The Desert Loop: Clockwise around the Grand Canyon

We’ve been on an unspoken quest to show the kids as many of America’s beautiful places as possible. So far, we’re making decent progress, but it’s not lost on any of us that we’re running out of time. So in the summer of 2017, we set out to cross a number of ‘must-see’ locations off the list. What we realized in the process is that no matter where you’ve been (or perhaps even how many times you’ve been there), there’s always something new to see. Having made this loop, I think we could set out on the exact same trip again and see something more.

Here’s a brief recap of the trip the way we did it, the hits and misses, and some things we might do a little differently the next time around.

Saturday: Indy to Las Vegas

Pack just enough to keep you in clothes for the week, plan to do laundry a few times, and hit the road. We flew into McCarron Int’l, picked up an SUV, and set off for Trump International. If you’ve not stayed in a Trump property before, picture your ‘normal’ high-end hotel and then gild everything with gold. The lobby was full of tourists from other countries and people (probably like ourselves) who scored an amazing deal on Priceline. Across the street, I encountered someone taking a selfie with the hotel in the background and their middle finger raised toward it. A selfie-protest, I presume.

Wanting to do a few Vegas events without exposing the kids to too many Vegas events, we settled on a little pool time and caught Blue Man Group show at the Luxor. The show somehow achieved that perfect balance between an amazing display of remarkable talent and vomit jokes. It was great. That evening we wandered around to catch a few Vegas highlights: the fountains at Bellagio, the arcade inside Ceasar’s. I would have liked to have seen a Cirque de Soleil show, but the only one that would have worked with our timeline was something about the history of erotic sensuality or something. We skipped it.

Sunday: Zion National Park

Here’s our first do-over for the trip: We should have pulled everyone out of bed at dawn and hit the road. Instead, we let them sleep a bit, wandered up the road to a fantastic little diner for breakfast, and got rolling much later than anticipated. The result was that we arrived at Zion late afternoon and only spent 5-6 hours in the park. While we got in an amazing hike to the Emerald Pools, cavorted with wildlife, and saw a real life-and-death rescue happening before our eyes, it wasn’t nearly enough time. You could spend a week in Zion and only scratch the surface. We didn’t even scratch the scratch.

There are many iconic hikes in Zion National Park, including Observation Point, The Narrows, and Angel’s Landing. We missed them all. In retrospect, they may have been too much for our crew, although I’m reminded that most of us tackled The Beehive in Acadia National Park. In any event, these three remain on my personal bucket list.

On the way out of the park, we dined al fresco at a cool little tex-mex place called The Whiptail Grill as the temperature dropped and the sky turned to full-on black. It was both chilly and memorable.

We bunked down that night in a villa at Sand Hollow Resort, just up the road from the clubhouse. Sand Hollow is one of the top golf course resorts in Utah. It was stunningly beautiful. We didn’t play. We arrived late in the evening, the kids swam a bit in the morning while breakfasting at the pool, and then hit the road for Bryce Canyon National Park.

Monday: Bryce Canyon

You can plan a trip like this to the very last detail or you can fly by the seat of your pants. Our approach (like usual) was somewhere in the middle. So when I was looking at our route to Bryce Canyon, I realized we could do most of it on the highway or take a two-lane through a large green blob on the map that traversed Cedar Breaks National Monument and Dixie National Forest. The green blob looked more interesting, so we hung a right at Cedar City and took the long way past Navajo Lake and Duck Creek Village. We stopped a few times along the way to dip toes into rushing snowmelt creeks or to simply take in the views. It was a gorgeous drive.

We rolled into Bryce Canyon around lunch, grabbed something quick to eat at a little wooden shack, and then headed to the trails. What we saw over the next few miles simply boggles the imagination. Of all the places we’ve been, all the trails we’ve walked, I’ve never seen anything like Bryce Canyon.

