Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Oregon Road Trip

For July 4th weekend, both our companies gave additional days off. Hence, we decided to take a few more days and make it a road trip somewhere as we were undecided about flying. While looking for vacations for a week, via road, the options that came up was Utah, Glacier National Park, Arizona or the Oregon-Seattle area. Looking at the distance and the amount of day’s for drive etc, we decided we will do the Oregon coast and explore other cities in Oregon other than Portland. We have already been to Portland ( the Japanese rose garden and Portland city) , Columbia River Gorge ( the entire route)  and Canon Beach during our trip there in 2016. For a long time Oregon meant only Crater Lake and Columbia river gorge for me, as I had not further researched on anything else. Last year we had done an RV trip to Crater Lake and crossed that off my list. I was wondering what are the other main attractions there, that could keep us excited for 11 days.Then I saw this video which explored Oregon so beautifully and got all excited again. 


All the places below were ideas I got from simple google searches/YouTube videos of things to do and one or two mentioned by friends who have been here.

Below itinerary does not include Portland, Columbia River Gorge,Crater Lake and Canon Beach as we have already visited these in our prev trip. Please include these places if you have never been to Oregon. 

Mount Hood was something I wanted to do in this trip, but I did not want to rush it, so we dropped it. I have heard thats another amazing place.

If you are interested in Eastern, North Eastern Oregon, there are tonnes to explore there as well. Will put some links below. 

There is far more to Oregon than what the below itinerary includes, so encouraging you to look further than this itinerary :).

In terms of eat outs, I had some additional breweries and places we wanted to try, which we could not. I'll list down a few in the reference section.

  • Day 1 : Start of trip
    • Drive to Redding and stay in Redding  (Distance : 3.5 hrs from Campbell)
    • Took a break at Black Bear Diner in Vacaville. 
    • Reached the hotel (La Quinta)in Redding by 11 pm
  • Day 2 : Crescent City & Jedediah Smith Redwood National Park
    • After a quick hotel breakfast, drive to Crescent City - Jedediah Smith Redwood National Park. (Distance  : 4 hrs)
    • short trail (1.5 miles) to smith river and stout grove. Loved seeing the tall trees and walking through this redwood forest. Crossing the bridge to stout grove over Smith River was very scenic. Spent some time around the Smith River area
    • Drive to Coos Bay (3 hrs).Coos Bay AirBnb
    • Dinner : Ordered Togo from Seaquake Brewing. There is a long wait for actual seating. The food didn’t taste as good on Togo. 
  • Day 3 : Exploring Oregon South Coast 
    • Drive to Brookings : Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor. (2 hrs from Coos Bay- South)
      • Natural Bridges ( There is a short hike to the bridge which you can do and its amazing)
      • Arch Rock
      • Meyers Beach 
      • battle rock
      • Bandon Beach( was amazing to have a night stroll here). 
    • Dinner from Red Fish at Battle Rock. Amazing food and awesome views! A bit on the expensive side. 
  • Day 4 : Exploring Central Coast Oregon
    • Checked out from Coos Bay AirBNB.
    • Visited Sea Lion Caves (1 hr from Coos bay) +  short hike to Haceta Light house (.5 miles), Thor’s Well, Cape Kiwanda (This one has a nice sand slope the kids can have a lot of fun). 
    • Dinner at "Beach Wok Sandwiches and more" in Pacific City. Loved their food
    • Drive to AirBnb in Clatskanie (2 hrs from Cape Kiwanda)
  • Day 5 : Exploring the Oregon North Coast
    • Drive past Astoria, explored Lewis and Carl National Monument (we only spent about an hour here), Fort Smith State Park beach with the ruins, Tilamook ( 2 hrs south of Astoria) and Cape Meayers
    • Dinner from Tilamook restaurant inside the Tilamook factory.  Very good food
  • Day 6 : Drive to Bend and Airplane home
    • Check out of Clatskanie AirBnB around 11 AM
    • Drive to Bend, and visit airplane home (airplanehome.com) in Hillsboro in between. 
    • Lunch at Newberg (La Real Taqueria Newberg) and Chapters ( Very good coffee and tea here). Some snacks/baked goods from a bakery in Newberg downtown (can't remember the name, but the snacks were yummy)
    • Checkin at AirbnB at Bend 
  • Day 7 : Tamolitch Blue Pool & Koosah and Saheili Falls
    • One hour drive to Tamolitch Blue pool trail head.
    • Hike to Tamolitch Blue Pool(4 miles round). Amazing blue pool.Required some motivation for kids to walk this long. There is a way to go to base of blue pool, but you need to ask around and find it. 
    • Koosah and Saheili Falls ( very close by to the blue pool and beautiful, not much of a hike to the view points)
    • Dinner at Crux Fermentation project. There are food trucks here for you to order food. Vegetarian options were less.
  • Day 8 : Smith Rock State Park and Newbury Volcanic monument 
    • Smith Rock State park is 30 minutes from Bend
    • Smith Rock State Park (Misery Ridge Trail - 3.7 miles)( I did it early in the morning and Sree did in the evening)
    • Newbury Volcanic Monument ( 30 mins from Bend)
      • Lava River Cave (1.5 mile walk inside the cave)
      • Lava Butte ( took a shuttle from Visitor center to the Butte $3/person)
      • Paulina Peak (40 mins from Lava Butte) : Drove to this peak, careful about the last 3 miles to Paulina Peak. It’s an off road, but all vehicles can do this
      • Sunset at Smith Rock again ( I took care of kids, while Sree explored the Misery Ridge Trail)
  • Day 9 : Local explorations in Bend 
    • Downtown Bend, Deschutes Historical Museum ( Good, kids enjoyed seeing the displays). Museum closes at 5 PM
    • Lunch at Taj palace Indian Restaurant. Please don't got here. The food was not great.
    • Tumalo Falls (Short 0.25 mile hike)
    • High Dessert Museum( impressive, again the kids enjoyed the exihibits and the animals). Museum closes at 5 PM. Keep 2 hrs to explore this place.
    • Pilot Butte ( You can take your car on top of Pilot Butte)
    • Drake park and Deschutes River (On Thursdays, they have some music and food carts in Drakes Park. it was really nice)
    • Dinner : Got Island & Noodles and it was yummy from a food truck in Drake Park
  • Day 10 : Painted Hills
    • Went to Sparrow Bakery - Good coffee and chai latte, and got banana bread, chocolate croissant and sandwich. 
    • Got Boba tea from Teacups full.
    • Checked out the last blockbuster store in NA
    • Started around 2 PM to Painted Hills ( listed as one of the 7 wonders in Oregon) . This is a 1.30 mins drive from Bend. Reach there close to the golden hour (like 6:30 pm). We reached at 4:30 PM, and it was too hot in July, and we ended up actually enjoying it only post 6 PM. Please download offline maps of painted hills.
    • Do all the trails. 
      • Painted Hills Overlook trail, (.5 miles)
      • Painted Cove trail (.25 miles)
      • Red Scar Knoll trail(.5 miles)
      • Leaf Fossil Trail (.25 miles)
      • The beautiful Carrol Rim trail during the golden hour (1.6 miles)
  • Day 11 : Back to Red Bluff, California 
    • Drive back to Red Bluff
    • Stop for lunch at Diamond Lake picnic area. 
    • Dinner at Hari Om Sri Om Indian Restaurant. Good Naans! Curries were decent too. Bit on the expensive side.
    • Hampton Inn - enjoyed the pool 
  • Day 12 : Drive back to Campbell from Red Bluff 

