Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz by Visit Bend
Snow fans who keep watch over the Mt. Bachelor webcams rejoiced this week as snow began falling for the first time this season.
For those feeling less thrilled about the return of the white stuff, don’t worry—the current weather forecast shows a string of days in the 70s and 80s next week, so you still have time to fit in a few more days of hiking, biking, paddling, and picnicking outdoors.
But for those who get giddy at the thought of a winter vacation, here are 10 things that might be going through your head right now.
#1: “I wonder if I should make reservations…”
#2: “I love good food. I wonder who makes the best burgers/wings/sushi/vegan food in Bend?”
You’re in luck! We recently rounded up nearly seven years’ worth of our “best of” drinking and dining posts, and you’ll find them all right here.
#3: “How much duct tape is too much on my ski jacket?”
If you have to ask, it’s time for a new one. Lucky for you, lots of Bend retailers are having killer sales right now, so hop out there and do some Bend shopping to restock all your winter gear.
#4: “Where is that @#$% ice scraper?”
I’m right there with ya in needing to dig through my car to ensure I have what I need for winter driving. Now’s a great time to stock up on antifreeze, locate your tire chains, and maybe sign up for a class to help prepare you for driving in icy conditions.
#5: “Do dogs wear shoes?”
Hey, it’s a legit question, especially when it comes to protecting Rover’s paws from the cold. Bend-based Ruffwear makes a wide variety of boots created just for dogs. You’ll find those, along with other awesome options at locally-owned Bend Pet Express. They carry one of my favorite products, Musher’s Secret, which is a dense, barrier wax that forms a breathable bond with your dog’s paws. Bend Pet Express also sells Ultra Paws Durable Dog boots, which are a little less expensive than the Ruffwear ones and meant more for the everyday walker.
#6: “I wonder if Mt. Bachelor has any pre-season deals on passes?”
They sure do! Check out their website for all the latest and greatest sales, but now is definitely the time to buy if you want to save some cash and plan ahead for what’s shaping up to be a killer season for snow sports.
#7: “Crap. Have I missed my last opportunity to try standup paddleboarding or go for that hike?
Don’t worry! Like I mentioned earlier, we’ll have several days next week warming into the low 80s, so you’ll be able to squeeze in a few more days of sunny fun. But beyond that, here’s the cool thing about Bend—while Mt. Bachelor sees an average snowfall of 462 inches, the city of Bend averages less than 24. That means that even in the dead of winter, it’s totally possible to ski powder all morning, then drive 20 minutes down the hill to spend your afternoon golfing, hiking on dry trails, or mountain biking 277 miles of sweeping singletrack.
#8: “Do snowflakes really look like those things I used to cut out of paper in third grade?”
Kinda. We can all thank Lookie Loo Portraits of Bend, Oregon for snagging some of our absolute favorite snowflake close-ups last season, and you can see from the pics that they’re pretty unique. And to address the other thing you’re wondering about whether it’s true no two snowflakes are alike, that’s also true. While it isn’t possible to compare every snowflake that’s ever fallen, the fact that each flake is made up of 10 quintillion water molecules growing at different rates and in different patterns in different temperatures means it’s highly unlikely that any two are identical. There’s your deep thought for the day.
#9: “All right, so I’m seriously considering a Bend winter vacation this year. I wonder what else there is to do there?”
Oh, man. What can’t you do in Bend? The area offers everything from arts and culture to the legendary Bend Ale Trail. You can try a cave adventure with Wanderlust Tours, or try the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America. The possibilities are endless, so start browsing at www.visitbend.com to see what piques your interest. You can also check our Event Calendar to see what’s happening around town on the dates you’d like to visit.
#10: “I’d sure like to help Tawna out by shoveling her driveway this winter.”
Why thank you! That’s so very kind. Shall I post a signup sheet on this blog, or would you like to just drop by with your shovel after our first big storm of the season? Let me know and I’ll have the cocoa ready for you.
Anyone who’s spent time on the Bend Ale Trail knows Bend has a reputation as a beer town.
Creative cocktails are popping up everywhere in Bend, not just in distillery tasting rooms like Oregon Spirit Distillers’ Barrel Thief Lounge and Bend Distillery’s new Crater Lake Spirits Downtown Tasting Room (though those are both excellent spots to get your drink on). You’ll find them in unique places like Worthy Brewing, which not only boasts awesome beer, but the mix master who won the 2017 Bartender’s Brawl.
So where else can you find super-creative and inspired cocktails in Bend? Here are five of the most unique offerings you’ll find around town!
The Smoked Bos Manhattan at Bos Taurus
A relative newcomer to Bend’s drinking and dining scene, Bos Taurus is a boutique downtown steakhouse that boasts a custom cast-iron slab designed for the perfect sear on all their meats.
But it’s the Smoked Bos Manhattan that sets them apart on the cocktail side of the equation.