You walk out the back door of the lodge and cover about 500 yards of meandering paths, which all eventually lead you to the edge a gorge that spreads to the horizon in three directions. Everywhere you look, there are towering orange spires that seem to defy description and gravity. We hiked down The Rim Trail and turned at Sunset Point to descend on the Queen’s Garden and traversed the canyon to return on the Navajo Loop Trail up Wall Street with an amazing view of Silent City.

While at Bryce, we learned that they have an active stargazing culture, including several Astronomy and Night Sky Programs. If we had it to do over, we’d figure out the necessary logistics required to attend one of these. Instead, we packed up late in the afternoon and started the trip to Page, Arizona. We had intended to stop by Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, but we left Bryce at almost 8p, so we missed it. No matter how great the sand dunes might be, I can’t imagine this was a bad decision.

Tuesday: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell

We had a full day planned, so we started early. First up was Antelope Canyon. there are two different canyons to visit: Upper and Lower. I’m told that Upper has more dramatic lighting, but only if you are lucky enough to be there midday (between 11a-1p). The reason is that the gap at the top is very narrow, essentially cutting out much of the daylight unless it’s directly overhead. For this reason, we opted for the Lower Canyon with a tour starting at about 9a. Both canyons are on Native American lands and require that you visit with one of the authorized groups. The tickets are limited and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so we arrived early and took the first available.

Antelope Canyon is difficult to describe. We descended into the slot canyon by a series of gangplanks and staircases and gradually walked our way out as the walls closed in. At the end, we merely stepped out into the light. Looking back, it was difficult to see where we had come from, emerging as we did from beneath the ground. Overall, it’s stunningly beautiful; don’t miss it.

From Antelope, we stopped at Horseshoe Bend on the way back to town. If you’re on Instagram, you’ve likely seen pictures of this spot… a massive turn in the Colorado River viewed from 1,000 feet above the surface of the water. Truly, photos don’t do this justice. While there’s really nothing to do here be sit and be awed, it’s worth the effort to make the short (~1 mile) trek from the road to the rim. It was quite warm by the time we arrived (around noon) so be sure you have water. In fact, be sure to have water everywhere and at all times.

We ate a late lunch in a gas station turned BBQ-pit-and-live-music-venue called Big John’s Texas BBQ. We sat outside under the pavilion and listened to music while sampling Big John’s best. We may have been really hungry or the food may have been excellent. Or both. Probably both. Following Big John’s, we had a couple of hours to regroup before heading over to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and boarding a boat for a sunset cruise on famous Lake Powell.

Over the years, with 2 million annual visitors, Lake Powell has gained a reputation as a houseboat-party-destination. A product of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, it took nearly 17 years for the water to reach ‘full pool’. Since then, the water levels have been in constant flux, resulting in amazingly colored walls rising above the water level. There are also several miles of narrow channels that make for awesome kayaking and canoeing. We spent our evening on a sunset cruise which provided a guided tour of the lake and significant bits of history along the route. We enjoyed it, but I think spending the time in a smaller boat in the channels may have been more enjoyable.

Wednesday: Grand Canyon and Flagstaff to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon

We set out for the Grand Canyon and made it about 10 miles down the road before stopping at a group of roadside stalls to do some shopping. We spent about 30 minutes shopping and talking with the Native American couple that was running the place. The girls all bought a small piece of jewelry and we were back on the road.

By the time we arrived at the Grand Canyon, the weather began to turn. While standing on the rim looking out over the vista, the blistering heat of the day abruptly turned to the mid forties with spitting rain. We wandered down to the historic lodge and found our way to a table for some lunch and hot chocolate. After lunch, we walked the trails a bit before heading back for the road. Truly, if you really want to experience the Canyon, you’re going to need a few days here (at least.) Just hiking down into the canyon would take several hours, but I feel that it’s the best way to really get a feel for the place. Next time…

We drove south to Flagstaff and then on to Sedona. We opted to stay away from the interstate and instead took the road that runs through Oak Creek Canyon. Once we bunked down in Sedona, we found ourselves back in this stretch several times: twice for hiking and once to slide down the chutes at Slide Rock State Park. Oak Creek Canyon (Arizona Highway 89A) is one of the prettiest drives in the country and definitely not to be missed.

