Tumulo State Park near Bend, Oregon is just outside of the totality area of the Eclipse
that happened on Monday, August 21, 2017. Because the state parks do not raise their
rates for special events we reserved a site there while we were still in Australia
last winter. Tumulo was at a 99.8% of totality and we planned on riding 40 min. to
the town of Madras to be in the center of totality.
We live just north of the band of totality and Tumulo was on the south side about
5 hours away. We packed up on Saturday ad left early on Sunday. Traffic was predicted
to be a nightmare. The news stations have been predicting disastrous traffic all
through the band of totality. We headed south on I-5 without any problems, passed
through the zone easily and turned east on a 2-lane highway (Hwy 126) to cross the
Cascade Mountains and drop into the Bend area. Traffic was what we considered light
for a normal weekend.
I had planned to take an even smaller highway (Hwy 242) over the top of the mountains.
It has nice curves and some switchbacks to ride but a wildland fire had closed it.
As we headed over the top on Hwy 22 we encountered heavy smoke but still light traffic.
On arrival I checked the sun position with one of my favorite phone app's, “Sun Surveyor”.
This app shows me the position of the sun, currently and at any time or date I choose.
I use it on arrival at a campsite to plot the sun’s course to give us afternoon shade
and/or morning sun. And after setting up I used it to plot the sun’s position during
the eclipse. We have a great campsite for viewing the eclipse. We have decided that
99.8% is enough and we are not going to Madras. The town is packed and the streets
We have arrived at Tumulo much earlier than we estimated due to the shortened route
and the surprising lack of traffic. I had ordered viewing glasses and a sheet of
the lens material from amazon two months ago. It cost me $8 for 4 glasses and a 8
x 8 sheet of the material. A week before the eclipse they were selling for $12 a
pair. The park rangers were handing out free glasses to every camper. Every campsite
was reserved. The park is full, but only about 2/3 of the sites are occupied. And
it remained that way for the next 3 days. I don’t know where everyone was, maybe
scared off by the panic induced by the overly excited newscasters?
Sunday evening we took a walk along the river and the smoke made for a beautiful
sunset. But will the smoke ruin the eclipse?
On Monday morning we set up our chairs in our campsite parking space, put on our
glasses and sat back to watch. The smoke had cleared overnight and the view was great.
It started a little after 9 AM and continued for the next couple of hours.
On the right is our 99.8%. It got quite dark and surprisingly cool.
And then it started getting lighter and lighter.
Until the sun was completely back.
I had taken a piece of the lens material and taped it to a cardboard tube to take
The campsite next to us had a trailer like ours (Lees-ure Lite) but had not had any
people around it all day yesterday and all through the eclipse. Finally they arrived
in the early evening and we went over to talk to them about the trailers. They had,
on Sunday, gone to Madras and spent the night on a blanket and under a tarp to get
a good viewing spot at the Madras airport. They left after the completion of totality
and it took them seven hours to make the 39 mile drive back to their campsite. That
is an average of less than 6 mph. A marathon runner could have beat them back.
On Tuesday we went for a ride of about 150 miles. The goal was to ride the Crooked
River Highway. It runs about 50 miles south from Prineville (in the area of totality)
to Hwy 20, east of Bend. It is a triangular route for us. The traffic leaving Prineville
was very heavy but light in our direction. The Crooked River Highway is, as the name
implies, crooked and was fun to ride. The smoke had returned and there were no good
views but the road was in good condition.
That is until about halfway we climbed out of the canyon and the road turned straight
and became gravel. It was good gravel and I could ride at 25-30 mph. But at that
speed for 25 miles means it took us an hour. This became very tiring very quickly.
On Wednesday we went into Bend and had lunch at a brew pub. As a home brewer I like
to check out the competition during a leisurely lunch. Bend has a population of only
91,000 people but has 33 craft breweries. Over a 4 hour period we went to only two
of them and had three beers total.
On Thursday we have reservations at the “Cowboy Dinner Tree”. It is out in the high
desert near the town of Silver Lake. We will be staying in a US forest Service campground
on a lake a few miles from the restaurant.
The highway is straight and smokey. We cruise along easily, drive past the restaurant
and into the National Forest.
The GPS tells me to turn down this gravel road. We are three miles from the campground.
It is 25 miles to go around and stay on pavement. We just did 25 miles of gravel
two days ago without problems, so I decide to continue. It’s only 3 miles.
The red is our gravel road, the yellow is the paved road. We are at the right hand
end of the red. This can’t be too bad, can it?
Just keep reading!
The gravel ends but the surface is still firm and smooth.
(There is a You Tube video of this ride at this location. It is 17 minutes long containing
excerpts covering the whole 3 mile trip, which took us an hour, with just the last
mile taking us 35 minutes to complete. I think it will astonish most Gold Wingers
and maybe some dirt bikers too. The camera is mounted on the left mirror, nearly
2 feet off the centerline of the bike.)
Then it starts heading downhill and gets round rocks. We are only a mile from the
campground. Kathy gets off so I can better handle the bike’s balance. I’m not doing
too bad but my speed is less than walking speed.
But it gets even worse. The bad part is that I really doubt that even if I turned
around that the bike, with only one drive tire would be able to get back up the hill.
Going down I can ease over the rocks, going up I would have to power over them which
is much more difficult.
I did drop the bike twice, both times at a stop, and with no damage.
The gray spot to the left of my helmet is the lake with our campground. So I creep
We make it, set up camp and return to the restaurant by the paved road. It had taken
us 35 minutes to go the last mile and we are not taking it back to dinner.
The Cowboy Dinner Tree is at the place where the chuck wagon parked when there were
cowboys running cattle in this area by horseback.
The food is served family style and the menu consists of just two items, steak and
chicken. The steak weighs two pounds and the chicken is whole. Reservations only
and one fixed price of $33.00.
They have three seating's, 4 PM, 5:30 PM and 7 PM on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
They are full most nights.
The decor is very rustic in several rooms of what once may have been a cabin. It
has had several additions stuck on the sides to accommodate more.
Most people order the steak. Our first time we ordered both a chicken and a steak.
This time it was steak for both of us. Their steaks are so tender and well cooked
that people moan as they bite into them.
The meal starts with a salad with house made dressings. Continues with cowboy beans
and a plate of rolls fresh from the oven. Then your steak followed by a berry shortcake
for dessert. Drinks are only coffee, iced tea, lemonade or water. They have no liquor
license. And don’t you dare ask for steak sauce! Experienced diners bring a cooler
to put their doggy bags into for the trip back to camp. We ate on the leftovers for
three more days.
On Friday we had planned to ride around Crater Lake and follow paved roads north
through the Cascade Mountains to home. Between the lake being smoked in so solid
that one could not see across it and that fires had closed several roads on my planned
route we just headed across the pass on Hwy 58 and down to I-5 where we turned north.
We soon stopped at a RV resort where our full hookup space cost us $56. But we had
use of a hot tub and pool. And we needed the hot tub after the ride yesterday before
dinner. And the forest service campground only cost $3, so that let us splurge today.
We could easily have made it to home that day but we would have arrived in Portland
at the Friday afternoon rush hour. Portland to Vancouver, WA is one of the worst
rush hours in the USA. There are only 2 bridges between the two cities and a few
hundred thousand people cross them twice a day. We’ll take it easy until Saturday
when we will arrive mid-day.
Our next adventure is yet to be determined so click “Home”.