After a much needed adventure, we're back home in San Luis Obispo. We decided that even though we could have stayed on the road for weeks on end, we are glad to be home. I truly do appreciate where I live even more when I go away. The Central Coast of California is quite spectacular, much more dry than what the north has to offer, but filled with the shining sun, many outdoor activities, happy people, and best of all, clear skies.
David would ask me occasionally throughout the trip, "Could you see us living here?" Most of the time my reply was a solid "No." I absolutely loved the generous amount water and the green that followed, especially the thousands of pines that made up most of it, but I found the blanket of clouds in the sky to dim my spirits. David noticed quickly that when the clouds were out my face didn't express the normal excitement and joy that it usually does. When the sun showed itself from beneath the grey though, I instantly would perk up and become myself again. I didn't realize till this trip how incredibly spoiled to have grown up on the central coast of California.
There was one place though that stuck out, reminded me of home in a way, and made me think "Hmmm I think I could live here" – the city of Bend, OR. The city is practically smack dab in the middle of Oregon. It's in the "high desert" region of the state. That label initially marred our excitement to visit Bend and the central parts of Oregon. We expected the pine trees to fade away and the lands to begin to resemble Nevada's orange, dusty deserts. We were wrong!
As we drove westward towards the middle of the state, heading to Bend, the roads began to stretch out in front of us like a a never-ending arrow. There were plenty of pines, but the forests were definitely more sparse than those in the lower elevations of Oregon, allowing us to see into the forests' depths. The floors of the forests quickly began to lose their green color, being replaced by browns, oranges, and reds. (Surprisingly, I really liked the added bright tones; it created a lovely contrast to the healthy green of the trees.) We were losing a bit of green, but I didn't mind it. We got to the end of the seemingly never-ending straight and began weaving slowly upwards. Large mountains came into view – it was a whole new Oregon scene in these parts.
Central Oregon is home of the Three Sisters. They are famous for skiing and other winter sports. Snow season is on its way to Bend so the tips were clouded over, but we were still able to get a stunning view. Below these three towering mountains are lower ridges surrounded by lakes, forests, and even lava rock. The Bend area may be dryer and less green, but it's definitely not any less beautiful.
We got into town around 5pm – we didn't plan much time to explore Bend, since we didn't think we were going to like it (Now, I wish we had). We made our way into a parking structure downtown and found out we had three hours free parking. WooHoo! - how incredibly generous! Back home we only got half that. (I felt like hugging the mayor – I'm very easily pleased.) We headed towards a bridge that crossed the Deschutes River, that viewed the Mirror Pond and the Colorado Street Dam (built in 1910). This dam was the very first source of electricity in Bend, and still currently provides power to about 200 city households.
The neighborhood on the other side of the bridge was gorgeous, following the river, surrounded by vegetation, and with a walking bridge to a large city park (where various events occur throughout the year), and leading into downtown. The stroll was pleasant. David and I pictured ourselves living in one of the houses and decided it wouldn't be a bad life. We then headed across that small bridge into downtown to enjoy the nicely decorated streets and unique Bend shops, cafes, and restaurants.
We quickly learned that Bend is home of one of the few locally owned Patagonia stores in the nation. What does that mean? Everyone's wearing it! It was funny to walk around town and pass one bright-colored Patagonia jacket after another, from toddlers to grandparents. David and I felt like we fit in pretty well, strolling through the area in our Better Sweaters. It reminded us of home as you can also find numerous Patagonia products floating through the streets of Carpinteria. (The main headquarters is in Ventura, just 20 minutes south of there.) It's interesting how a company can distinguish itself in a community and create a following. It makes sense though for Bend, since the city is marked for it's accessibility to outdoor activities like mountain biking, climbing, fly-fishing, hiking, trail running, SUPing, river-rafting, and more, which Patagonia gear is made for.
We made our way to the Deschutes Brewery and Public House to get a beer sampler and some tasty grub – we felt we deserved it after 7 days of camp food. It was such a fun experience eating there. The restaurant was obviously a tourist destination, but we happily found it to be a quite the local's spot too. Bendonians? Bendites? People of Bend? love their beer. How could they not, with 19 local breweries?
David and I sat on the terrace overlooking downtown. The host let us know that if it got too cold, and we wanted to move inside, we would have to be put back on the end of the waiting list. He didn't know that, even though we were Californians, we could handle it – and we did, surprisingly well.
We were out there alone, in a private, quiet, and beautiful setting. In a moment's notice we saw a large bicycle/cart thing, peddled by about 12 people, moving down the street below us. David got a snapchat and sent it to all our closest friends. (We had never seen anything like it.) We later found out it's called the Beer Cycle, a mobile pub that gets locals and visitors from one brewery to the next – B.Y.O.B, powered completely by the peddlers, and steered by a sober employee. It was quite a seen. I can't wait to try it some day! We loved sitting outdoors, but in the end, decided that next time we would like to experience the loud and crazy, indoor pub experience.
We watched the sun go down over the mountains in the distance as we ate our Special Fries, Elk Burger, Apple-Gorgonzola Pizza, and drank our six 4-oz samplers. Afterwords we enjoyed some local coffee from a roaster in Sisters (I don't know which one) and shared the Obsidian Stout Chocolate Cake. Magnifique!
The city is beautiful, vibrant, and thriving with entrepreneurial spirit. It was hard not to fall in love with Bend. It made us feel like we could try anything, do anything. Who knows, maybe we will be relocating north to exercise our adventurous appetites.
Bend has tons of mountains, pines, lakes, rivers, sports, camping, a seemingly great community, four seasons, and an approximate of 300 days of sunshine (or so we read). We researched a lot about Bend on our way home. Getting excited about another city, another state, another life, reminded us to take advantage of where we live now. We decided to make a list of our priorities while living in San Luis, to be sure that we are able to fully discover and enjoy that area before moving on. I'd encourage you to do the same. Trying something new is loads of fun, but taking advantage of home is just as important.