Thursday – Friday: Sedona

We had planned all along to spend a little extra time in Sedona and I’m glad we did. From the Pink Jeep Tour (Broken Arrow is highly recommended) to the Chapel of the Holy Cross to hiking the vortex to the farmer’s market, we packed our days with outdoor adventures and loved every minute.

Some random recommendations:

Visit Enchantment (even better: stay there). We hiked near the property, climbed to the top of the Boynton Pass Vortex, and had a lunch on the patio surrounded by red rock cliffs.

Take the Broken Arrow Pink Jeep Tour. We were trying to find the trail that included the most off-roading and this is definitely it.

Visit Slide Rock State Park. I think there are hiking trails here, too, but go for the swimming/sliding down the sandstone ‘slide’.

Hike. Everywhere. You. Can. As we drove from place to place, we often stopped at trailheads on the side of the road with little idea what might be out there or on the other end. We saw so many beautiful things this way.

Saturday: Sedona to Las Vegas to Indy

Up very early, drive to Las Vegas, drop the car, catch a plane. Sleep.

Route Map:

There are many ways to take this trip, clockwise, counterclockwise, zig-zagging… I was pleased with the itinerary and felt like we definitely saw quite a bit in a short period of time. But there are still things we missed, mostly noted above. But this area of our beautiful country has so many gorgeous places, I think you could go to the general area multiple times without growing weary of it. Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon should both be destinations by themselves. And many other places in Utah deserve a visit as well.

Nevada-Utah-Arizona Route Map


On Thursday evening, Char and I left the kids in the hotel pool and drove a few miles down the road to a winery for dinner. It was a nice, relaxing time on the patio looking over the grapevines. On the way back to the car, we paused to admire this little guy in the driveway. Yes. That’s a tarantula. And, for perspective, the end of my shoe.

Why not now?

Twenty-seven years ago this month, I stood at the front of St. Joseph’s Church next to my best friend as we waited for his bride to walk up the aisle. She was preceded by her ring bearer, a little boy named Stuart.

Mary and Stuart met while she was an oncology nurse at Methodist Hospital and he was undergoing cancer treatments. They formed a strong bond, growing close as only caregiver and patient can. For his part, Stuart was a tough little guy who maintained a cheerful disposition and a positive attitude throughout. And Mary, well… I’ve told you about her before.

Stuart is about 30 now, married, perhaps with kids of his own. I’ve thought of him often over the years and I’m struck by how thin the margin is between success and failure. In his individual case, the treatments worked and he’s gone on to live a fruitful life. But there are so many others with tragically different outcomes. I imagine how many kids we’ve lost, how much of a difference they could have made in the world, how they may have gone on to truly change the fabric of our lives. What measure of blessings could have been realized had they lived?

I have no doubt that we’ll eventually find a cure for cancer, but I’m troubled by the word ‘eventually.’ Why not now? Why not today?

Why not help by donating… today?

It’s a dirty job, and Chris excels at it.

I was talking about how badly my grill needed to be cleaned and how much I was dreading doing it.

“I’ll clean it,” Chris said.

There are jobs you have to do that you don’t mind doing, and jobs you have to do but hate. Some of the latter are cleaning jobs. For me, the grill is right up there near the top of the list.

The trouble is, I love my grill. One of these days I might graduate to something fancy like a Big Green Egg, but for now, the Weber Spirit is the tool of choice. It’s an extension of the kitchen, a cooking utensil as useful as my iron skillet and one that gets more use than our microwave. We use it, in fact, year-round.

All of that use comes at a cost to cleanliness. Marinades, oils, fats, and grease take a severe toll on your cooking surfaces. The grill needs to be periodically cleaned to remain functioning correctly (and safely). And this is where the trouble lies: cleaning these things is a dirty job that almost no one likes to do (including you, I’d bet). As a result, it never seems to get done.

I was talking about this recently with Chris Collins, who offered to solve the problem for me.

