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Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

Steve
Sally and I lived all our lives in Minnesota, so when January hits, we just don't feel right if we don't spend some time in the cold and snow. This year, we've been taking our RV up and down the west coast, roaming all the way to Alaska. (And let me just say, the fishing there is incredible.)

Now we're back in the contiguous United States, exploring the temperate coastal region. A fellow we met at an RV park recommended we try to the Sisters Wilderness in eastern Oregon, since we'd be sure to find some picturesque winter weather there. We set out for the town of Sisters, ready to see some snow-covered forests, and we got just what we asked for.

Eastern Oregon is full of hills and valleys, covered in sweet-smelling Ponderosa pine forests. It's a gorgeous area, and Sally and I found plenty of pretty overlooks and vista points to stop at. These are the Oregon Cascade mountains, and the peaks here are steep enough to impress any mountain-lover.

We made our first stop at an RV park near the Sun River Resort, a place that's famous for its summertime trout fishing and mountain biking. At this time of year, it's full of folks who like snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Sally and I set out on the trails for a day of skiing, then the next day we did a little horseback riding in the snow, complete with jingling bells and falling snowflakes.

Sally
I just love exploring small towns, and Sisters is the kind I like best. This is a town with some serious history that they don't try to hide. Downtown Sisters is styled like an 1880s frontier town, with old-fashioned signs and clapboard store fronts. They have some beautiful quilts for sale there, and we learned that in the summertime this is where they hold the big Sisters Rodeo every year.

The highlight of our trip was a day we spent at nearby Mount Bachelor, a popular ski resort that's not far south of Sisters. They offer all kinds of fun winter activities like snowshoeing tours and special ski classes, but what I was curious about were the dog sledding sessions. Run by Rachael Scdoris, an Iditarod racer, and her father Jerry, these sled dog rides let you hop aboard an actual Iditarod sled while the mushers run the dogs from the platform on the back. Steve and I took the special marathon trip to Elk Lake, a 28-mile journey that we finished by lunchtime. After a hot meal there, we bundled back onto the sled and headed back home. It was so much fun to ride behind the yipping dogs, watching them work as a team while they darted through the snow. Honestly, it was one of the best winter experiences ever!

We rounded out our tour of eastern Oregon with a trip to the Hi Desert Museum. This lovely museum has traditional exhibits and displays, but they also have a series of outdoor enclosures where you can see all kinds of native animals, from porcupines to river otters. We even saw a special raptor show at their Birds of Prey Center, and an endangered spotted owl! The museum was just incredible. I can't wait to come back in the summer to see how things are different in the warmth and sunshine.
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