Aug. 31: High Desert Museum

We went to the High Desert Museum today. If you’ve ever traveled on Hwy. 97 south of Bend, you’ve probably seen the signs. We’ve seen the signs for 20-some years and today was the first time we ever took the exit and checked it out. It’s a beautiful building and a pretty nice little museum, with the Schnitzers’ and Chiles’ and Autzens’ names on just about everything. The museum’s emphasis is on natural and living history (whatever that means)—they have a lot of pioneer/Oregon Trail artifacts and some of the cutest little critters you ever did see.

One of my favorites was the porcupine. Unfortunately, the new-ish baby wasn’t on exhibit because it’s being weaned right now so he and the momma are separated most of the time. One of the guides told me that the male porcupine just got put back in with the female; he was happy to be home and she was not so happy to have him there. Hm. Anyway, we didn’t get to see the baby, but we did see one of the parents. I love this video taken last month of the momma and baby.


The other big favorite today was the river otter. When we first got to the otter exhibit, he was curled up in his little nest, sleeping peacefully. Several kids crowded at the window and woke him, and he did not like that one bit. He got up and charged the window with a very big hiss. The kids all screamed, so he did it again. And again. And the kids loved it and that otter was PISSED. It was hilarious but also makes you kinda question the whole animals-in-captivity thing.

After he was done expressing his displeasure with/at the noisy kids, he went out to the water part of his habitat and started showing off. The kids all screamed again when he pooped in the water, of which they had an otter’s-eye view because the window is mostly underwater. It was pretty funny (the kids’ reaction, not so much the poo) and they were all, “He’s swimming in it! I think he’s eating it!” Here’s a video in which the High Desert Museum river otter behaves a little better than he did for us today.


Katie and I searched YouTube for High Desert Museum videos and found one called “chipmunch,” in which Thomas tortures and kills an adorable little chipmunk. You can look for that one yourself; Katie and I were horrified and decided that a video that disturbing doesn’t belong on my blog.

We also decided that maybe cute little river otters are in reality big, huge shitheads.

And speaking of chipmunks, they were everywhere. They kept sitting on their hind legs, like they expected to be fed—they certainly didn’t seem to be afraid of us. Technically, they were not chipmunks but some variety of squirrel, but to us they looked like chipmunks and what are they gonna do if we call them something they aren’t? NOT eat the hot sauce packet I so generously shared from my purse? Yeah, right.

The museum has a lynx and a bobcat on display, and they were both sleeping every time we were near. Boooooring. I didn’t like the Desertarium so much—scorpions. Ick. The only scorpions I can tolerate are the ones who announce their presence and then proceed to rock me like a hurricane. The bat exhibit had no actual live bats, but some interesting info and cool examples of how echolocation works. (Look at me, using big words that I totally did not have to look up in the dictionary.) I guess they have live bats at the daily bat show, which we missed, but I didn’t really care because bats kinda creep me out anyway. You know my whole thing with keeping my neck covered while I sleep…

Turtles? Way cute. Lizards and the like? Also cute. Snakes? Meh. Fox? Sleeping/hiding in its den, the a-hole. Owls and falcons? Stinky. But bald eagles? Oh my goodness, they were huge and quite beautiful—I really am not a fan of birds but there’s something about bald eagles that are majestic and gorgeous. I stood at their cage with my hand on my heart and sang “America, the Beautiful” because I. Am. That. Dork.

We didn’t even get to all the exhibits—there is a surprising lot of stuff to do and see. We all gave the High Desert Museum three thumbs up each. By the way, I didn’t actually give any of the chipmunks hot sauce. I love animals; they’re way better than most people. But mostly, I didn’t want to share my Taco Bell hot sauce. That’s good stuff.


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