“I’ll clean it,” he said.

At that moment, the clouds parted, a light struck out from above, and God himself looked down on me with favor. (In retrospect, He may have been looking at Chris. Hard to say.)

“You’ll do it?” I asked. “Are you serious?”

He was. And he did.

The only reason this wasn’t really weird is that Chris owns a company called Hoosier BBQ Grill Clean and cleaning grills is his thing.

On the appointed day and time, Chris arrived at my house towing his entire business behind his shiny truck. Inside the trailer were all the tools of the trade: a “clean and green” cleaning process that is one-part cleaning tank, one-part old-fashioned elbow grease, and two parts proprietary cleaning solution that is bio-degradable, non-toxic, odorless, and pet- and eco-friendly. Most importantly, it works.

Chris takes all of the pieces apart and places the grill racks, flavor bars, and heat plates in their custom-built process tanks with the cleaning solution. While those are soaking, he removes the control knobs and other protrusions and thoroughly cleans everything: the grill box, the drip pan, all inside and outside surfaces. If there are parts needing attention (like the aluminum ‘flavor bars’ on my Weber), he’ll replace them. Then he gets to work on the grill plates and other internals, using equal amounts of effort and cleaning solution.

Their process removes soot and all visible traces of grease and fat, and they get deep into all of those nooks and cranny’s you don’t usually notice. When finished, the whole thing goes back together, and what’s left is – I kid you not – a grill that looks as close to new as it did the day you bought it. (Be sure to see the before/after photos on the web site.) I was blown away by the difference he achieved with what was, admittedly, a somewhat neglected cooking surface.

The whole process takes a few hours and can be scheduled when it’s convenient for you, though you really need not be present at the time.

It’s a bonus that Chris is an extremely nice guy running a cool little business performing a service that you definitely need done and probably don’t want to do. Give yourself an early Father’s Day present that you’ll really enjoy. Check them out online at or call or text him at 317-442-2226.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article in The Atlantic titled, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” Normally, these alarmist headlines tend to make me skeptical, but the subhead pulled me in: “More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.” That sentence rang true to me (and, as a father of four post-Millennials, tweaked all kinds of inner fears), so I dug in for a long read.

The article – and forthcoming book, iGen – paints a picture of a dramatic shift in teen behaviors and emotional states. The author, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, has been studying generational data for decades and has never seen anything like it. “Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states,” she writes. “The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear.”

“The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.”

If that sounds like the demographics in your household, pay attention. Twenge argues that the smartphone, certainly among other factors, has played a defining role. The data pivots in 2012, the same year when more than 50% of them owned a smartphone. The impact on their activities and behavior has been dramatic, both for good and for bad. Some examples:

  • They’re less likely to get into a car accident (because they’re less likely to be driving – 25% finish high school without a driver’s license)
  • Less likely to drink alcohol
  • Less likely to have sex
  • Less likely to spend time hanging out with friends (the number of teens who get together with friends nearly every day has dropped 40% from 2000 to 2015)
  • Less likely to leave the house without their parents (12th graders in 2015 were going out less often than 8th graders in 2009)
  • Less likely to date (in 2015, only 56% of high school seniors went out on dates, for Boomers and Gen Xers, it was 85%)
  • More likely to feel lonely
  • More likely to be sleep-deprived
  • At higher risk for suicide

So what are they doing with their time? “They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed,” Twenge says. One of the teens she interviewed for the book told her, “I’ve been on my phone more than I’ve been with actual people,” she said. “My bed has, like, an imprint of my body.”

Sound familiar?

But the frightening thing is the impact it’s having on them. You might think that spending all this time on Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook would be making them happy, but everything points in the opposite direction.

The Monitoring the Future survey has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried 8th- and 10th-graders since 1991. The results are clear: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

“There’s not a single exception,” Twenge writes. “All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media.”

“When teens spend more time on smartphones and less time on in-person social interactions, loneliness and depression are more common. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27%, while those who play sports, go to church, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly. Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35% more likely to have a risk factor for suicide.”

