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Travel Digest

Gem of the Cascades - Bend, Oregon

Central Oregon has one of the country's most desirable places to live - Bend. A little more 50,000 people reside in town but what a hub of outdoor recreation. You will find this a "must vacation spot". And for a town surrounded by wilderness, Bend has a lot of big town commerce and entertainment. You will not get bored!

Our trip to Bend wasn't our first nor will it be our last because of its unique attractions. So let's go exploring places to see and things to do around Bend.

  • Route 97 and the airport at Redmond about 23 miles down the road are the primary accesses to this area. We like to fly into Portland and drive Route 26 through the Mt Hood wilderness area on our way there. Sometimes we have taken Interstate #84 along the Columbia River Gorge then turned on Route 35 and traveled the East side of Mt Hood.. These are two magnificent drives which both lead to Route 97 south to Bend. When we return to Portland, we usually take the other route back.
  • Three major wilderness areas dominate the country on the east side of the Cascade Mountains: Mt. Jefferson (10,497 ft), Mt. Washington (7,802 ft), and the Three Sisters Mountain range (all topping 10,000 ft.) Wilderness areas. Many of these peaks were ancient volcanoes which spilled lava flows over the landscape millions of years ago. Abounding with mountain streams, lakes, and waterfalls, these recreational areas are favorites of hikers, fishermen, and campers.
  • Rainbow and Steelhead trout are popular with fishermen during the fishing season. The Metolius River ( one of the most beautiful I have ever seen) and the Deschutes River are favorite destinations for catching a hearty load of trout. Fly-fishing doesn't get any better than this! There are literally 100's of lakes to fish in this area. Who said this was the desert side of the Cascades?
  • Near the center of town is Mirror Pond along Drake Park. There are not many towns in this country that can match the beauty of this water front.
  • Oregon is famous for its waterfalls along the Columbia River in the Gorge but Central Oregon has a good share of them also starting with 70 ft Koosah Falls and the 100 ft Sahalie Falls in the McKenzie River area. Fishing is great here for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Closer to Bend you can find Wizard Falls.
  • We cannot forget the lakes. The most famous lake in the central cascades is Sparks Lake only 30 minutes west of Bend. This lake, as several others in the area, do not permit motor boats. Pristine environments like these are a sight to see. Suttle Lake, Scout Lake, and Three Creeks Lake are near each other northwest of Bend.
  • Skiing at Mt Bachelor and Hoodoo ski areas keep this part of Oregon hopping in the winter. Needless to say, Bend is alive with visitors year round because of all the types of activity. Mt Bachelor seems destined to be the next Vail or Aspen.
  • Bend has every conceivable national name brand store you can think of in town, from Barnes and Noble to Staples. It even has been blessed with an excellent outlet shopping center by the Prime Outlet developers that includes LL Bean, Coldwater Creek, Carter's, Big Dog, and others. After all, you have to go shopping when you vacation to find those "things" that can not be found at home. Right?

So if you are interested in having a wilderness vacation and still be able to be "in town", Bend, Oregon is the place. It is a great year round escape from the office.


The 'Maine' Month

Timing cannot be better to visit Maine then in the month of September. The seasonal weather with temperatures in the 70's and a lull in tourists makes it the perfect time to see one of our nation's most unique coast lines.

Maine is a very large state but most of its population lives in the southeastern to mid-coastal areas from Kittery to Acadia National Park. Along this craggy coast are some of Maine's 'must see' places to visit. Our favorite list consists of the following and all are accessible via route US#1.

  • Old Orchard Beach is one of the few true beach areas along this rocky coast. Another fine beach is Popham, further up the coast near Bath.
  • If you are looking for upscale resort areas, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and Boothbay Harbour will fit the bill.
  • Portland's Old Port waterfront is a testimony to what a city can do in reinventing itself. The retransformation that has occurred here the last 25 years is phenomenal. The waterfront is a delightful place to spend a day sightseeing and visiting the fine restaurants and shops in the area.
  • Quaintness abounds in the coastal towns of Bath, Wiscassat, and Damariscotta. Bath has an excellent marine museum where you can learn boat building while soaking in the marine history of the area.
  • You cannot leave Maine without visiting one of the world's most famous places to shop - LL Bean in Freeport. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, LL Bean is the king of outdoor gear. Their website is the source of our World Parks link in Atravco's resource page. Check it out.
  • If nature is calling, then you must visit two pristine parks, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge near Kennebunkport and Acadia National Park at the northern terminus of our trip. While at Acadia, visit Mount Desert Island and climb 1,530 ft. to the top of Mount Cadillac and see the first light of day for the U.S. You'll have to get up real early.

So if you have the time, spend two weeks visiting the rocky coast of Maine this year. September is really the 'Maine' month.


Festivals Galore

You can view over 32,000 festivals around the world on one of our favorite links... Festivals.com. They have a site that lists coming events state-by-state and country-by-country. It's easy to navigate and check out what's happening in your area.


Best kept secret to see New York City - Weehawken, NJ??

Sounds incredible but the best way to visit New York City is through Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, NJ. A place to stay with plenty of parking, a short ferry ride to Manhattan, bus around the city, a great place to eat, a Broadway show, and back again, all on a limited budget. That's what we did recently for the weekend!

A place to stay with plenty of parking - Sheraton Suites at Lincoln Harbor. This hotel on the waterfront allows some spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline especially at night. If you are lucky, the room for you and your loved one(s) could have a 180-degree view of New York - straight across from the Empire State Building. The hotel has a lot of parking for those who drove their car.


A short ferry ride - Take the hotel shuttle bus 2 miles to the ferry landing for the Waterway Authority and hop on a 7 minute ride across the Hudson River and on to one of the Authorities' buses for your destination in Manhattan. A round trip ticket costs only $10 and you can hop on and off the buses all day and then back to the Sheraton when you are exhausted from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Another 7 minutes trip and you're back to the quietness of the Lincoln Harbor Complex.

A Broadway Show - The big city is famous for it's many on and off Broadway shows. This time was Annie Get Your Gun with Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat at the Marquis Theatre, a part of the magnificent Marriott Hotel Complex at 47th and Broadway. The cast put on a splendid performance which prompted a standing ovation.

A great place to eat - Marriott Hotels are always great to see but this one is one of the best! The lobby starts on the eighth floor, beautiful shops galore, and the atrium seems to never end. And the setting is just great to visit the Encore Restaurant and have some Sea Bass or Salmon for as much as it costs back in our town, Virginia Beach, VA. For less than $25 apiece, my lovely wife and I had the best seafood we have eaten in a long time.

Back to the Sheraton - remember, it's just a quick bus trip back to the ferry landing, a short ferry ride to the other shore, and a quick shuttle ride to our lodging. While you are staying at the hotel, spend an evening at the Sprito Restaurant enjoying a fine meal while viewing the spectacular skyline of Manhattan.


Summer's here with it's huge volume of travel. The ASTA suggest the following tip guidelines. Click here!


Send us a note on your travel experiences. We especially would like to hear about the pleasant ones. E-mail me at carston@atravco.com.


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