Oregon: Day #1 — Pine Mountain Observatory

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(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.  Also, later this week I’ll post more from Mr. Spaulding.)

For background information about our Oregon trip, it would be helpful if you first read Oregon (including an off-the-itinerary story).

* * * * *

Day 1 of Bill's and my July Oregon trip. "Pine Mtn 6,509" is at the end of the hot pink marker line that indicates our observatory side trip. Click photo once, and again, to enlarge.

On Friday, July 17th, Bill and I arrived in Portland around noon.  We drove southeast for approximately three hours to Bend * where we stayed one night at The Riverhouse Resort. **  ***

At dusk we drove southeast from Bend, approximately twenty miles on pavement.  Then, another eight miles on a winding dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. At two or three points, just as we would get around a curve in the road, we’d see a few cows standing in the middle of the road or on the shoulder, owning it.  We’d stop, put the windows down, talk to the cows standing next to the car, and continue driving until the next group of cows.

Around 9:00 P.M. we arrived in the dark at the Pine Mountain Observatory.

Earlier in the day on the phone, a man at the observatory encouraged me to bring a flashlight with a red filter (or purchase a red filter at the walk-in-closet-sized gift shop that evening).  Understandably, they didn’t want white lights affecting the viewing of the sky.

IMG_8489 Pine Mountain Observatory

The sign we came upon before we ascended Pine Mountain to reach the observatory. (Click photo to enlarge.)

When we arrived near the top of Pine Mountain (peak elevation 6,509 feet ****), a volunteer’s lecture for perhaps thirty people was taking place inside a large tent.  The lecturer was animated explaining about the heavens.  It was dark in the tent except for the light on the screen from the projector, the lecturer’s laser pointer, and a few LED-type lights so people wouldn’t trip over chairs, etc.

After the inside portion of the lecture, we all went outside where the volunteer continued educating, using his laser pointer to draw our attention to the respective stars/planets/constellations.  (Due to the new-moon phase, there was very little, if any, other light.)

IMG_8489 Pine Mountain Observatory 800 levels

Same photo as above, but with lighting edited to make the environment visible. (Click photo to enlarge.)

We then walked a few hundred feet (with porta-potties along the way) to a higher elevation (approximately 6,280 feet *****) where we were allowed to look through the observatory’s 24″ telescope. In addition, we were encouraged to look through three or four privately owned telescopes as their amateur owners explained what we were viewing and what they were researching.  The ambience of the setting allowed us to be immersed in the mysteries of the heavens.

* * * * *

* The Central Oregon Visitors Association web site is also helpful.

** The 2008 Frommers Oregon (p. 327) indicates “Value” for the Riverhouse and also says,  “Located at the north end of town on the banks of the narrow stretch of the Deschutes River, the Riverhouse is one of the best hotel deals in the state; and with its golf course and other resort facilities, it’s an economical choice for anyone who wants resort amenities without the high prices. … Without a doubt, this is the best deal in Bend.”

*** We were on the upper story and had a river-facing room, which is what we would request again.  We had dinner on the resort restaurant’s terrace overlooking the Deschutes River.  Bill and I split the Black Angus Filet Mignon with Port Wine Reduction. This was the best restaurant-prepared steak I remember ever having.

****  Oregon Official State Map, ODOT, 2007

***** University of Oregon, 2009

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

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One Response to “Oregon: Day #1 — Pine Mountain Observatory”

  1. Peg Says:

    It’s so great to hear about your trip! Normally, we wouldln’t have time for you to go into detail, so this is fascinating. I don’t know that I would have ever thought to go to an observatory. Kudos for the idea! My favorite parts (on this post) are the map (looks so real and personalized), about your talking with the cows :-), the best restaurant-prepared steak you remember having, and your last line: “The ambience of the setting allowed us to be immersed in the mysteries of the heavens.” Mmmm.

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