The article continues to paint a compelling (and gloomy) picture, and it’s very worthy of reading and will hopefull spark some engaging conversations. The statistics seem beyond reproach: just spend a few minutes with this chart, and you’ll see how these trends are intensifying. But with this awareness comes understanding, and understanding can provoke action. We need to help them better understand the long-term impact and encourage them to limit time and use.

There is hope. The data indicates that any reduction in the amount of time spent on devices has a positive impact. The challenge is to make it happen.

Twenge suggests, “The correlations between depression and smartphone use are strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone. As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it’s a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.”

An Oregonian Whirlwind Trip: From city to coast to desert to mountains

Having never been to the Pacific Northwest (and being mildly jealous of Ben’s photos from his trip), Char and I hopped a Frontier Airlines flight and landed in Portland. The idea was simple: spend a few days seeing as much of the Oregon landscape as possible.

To pull this off, we were going to put a few miles on the rental car and the hiking shoes: by the end of the week, we’d covered roughly 900 miles driving and 50 miles walking.) I had planned to go from Portland to the coast along highway 99W and arriving somewhere near Lincoln City, but we couldn’t bear the thought of missing Cannon Beach. So after spending a day roaming around Portland (the Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, a small farmer’s market, and a great dinner at Southpark Seafood), we started Monday with a quick stop at Blue Star Donuts and headed for the coast.

Monday: Portland – Cannon Beach – Bandon

This was a long day, punctuated by a few fun stops and some beautiful Oregon coastline. Arriving at Cannon Beach, we drove a couple miles north to Ecola State Park and jumped out and started hiking. We hiked from the main parking area to Indian Point Beach, where surfers and kids alike were all decked out in full wetsuits. Stunning place and one of the best views of Cannon Beach available.

From there, we drove nearly the entire length of the Oregon coastline, stopping for essentials like coffee and food and to gaze in wonder at one postcard-worthy overlook after another. At some point, you get a little numb to just how beautiful everything is. Keep in mind: the weather you see in all of the photos below was in one day, often within minutes. With the marine clouds blowing in from the sea, the sky could quickly and easily go from completely gray to azure blue (and back again) in moments. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Tuesday: Bandon to Crescent City

After wandering around town and having breakfast, we stopped by Bandon Beach before getting on the road to Crescent City, California. Bandon might be the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, dotted with enormous haystack rocks from from volcano activity eons ago.

From the beach, we fell into “overlook postcard mode” again as the marine clouds poured in from the ocean and into the hills and the weather changed from temperate rain forest to beautiful blue skies… and back again. As we got closer to California, the sky turned blue and stayed that way.

Arriving in Crescent City, we took a quick break and then set out for Jedediah State Park to walk among the giant Redwoods. It’s hard to explain how big a one of these trees actually is, but these might help:

One tip: We walked a couple of the few paths in the park and stopped in Stout Grove before leaving. Stout Grove is a small loop trail very near the parking area and really shouldn’t be missed. Behind the grove is the Smith River, and there is a sort of extended walking bridge across the river to access a campground. It was a beautiful, quiet place to spend some time.

Smith River Bridge

Wednesday: Crescent City – Crater Lake – Bend

We were on a schedule for Wednesday: we needed to cover the mileage from Northern California up to Bend and be there in time to meet our guide for a moonlight canoe tour. Along the way, we stopped to gape at Crater Lake National Park. If you’re ever close enough to decide if you should go see it: Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

At Crater Lake, we hiked up the Garfield Peak Trail, which leads away from the lodge and up into a spectacular overlook. The trail is a little sketchy in parts and definitely steep, crossing over snow fields and through rocky switchbacks. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top, but the scenery is worth every step.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Early in the morning, while out walking along the beach, I spotted Bigfoot (top left corner, click for larger image):

Bigfoot Sighting

We arrived in Bend just in time to meet up with the tour group at Wanderlust Tours. Boarded a bus and drove about 45 minutes to a special lake that Courtney, our guide, had chosen. Along the way, she told stories about the area wildlife and geology. As a Naturalist, she had a deep knowledge and appreciation for this beautiful state and was eager to share it with us. Along the way, we passed a volcanic dacite flow that looked like it happened a few years ago, when in fact it had been nearly 2,000 years. “A lot of things you encounter out here look like they just happened. Things like forest fires and volcanic remains have a strangely recent appearance, but it’s very deceiving,” she said. The dacite flow was a perfect example.

