I like big buttes and I can not lie

With apologies to Sir-Mix-a-Lot….

This is Pilot Butte.  It is located in the city of Bend, Oregon.  That’s right… in the city.  Don’t believe me?


(Photo credit:JRCompton.com)

Pilot Butte rises over 500 feet above the city.  I took the top photo at the end of SE 15th Street, which is the street my Airbnb hostess lives on.  The butte is a little over a mile from her house.

The smoke from nearby wildfires cleared out overnight and I was able to get up on the butte before leaving Bend this morning.  This picture was taken from the top of the butte (I had to walk up, as the road doesn’t open until 10 AM.  Haven’t these people ever heard of dawn-to-dusk??).  The road going away from you is Route 20, which runs east to west through Bend (you are looking west). I took Route 20 to Salem, Oregon and then on to Portland right after taking this photo.  My trusty Route 97, which I have been using to get around the state all week, runs north to south and is located about a third of the way up from the bottom of the photo.  Today was the first day since arriving in Oregon a week ago that I did not travel on Route 97 (sorry old friend, you’ve been a great travel companion but I need to see other roads).

Oh, and if you ever need a good laugh check out the video on YouTube (or other places online) of Brian Williams, the then-anchor of NBC Nightly News (before his embellishment scandal) on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  It is actually a video put together by some Tonight Show staff members by painstakingly going through his newcasts and extracting single words used in the song.  When shown together Williams appears to be rapping the song “Baby Got Back” (the big butt song).  It’s a hoot.  There is also a cameo by another NBC personality but I won’t ruin the surprise.  So go to YouTube and enter Brian Williams Back Got Back and you should find it.

Detroit Lake

After leaving Bend I headed northwest on another one of my scenic roads, Route 20 (a gorgeous drive).  This road took me very close to one of the wildfires currently burning out of control in Oregon, the Whitewater Fire.  This photo was taken shortly after passing through Detroit, Oregon.  Before taking this I drove through the little town of Idanha which is where I could smell the smoke, although today it was blowing away from the road so it wasn’t too bad.  The Whitewater Fire is now up to 5,200 acres.

The Spruce Lake Fire, down by Crater Lake, continues to grow and is now up to almost 4,700 acres.  Friday authorities closed West Rim Drive, which goes around the west side of the lake.  The fire is expected to reach the road by today.  That fire is still only 5% contained.

I have not found any more news about the Crescent Fire, which I came across about 3 hours after it started on Thursday afternoon.  Evidently they were able to get it under control will all the ground crews and air support which were used to fight it.

Water park in McMinnville, Oregon


Lots of you have seen or been to indoor water parks, right?  A great place to take the kids on a hot day.  Well how many water parks have you been to with a real 747 parked on the roof?


This is Evergreen Waves & Wings, an aviation-themed water park about a half hour south of Portland, Oregon.  This was an actual, functional 747-132 aircraft used by Delta Airlines, China Airlines, and Pan Am before being used for most of it’s service life by Evergreen International.  It now sits on top of their water park at the Evergreen Museum complex across from the McMinnville airport.  The bottom photo shows the beginning of the four water slides (two on each side) which begin inside the aircraft!  Patrons take stairs up from inside the park to enter the airplane, then slide down through the white tubes, landing in the pool inside the building.  What an incredibly clever idea.

The most recent aircraft designation is N481EV if you want to look up the flight history of the plane.

A HUGE thank you to my friend Shawn, a frequent commenter on the blog, who told me about this place.  It wasn’t on my radar, although I did later see that it was listed in the AAA Travel Guide for Oregon.  I had skipped right past that entry when doing my research because I am not normally interested in water parks, so I would have missed this if Shawn hadn’t told me.

I want everyone seeing this to say out loud: “Thank you, Shawn”


Spruce Goose

This is the one and only Hughes H-4 Hercules seaplane, one of the largest aircraft ever flown.  It is more commonly known as the “Spruce Goose”, a nickname the designer of the plane, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, despised.  A few years ago the plane, which had been on display inside a dome in Long Beach, California for many years, was purchased by Evergreen International and was moved to a permanent home here.


The plane only actually flew one time, on November 2, 1947.  It was in the air for little over a mile reaching an altitude of 70 feet, and the flight lasted about a minute.

The plane cost $ 25 million to build. Most of it came from the government but Hughes also ponied up $ 7 million of his own money.

It has 8 propellers, 4 on each side.

There were beach balls placed at the bottom of the hull and in the wing floats to provide additional bouyancy in the event of an accident.

It is actually constructed mostly of birch, not spruce (although there was a little of bit of spruce used).  The material is called Duramold and was made by glueing together laminated layers of birch veneer.

When preparing the wood, millions of nails (weighing 7 tons) were used to hold the assemblies in place until the glue dried.  All those nails were then removed.

Crew members stood inside the wings (which are so big they could stand upright) to observe the 8 engines during the lone flight.


My next vehicle

This is what I want my golf cart to look like when I retire.  Oh…. wait…. I am retired.

This modified golf cart is used to shuttle (get it?) patrons among the various buildings at the Evergreen Museum complex.  In addition to the water park and the large building housing the Spruce Goose and other airplanes, there is also a large building which has displays of spacecraft, military planes and drones, helicopters (lots of helicopters), and other aviation related items. And there is yet another building which shows movies (not sure if they are regular movies or IMAX, I didn’t watch any of them).  There are also various aircraft on display outside, scattered around the property.  It is a huge facility.