Rally ‘Round Redmond

There are lots of great reasons for motorhomers to set their GPS units for Redmond, Oregon,
this summer, but at the top of the list is The Rally — the largest gathering of RVers in
the nation. Held July 19-22 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center, The Rally is
sponsored by MotorHome and Trailer Life magazines, Woodall’s
Publications, the Good Sam Club, Coast to Coast Resorts and Camping World President’s Club,
and will feature four fun-filled days of entertainment, vendors, seminars, more than 1,000
new rigs to drool over, a dog show and even an attempt to break the Guinness World Record
for the largest simultaneous whoopee-cushion sit. Located on the eastern slopes of the
Cascade Mountain range and virtually surrounded by national forestland, Redmond is at the
geographic heart of central Oregon. With only 10-13 inches of precipitation a year, daytime
hours are drenched in sunshine. Here, the wind seems to sing across the high-desert plateau
— the same wind that once carried volcanic ash across the landscape, drifted smoke through
early Native American villages, howled through lonely miners’ camps and flapped the
canvases of covered wagons making their way along the Oregon Trail. Redmond makes a great
home base for motorhomers, so plan to stay awhile and explore some of the area’s amazing
geological features, formed by ancient volcanic activity, and the many historical sites
left by pioneers. High Desert Museum: Located about 4 miles south of Bend
is the High Desert Museum, an interactive, living-history museum. Ten-thousand years of
local history are depicted in both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Paved outdoor trails lead
past more than 100 wildlife creatures, while inside the 53,000-square-foot main building
visitors can take part in demonstrations of pioneer living skills and walk through a number
of realistic American West dioramas. Newberry National Volcanic Monument:
Just a few miles south of Redmond, off U.S. Highway 97, the monument is a strong testament
to the amazing forces of nature that created this vast, high-desert region. Visit the top
of the 500-foot Lava Butte (a cinder cone formed 7,000 years ago) for spectacular views and
then descend to the depths of a 1-mile-long lava tube that formed as molten rock flowed
from an ancient eruption. There are more than 60 miles of hiking trails throughout the
monument’s 55,500 acres, so put on some shoes that protect your feet from the sharp
obsidian and enjoy an out-of-this-world experience as you wander around these stark but
beautiful volcanic lands. There are seven campgrounds at the monument. Cascade
Lakes Scenic Byway:
The spectacular 66-mile-long Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (State
Route 46) begins southwest of Bend and travels through the heart of the Cascade Mountains,
climbing 6,000 feet at Mount Bachelor. The route then curves south through vast panoramas
of snow-tipped mountains, shimmering lakes and emerald forests. Frequent turnouts offer
great picture-taking opportunities and many camping choices invite a leisurely pace along
this route. Sisters: Take a drive west of Redmond, along State Highway
126, to visit the little town of Sisters with its 1880’s Western theme. Antique shops, art
galleries and restaurants make for a delightful small-town shopping experience, while
nearby Alpine lakes, stocked regularly with trout, are a strong enticement for anglers.
Smith Rock State Park: Traveling north of Redmond, about 8 miles along
U.S. Highway 97, takes you to Smith Rock State Park. There’s plenty of room for the big rig
in the large day-use parking area, but no overnight camping for RVs. Bring a picnic lunch,
binoculars and your camera and take an easy walk along the Crooked River that flows at the
base of a series of monolithic rock spires of compressed volcanic ash. Find a flat rock in
the sun and enjoy your lunch while watching people from all over the world climb the steep
rock walls — there are more than 1,500 climbing routes here! Keep your eyes open for a
variety of wildlife, including golden eagles and prairie falcons. Richardson’s Rock
Ranch:
Continuing north on U.S. Highway 97, Richardson’s Rock Ranch is about 11
miles north of Madras. Rockhounds will dig this nearly 4,000-acre site where visitors can
unearth their own fossils, thundereggs, agates or a host of other intriguing minerals. If
digging is not your thing, purchase what you want from a wide selection at the rock shop.
Shaniko: The “almost” ghost town of Shaniko is 63.4 miles north of
Redmond. A population of 20-25 people is all that keeps this aging sheep town from
crumbling to dust. Once known as the world’s largest inland wool shipping center, several
enormous sheep sheds still stand at the edge of town. And even though many of the downtown
buildings were destroyed by fire in the early 1900s, you will still find a number of
wonderful historic buildings to photograph and explore. Be sure to go through the antique
car museum in the old livery barn where an impressive number of vintage automobiles are
preserved in their original state. The Shaniko Hotel, built in 1900 of handmade bricks, is
on the National Register of Historic Places and is still a good place to grab a
bite to eat. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: From Shaniko, we like to wander
southeast through the various regions of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This
is where volcanic activity formed and re-formed a broad basin, preserving one of the
world’s most complete fossil records of the 40-million-year period between the
disappearance of the dinosaurs and the beginning of the last ice age. The northern-most
site, the Clarno Unit, displays the oldest of the John Day fossil beds. Walk the “Trail of
the Fossils” past castle-like cliffs, large boulders, ancient trees and leaf fossils.
Plaques along the way recount events as they may have happened 40 million years ago. At the
Painted Hills Unit, located to the south along U.S. Highway 26, geometric designs in rich
shades of red, purple, chocolate and gold look like an early Native American artist used a
giant paintbrush to drench the hills in color. See them in the early morning or late
afternoon when the angle of the sun intensifies the hues. The Sheep Rock Unit, a bit
farther east along U.S. Highway 26, is the youngest of the fossil beds in John Day and
tells the story of life at the site 25 million years ago. Explore the old ranch buildings
and take a hike in the beautiful badlands of the Blue Basin. Walk through areas once
prowled by saber-toothed tigers and past partially uncovered fossilized remains of
creatures such as the oreodont (a short-legged browser of the ancient forests). There is no
camping at any of the John Day Fossil sites, so your best bet for overnight stays are along
U.S. Highway 26 at either the Clyde Holliday State Park or the Fish House Inn & RV Park
in Dayville. As you leave this high-desert country you’ll find that you miss the strong
sense of timelessness and the sounds of the wind that serenade your days and nights. One
trip is never enough — so perhaps that desert wind will blow you back again season after
season, as it does us.


