This dude is an incredible traveler. We did a total of six flights and six ~hour-long airport pick-ups/drop-offs and he powered through all of it. (This included a five hour red-eye from SFO to BOS!) There were a couple little cries here and there, but only due to the conflict of being too tired and too excited about flying.
And what did Otis get for his stellar behavior and patience? The world's smallest changing table in the world's smallest airplane lavatory.
This would have worked fine if he was missing either his legs or torso, but, unfortunately, he was fully intact.
Flying over these salt ponds in the South San Francisco Bay--and the dry hills leading up to them--made Sarah and Andre a little wistful for their days back in California.
And then, after a dramatic flyby (not pictured) over Mt. Shasta: Bend! Travis and Charlotte picked us up from the airport while Kellie hung back and prepared a delicious salmon dinner.
Rather than help clean up (like a good guest would), Andre took it upon himself to rearrange young Charlotte's alphabet magnets on the fridge.
I'm having a hard time imagining a more perfectly picturesque waterfall than Tumalo Falls.
The appropriately named Tumalo Creek, flowing down below the aforementioned falls.
Our guide (the aforementioned Travis) informed us that the path leading down to the base of the waterfalls wasn't really an official trail. That didn't stop these yoyos from heading over and getting some pictures.
Walking up the hot, dusty trail to the top of the waterfall, the clean, clear water started looking pretty inviting.
But it was cold as a motherfucker! You could step in for a few seconds, but then you had to get up on a rock or something before it started hurting!
Otis goes for another quick foot dip.
A couple of creekside cairns. (Is it actually a cairn if it's not actually marking something?)
A quick sneer from ace-driver (well, close: he rolled his car earlier this year!) Travis.
A sprinkler was set up in the back yard to provide some not-quite-so-cold relief from the summer heat.
Post-sprinkler kids chilling with watermelon on the new deck in the shadow of a large ponderosa pine.
Otis pointed out (correctly) that these pinkish-purplish flowers were "very pretty."
One of the things we'd like to see more of in Potsdam is people doing things. It's always kind of a bummer to walk through town on a nice day and not see anyone out.
Fortunately, Bend doesn't have this problem. There are plenty of places like the Crux Fermentation Project (pictured above) at which large crowds of families gather to drink delicious beer, eat scrumptious food from food trucks, and play games and run around in the grass.
Otis wasn't feeling very well at the beginning of the trip. He had a little fever and not much appetite (turned out to be HFM), but that didn't stop him from running around and bouncing like a madman.
I'm not entirely sure which mountains these are, but I think that they might be the three sisters. (As viewed from Crux.)
Otis and Charlotte head off to explore the top of a mound of dirt at Crux.
Charlie stops to smell the "roses"...
...while Otis heads back down to the blanket to throw some "roses" at Mom.
Hoping to counter the effects of a week-long vacation in Bend, Andre heads out for an early morning run along the canal (at one point almost tripping on a transient bike hipster camped out in a sleeping bag in the middle of the access road).
According to Travis, the citizens of Bend recently voted to install a small whitewater park in the Deschutes River downtown instead of allocating the money to road maintenance. Makes sense to me: make the tourism bucks and then fix the roads. It wouldn't work the other way around!
They put a hydraulically-controlled standing wave too. Here's my favorite surfer of all time (and local Bend-ite) Gerry Lopez on it: click.
A large dog swims up-river.
A run-down barn in one of the now-most-expensive parts of town.
For a toddler-sized aquatic adventure, we headed up to nearby Shevlin Park. We found a nice little beach (on, again, Tumalo Creek) and set up camp. Andre constructed a pile of large rocks in the middle of the creek and the kids splashed on the banks with the responsible adults keeping an eye on them.
The water was, again, extremely cold.
...but not so cold as to keep Andre from wading across and snapping some flower pictures!
...and some leaf shadow pictures!
Kellie offered to take a picture of us. My initial instinct in these situations is always to say "No thanks!" But then everyone reminded me that it's nice to have family pictures too.
We went for a short hike. Charlotte and Otis were getting near the end of their respective lines. Otis was kept up and in semi-good spirits with the promise of a covered bridge. Problem was that once we got there, we had no more enticing landmarks to promise on the way back!
Travis saves energy by using just a single hand on the stroller.
I didn't see any bears here in Shevlin Park (and, come to think of it, I don't know if there actually are any), but this spot seems like a good place for a bear to hang out.
End of Day 2: another family-friendly beer garden, this time at Goodlife Brewing. We ate pirogies and played the dustiest round of bocce of all time.
(This tank might be full of beer. I'm not sure how these things work.)
Next, a trip to the High Desert Museum. This was much more exciting than the name seemed to imply! To begin with, there were lots of live animals: snakes, fish, eagles, and--as Otis observes in the picture above--porcupines!
