Who knew Sisters, Oregon was so charming? Apparently, not me. Sisters was not my destination, but I landed there anyway. Finding Bend’s Tumola Campground packed, a ranger was kind enough to walk back into her already closed station and give me the number of a KOA nearby that might take tent camping. A quick call to the KOA found they were also full. The sweet man who answered recommended I travel another 10 miles up the road to Sisters’ City Park, where I would find a “pretty little park where you can walk to breakfast in the morning.” My hesitation at a “city park” was noted, but he guaranteed I would like it.
Finding the park, I had to admit he was right. It was clean, with showers, camp host and a nice group of people vacationing. The campsites were a little close together, but I was thrilled to find such a cute park. After setting up camp…literally…I walked downtown to browse. As the sun was setting, stores were closing. Luchese boots, and Baggialeri travel bags in shop windows were indications that this was not the central Oregon town I had envisioned. Bakeries with homemade pies, western-themed art galleries, bicycle shops, restaurants, and two wine bars gave this little town a charm all its own.
Sisters Coffee Shop was my salvation, as they provided great coffee, pastries, and best of all — wireless! Not a bad office while camping! Set off the main street, I wondered how this beautiful, log-cabin coffee house could stay in business? The interior was enormous, with an elegant rustic feel. Not to worry, as apparently everyone in town gathers here! Not only the locals, but tourists driving through…. families,
adventurers, retirees, and the occasional real cowboy. Okay, rancher. He was decked out in all the traditional gear but with a decidedly upscale look.
Central Oregon has very few wineries, but Maragas Winery is on the outskirts of Sisters. They produce Bordeaux-style reds, with whites that include Muscat, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Production
is approximately 2,000 cases annually. Maragas is experimenting with various varietals for their terroir, and currently sources 15% from their young vineyard. The remaining grapes are sourced from organic/sustainable Oregon vineyards. The farm on which the winery sits, subscribes to the “slow-food” movement for crops they supply to their own Taverna (bistro) in Bend, and to the local community. They were having a “grape stomp” which sounded like fun, but I would miss the date. www.maragaswinery.com
From Bend to Sisters the landscape is dotted with horse ranches and equestrian centers, all nestled in Ponderosa Pine. Driving past high desert meadows with a view of the Sisters mountains was a different type of beauty from the North Umpqua river I’d just left. Steeped in this new territory, I felt certain the Ponderosa would appear on the horizon……offering up an elegant dinner prepared by the Cartwright’s beloved cook.
Sisters is an understated jewel, smack in the middle of fabulous biking, hiking, golfing and is an outdoor enthusiast’s nirvana. The town is a cross between Sedona, and Jackson Hole…with the downtown prettier than I remember either of the aforementioned. A western-themed town, but somehow less commercial. More pristine.
Quaint and peaceful…….on my walks downtown, the same family of deer could be found munching on the crab apples that had fallen from trees in yards. Local fruit stands selling an array of produce, including huckleberries! A local micro-brewery, high-end restaurant, and luxury accommodations ensure amenities. Three Creeks Brewing Company is a fun place offering great beer and outdoor seating. This is micro-brew country with nearby Bend laying claim to a whopping 12 local micro-breweries…challenging Portland as the beer capital of Oregon. Find the Bend Ale-Trail along with its free iPhone and Droid app at: www.visitbend.com
My time in this neck of the woods over, I reckoned it was time to head on up to Walla Walla. Nigh-on ten minutes to break camp, and I was headin north. Catch ya up the road a piece! (Sorry…it gets in your system here)