“This is a lot different from our Airstream trips last year, on the west side,” said Ralph. He’s right; gone is the pouring rain, incessant windshield wiper noise, smell of soggy dog. Welcome to late winter camping in Central Oregon: 64 degrees, blue sky, the night sparkling with stars. (Before I sound too giddy, it was a mild winter across the state; even wet, miserable Portland got a break.)
Our destination: the town of Summer Lake, only 100 miles from our snow-covered driveway in Bend. Ana Reservoir RV Park—owned by members of the Oregon Unit of the WBCCI—is well tended, shipshape, WiFi-less (take a cyber vacation for once), and, if you visit in February or March or anytime in the winter, devoid of humanity.
At one point, dozing in the midday sun on one of the insanely expensive Tripolina chairs that came with the DWR, I strained to hear a sound. Dead silence…then, the faint chirping of birds. Later, a faraway truck passing on Route 31.
Ralph experienced the same deafening quiet while he fished the spring-fed Ana River. (Know before you go: the trout are biting a half-mile from the access road, beyond some bushwhackable sage-covered terrain.)
Other than fishing and napping, there isn’t much else to do in the area unless you count driving the Christmas Valley National Back Country Byway, a part-gravel 45 mile loop that allows you to view a variety of geologically significant formations (says the signage) like Crack In The Ground and Fort Rock. Play I Spy along the way: an impressive and intriguing assortment of unintentionally “vintage” travel trailers are dotted about, moored at ranches and abandoned in fields.