Friday, October 5, 2012

Bend, Oregon

Bill and I both blogged about our stay in Bend...hope it's not too confusing!

After leaving Coeur d’Alene we headed south to Bend, Oregon. Debby had been reading a lot about this place and was hoping to find a quaint small town suitable for our retirement. On the way there, we drove through the high desert of Washington with the intention of camping overnight next to the Columbia River. Unfortunately, a minor navigation error took us down the wrong side of the river through about 30 miles of construction and we would have had to backtrack about 10 miles to get to the riverside campground. We elected not to go that route in part because of the need to backtrack, and in part because of the trains that run parallel to the river that would have kept us up all night.

So instead, we stopped for gas right after crossing the river and had another in a continuing series of incidents where someone had left their car parked at the gas pump (at the only RV accessible island) and gone into the station to enjoy a leisurely meal at the attached Subway. Then we were off in the direction of Bend and Debby started searching for places to stay nearby. We wound up at a fairgrounds RV park where we had just missed the demolition derby. Lucky for us because the place had been packed until just a few hours before we got there. While there, we took our plants out for some sunshine and discovered a tiny frog that had hitched a ride from Coeur d’Alene in one of the flower pots. I found a nice shady shack to put him in and wished him luck with his new home.

I was very excited to visit Bend. From everything I had heard about the town I had thought this just might be a place I could settle down in. I got online and searched for "things to do in Bend" and came up with a few things for us to do. Of most notable interest was the Bend Ale Trail. Bill has turned me into quite the beer snob and we are always interested in discovering wonderful craft beers. But an "ale trail" with the promise of a cool "Silipint" commemorate cup? How could we not join in! The problem was we had about 3 days to go to 9 breweries, wow...could we do this, well, we had to give it a try! I also have a cousin in town that I wanted to see and had posted on the Bend Hash House Harriers site that we were in town and looking for a trail or whatever was going on.

We parked at the Scandia RV Park right in town and ended up with a fabulous site. From there we hit our first brewery, where we also had dinner. Found out the hash was having a bike hash that evening but we couldn't get it together fast enough to make it. I did connect with my cousin and made plans to have dinner with her and her husband Wednesday night. I received a couple of emails from local hashers and one of them was from someone who thought he knew Bill from their hashing days back in the 90's, in Phoenix. Seems they had seen each other about 10 years ago at a fellow hasher's wedding and plans were made to meet for beers that evening.

We started Tuesday with a great, hilly, walk up Pilot Butte where, on a clear day you can see forever, but on a smokey day, can just imagine...
We had a couple of very smoky days without much of a view...

I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly cast, especially now that I’m retired and may find myself with more opportunities to go fly fishing. Debby’s vigilant eye on what’s happening wherever we go spotted an opportunity for free fly fishing lessons at Orvis, a sporting goods company. So we stopped by there and signed me up for Fly Fishing 101. I haven’t purchased any fly fishing gear yet, but when the time is right, I’ll be right on that. We also happened to be right around a corner from the first REI we’d seen for a long while and got to do some shopping there. 

Next it was time to get back on the Ale Trail and try to knock off a few breweries on our "passport." We ended the day at 10 Barrel Brewing with Bill's hash friends, followed by a fun evening of sushi and saki!

Bill, Lynn and Dave @ 10 Barrel Brewing
I woke up the next day in extreme pain and my right eye swollen shut  - just what did I do last night, I thought! Well after several hours of alternating ice and warm compresses and trying to decide if I should go to a doctor or not, I pulled out the steroid eye drops I got from an eye doctor in Arizona during tax season - 2010, when I had a severe allergy in both of my eyes. About 30 minutes later I had some relief and with a second dosage, a few hours later, I was feeling great and the swelling had completely disappeared. Glad I kept those drops around!! We made it out to one brewery that night before we had dinner with my cousins, but now we only had one day to hit the last 4 breweries!

One of the things we’ve noticed during our travels is the increasing popularity of traffic circles. They’re being used everywhere to improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion. Bend is no exception and they've added an element of artwork in the roundabouts to make them more attractive. There are even companies that offer tours of the city’s roundabout art. As a planning geek, I kind of like that.

It was great seeing my cousin Suzanne and her hubby, Paul - she is the daughter of my mom's cousins, Carl and Judy, from L.A. I had seen Suzanne and her sister Jennifer quite a bit growing up as our family went down to L.A. for family get-togethers quite a bit. Many, many years passed before I saw them again and was reunited when each of the girls wrote fabulous books.  Suzanne wrote The Curse of the Singles Table: A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex, chronicle of a dry spell that lasted longer than the Kennedy administration. This book is hysterical and when she came to the bay area to do a reading I drove to Novato to meet her. I saw her again last year at a small family reunion at her sister Jennifer's house in L.A. Jennifer also wrote the fabulous, tell-all book Ill-Equipped for a Life of Sex: A Memoir. 

We woke up early Thursday morning and Bill went to his fly-fishing class, which he loved, by the way! And I went to check out the downtown Bend scene. I thought I was having deja-vu as I strolled up and down the streets - it seemed as if I had been transported back to downtown Walnut Creek (in the east bay area of San Francisco)! Lots of chic little shops, with your typical yuppies and their little kids & dogs, along with the gentrified retirees...oy vey, I thought, we can't move here! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Walnut Creek - it was a fabulous place to raise kids and I made the best friends of my life there, but it's just not me anymore. I am now happiest in a small, little funky town more like Tahoe and Cedar Key!

I picked up my happy hubby and we set off to finish our marathon ale trail! In order to make this work I knew I had to employ some different tactics than how we started out - 2 sampler platters of 12 beers! I now was ordering 1/2 pints or 10 oz glasses wherever possible! We successfully finished our 9 breweries, before dinner and trotted off to pick up our promised Silipint prize!

On out to Ashland, where a surprise reunion awaited us!


  1. D&B
    not sure when I stumbled upon your blog but have been following along for awhile - too often a so-called "lurker" on blogs but your Bend post got my attention - I just left there - also made the rounds along the Ale Trail but you did better than I did :) as I didn't complete the trail. can't help but wonder if we were in the same brewery at any point in time - and, also looking at your Glacier posts again - bet we passed each other there too!! small world indeed - you and so many others have been a great inspiration to getting me out on the road - thanks for images and stories that you share - gives me ideas as to where to travel

  2. Awesome Stephen - love getting the feedback. And yes, who knows, we could have been sitting at any of the bars right next to you!