It’s hard to get a photo on an iPhone from a canoe at dusk, but this shot of Mt. Bachelor in the distance and the sunset from the front of the canoe are close to how it looked. It was incredibly peaceful being on the water in full dark.

Thursday: Smith Rock State Park to Mt. Hood

Before leaving the tour, I asked Courtney if there was anything we absolutely had to see in Bend. Without hesitation she replied, “Smith Rock.” I’m so glad I asked, because this internationally renowned state park – widely considered to be the birthplace of rock climbing – was one of the highlights of the week.

We spent the morning in Bend, wandering the shops, drinking coffee, sitting on the river bank, so we arrived at Smith Rock around 2pm. We sort of missed the point that we had fully moved from coastal region to high desert, and were slightly unprepared for the heat that accompanied us on this hike. In retrospect, it would have been better to get here early in the morning, but I really wouldn’t have traded our time in Bend, either.

So we filled up the water bottles, looked over the map, and set out on Misery Ridge Trail. It was very hot, very dry, very steep, and very, very beautiful.

Leaving Bend and Smith Rock behind, we hit the road bound for the historic Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. As we drove into the mountains, the weather turned, shrouded the peak in clouds. The temperature dropped nearly 30 degrees as we drove, and arrived at the lodge in a misty rain.

Even so, the Timberline is a sight to behold. Built as a WPA project and dedicated by FDR in 1937, the entire building is an homage to the perseverance and craftsmanship of the American worker. Sitting at the base of the summit, it’s one of the few places (maybe the only place?) in the US that has snow all year, so it’s a popular destination for ski teams around the world to come and practice. While we were there, in addition to the many local ski schools, there were teams from Canada, Italy and the Netherlands. Skiers and snowboarders roamed the ground, and from the back of the lodge you could just make out the halfpipe above on the mountain.

The weather was typically temperamental, quickly changing from sunny to foggy to misty, so we roamed around the lodge, at two exceptional meals, and headed out of Friday morning.

Friday: Mt. Hood to Portland

Looking back, we made two tactical errors and, unfortunately, they were both on the same day. Leaving Mt. Hood, we passed the trailhead for Mirror Lake Trail, a beautiful uphill walk through the evergreens to a lake that provides beautiful views of Mt. Hood. You have to have a pass to use the trail, and they don’t sell the passes at the trailhead. (They do have them at Timberline and Government Camp, just up the road.) But we didn’t have the time to backtrack, so we missed out. (As cloudy as it was, I’ve convinced myself that we wouldn’t have been able to see anything, but it’s only slight consolation.)

We also had a choice of driving north to and through the Columbia River Gorge or heading west to see the Oregon lavender farm. Though the lavender was certainly nice, we should have gone to the gorge. I guess we’ll just have to go back another time…

Lavender Fields

Route Map:

If you’re interested in a trip like this, I would definitely encourage you to go. Oregon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and – as you can see on the map below – we saw a fairly small portion of it. Though I do recall the naturalist telling us that something 80% of Oregonians live west of the Cascade mountains, so while we only saw part of the state, we met most of the people. (The population density map shows just how dramatic this is.)

The Rothe Loop: Oregon

Though I would definitely go back to Oregon in a heartbeat, I would plan the trip differently. Well, I wouldn’t do this particular trip (what I’ve taken to calling “The Rothe Loop”) again, though I do recommend it as a way to see a lot in a short period of time. Going back I would likely set up camp in Bend and explore from there: Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor, Smith Rock, and more than 120 lakes to explore. From Bend, you could get the full Oregon experience in a hip small town.

Safe travels!