Reference Links 

Food ( which we did not explore this time, but was in our list)

  • Facerock creamery in Brandon, OR (Try ‘Vampire Slayer’,)
  • Cranberry Sweets & More Store, Brandon, OR
  • South Beach Fish Market in NewPort ( try popcorn shrimp)
  • In Bend
    • Wild Oregon in Bend
    • Blue star doughnuts 
    • Jackson’s corner 
    • Bend Food truck lot : On tap 
    • El Sancho Taco Shop
    • Bonita’s Gelato
    • Back porch Coffee
    • Brandon Brewing Company
    • Sun River Brewing 
    • Boneyard Brewing 
    • Bend Brewing Company

A few things we did to for road trip, explore the places and manage kids and food

  • If you have a smaller sedan, then renting a larger 6-seater vehicle would really help with leg space and general comfort. Highly recommending this it if that is something you are considering. 
  • In any road trip, it’s important to make sure you have gaps of rest in between long distances, this way you are not driving continuously. You will need couple of stops for lunch or gas, and bio breaks. So plan for that and keep your driving days only for driving. Also plan your itinerary in such a way, that you do not plan more than 6-7 hrs a day if you can.
  • Please download the offline maps for the entire area. Especially painted hills area. There is no coverage in most parts of Oregon. Also for hikes, please download the trails in Alltrails for offline navigation while you hike.
  • Carry enough water! We had multiple bottles on us, and also the camelbak backpack which was amazing! Get one for hikes, very very useful. 
  • Carry enough sunscreen and apply generously. Carry also moisturizers and chapstick with you.
  • Definitely carry some swim wear with you. We carried some beach toys and a beach sheet with us too which came in very handy.
  • Wear good hiking shoes on all your hikes, and get good pair of shoes for kids too.
  • Extra Food : We carry bread, jam,banana and some snacks always. So if we are not having time for an elaborate lunch, we have jelly sandwiches. We also get Subway bowls before we start and carry that with us too sometimes. Usually we see if we can do one meal (lunch/dinner) in a restaurant if possible. But many times we have come home and had soup and rice/salad too. We always have breakfast - cereal, toast, eggs, sausage or something like that and start for the day.
  • Balance out exploring a place vs dining in a restaurant. We would make a decision based on restaurant availability, location, time etc on whether we wanted to do a quick lunch in the car, or if we should go and dine in. So far, flexibility here has helped us save time and explore more, as with kids we already move in slightly slower pace.
  • Couple of times, when kids are not up for a hike, we both take turns in exploring the hikes. This definitely takes longer, but you just have to do it at times if you want to explore a non kid friendly hike. Most of the hikes we did, other than the Tamolitch Blue pool and the Misery Ridge were very short hikes
  • We usually have a slower start to the day around 10 AM or so, and come back later in the night around 9 PM. And some driving days, we have reached a bit later too. So mostly we have visited places during 10 AM and 8 PM, and the longer days in summer has helped.
  • Our kids don't mind the long drives. They make their own games and play/sleep/ read books or listen to music. Pack some of their favorite toys and books.We do take a break every 2 hrs or so to stretch or have lunch/dinner. We make sure we take the kids to restroom at every stop we make. 

