Saturday is the longest day of the year. Called the summer solstice, the day also marks the first day of summer. Those of us in Bend will be eligible to receive 15 hours, 30 minutes of sunlight (in Madras, you’ll get four more minutes, and in La Pine you’ll get three minutes less).
But how to best soak in all that sun?
Come dark dreary November, you’ll be happy to remember you captured as much sun as you could Saturday. We’ve outlined a perfect plan. Other than bathroom breaks, try to spend the whole day outside, sapping up that good Vitamin D. (But wear some sunscreen, ok?)
The sun is just peeping out over the horizon. Quick, grab your yoga mat, head outside and perform sun salutations to greet the day. Not a yoga fan? You can also just saunter outside, coffee cup in hand, and nod in the direction of the rising sun. Either way, head back in quickly. Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean you’re likely to feel much warmth. It is probably about 45 degrees out there, so get back in and bundle up.
Dressed in fleece and ready to catch some lovely morning light, it’s time to get a good view of the rising orb in the sky. Head to Pilot Butte and walk to the top. The bright sun will be lighting up the Cascade mountains in lovely form. You’ll want to keep moving or else you’re likely to get a chill. Temperature is still just topping 50. Hiking time: 45 minutes.
It’s time to grab some quality coffee and a bite for breakfast. To keep in the sun, head to Looney Bean Coffee, which has some of the best outdoor seating in Central Oregon, right on the Deschutes River in downtown Bend. While it’s starting to warm outside, it’s still not 60 and won’t likely be until about 8 a.m.
Head to Smith Rock State Park. Travel time: 35 minutes.
It’s finally warmed up a tad and you may be able to shed your fleece at the car — so long as you stay active. Smith Rock State Park is a place of beauty, best enjoyed when it’s not blazing hot. And now that summer is here, that means hitting up the red-rocked wonder early in the day.
Hiking time: 90 minutes
Back to the car.
Terrebonne Depot isn’t open yet, which is a shame because that deck is a sun-lover’s paradise. Instead check out One Street Down Cafe in downtown Redmond. This cute cafe has great outdoor seating.
After a hearty brunch in the sunshine, it’s time to get serious about the sun. You need some facts. Here’s one place that can deliver the solar science you’re after: The Oregon Observatory in Sunriver.
Drive time: 45 minutes
The Oregon Observatory in Sunriver gives people a chance to do just what our parents always told us not to: stare at the sun. Every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the observatory has two telescopes set up to allow visitors the chance to gaze at the sun without incurring any eye damage. Instead visitors will be treated to rare sights.
Bob Grossfeld, the manager of the observatory, says one telescope has a full-spectrum filter that allows viewers to look at sun spots. Through the telescope, Grossfeld says, you can see the sun’s true color and examine spots, many of which are bigger than our entire planet. The grand scale of it is fun to think about “over a million Earths could fit inside the sun,” said Grossfeld.
The other telescope for solar viewing has a different filter on it, a hydrogen alpha filter. This one allows viewers to see storms on the edge of the sun. Grossfeld describes these huge storms as sometimes looking like large loops or golden arches coming off the sun.
“It’s a very unique opportunity,” said Grossfeld.
He said the sun has been fairly active in the past few weeks and has generated some solar flares. The sun has also experienced solar storms, which occur when large amounts of plasma particles are being pushed off the sun, said Grossfeld. This can generate Northern Lights or can even affect satellite or radio communications.
Grossfeld said there is not often a long wait to use the solar telescopes.
It’s time for lunch. There are a lot of places that offer outdoor dining in Sunriver. Base Camp Grill is close to your next destination, so consider fueling up there. You can sit at one of their tables outside, or grab the meal to go and head down to the nearby Deschutes River.
The weather is hitting peak loveliness. It’s about 75 degrees. It’s time to commune with an element that perfectly complements the sun: the water. Time to get a buddy on the phone to help with a river float trip. If you didn’t bring a canoe or raft, you can rent one from Sunriver Marina (canoes cost $85, small rafts are $125). Tell the friend to park his or her car at the marina as a shuttle. Drive the other car to Harpers Bridge off of Spring River Road.
There’s not better way to soak up the sun than to bask in the rays as they bounce off the rolling river.
Float and drive time: 2.5 hours.
Let’s be honest. You’re tired. It’s been a long day of sun. After you take out of the river, find a cozy spot along the river under a tree and take a cat nap to revive and refuel. After a 45-minute snooze, hit the road back to Bend, in search of sustenance.
Roll into Anthony’s (and miraculously find an empty table outside along the river). You made it just in time to catch the tail end of happy hour, which runs until 6:30. This is one of the most lovely patio spots in Bend, with views of the slow-rolling river and sun-kissed mountains in the background. (Might I recommend you order the mussels and fries, with a side of Boneyard RPM?)
Take a short stroll along the river path. The light is beginning to soften and the temperature has cooled a bit. You’ll probably want to grab that light fleece from the car. But the sun is far from setting.
Satisfied, but not yet full, it’s time to find another establishment. We know just the place. Head to nearby Crux Fermentation Project and find a spot outside. Crux is the perfect place to end up thanks to its unique happy hour. Called Sundowner, this happy hour begins 30 minutes before the sun sets and ends 30 minute after it falls behind the mountains. There’s a reason this place bases its happy hour on the sun. From the patio, you can take in beautiful views of the Cascades in the distance. Watch as the sky shifts colors and softens.
Sip your beer with pride, knowing you spent the day honoring the sun.
— Reporter: 541-617-7860, firstname.lastname@example.org