Bend Sucks, Tell Your Friends
When we first rolled into Bend through Sisters, the smoke was pretty thick. Our first week was spent doing more exploring-by-driving – the air quality was gross enough to want to avoid any extraneous huffing and puffing.
We were super excited to catch up with our pals Scott and Jaime of Away We Winnebago ⏤ we met them down in Baja at Victor’s RV Park and hoped our paths would cross again in Oregon. We got to see them up in Sisters, OR and ate a great meal and drank (too much) wine.
That headline is all misdirection. Bend is a great town. It’s a great size, the Deschutes River runs right through it (which you can float down, which we did), and there’s lots of great food and beer to be had. A few of our favorites were: The Ale Apothecary, Crux Fermentation Project, The Good Life, Bend Brewing Company, Chow, Spork….the list goes on. And on.
I hit up the salt water soaking pool twice at McMenamin’s, a former Catholic school compound that’s been turned into a hotel, pub, and theater. The pool is $5 for non hotel guests and absolutely worth every single penny.
The turquoise tiled room has a Romanesque flavor – from the central fountain to the lion statues with water flowing out their mouths to the tiled images on each wall of who I had to assume was St. Francis of Assisi with all the animals (heathen here, I know next to nothing about Bible stuff…and probably I’m wrong about the Romanesque thing, too).
The ceiling around the center was entirely open. A light rain drizzled down on one of the days I was there…I bet being there while it’s snowing is nothing short of magical.
There’s also a “secret” bar in a broom closet that was fun to hunt down.
I can see why the town is experiencing an influx of new residents…it’s pretty wonderful. But also pretty expensive. It’s not a buyer’s market at the mo.
But the endless outdoor activities, relatively small (read: bikeable) size, and easygoing culture were really appealing to us.
We also got see our friends Tim & Lauren who are traveling around the country for a few months for their honeymoon ⏤ we hiked Mount Bachelor and hit up Sunriver Brewing with them.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
This stop is about 15 minutes out of Bend proper. This (still active) shield volcano is the site of a cinder cone and caldera you can walk around and/or drive up to.
Lava Butte is the cinder cone; the land all around it is strewn with all manner of volcanic rock – pumice, cinders, and the lone tree here and there. It looks like a barren wasteland of pain, but with the plants that have managed to survive in what little soil there is, it’s actually quite beautiful.
We also hiked the mile-long lava tube cave. We’ve been in several caves at this point and each one is so different and amazing. All the caves we’ve been to thus far all contain some kind of man-made, artificial lighting, mainly for safety and because they run tours.
The lava tubes, though, you’re on your own and there’s NOTHING down there to light your way. You aren’t allowed in without some kind of flashlight (which they can rent to you if you don’t have your own).
We wore headlamps and while there’s not actually much to see in terms of variety, seeing the light reflecting off of thousands of tiny droplets of water across the ceilings and walls was mind bending.
We stopped a few times when we’d managed to break away from the steady flow of foot traffic to shut off our head lamps and experience the most intense blackness possible.
It’s amazing to pay attention to what your mind does when one or some of your senses are removed. I started to feel as though my headlamp view was a pair of glasses made of light…!
High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum isn’t far from the Volcanic Monument so it made sense to stop and check it out.
It’s a great indoor/outdoor museum with most sections devoted to wildlife as well as the history of the area and the native populations. There’s a birds of prey section, too, where rescued birds that cannot be released into the wild are housed in outdoor shelters – a bald eagle, golden eagle, an owl, and more.
We had originally planned to hike Tumalo Falls with Scott and Jaime but the air quality was too crappy so we came back the following weekend and it was worth the wait: the air was much, much better.
Funnily enough, we were re-routed on the (very simple) way there, and it took us an hour and 45 minutes to get to the trailhead instead of 40. Pro tip: don’t trust Google maps in the Oregon wilderness. Eventually some excessively good looking, outdoorsy Oregonian dude with perfect, straight teeth came by in a pickup asking if we were lost. We didn’t know that we were because In Google We Trust. He gave us proper directions, but not before tech shaming us and encouraging us to get a “paper” map and get to know the area.
But eventually we got there, we hiked, it was beautiful. As you can see:
We also celebrated our first year of full time RV living on the 31st of August and our 2nd wedding anniversary on the 2nd. Huzzah!
Next stop: Boise, Idaho – land of my birth! 😛