The rest of the blog is a detailed one for our own memory, and you can skip it if you don't want to go into the details.

Day 1 - Wednesday - drive to Redding 

We took half a day off, packed and got things ready in the afternoon. We have a checklist that we go through for ease of packing. We started off to Redding CA, around 5:30 pm. First stop was gas, and for about 2 hours it was just a plain drive through traffic. We were all extremely hungry by 7:30 pm, so we stopped at Black bear diner at Vacaville, and had a hearty meal. This was a much needed break. Me and Sree were tired due to the packing, and some hot food helped a lot. We had another 2 hours to Redding, which we spent listening to songs. We had booked 1 night at La Quinta just to break the journey and rest. It’s very essential in road trips to have a good balance of driving and rest.  We checked into our room, changed and settled into the night. 

start of trip

Outside black bear diner

Day 2 - Redding to Crescent City and Jedediah Smith Redwood Park

We had a light breakfast of yogurt and a glass of juice/coffee at La Quinta and started our journey to Crescent City by 8:15 am. We drove around an hour and a half, when Pappu was feeling nauseous and he threw up. We stopped couple of times due to this, and then continued our journey while he slept. This is the first time, he is having motion sickness. The road was beautiful, but windy. 

Just before reaching Crescent city, the second lane got closed, and we had a delay of about 45 minutes. We were all held up, but had a beautiful coastline view.Folks started to get out and stretch and enjoy the view. Finally, it started to move again, and we reached SeaQuake Brewing Company at Crescent city for lunch. They already had a 30 min wait, so we decided to get our usual subway bowls and go to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. 

As we waited for the roads to open - beautiful coast

After checking with the visitor center, we went to the Smith River Picnic area, and parked. We took a short trail through the gigantic redwoods and then crossed a small foot bridge to the other side and continued the Stout Grove loop. The whole hike was beautiful! The weather was so pleasant and the redwoods loomed tall in front of us.We spent some time dipping our feet in Smith River and enjoying the scenery. 

At Stout Grove

As you cross this bridge, enjoy the scenic view 

Checkout how tall these are

After about 30 mins, we walked back to the car. Instead of dining in, we decided to order takeout from SeaQuake ( the wait was 2 hrs to dine in).SeaQuake was recommended by @milkandcardamom and I ordered a few things like the cookie and fried cheese that she mentioned she loved there along with two rice dishes. Sree also got a beer. We got some essentials from Safeway, and started our journey to Coos Bay. 

Driving through the redwoods with a coastal view was so beautiful. We drove through the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor. There were many scenic spots which we plan to explore tomorrow. The sun was setting, and the rays on the sea stacks were beautiful to see, even from the car. We reached Coos Bay by 10 and had a quick dinner. The AirBnB was nice and had all the essentials we needed.The food from SeaQuake was ok, I am sure it would have tasted better, if we had dined in. I quickly planned the stops we need to make tomorrow, and then called it a day.

Day 3- Exploring South Oregon Coast

We took our time today to start. We had breakfast, and got the essentials for today (leftovers for me for lunch, and extra clothes for the beach) and started by 10 AM. 

We went down to Brookings and our first stop was Natural Bridges. 

This was beautiful and we gazed at it from the view point. I took the trail down to see if I can go to the top of the bridge. I initially took the wrong turn, and reached the Secret Beach view point, which in itself was spectacular. I retraced my steps and went down the other path. There were hardly anyone on the trail, so I could not ask anyone. I went to another view point, of the secret beach again, which had another beautiful view. The whole trail was through dense foliage, that I retraced again, and went further up. Here I found a couple who was also figuring out the path, so I just followed along. They took some nice pics of mine. The view at every turn was so scenic. This was really breath taking. We reached the final part of the trail, and there was a steep path down onto the bridges. I felt initially confident to do it, and the other couple was also doing it. But I went till the edge, and then decided not to go further. Essentially its cliff on both sides, and you have to walk over it.Moreover, it was already taking time, and I wanted to head back. But I was happy I got to see almost similar views up close from other parts of the trail. I ran back and met Sree and kids. 

A friendly hiker took this pic for me

Somewhere along the natural bridges hike

View of the secret beach from Natural bridges hike

Natural Bridges 

Our next stop was Arch rock. This was again spectacular views. We did the arch rock view loop, and met an older couple (Bonnie and Ralf) and chatted with them for a while. We enjoyed this stop too, and as we were heading back, we saw dense trees in one area and clicked a lot of pics with them as the back drop. They looked different from the usual redwoods you see.