RALLY CRY


Whether by foot, chariot or ox-drawn cart, all roads used to lead to Rome. But for RVers,
all roads lead to Redmond — the Mecca of coaches. From July 19-22, the RV faithful will
make a pilgrimage to this central Oregon town for The Rally, an event that’s “all about
RVing.” Once known as the “Great North American RV Rally,” its current diminutive name is
misleading, and anything but small: “The Rally” is the largest annual gathering of RVers in
the world. This year’s event will be held at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center,
where there is enough space within the 132-acre complex to park more than 3,000 RVs. It
will feature RV seminars, hundreds of RV products and services and more than 1,000 rigs on
display. But The Rally isn’t just about RVs: This year’s entertainment lineup includes
Suzanne Somers, Gary Puckett, B.J. Thomas, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Ticket to Ride — a
tribute to The Beatles. Also, those who’ve always dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of
World Records can participate in the “Largest Simultaneous Whoopee-Cushion Sit” and try to
best the current record of 5,983 people. For those who want to take a break from all things
RV and swing the clubs, on Thursday, July 19, there will be a golf tournament at the Eagle
Crest Golf Resort in Redmond. (Golfers must provide their own transportation to the
course.) The tournament will be a scramble format, so golfers of all skill levels can play.
Hole contests for men and women include most accurate drive, closest to the pin and longest
putt. There will be a pre-tournament meeting on July 18 at The Rally to distribute
pairings. So if you want to be among the first to tour the newest RVs, see the best and
latest the industry has to offer, attend seminars taught by experts or possibly break a
world record, rally to Redmond in central Oregon for what will be the center of the RV
world. — Dale Myers

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