Burger 42 Day 34: Obsidian Grill, McKenzie Burger

I was attracted to Central Oregon for the high desert. I will be endlessly entertained crawling along lava fields and wandering among the sage and juniper without a shade tree in site. Give me dust and rock over that rotting muck you call “soil.” Keep those humid sticky sweats, itchy bugs, slimy ferns, and those hazy horizons of the coast. A tree covered mountain appears to me as a giant lump of moldy cheese and I feel sympathy for the sharp reliefs and jagged rock ledges that have been weathered down by the roots and worms.  There is likely mill worker somewhere in my ancestry.

But this weekend, while we sat on the summit of Black Crater scanning the horizon, my eyes followed the road far below as it snaked through the lava flows of McKenzie pass and watched the endless stream of cars dropping in and out of the valley beyond. The map said McKenzie River was down there. I’d heard good things about that area but never been. Worth a check. We should head there next.

And that’s how we ended up descending 1000’s of feet within a few twisting miles, the temperature and humidity creeping up, the trees growing taller and greener. We found ourselves in the midst of that moist terrain whose beauty I will acknowledge but still disagree with. But there was comfort here. For no matter how rapidly diverse and changing the terrain of Oregon, there is a constant. You can find a hamburger.

The McKenzie Bridge General Store, named for the town of McKenzie Bridge, in turn most probably named for the bridge over McKenzie River found there, is in a stage of rapid remodeling. Step through the standard convenience store front and you enter a large beer garden in back. Fire pits and picnic tables and lawn games. There’s a food trailer in the corner serving up a menu that includes, to my relief, a burger.

At half a pound it’s a hefty burger for a general store food trailer. Bacon and blue cheese are cheap add-ons. The fries traditional and crispy. Red checkered paper in a plastic food basket emphasize the Americana. It’s filling and enjoyable, but not too overwhelming to distract from the camping and hiking you are heading from and to.

Score: 3.25 of 5
Price: $13.00 with bacon and fries
Beer: Hop Valley Citrus Mistress
Rock Triumphant: A hike up Tidbits Mountain rewards with pillars of stone succeeding above the furry green tyrants (aka “trees”).

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