A cluster of trees at the Arch rock view point 

Arch Rock

We had our packed subway bowls and extra food in the car for lunch.After lunch, we took our beach bag and went down to Myers Beach. We spent around 2 hrs here, and it was as if we got the beach all to ourselves! These large sea stacks on the beach made it all the more dramatic. The kids played in the water, we climbed up the sea stacks and walked the length of the beach and took more pics. We had beach chairs to lounge on too.The weather was perfect for about an hour, and then slowly it started to get a bit hot. The kids did get a bit tired after 2 hrs, and we decided to head back to the car.

meyers beach

On top of a small sea stack

Look at how big the sea stack is, Pranav looks like a small speck

Having fun

From here we went to the town of gold beach. The cafes were all closed. We got into a cafe complex where a nice lady at the Christmas shop helped us with some directions. We followed it to Nesika beach, but could not find the tide pool locations as the lady in the shop had mentioned. So we left to our next stop -  the Battle rock.

Battle Rock - you can climb up all the way to the top.

It was a short stroll to battle rock, but unfortunately Pranav slipped and hurt his leg. So I carried him, as he was very upset. I climbed a little up the battle rock initially, and then decided to climb the whole thing. On top there was a small memorial, and then a great view of the ocean. 

Memorial on top of battle rock

I came down after that, and we walked back to the car. Sree suggested we have dinner at Red Fish restaurant right there. After pacifying Pranav and applying some first aid for him, we went to the restaurant. Since we did not have reservation, it took us a while to get a seat on the patio. This had a great view of battle rock. We ordered drinks and food, and I must say, it was so delicious. Everything was made perfectly. We all had a hearty meal!

View from red fish restaurant

A very yummy blue cheese salad

We left around 8 PM, and we rushed to Bandon Beach. This was around 30 miles from Battle Rock. We reached Bandon Beach by 8:45 PM. Initially we did not know how to access the beach, and it was windy. The kids and Sree went to the car, and then I walked around and figured out the access to the beach. I realized it was not so windy on this side of the beach, and went and got Sree and kids also down. It was 9 PM in the night, and we all walked on the beach in the dusk. Bandon beach again had beautiful sea stacks -one of them in the shape of witch's hat. We spent some time here, and then started our journey back to Coos Bay.

Witch's hat

interesting tunnel on the beach

Bandon Beach

We reached the airBnB, and I had to record a Bharatanatyam hand gestures video which Cheriamma needed. We settled the kids, I did the video, and spent some time on this blog and now heading to bed. 

Day 4 - Exploring the Central and North Oregon Coast

Even though the alarms were kept for 7, by the time we woke up and started packing it was 8:30 or so. We cooked some light breakfast for kids, heated up some left overs to take for lunch, packed up and vacated the airBnB at 10:00 am. After a quick stop at Walgreens, we were off to our first stop, the sea lion caves by 10:30.

We reached the caves by 12:00. There was enough parking. There were two viewing decks - one to view the sea lions, and the other to watch whales. We saw a lot of sea lions sun bathing :). There was a great view to Haceta lighthouse from here. 

We took the elevator down and saw the sea lion caves. There were a lot of them resting on the rocks there with the waves splashing on them. These sea lions are different from the ones in Bay Area and they were bigger. There was another view point for the Haceta lighthouse inside the caves. We also saw Ralf and Bonnie ( the couple we met yesterday) there again surprisingly and Ralf told us about a whale lurking in the ocean and we were able to spot it. 

Sea Lions viewing deck. You can see them lying down

Sea lion caves 

Haceta Lighthouse view 

We got some tokens from the gift shop and headed to the Haceta light house. We parked and had lunch in the car. Kids had jelly sandwich, Sree had a packed salad and I had the food we had packed. 

By 2 PM, we started the short hike to the Haceta light house. The light house was very nice. I think this is the first time I am seeing a light house or standing next to one. We spent a little time here, strolled back to the car after a quick stop at the gift store. 

Haceta Light House 

View from Haceta Light House 

Quaint house on the way 

Another view of the light house

Not sure what this bridge is. This is a stylized photo from google photos

Our next stop was Thor’s well which we took turns to see. Sree and Pranav went down the short hike first and came back and then I went. We decided not to stop at any other spot and found a restaurant (Beach Wok Sandwiches and more) in Pacific city for dinner. Our idea was to do the 3 cape scenic loop after dinner. The dinner was delicious! I had one of the best Vietnamese sandwiches and Sree also loved his Ham sandwich and soup. The coffee and hot chocolate was also nice. 

Thors Well

Amazing Vietnamese Sandwich

After this, we stopped at Cape Kiwanda. I thought this would be a quick stop, but we were pleasantly excited to see a huge slope of sand. We had fun going up and running down multiple times. This kids enjoyed this. In the middle, I lost my phone on the slope, and was lucky to retrieve it before it went deep into the sand :).After exploring and taking a few more pics, we decided to start back. It was already 7:30 pm and we had a 2.5 hr to our Airbnb in Clatskanie. 

Cape Kinwada Sand slope

The drive was again very scenic and it was dark by the time we reached the Airbnb. This was a cabin, and one of the cutest and most thoughtfully decorated ones I have seen! They have a loft with string lights and that’s where the bed is. The downstairs has a nice big bathroom/laundry area , kitchen, sofa bed and a built in dining table. They had provided complimentary breakfast, they was an old record player which we tried records on, they had given us some icebreaker games, supplies for paint night and everything else you need. By far, this is one of the cutest Airbnb’s I have ever stayed in. Very excited to explore more tomorrow morning. The only thing bothering me a bit was the cat who lived in the patio area.