The drink features Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, along with a healthy helping of cherry wood smoke served up in a cool-looking cork vessel that holds in all that beautiful smoke.
In a nutshell, it looks freakin’ cool.
Pop out the cork and splash it into a tumbler garnished with lemon peel and a big ice cube. Cheers!
The Duck Fat Sazarac at Drake
Yes, you read that right. A Sazerac made with duck fat. Well, there’s more to it than that.
Order this unique concoction at Drake and you’ll be treated to a mind-blowing cocktail made from a blend of duck fat-infused rye bourbon, absinthe, sugar, and bitters with a twist.
To answer the question, yes, you really can taste a difference between this and a standard Sazarac. The duck fat adds a unique richness of flavor and an oh-so-subtle texture that had me grabbing it back from my husband several times and saying, “let me try that again.” He declared it one of the most unique cocktails he’s ever had.
For those who want a backup drink that’s unique but not as bold, try the Drakeside made with Earl Grey-infused gin, mint, and lime. Be sure to order some nibbles here, too, since the culinary offerings are out-of-this world. Their shrimp and grits are my favorite, or try the tasty salt-roasted marrow bones with carrot jam, salsa verde, and toast if you’re on a roll with sampling something new.
The Flaming Strawberry Lemon Drop at Level 2
If Bo Taurus hits it out of the park with a drink that features smoke, Level 2 nails it with one that’s actually on fire.
The Flaming Strawberry Lemon Drop features 11 vodka, strawberry puree, fresh lemon juice, triple sec, limoncello, and a flaming float of 151 rum. It’s sort of like a normal strawberry lemon drop, but with flames. Did I mention fire?
(Here’s where a cooler blogger would insert a gif of Beavis and Butthead saying, “fire’s cool.” You’ll have to imagine it, okay?)
Going back to the drinks, I’ll confess that my original plan was to spotlight the Bubblegum Lemon Drop at Level 2, since they make their own house-infused bubblegum vodka (Double Bubble gum, in case you’re wondering) with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and a sugared rim. It’s definitely unique, and tastes just like a mouthful of Bazooka Bubble Gum. A little sweet for my taste, but worth a try if that’s your jam.
Order the Ahi Tuna Poke (served with sticky rice, sesame soy vinaigrette, wasabi cream, macadamia nuts, fresh pineapple, and crispy wontons) to give you something to nibble.
The Red Mosquito at Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge
The unique cocktails at Rockin’ Daves Backstage Lounge take on a more subtle quality with unique twists on classic cocktails and housemade infusions.
The Red Mosquito is a play off a traditional Old Fashioned, but it’s made with Dave’s house-infused hot cherry bourbon in place of regular bourbon, then mixed with sugar, bitters, orange, and a cocktail cherry.
Another great option is the Yellow Ledbetter, made with their own house-infused spicy cucumber gin mixed with dry vermouth and an orange twist.
Bonus points here for the intimate location outside the hustle and bustle of Downtown or the Old Mill, plus their happy hour and nightly specials kick some serious butt. Order the deviled egg trio or a half-pound of their bacon wings with Jamaican habanero sauce to make your tummy happy.
Uh . . . pretty much anything at Dogwood Cocktail Cabin
I know this is kind of cheating, but there’s virtually nothing you could order off the menu at Dogwood Cocktail Cabin without your taste buds perking up and saying, “oh my—what was that?”
For the first year this funky, urban cocktail lounge was open, I made it my mission to sample everything on their uber-creative cocktail menu. I soon learned this was impossible without (a) destroying my liver, and (b) having to start all over again because they’re always adding new and unique drinks.
But a few of my faves include:
The Beetnik: Beet-infused vodka with ginger and lemon served up. This one’s for you, fans of earthy-tasting infusions.
Mr. Pink: Pink peppercorn-infused vodka (yes, you really, really do taste those peppercorns and they’re fabulous!) with peach, peach bitters, and cava, served on the rocks.
Shiso Thirsty: Sake, pickled soybeans, and shiso leaf (it’s a little like mint, but more grassy and herbal. A unique flavor for sure!)
The Herban cowboy: Black pepper-infused bourbon, Fernet Branca, pomegranate, molasses, black licorice, and orange peel. If that’s not a flavor explosion, I don’t know what is.
They’ve got a pretty rockin’ happy hour from 5-7 daily with drinks and snacks at 25% off, so order a round of their crispy Brussels sprouts and a plate of surf-n-turf tacos and plan on sampling a couple cocktails.
Pro tip: Go with friends and make everyone order something different so you can all try sips of several different cocktails.
Did anyone else do a teeny, tiny, eensy, weensy dance of joy when the kids went back to school?
For me, the joy is less about ushering youngsters out of the house and more about ushering in my very favorite season in Bend.
Here are five autumn happenings worth getting giddy about as fall arrives in Bend (plus your chance to win a cool prize package for one of them!)
