer and conversation, not too many Aussies came through Bend, at least in the summer, and there was a few Kiwis (New Zealanders) living in town so rugby union was quite popular. I wished I could have stayed at the bar longer but it was now time for the festival.
Bend Brewers Fest was fantastic, it mixed in all things I loved, outdoors, foreigners (Americans, I being the foreigner) barbecue, live music and beer. I purchased my beer tickets from the concession stand and wandered around the tents “sampling” the many beers available. Over the course of the afternoon I started to develop a taste for “sour” beers which very much tasted like ciders which I enjoy and after more sampling I became involved in plenty of conversations with foreigners….. I mean Americans. This involved dancing around to live music and playing bizarre carnival games that I dont understand and wont explain, fanbloodytastic. A few locals adopted me and insisted we leave the festival early so I could see some of the nightlife, unfortunately I didn’t get back to the Australian bar however Bend’s bare scene was really enjoyable. We headed to a bar that was a series of creepy halls and hidden rooms, it was a maze and easy enough to get lost in. We then sat outdoors in the beer garden by a fire pit and I ended up talking to more friendly locals. I said goodbye to my new friends who dropped me off at my hotel, I now love Bend.
The following morning, I was hating Bend, too much sampling 😊, regretfully I got in my car and headed to the Waffle House for some cheap greasy breakfast and then drove west with the stomach rumbles. A good hangover is a sign of a good night out and I was feeling rough that’s for sure. I drove towards Mount Hood which is Oregon’s highest point at 3,429 metres and towers over the lush green forest and mountains below. I wasn’t feeling in shape nor the mood to attempt scaling the mountain so I parked below it, admired the view and drank a gallon of water, my hangover was starting to improve and with such a view how could it not. My drive continued west to the spectacular Columbia Gorge, an 80-mile canyon along the Columbian river forming the border between Oregon and Washington State. There are a series of bridges crossing the Gorge as well as freeways hugging the river on both sides. There were plenty of stop off points to admire the river which was as seemingly as busy as the road with logging ships, cruise boats and windsurfers. There were also trains logging cargo and people, the entire gorge appeared bustling with industry, maybe like the wild west once did and is also very busy and beautiful, its very difficult to describe.
There are so many distractions along the Gorge but something odd did catch my eye, Stonehenge. I crossed once again over the river and drove up to “Stonehenge”. Maryhill Stonehenge was dedicated on 4th July 1918 to the people who died in World War 1 and construction was completed in 1929. In my opinion this was a very “random” tourist attraction to come across, particularly an historical site with so much reverence that was over 100 years old. Like the original Stonehenge its a series of rocks in a circle however in this case much better condition with far lesser tourists. It stands atop the gorge and makes for a great viewpoint over the valley, river and activity going on below. I was really starting to appreciate my unplanned road trip as I would never have thought of coming here, there is something to be said about word by mouth from local people…. at beer festivals. I then continued driving along Columbia River until the road and river diverted heading for the town of Walla Walla, for no reason other than I liked saying it out loud, “Walla Walla”.
I pulled into town, checked into my hotel and went for a swim in the pool and then had a nap. Walla Walla has a population of 45,000 and the downtown area is quite small, its located within in a large rural farming area. There was live music going on in the street, it was a Sunday night, however and the bars seemed to be pretty quiet. The last bar I proved quite popular as visiting Australians really weren’t common. The publican gave me a few beers, I taught locals how to say “G’day mate” and “She’ll be right” which no one could master and was invited to a house party by a few locals, however the festival and night previous had gotten the better of me so went to bed early. Feeling refreshed in the morning I hit the road, driving through a seemingly endless series of back roads surrounded by wheat fields as far as the eye could see. A crop duster flew over me and waved its wings while I was parked taking a photo of these fields of gold. I then accidentally came across the Palouse Falls State Park on the Palouse river. There was no one about, I went for a quick swim in this spectacular setting and continued on.
I drove through some seemingly abandoned towns and more fields, eventually reaching my destination of Spokane where Id decided to stay two nights. The hotel was relatively cheap and in the downtown area so I figured might was well take advantage of the good location. Spokane has a population of around 220,000, the nightlife proved to be relatively quiet but it was good to give beer a rest and admire the city. The Spokane river runs right through the middle of town and has a series of waterfalls and bridges that cross over. I went on a cable car ride to get a better view of the waterfalls and in the evening walked around the series of parks in the town centre taking photos of the purple (lilac) sunsets, the reason why Spokane is referred to as the lilac city. My full day of not driving was mostly spent in the park, walking about shopping, eating some quality Taco Bell, and admiring the mid century commercial architecture of the downtown area.
Next up Ill be heading further west towards Glacier National Park and then south to “yet to be determined”. I’ve really been enjoying this random road trip, Id met some great people, appreciated lot of picturesque scenery, sampled plenty of beer, and was getting really excited about what was to lie ahead, it was only day 5. I hope you all had/have a very Merry Christmas and make the most of the up and coming new year, hope to have another blog out shortly and fingers crossed maybe make it overseas again late 2020.
Ps apologies if I start or tend to overuse words such as picturesque, beautiful and spectacular to describe views, I’m not that descriptive and the USA is proving to be picturesque, beautiful and spectacular.