Beautiful loft bedroom

old records

Kids settling into the house 

Day 5 - Beautiful Day-bed, Tilamook and fireworks 

I woke up early today to explore the cabin more. I was still a bit scared of the cat, but today I had more courage to just be around him. I got dressed and ventured out and found the owner in the adjoining house. She said she and her husband built the 3 houses in this property. They have done such a good job. I asked her about the outdoor shower (that’s an extra one apart from the indoor one), which she pointed to me and I also learnt about the day bed right on the slope next to the cabin. 

We made breakfast and then later found our way to the day bed. This is such a beautiful spot with the views of the Columbia river and a bed facing it surrounded with books! This was a cherry on the icing for this cabin! We just wanted to spend the whole day in the cabin and the day bed, there were so many books to read! 

Day Bed

Lovely Cabin

Views from Cabin of columbia river

Outdoor area

Reading in the day bed

Wanted to post front view of Cabin

Reluctantly we decided to continue our plans exploring the areas around Astoria today and visiting cape Meayers. As we were passing through quaint town of Astoria, we saw the bridge that connects Oregon and Washington. But we did not stop anywhere specifically. We headed to the Lewis and Clark National Recreation Park. This was where Lewis and Clark lived for about 100 days during their expedition of exploring the west coast. We saw the cabins they built, and the kids did a ranger program. There are trails here which you can do, but the main part is just a visitor center and this one site. There was a ranger explaining what they did for entertainment, and she showed the harp, the games they played, and the old style deck of cards with intricate drawings. In the end she showed us  one of the games they would have played during the expedition, and Tara and Pranav got a chance to play it too. They enjoyed it. 

Lewis and Carl Recreation site

Kids having fun at the game

We headed to buy some lunch, but since most stores were closed, and we wanted to save time, We just had jelly sandwiches in the car. Glad that we carried bread and jam with us. We headed towards the ship wreck on the Fort Stevens State Park, which was about 12 miles from Astoria and explored the ship wreck. 

Fort Stevens State Park Beach

We stayed here only for a little while and headed to cape meares. This was a 2 hr drive and I had read that this is a must see etc, and was ok making the drive. This was pretty tiring towards the last bit, but we saw Tilamook on the way, stopped there, had the ice cream from the creamery shop, and also got some food. The kids had theirs, while I waited in the long ice cream line. We enjoyed the flavors we got, and this was a much needed break. 

ice creams at Tilamook

From here it was a short distance to Cape Meayers. We knew the light house would be closed past 4 pm. I think I had seen enough of the fabulous coast, that this one did not  seem quite worth the 2 hr drive. I did feel we could have spent more time in the cabin instead of this. But I would not have known about the location unless I checked it out. We took the short stroll to the light house and took some pics and headed back. 

Cape Meares 

We reached the cabin around 9 pm, had the dinner we had packed from Tilamook. I must say the food was amazing! As we were having dinner, we saw the fireworks across the river and this was so beautiful to watch from the deck! This cabin is truly magical. Location, decor, day bed, deck, and thoughtful touches all make it an amazing one. Highly recommend this place if you want a getaway. 

July 4th fire works from the cabin


Day 6 - Airplane Home and Drive to Bend

Today we had about 2 hrs to enjoy the cabin. So I lay on the hammock for a while, and Keasy the cat wanted to be with me. I woke the kids up and while they played with the cat, I went to the day bed and sat there for about 30 mins reading and enjoying the views. I came back up, and asked Sree to go enjoy the day bed too. While he was at the day bed( the kids followed, not sure how much peace he got), I cleaned and packed to checkout by 11 am. 

Enjoying day bed more


Bye Bye Cabin


We checked out around 11:15, and drove to the airplane home in Hillsboro. I had emailed the owner Bruce, and he replied with all the details. The reply itself tells you how accommodative he is. We reached his property around 1:15 PM, and he was already there. It was interesting to see an airplane in the middle of the woods. We got onto the wing of the plane, which is one way of entering the aircraft. We explored inside - he had a sofa bed, and few other air mattresses. He has some old computer. His kitchen was only a microwave and coffee machines and a lot of cans of soup. He spent time with the kids and genuinely cared about showing us around. He also told us instructions to climb to the top of the plane, and I followed. But I tried twice, but could not haul weight up to reach the tunnel which takes you to the top of the plane. He also shared story about why he got an aircraft to be his home. He was a pilot and engineer himself, he saw many aircrafts being shredded and then bought a piece of land - 10 acres, and eventually bought a plane, and got it into his property. He valued financial independence and he feels this keeps him mortgage free etc. I think what stayed with us was his hospitality through out.


Our co-pilot

inside the cockpit


From there, we went to the town of Newberg for lunch. We initially went to a place, thinking its a bakery and restaurant, but they were not serving food, so we bought some doughnuts, empanadas and went to the Mexican restaurant near by. The food here was yummy! The rice and beans especially, the kids hogged on them. We ate the doughnuts as dessert and that was yummy too.

We got out, and for coffee we hit a place called Chapters. It was a nice little coffee shop with coffee, tea and books. We got a book from there called the babysitter’s club. According to Sree, the coffee here was amazing and I had the pumpkin pie chai latte which was also very good. Sree got some coffee beans, and we headed to the car.

