Wednesday, September 25 Through Tuesday, October 1, 2019
The Deschutes River runs through La Pine State Park, an Oregon State Park south of Bend just outside La Pine near US-97. We had driven from Waterloo County Park outside Lebanon Oregon. US-20 connects Lebanon and Sweet Home west to Bend, an alpine community in Central Oregon. From Bend, south to La Pine where the park is.
US-20 from Sweet Home to Bend is a winding mountain road with sharp turns, narrow lanes and steep drop-offs. This road takes far more mental energy to drive on than usual. Traffic can be heavy in places. Drivers are sometimes too impatient when confronted with slower moving vehicles ahead. Impatience can lead to poor judgment.
From Bend south to La Pine would be an easy drive except for the traffic. Bend’s traffic is extraordinarily heavy. Bend is one of those nice little towns than has been discovered as the next great place to live. The town is growing faster than the infrastructure. The good news is, many national chains are represented in Bend. For its size, it is a great place to shop.
The park is a few miles off the US highway. Coming into the park, after passing the day use turnoff, campers drive over the Deschutes River bridge on their way to the campground.
Expecting to register with a park ranger, we stopped at the registration booth. In fact, the registration booth was never staffed during the stay.
No one home. Sign says “Self Register In Campground.”
Just beyond the registration booth is the recycling and trash drop-off center. This is the thing in Oregon State Parks. Only one location to toss trash. Oregon State Parks have very little litter so this must work.
With Internet made reservations, the campsite was already preselected and paid for. Stopping at the self registration board in the campground, Linda filled out the paperwork. Then on to the campsite.
Our campsite was much nicer than expected. The campsite was an outside back-in spot with the Deschutes River behind it. Plenty of space to setup the portable dog fences.
A short trail behind the campsite led to a trail running along the river.
Walking the dogs along the river multiple times each day was restorative. What beauty. What peace.
The river has many moods, revealing them only sometimes when the lighting is just right.
The banks of the river are constantly evolving. When the riverbanks cave in, trees topple into the river. Toppled trees line the banks, roots at the top of the bank, head in the water, upside down.
Friday night was Prime Rib at The Wallow Bar & Grill in Sun River Oregon, about thirty minutes drive from the park. Excellent place to eat with good atmosphere and prices. The service was excellent.
The weather was lovely during the first two days. Afterwards, the weather became colder each day. It rained, sleeted and snowed.
The cold became enough of a concern that making sure at least one propane tank was full at all times became a priority. At the La Pine propane distributor, we learned that there were four local propane retailers. Gordy’s Travel Center was chosen because it was closest to the park and returning to the park was a right hand turn. Left hand turns on US-97 were nearly impossible at certain times of the day.
Gordy’s turned out to be a great energy retailer. Propane was available seven days a week. Propane cost less per gallon than in Texas. The commercial truck pumps vended DEF alongside diesel.
Monday was shopping and laundry day. On US-97 north to Bend, the temperature dropped to 30. Fortunately, the highway was bare and wet with little chance of freezing on the road. There were few overpasses to worry about freezing. First stop, PetSmart, then on to Safeway.
A worse time could not have been chosen for doing laundry in La Pine. Monday afternoon.
In the laundromat, it was standing room only. There was a cart shortage and a wait for washers and dryers. The La Pine Laundromat is clean and well tended to. The front loader washers didn’t do a good job wringing out the clothing and the result is the dryers took much longer to dry clothes. The clothes did get clean.
Since being on the coast, moisture buildup in the camper has been a problem. At La Pine, with the cold and rain, raindrops started forming all over the inside of the camper. We started opening windows during the day and leaving the heater on which did help some on the moisture. It was cold enough that we had to fill two 20 pound propane bottles while in the park.
The park didn’t turn the heaters on in the bathrooms and showers until Sunday afternoon. Even on the first day, showering was unpleasantly cold. Starting Saturday, lows were in the low thirties with highs in the forties. On Monday, the park also sealed up the vents so the heat wouldn’t just blow away. Temperature in the showers got up to around 60 degrees. The shower water wasn’t ever hot enough. Shower and bathroom cleaning was not performed well. It looked like they were just going through the motions. The south camping loop, where our site was, was fairly full each night we were there. High campsite occupancy rates indicate that this wasn’t exactly the shoulder season. Park staffing shouldn’t have been this low.
Over-The-Air (OTA) television was non-existent. One camper in a brand new high-tech rig reported being able to get TV stations. Tree coverage made satellite TV difficult.
Mobile phone service for making calls worked all the time for Verizon. Sometimes for AT&T. Data service on the iPhones was sketchy. The Verizon Mobile hotspot provided adequate Internet service.
Our campsite provided water, sewer and electricity.
This is a park we would gladly return to in the summer when it was warmer and dryer.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!