Oregon seems to be mostly about the food trucks, coffee, brewpubs, music and street sculptures.

We had a brief stop in Portland, to visit their famous food trucks for lunch- packed tightly together with aromas mingling from cuisines around the world and thronged with workers on their lunch break.

Then we made straight for Smith Rock, near Bend, a Mecca for sport climbers and impressive in its own right with the steep canyon and jagged spires. We spent two sociable days climbing there. The rough nature of the rock meant it was pretty brutal on the fingers so these had to be interspersed with a rest day in Bend, which, according to locals, is like what Portland used to be. Again, lots of bicycles, coffee and brewpubs. We had the good fortune of turning up there just in time for a free music festival so there was a really nice vibe, lots of people dancing in the street, food and craft stalls and the chance to taste all sorts of weird drinks (sparkling mead, tea liquor...). Apparently Bend is also famous for its mountain bike trails so I had a ride out to Phil's Trails and the Whoops, which were pretty swoopy and fun but the desert-style riding was much more mellow than anything I'd been doing in Squamish so a bit less interesting.

As ever, the best place for a wash was the local swimming pool and this was a total treat- a 50m outdoor pool, entirely laned-off for proper swimming. Bliss!

Although technically a rest day, we also squeezed in a subterranean walk along a mile- long lava tube. Head torches lit the way through a tunnel full of whorls and weird strata and stalactites.

As with so many places, we could have stayed much longer in Bend, this beautiful, friendly little city on the river. We met some nice people at Smith Rocks and hope to catch up with them again in Colorado.

Weird fact about Oregon: you're not allowed to pump your own gas.


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