May 30: The High Desert Museum is not Northwest Trek’s sibling, after all

I’ve been wanting to go to the High Desert Museum just south of Bend, Oregon, for a long time. I went once before, back in the 90s, when I don’t think it had been around for very long, and I wanted to see what it was like now.

I’d had it in my brain that it was this ecosystem’s NW Trek, which is basically a wild animal park (as opposed to a zoo) populated with local animals. The HDM did have local animals, but they were mostly of the creepy-crawly variety – reptiles and insects and a couple of arachnids I could have done just as well without – with the exception of a pair of river otters being terminally cute in a new habitat which just opened in April.

Desert collared lizard.
Desert collared lizard.
A sheepwagon like the one Charley saw in Repeating History.
A sheepwagon like the one Charley saw in Repeating History.
Otters!
Otters!

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My van's namesake.
My van’s namesake.

But the rest of the museum included a 1904 family logging operation (contrary to the moniker “high desert,” most of this part of the world is heavily forested with ponderosa pine) done up in living history style, a huge exhibit on the Native American history of the Great Basin, and several other exhibits. A temporary exhibit featured the work of the WPA in Oregon in the 1930s.

So, actually, it was a cross between NW Trek, the WA state history museum, and Fort Nisqually. Pretty darned impressive. And that doesn’t even take into account all the terrific outdoor sculpture, one piece of which was created by Rip Caswell, who I know through Facebook. Small world.

Lunch was back in Bend, and so was a trip up Pilot Butte, just east of downtown, thank you for mentioning it to me, Paul. But could you have at least warned me that the road to the top is at least as terrifying as the one up Steptoe Butte in the Palouse??? But it was worth the white knuckles, and I finally got some excellent views of the central Oregon Cascade volcanoes.

Middle and South Sister from the top of Pilot Butte, with the zoom.
Middle and South Sister from the top of Pilot Butte, with the zoom.
The same peaks from the same place sans zoom, with the city of Bend below.
The same peaks from the same place sans zoom, with the city of Bend below.

I spent most of the afternoon at Newberry Crater Nat’l Volcanic Monument, not far south of Bend, a place I’d camped at with my parents when I was about nine or ten, and with my first husband in my mid-twenties. It was fun to see it again, to hike the Obsidian Flow trail (which still had snow in places!) and stroll along the shore of one of the tiny lakes inside the crater.

Obsidian Flow, Newberry Crater.
Obsidian Flow, Newberry Crater.
Along the Obsidian Flow trail, Newberry Crater.
Along the Obsidian Flow trail, Newberry Crater.
An interesting obsidian formation.  Sorry about the photographer's shadow.
An interesting obsidian formation. Sorry about the photographer’s shadow.
East Lake, Newberry Crater.
East Lake, Newberry Crater.

Tonight I’m camped at a little forest service campground along the road to Newberry Crater, with a waterfall as background music. Pretty nifty, IMHO.

Waterfall at McKay Crossing campground, about a two-minute walk from my site.
Waterfall at McKay Crossing campground, about a two-minute walk from my site.