One of my bucket list items, the Alvord Desert has always intrigued me. The desolation. The harsh environment. The wide open spaces. The hot springs. So this year, we finally went to explore it ourselves.
After loading up the Land Cruiser, we hit the road for the 7 hour journey ahead.
Today I joined my offroading friends for a day of wheeling in our “back yard” trails. It was a big day for me and my rig, as it marked the first time I was meeting up driving a Toyota. This group of friends had grown and bonded over our common JKs – build parties installing coil overs, and offroad/camping trips in Moab, the Rubicon, and elsewhere.
So it was a moment of truth for me – was selling my JK and buying a 25 year old Land Cruiser a good choice?
After the initial ribbing and airing down was over, we hit Archer’s Firebreak. This was an awesome trail choice – Archer’s was my favorite trail in the JK, and one I led every year for the Jeep Jamboree. So I had a lot of history with it and knew it well. However, I had never wheeled it in anything other than the JK. Now I was in a Toyota. And an automatic.
The biggest difference for me this time, was that I would bypass the burly stuff. I was without rock rails, skids, and confidence in the new rig.
Oregon has a lot of hidden gems when it comes to campsites. I recently found a canyon on Google maps, where the road closely followed the Deschutes river, and dead-ended. Being an early season shakedown run this seemed like a great option.
So I called my buddy Jesse and his overland-ready Dodge Ram, and we hit the road.
We drove from Mt. Hood through the town of Maupin and made our way to the BLM access road that would wind along the river, going deeper and deeper into the canyon.
The road is dotted with many little campsites. We slowed at each to see which one would lend the best experience. We wanted something off the road yet close to the water. We were surprised as we rounded a bend, to have a herd of cattle in the road.
I have never liked cheese. Only as a slice on a cheeseburger, or on a plain pizza. All the fancy cheeses just grossed me out. The thought of moldy, fermented cow milk was never anything I really wanted to try.
But now, as a vegan, I am really excited to try out all these new cheeses! They are not gross at all, and, ironically I’m learning all about different cheese now that I am vegan.
What does all this have to do with Vtopia? Well, for starters, it is Portland’s first all vegan cheese shop. For seconders (is that a thing?) they have an incredible deli that let’s you try all their cheeses in their glory.
Kristin and I pointed the Jeep at Vtopia, and headed to NW Portland for some lunch.
Bend is one of my favorite cities to visit. It has the high desert weather, some amazing wilderness, amazing beers, and a pretty decent vegan scene to boot. Also, Cline Butte OHV area has some nice options for wheeling. Only thing is, you need to know where to go.
Hopefully this guide will help for your next trip.
I always laugh at the often obscure names given to trails in our area. Some, I am sure have a backstory (Stick in the Nose is an actual trail name) while others I think are a lame attempt at sounding intimidating. But Crushers has always had that scary spot in my mind.
Not just due to the name, but due to the massive boulder field that is the trail. It is probably the ultimate rock crawling trail in this area.
The trail begins with a common filter that has a pretty easy line even though it looks menacing.
UPDATED 9/14/15! We returned to NLB for an amazing breakfast! See the new content below!
When it comes to vegan fast food, us vegans miss out on three key elements of the fast food culture:
1. We don’t camp out weeks in advance of an opening. And, while I would never be one of the schmucks in a $20 Coleman tent sleeping on a sidewalk outside some vegan Chick-Fil-A, the concept of it is appealing. I mean, how committed do you need to be to artery-clogging, fat soaked food to actually sleep outside for a week? That is true, foodie commitment.
Camping in the winter for a week. For fried chicken.
2. We can’t just have a greasy, bad-for-you burger experience. Most vegan burgers I have seen are typically some malted oregano-kale infused, carrot fiber burger, promising all kinds of health claims. Sometimes, I just want to eat something bad for me too.
3. We don’t have a vegan fast food mecca that beckons us to make multi-mile journeys off major interstates. We need a vegan In-and-Out kinda place.
So when I heard there was a new vegan burger joint in Bend, I had a chance to do a little of all three.
It has been a while since I have been Jeeping in Moab, so I didn’t miss a beat when selecting trails for today. By the end of the day, Andy and I will have run three of Moab’s most iconic trails: Gold Bar Rim, Golden Spike, and (most of) Poison Spider. This review covers the first trail: Gold Bar Rim.
The day started with a brisk temp and a stiff wind which kept temperatures pretty mild even though the sun was beating down on us all day.
Heading ten miles North out of Moab, we turned onto the road for Gemini Bridges. This shelf road quickly climbs for some sweet views below. Eventually it levels off in a pretty wide canyon with some nice campsites peppered throughout.