But it wasn't just live animals! There were also lots of interesting exhibits about the ecology and history of the region. Here, Otis, Charlotte, and Travis take a look at my favorite exhibit. For extra realism: there were also a couple of beer cans and receipts scattered near the carcass. No censorship here!
These rainbow trout aren't very impressive looking when they're still in the water.
The big draw for Andre: OTTERS!! They had two of them in an outdoor enclosure out in the woods. We got there in time for the 1:30 "otter encounter," which turned out to be an old volunteer lady talking and throwing fish snacks. (I was hoping for jumps through hoops or something...) Still, pretty awesome. You could also go inside and look at the otters through an underwater window.
Chipmunk or ground squirrel? There was a sign nearby explaining the difference, but I didn't read it.
Despite the high fire danger, chimineas, it seems, are still permitted. Good thing for us! We warmed out tootsies out in the yard while the kids were asleep.
Based on the route number, I don't think this bus was headed for school.
We met up with our pals Anicia and Steve, who happened to be in Bend visiting one of Steve's friends after attending a wedding in/around Eugene. Kellie very kindly offered to watch the (napping) kids and the rest of us went for a float down the river. (The new whitewater park, BTW, is amazing!)
We all met up for dinner afterward and Otis practiced stacking vegetables on a toy grill in the kids play area.
The last day of our trip found us traipsing around in the mountains with a couple of canoes swiped from Kellie's parents' house. First stop: Devils Lake near Mt. Bachelor.
Otis, as is his wont, began collecting things. He gathered this small bouquet before it was decided that wildflowers should not be picked in a national forest.
Under-prepared for the 58-degree weather (no surprise after highs of 95 down in the city below), Sarah paddles for shelter from the brisk Cascade wind.
This water was crazy clear! I think it gets as deep as 8 or 9 feet in the middle, but you could see the bottom as clear as if it were only a few inches.
(Here come the Allens in their canoe-which-turned-out-to-be-a-rowboat!)
Seeing the boat shadows was a little unnerving...
Usually, Andre jumps in the water no matter how cold. But not here. We thought the water was cold earlier in the trip. It didn't compare to Devils Lake.
...so we headed a bit further down the road to nearby Elk Lake! Despite being just a few short miles away (and, presumably, fed by the same melt-water), Elk Lake was ridiculously warm by comparison. Not sure why.
We thought a picnic would be in order and so found a picnic table at which to enjoy our Subway sandwiches.
We found an empty table with no cars nearby and started to get set up. Some people had left a couple of kayak paddles there, but we didn't see anyone in site so we assumed they were like the dozens of boats left lined up on the shore and moved them aside.
A couple minutes later, though, a big bossy woman pulled up in a big bossy SUV and told us that she'd been reserving the table with her kayak paddles. Our hosts (lifelong Bend locals) explained that that's not how things worked in the park. But she was insistent that we move all of our stuff (including our car full of sleeping baby that we'd parked right next to the table) to the next spot over. We begrudgingly obliged.
The kicker was that we never saw the woman again. We were there for almost two hours but despite unloading a couple bags full of groceries the woman never came back. We did, however, see several other car-fulls of day-trippers looking for a picnic spot drive past with sad looks. Quelle injustice! (My petty revenge: not scaring away the squirrels that kept jumping into the woman's grocery bag.)
On the plus side: Kellie bought some kombucha to enjoy with lunch and none of us need to worry about our B12 levels for a while!
Otis busied himself in a nearby pine grove, collecting things and bringing them to us for approval. (By this point in the trip he'd regained his health, appetite, and energy!)
After a nice nap in the car, Charlie (now afflicted with Otis's affliction) rejoined the group in high spirits. After lunch, we adjourned to the lake-shore to throw rocks.
Not at these guys, though. (It's hard to see in this picture, but this kid is fly-fishing from a SUP. Apparently that's how it's done these days!)
Broken Top looms over the trees on the edge of Elk Lake!
And, nearby, Mt. Bachelor waits quietly for ski season to resume.
And as the day drew to a close we packed our bags and braced ourselves for a red-eye with a two-year-old. Of course we had two final Bend beers at the airport bar while our flight to SFO became further and further delayed.
Otis, meanwhile, spent his time running around and--with our encouragement--burning off the rest of his energy. A new game was invented: milk is collected in a bendy straw and sprayed onto a chair whereupon it is re-slurped using the same bendy straw. Extra points for extra germs! Also, I think, you're not allowed to use your hands.
(Should I have said "Bend-y straw"?!)
Despite the delays, we ran to our gate in SFO and just barely made our overnight flight. (Whew! I got worried when I got a text from United telling me we'd missed our flight, but I guess you can't believe everything you read!)
As before, Otis did great on all of the flights, even in this traffic jam on the Logan tarmac. A perfect traveling companion on a perfect trip!