Enjoying chai latte 


Amazing coffee


Enjoying her book


We drove 2.5 hrs through some very scenic routes and reached our AirBnB in Bend.

This was in a 3 acre land, and had all the basic necessities except laundry. The master bedroom and bathroom were very spacious. We settled in, and Sree went to get some essentials. We had a quick dinner of rice and soup and settled in for the day, after researching on some food breweries and other plans for the next few days here in Bend. 

Day 7 : Tamolitch Blue Pool, Koosa and Sahelie Falls & Crux brewery 

Today is our anniversary. Our plans today was to see the Tamolitch Blue Pool and Koosa and Saheili falls all about an hour away from Bend. So we started around 10:00 am, and got some fruits from the local farm stand and headed out. When we reached Tamolitch Blue Pool trail head we were just lucky to have got a parking spot. We started the hike and quickly realized how beautiful the trail was along the stream. There were beautiful bridges to cross and other greenery to enjoy. 

Anniversary Hike


After about a mile, the sun started hitting us hard. Getting the kids to continue to walk- esp Pranav was challenging. Our pace was slow as we had to keep to their pace. But we kept up the momentum and motivated them to keep going. Once we reached the blue pool, it was just as I had seen online. So blue. We had a quick jelly sandwich lunch break. I did see people going to the bank of the pool. It was too risky for the kids, so I said I’ll check it out and come back. I followed the trail and the general direction in which people were walking. Another family was also trying to find the way to the pool, and we both asked other hikers and found our way. Some parts we had to climb over areas of rocks and the descend to the pool was a bit steep, but doable. With kids it would have been more tough. I reached the edge of the pool and enjoyed seeing its blue color closer. Took a few snaps and headed back. After I reached, Sree went to explore the place. Pranav had fallen down again, and he was upset with the wound. We started back. By now the kids were tired. I carried Pranav for most of the way back, and Sree walked with Tara. By the end, Tara was tired and cranky. The total hike was about 5.6 miles. A long one for the kids. 

Blue pool view from top

At the base of blue pool

Once we reached the car, we drove to Koosah falls. This was a real short walk to the falls view point. The falls were beautiful to look at. We got back to car and drove to Saheili falls. Actually we can hike from Koosah to Saheili, but since the kids were cranky, we drove down to the vista point of Saheili. I went first again, saw the falls, walked around a bit and found a peaceful spot to sit and watch the water falling in steps. This was a highlight for me. After spending some time here, I walked back to the car and sent Sree down to experience the same. 

Koosah Falls


Saheili Falls 


Another view of Saheili falls 


After this we drove back to the Airbnb, freshened up and got an Uber to go to try the beers at Crux Fermentation Project. This was something Sree was looking forward to:). There were food trucks outside, so after we got the sample tasting beers, we got some tacos and burgers from the food trucks and settled down to eat. We all hogged on the food. We also got shaved ice and had that as well. Finally we headed back home.

Anniversary dinner - Crux Fermentation project brewery

Day 8: Smith Rock State Park. 

I woke up at 6 am in the morning and got ready and drove 30 mins to Smith Rock state park. I had heard that the misery ridge trail was the most popular but also difficult one there, and I wanted to try it. Since it was difficult with kids, I decided to do a solo hike, and then later take care of kids, so Sree can go do it. 

I reached the park around 7:15 am, got the $5 all day pass and then looked at all trail map. Highly recommend downloading the trail ahead of time on alltrails. There was also other hikers, so I followed one of them. I saw them take the river trail, so I followed on it. I took snaps at some spots and continued on the trail. For almost 1.8 miles it was plain, and then slowly the elevation started. I followed the elevated trail for a while and discovered it I had to be extremely careful due to how slipperty the soil under me was, only to later realize that that was not the right one. The hikers behind me, also realized the mistake and turned and walked back. I also started slowing pacing down and at one point I had to sit down as I was pretty scared of slipping. I found hikers at the end of this path and  called for help. One of the hikers came up to me, and helped me navigate down. I thanked him profusely because that was a scary moment. Then, I went up the right trail. Kept my phone in my bag and took it out only at safe spots where I can capture a pic. Finally on top, I was so happy to see the view. There was a bench to sit and enjoy the view. I sat here for a while, even tried FaceTiming Sree to show him:). 

I started my descent back, and there were other spots where I took pics.My loop was done the reverse way. I climbed down the set of steep stairs. Some switch backs and some stairs were so steep and scary. I don’t know how some folks climb this with small kids or with open shoes. Many times I had to crouch down to find my balance. Finally I reached down, felt accomplished and went back to the car. The only thing really worrying me was Sree not picking my call, which soon dissipated once he called me back. 

Kids and Sree had just woken up as I reached. They got dressed and we went to checkout the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. When we reached there, the visitor center mentioned that there are delays at the Lava river cave. So we went there first, waited for an hour to enter the main area, parked and went to the post where they were providing safety instructions. After which, we borrowed two powerful flash lights and started towards the cave to explore. A set of metallic steps took us down and we started walking and exploring the cave. The whole distance was about 1.5 miles and Tara was done by half time. Pranav was in great spirits. Experiencing the cave was amazing for me. Thought we would see couple of bats, but there were none. 

