Thursday, July 23, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 11 - Tumalo Falls and a thunderstorm

Didn't I refer earlier in posts about "the incoming threat of serious weather" that held me back from additional roaming about in Newberry National Volcanic Monument? Yes, I did - and I skipped a long planned 1/2 day stop at the fabulous High Desert Museum south of Bend as well. But as I left there with rumbles of thunder booming the storms seemed they might be building over the US 97 corridor and Bend and moving NE slowly. So I chanced adding one more photography stop I've longed to do there which was 15 miles west of Bend.

Tumalo Creek comes crashing through old burn areas and blasts off a cliff into a canyon forming the lower and most popular part of Tumalo Falls. If you hike a few miles up the creek trail you will find 2 other falls along Tumalo Creek. With distant VERY near constant lightning and thunder rolls from the east of my photographic position at Tumalo Falls, I chose to just hang close to the truck and not risk being on a 6-mile hike should THOSE massive black clouds keep building westward too. I was rewarded with enough great scenery just here anyhow!

Now...the REAL adventure began as I drove back to Bend intending to get back to Prineville some 28 miles NE of Bend for the last night of my trip. This photo was the beginning of things to come as I came back to town:

What we have here is the start of the massive severe thunderstorm warning results that hit the Bend area while I was out at Tumalo. Here there is only areas of 1" of hail on the ground with a lot of water. By the time I was in "old downtown Bend" the ground had up to 4" of hail covering it! To make matters worse, then the storm followed suit with up to 2" of rain in 20-30 minutes. The water had no where to go since all storm drains were clogged with hail. Results? It took me over two hours to find a way to get from the west side of US 97 to the east side of US 97 to get out of town! Every underpass under the highway was flooded with as much as 8' of water in the form of a lake. Thankfully my GPS helped me get far enough south on very goofy side streets to find an OVERpass to get over the highway that didn't just lead me to a low area under water. I only wish I had taken a photo of the snowplows working in town. Yes, you heard me right. Second week of June and the department of transportation quickly got snowplows on the trucks to "plow" the hail off the roads faster to clear storm drains! It was hilarious and a funny way to end my last day in the area before heading home the next morning!

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