June 8, 9 2013 Sunriver and Sisters

Back in February around my birthday Carla and I attended a fundraiser for Ride Connection, an organization that provides transportation for those in need. Our good friend Elaine Wells is the executive director there. Ride Connection is a fantastic organization and it’s very moving to hear people tell their stories of how Ride Connection helped them. This year a legally blind woman told how Ride Connection worked with her  to coordinate her commute from Salem to Portland for her job.

There is a large silent auction before dinner and our friends John and Karen Lee bid on tickets to the Sisters Rodeo and the Pendleton Roundup. The Lee’s won four tickets and asked if we’d like to join them. It’s been years since we’ve been to a rodeo, so of course we said yes.

Sisters and Sunriver are out in the high desert of central Oregon. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Portland. When we went on our road trip this past March we encountered packed snow on the summit of Santiam Pass. This time of year it is usually clear of snow.

Sisters and Sunriver are out in central Oregon; about a 3 or 4 drive over the Cascades from Portland

A satellite view of the map shown above. The white spots south of Sisters are the 3 Sisters mountains 

We had planned on staying in a hotel but Karen’s sister recently purchased a house in Sunriver which is about 45 minutes southeast of Sisters.  Now we have only briefly met Karen’s sister and brother-in-law so we were going to be staying at a stranger’s house. To make a good impression I offered to buy and grill some steaks on Saturday night. I went to the store and bought 4 beautiful Rib Eyes and all the fixins.  As I packed Friday afternoon I made sure I had everything in the cooler. Well almost everything; when Carla and I stopped at a rest stop up in the Cascades, I suddenly remembered I left the steaks in the refrigerator at home. So, we bought some more steaks in Sunriver.

The rodeo goes all weekend but our tickets were for the Sunday finalé; that left us Saturday for lounging around Sunriver and going for a walk. Sunriver is a resort town with wonderful walking paths. We love going there and taking in the scenery. Sunriver is bordered on the west by the Deschutes River. The large Central Oregon town of Bend is named for a bend in the Deschutes.

A pond in Sunriver

A bridge over the Deschutes leading to an off road bike path

A look north from the bridge

Sunriver is a summer and winter playground. They groom paths for cross country skiing and there is a large ski resort on Mount Bachelor a little out of town.  Sisters is named for the Three Sisters mountains which are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest mountain ranges in Oregon. Mount Bachelor gets its name for being a solitary peak fairly near the sisters.

Mt Bachelor peaking over the ridge.

On the way back to the house we got a quick peek at some of the multitudinous deer that graze in the area.

Some deer enjoying a shady lunch.

It was a hot day, around 85 degrees. We enjoyed a nice dinner  and conversation on the back deck of our hosts.

Sunday morning we had breakfast and headed out to the rodeo. We packed up for the ride home since Sisters is about 45 minutes closer to home than Sunriver. I forgot how fun a rodeo is and how dangerous. First up the rodeo queens come rocketing out and scream around the ring and line up in the middle, then scream out again. I thought the queens were for show but they worked as well. On the calf roping events, the cowboy jumps off his horse to wrestle the calf to the ground and tie 3 of its legs. The rodeo queens shepherd the calf and the cowboyless horse.

Another picture after many of the rodeo queens have entered. The one riding in was my favorite; she really worked hard bringing the horses back to the corral after a rider was unhorsed.

Another queen speeding around the rink before joining her sisters.

One of the signature events of the rodeo is the bareback riding. The cowboys take a hard ride being tossed back and forth; it’s a young man’s game.

Bareback bronc riding

 A non-competitive event was a man riding 6 huge horses while standing on the back of the two rear horses.

Riding 6 horses at once while one of the Sisters mountains rises in the background

A close up of the cowboy.

Unfortunately I missed the team roping event when I went out for some water and a hotdog. I thought there was an intermission. I’m bummed I missed that because my sister Diana is an accomplished team roper.

One of the final events is the wild bull riding; why anyone would want to do that I don’t know; but then again, I’m not a young cowboy. Here is the best picture I got, showing a cowpoke just as he was thrown over the bull’s head; notice the rodeo clowns rush in to distract the bull to get the cowboy out of danger.

Cowboy goes head over heals and the rodeo clowns rush in to protect him. At least he’s wearing a helmet.
(Click on the photo for better viewing)

I need to get some Wrangler jeans, boots and a cowboy hat for next year’s visit.

Then it was time to head home. Normally I’m crabby getting back from central Oregon late Sunday night because I have to get up for work on Monday. But no more; a perk of my semi-retirement means I had all day Monday to unpack, shop for the week and generally relax.

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