In front of the lava river cave

After this, we went back to the visitor center and took the shuttle to Lava Butte. This was a scenic spot where we could see all the volcanoes around the central Oregon area. I sat down with Tara, while Sree and Pranav explored a bit. 

We  took the shuttle back to where we parked, hit the gift shop to get some snacks and a book + pencils for Tara and started to Paulina peak which is 45 mins away. We stopped midway to get some water and drinks and continued. 

The final stretch to the peak is a dirt road and it was also a bit narrow. It was tricky to drive over it and one need to be very careful as you drive here. We reached the view point  and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Paulina Peak, the Paulina lake and the 3 sisters in the backdrop. There is a trail to Paulina peak, but I did not want to try it now, as we were planning to drive back to Smith Rock State park for Sree to try the hike. 

Paulina Peak

Once we got to Smith Rock, it was 6:45 pm. I told Sree how to reach the trailhead. Also due to lack of time, an easier way was to climb up to the top, see the views  and climb down the same way. This would be only about 1.5 mile. While he was doing the hike, I sat with the kids in the car. 

After a while, when they showed interest to see the rocks, and I took them down. The plan was to sit in the picnic area and wait. But Tara and Pappu became friends with two other girls Lucy and Maggie and their dog Murphy. Their older cousin’s name was Kaitleen. The kids were truly enjoying the company, so we all decided to explore the river trail together. Their original plan was to do half way up misery ridge and back, but they ditched that plan so they can spend time with Tara and Pranav. We walked along the river trail and then at one point split our ways. We came back to the picnic spot, while they continued on their way. We took some snaps with the kids. I was so proud of Tara for having understood that we need to go back and walking back with me, although she was having a lot of fun with Maggie. 

We walked back to picnic area  and within 2 mins found Sree walking down the ridge. He was soon with us, and we all started back. The sunset was so beautiful and the sun rays on certain portions of smith rock was amazing. Reminded me of cathedral rock in Sedona. 

Waiting for Acha to finish the hike

We reached home, decided to make do with the soups for dinner along with bread and hummus. 

Day 9 : A lot of local things in Bend 

Today my morning started with going to the laundromat nearby. Our AirBnb did not have laundry, and this was something we did not realize until we booked. We had packed only required clothes and hence a visit to laundromat was highly needed. This was my first time using a public laundromat, and with some help from folks there, I figured out. I read a book while I waited for this to complete. 

At the laundromat 


I reached back home and we all left first to the Deschutes historical museum. There was a nice lady there who was so enthusiastic to tell us about the exhibits. We saw a medical exhibit, and another  exhibit about how Bend came about. They had old Bend town pictures. The kids were fascinated with a dial up telephone, and I had fun telling them how we dialed numbers 10-15 yrs ago. We also saw exhibits of things in an old bend home, and also one room which was set up like a school. This place was originally a school. I loved seeing the importance of cursive writing back in the days, exactly how my dad made me do it. They had sheets of paper and also cursive writing demonstrated on walls of this school. In one of the rooms they had bend bulletins bound from 1900s. Fun to see those old newspapers. And we watched a movie about the Water Pageant in Bend. Every 4th of July they have a water pageant here with amazing float structures made and people float through the Deschutes river 

The nice lady also told us that on Thursday evenings they have music and food courts in drake park and it will be fun to come. So we decided we will check it out later in the evening


 Checking out the dial-up phone

Deschutes Historical Museum


We headed for lunch to an Indian restaurant called Taj Palace. The reviews online were great and we had high expectations. But the food was really bad. Please dont go here. After this, we went to Thump coffee and Sree and kids had coffee and hot chocolate. Hot chocolate was nice and Sree said coffee was decent. 

We got to Tumalo Falls, saw it from multiple view points via a short hike. Tara was being too difficult about walking a short distance. 

Tumalo Falls 



We came back to the car, and drove to the High Desert Museum. 

It was air conditioned and was perfect to spend the afternoon. It had impressive displays and a lot of dessert animals like king snake, owls, otters, eagles, and porcupines that the kids enjoyed watching. The exhibits were very impressive and some portions it almost felt like we were going back to the mining era. 

Each blanket had a personal message 






Our next plan was to hike the pilot Butte, but since Tara was not too up for it, we just drove up there. From Pilot Butte you can see the entire Bend below. The Butte is right in the middle of Bend. You can also see all the volcanic peaks around central Oregon including Mount Hood. We took some pics here strolled around and started back to Bend downtown to explore the activities in Drake’s park.

At pilot Butte


View from Pilot Butte

We parked and walked down a bit to Drake’s park and took the stroll around Deschutes River. This was perfect evening time and the whole place looked beautiful. We soon reached the gathering with music and food and other stalls. Got a small earring for Tara and got some yummy island noodles. The lines were long so it took a while for Sree to get it and come. We sat on the lawn and enjoyed some lovely live music and dancing along with some yummy biscotti. 


Deschutes River 


Event - Music and Food trucks at Drake park

yummy biscotti!

We came back to the car, and came home. Played some tag in the lawn with Pappu and Tara:) This was fun. Before heading to bed, we also played a game of cards and called it a day. 

