If you happen to be traveling to central Oregon, make arrangements to stay at the Blue Spruce in Sisters, our all-time favorite bed-and-breakfast spot. Don’t wait too long. The place books up fast with return visitors.
The 5000 square foot farmhouse built in 1999 by Bob and Vaunell Temple, now operated by Sandy Affonso, features a comfortable great room downstairs with massive fireplace, a communal breakfast table with lazy susan, a game table and player piano. Bookcases display a broad assortment of reading material, games, antique bottles, clocks, pocket watches, crockery and objets d’art. Open one cabinet and you find a selection of free videotapes, all of them humorous, upbeat, nonviolent, and suitable for family viewing.
Four guest units comprise the upper floor, each with king-sized bed, TV and VCR, gas log fireplace, refrigerator, whirlpool bath tub, towel warmer, a waterfall shower, and bathrobes. The Lodge has a hunting motif. Curtains hang from rods that are the extended barrels of old-time hunting rifles. Antlers adorn one wall and others sport a mountain goat head and animal skins. The toilet paper roll turns on the barrel of an antique pistol, and towels hang from a rack that is yet another flintlock rifle.
The Ponderosa suite has a cowboy theme. The bed frame has horseshoes welded into headboard and footboard. The Metolius, named for the nearby river, has a fishing theme with genuine rods, reels, and pictures of fish used as decorations, and the decor of the Cascades relates to forestry and logging.
A clever feature of each unit is its special “mouse hole.” The small recesses contain a nightlight in a mouse bedroom with tiny furnishings and decor picking up the theme of the particular unit. A ceramic mouse rests on the bed in the Pondersosa room with a cowboy hat and tiny portrait of a horse; an archer’s bow rests on the bedpost of The Lodge, fishing gear in the Metolius and a logger’s saw in the Cascades. A guest book entry tells of a couple’s five-year-old daughter who insisted on sleeping on the floor so she could look into the mouse hole while waiting for sleep.
Bikes and bike helmets are available at no charge. The back porch area is regularly visited by deer. The fawns are a bit shy, but their mother and older brother eat from one’s hand and accept ear scratches and head pats.
Rusticity is the governing motif, and grainy knots of oak, hickory, pine, and juniper adorn woodwork, doorways, ceiling beams, wall paneling, and floors. Artistry shows in the quilted hangings, imaginative table decorations, and sumptuous breakfasts of freshly squeezed orange juice, peaches, berries, varieties of french toast, waffles or pancakes, and egg recipes. Different homemade cookies appear daily in the kitchen area, and popcorn or various flavors of ice cream appear in the evenings. Music piped softly into the units summons late sleepers to breakfast, if the aroma of morning coffee has not already performed the wake-up call.
Why would one visit Sisters? This jewel of a town is named for three drowsing volcanoes. North Sister is Faith, and at an elevation of 10094 feet is just a smidgen taller than sibling Hope, and about 300 feet shorter than Charity to the south. The sisters are part of a seven mountain contingent which includes Mt. Jefferson, Three Finger Jack (some say it’s named for a trapper who lived in the area and whose hand was not as fast as the jaws of his trap), Mt. Washington, and Broken Top, which lost its head in a volcanic eruption eons ago.
Visitors can find exercise ranging from leisurely day hikes to more serious backpacking or mountain climbing, horseback riding, water skiing, wind surfing, rafting, fishing, biking, and golf. Winter months beckon alpine and cross-country skiers. Less athletic warm-weather visitors can pick huckleberries, bird watch, or just revel in fields of wild flowers. Year round the natural scenery is a tonic to the senses and an inspiration to painters and photographers.
On a roadmap, Sisters is the top of a triangle with its base angles at Bend and Redmond, each 20 miles away. The leg running northwest from Bend is Highway 20-a bit wobbly as it crosses through the tiny settlement of Tumalo. Highway 97 connects Bend and Redmond and forms the base of the triangle. Highway 126 runs from Redmond to Sisters.
Bend is a big, bustling city, and Redmond’s two main streets, one running one-way north and the other south, are a necklace studded with big box stores. In contrast, Sisters has a population of only 911 year-round dwellers, one of whom exults that the nearest traffic light is 20 miles from town. All three points of the triangle share equally in views of dark buttes and perennially snow clad peaks.
Logging and cattle have long ago taken a distant backseat to tourism as Sisters’ main source of income. The town fills up for the annual outdoor quilt show on the second weekend in July. In September comes the Sisters In Sisters Celebration. Featuring celebrity sisters and offering activities for the hundreds of sisters who come to town for the gala event. B and B’s near Camp Sherman on the Metolius River must be booked well in advance of the summer months, when events and activities are most numerous and when outdoor weddings take place at the scenic locales of Black Butte, Smith Rock, Eagle Crest, and other sites in town and ON THE OUTSKIRTS of Sisters.
Do yourself a favor. Visit Sisters and stay at the Blue Spruce.