Day 10 : Painted Hills 

We woke up late, had breakfast and headed out only around 12 pm. We wanted to check out two places we had heard about. Our first stop was Sparrow Bakery. We loved their chai latte and coffee. We also ordered some croissants, banana bread and a sandwich for Togo. The bakery had a nice outdoor area to sit. We gobbled up the banana bread there only. We also checked out the nearby shops in the area,  and got a mug and a magnet of Bend before starting to get boba tea from teacups full. Our friend had mentioned this place, and I went in and put an order. They said it will take 25 mins as the tapioca pearls is still being made. We decided we can go check out the blockbuster store meanwhile. This is the last blockbuster store in North America. Though i have no nostalgia, it was fun to see DVDs and even cassettes there. 


We got our Boba order and started to painted hills. This was almost a 2 hr drive. We reached painted hills around 4:30. Even then the sun was beating on us. The hills with different colors of red and yellow and white were beautiful to see. Can’t imagine this was a forest before and these are the ashes of the volcanic eruptions in the area. We hiked the painted hill overlook trail and looked at it from different angles. The whole area, had very few people today, so it was almost like the trails were completely yours.

Overlook trail

Tara was tired of the heat and hike, where as Pranav had a different issue of not able to go on top of a mountain. The hike was just .5 miles and we got them back in the car. We drove down to painted cove trail, waited there for about 35 minutes, and had the packed salad and remaining of the sparrow bakery food. I went out and checked out the very short painted cove trail and came back. There was another trail called Leaf fossil trail and thought that will be fun for kids as they can look for fossils. We did that hike too, very quickly as that was a short hike too. 

Leaf Fossil Trail - exploring fossils


There was a mountain of stones and potentially many fossils on it. We went to check out Red Knoll. Myself and Tara who joined just because I was going alone, checked out the Red Knoll trail and she took many nice pics here. She loves to take pics.We came back and Sree went and checked out. 

Red Scar Knoll trail

some few wild flowers which are still there

After this we came back to painted cove again. The boardwalk around the red rocks was amazing, and we took some pics there. There was another couple, the girl dressed in beautiful yellow also posing there. We were the only two families on the entire trail. 

Painted Cove Trail

Finally I wanted to check out the Carroll rim trail which is back at the overlook area. This was a 1.6 mile trail, and I started to explore on my own as kids were not going to agree to come. It was the golden hour, and the views of painted hills from this trail was mesmerizing. And half way through there is a bend and on the other side, the wind on the dry grass along with the sun made it feel magical! Towards the end of the trail there were two benches - one overlooking the painted hills and the other to take in the view on the other side.Such a beautiful hike. I enjoyed the views sitting on the bench and then hiked back and asked Sree to check it out. He went while we all waited in the car. We also caught a beautiful sunset. In 30 mins Sree came back, and we started back to the airBnB. With a quick stop at Safeway, by the time we reached home it was 11 in the night. 

Golden Hour

So beautiful 

Captured a beautiful sunset 

Day 11 : Drive back to Red Bluff 

Today morning we packed, gave a quick breakfast of cereal for the kids and left the airBnB around 10:30 am. I was fascinated with the alpacas I saw near our airBnB and took a few pics of them.




Tara had some blisters on her lip, and was feeling a bit uncomfortable. We took the car for a quick car wash ( highly necessary as it was completely covered in dust), and got a Safeway bowl lunch for kids and started our way to see Tokeeti Falls. But as we neared the falls, there was a forest fire in that area and the roads were closed. This was a bit upsetting, and we realized the roads may never clear up today. So we in search of another falls nearby, but the trail was too long for today. And every other falls was along the closed road. We decided to find a spot for lunch. We had seen a turn to Diamond Lake and took that. This turned out to be a good place along a lake to have our lunch.The lake was not deep, so the kids could have some fun dipping in the lake. Thankfully we had their swim wear, so we changed them and they enjoyed the lake. Especially Pranav. Tara was more interested in watching the gophers around the area. 

Diamond Lake 

After about 30-45 mins here, we cleaned up and started our drive to Hari Om Sri Ram restaurant in Shasta for dinner. One of our friends had recommended this restaurant and we thought it might be a good stop. We drove for about 2 hrs and saw the beautiful Mount Shasta looming over us. We reached Hari Om Sri Ram restaurant and had a great meal. Their naan and chicken curry was awesome. The curries on the Thali were good, but I have had better ones. We also gulped on mango lassi and enjoyed the tea. 

Mt Shasta - on the way

Hari Om Sri Ram Indian restaurant 

Happy with food

From here it was about an hour and half to the hotel in Red Bluff. Drive was uneventful and we reached our hotel around 8:30 PM. 

The pool was open, so me and kids changed into swim wear and went for a quick dip in the pool. Sree joined us later and we all had a relaxing time in the pool. Around 10 PM, we came back up, showered and called it a day. 

This is the end of our vacation and tomorrow it’s just going to be a 3 hr drive to our home in Campbell. 

Dip in the pool :)

Day 12 : Red Bluff to Campbell

We had the complimentary breakfast from the hotel(which was a large spread),vacated and started our drive back home. We reached home for lunch with some hot Komala Vilas food waiting for us :). This has now become a tradition -  order Komala Vilas to end the trip.

Starting back