Bend Oktoberfest September 15-16
Ever wondered why most Oktoberfest celebrations happen in September? There’s a reason! The first Oktoberfest happened in Germany in 1810 to commemorate the Bavarian crown prince’s wedding in mid-October. When they decided to make it an annual affair, they bumped it earlier to take advantage of nicer weather in September.
That makes sense for Bend, too. Our city’s annual Oktoberfest in downtown Bend is a two-day celebration from September 15-16. It features games, food, beer, cider, live music, and kids’ entertainment like bouncy houses and face painting.
Probably the most popular event is the annual Weiner Dog Races, which will have you in stitches as you watch each gaggle of short-legged, tongue-flopping canines scurry to the finish line. Get there early if you want a good spot for viewing.
My favorite aspect of Bend’s Oktoberfest is something termed “absurd games of skill.” There are prizes for yodeling, tricycle races, a costume contest, and bendhamerschlagen (a race to hammer a nail into a custom table). They’re all hilarious, and you can scope out the schedule right here.
GIVEAWAY!!! Want to win an Oktoberfest Family Prize Pack that includes two beer steins and tokens for free beer, plus a kiddie schwag set that includes vouchers for two free Kids Zone bracelets, two wooden Oktoberfest toys, and two chicken headbands? Comment on this post with your favorite thing about fall in Bend. We’ll choose a winner on Tuesday, September 12.
Bend Fall Festival October 6-8
Whether you require an extra dose of fall festivity, or you can’t make it to Oktoberfest, the annual First Interstate Bank Bend Fall Festival is a three-day affair that kicks off on Friday, October 6.
It’s similar to Oktoberfest with live music, abundant food, and plenty of things to do for kids. But this festival also features a Harvest Market, a Fine Artist Promenade, and the ever-popular pumpkin carving contest.
New this year is the Fall into Fashion area, which will highlight a carefully-selected group of creators, retailers, and reps for both clothing and accessories.
Check out the full schedule of events here.
Bend Farmers Market through October 11
There’s something a bit magical about the Bend Farmers Market this time of year.
Every Wednesday from May through mid-October, local vendors gather in Bend’s Mirror Pond Plaza above Drake Park to sell local veggies, fruits, jams, flowers, meats, soaps, baked goods, and so much more. There’s live music and much merriment, but the months of September and October have something a little different.
Maybe it’s the brightness of turning leaves and pumpkins propped up on hay bales. Maybe it’s the joy of bundling up in colorful scarves and new boots. Maybe it’s the knowledge that we only have a few weeks left to snag farm fresh goodies in this quaint, friendly market.
But it’s probably all of those things combined that make a September stroll through the Bend Farmers Market the perfect way to usher in the fall season.
More outdoor music
Full disclosure: Yes, there have been several outdoor concerts cancelled in the last week because of poor air quality resulting from forest fires raging across the Pacific Northwest. Sisters Folk Festival was called off for the first time in its 22 year history, and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe had to reschedule its August 30 Pickin’ and Paddlin’ event to September 27.
But we have every reason to believe things will clear up and remaining outdoor events will go off without a hitch.
As of right now, Michael Franti is still scheduled to play the Les Schwab Amphitheater on Friday, September 8. Tickets are still available, and it should be an awesome evening of music with blissfully warm temps. They’re also hosting Modest Mouse on September 21, which should be another fabulous show.
The Athletic Club of Bend also has three shows coming up in their Clear Summer Nights concert series, with John Butler trio playing September 10, Phillip Phillips September 19, and the Shins playing September 26. Tickets are still available for all three shows.
Check out Tenth Month in October
For years, October has been a month jam-packed with independently organized events exploring art, culture, film, tech, and business. Last year, those events banded together to create a month-long celebration known as Tenth Month.
The entire month of October is dedicated to brave ideas and innovation in art, film, marketing, technology, and design. It includes some of my very favorite events like the BendFilm Festival, Bend Venture Conference, Bend Design Conference, and Swivel, which makes the whole month of October a pretty inspiring time to be in Central Oregon.
If you want to crank the dial on your own creativity, it’s a great month to plan a Bend vacation.
Late-summer in Bend means forest fire season, which puts a temporary freeze on your plans for cuddling by the campfire and roasting hot dogs over an open flame. Right now, all campfires (including charcoal and pellet fires) are prohibited on public and private lands across our bone-dry high desert landscape.
So what’s a campfire lover to do when visiting Bend in late-August and early-September? Here are five ways to get your fix.
Sample some smoky sips
If you can’t enjoy the warmth and aesthetic appeal of a campfire, you can at least enjoy the essence in liquid form.
A relative newcomer to Bend’s culinary scene, Bos Taurus boasts a cocktail guaranteed to give you those feel-good campfire vibes. The Smoked Bos Manhattan features Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, along with a healthy helping of cherry wood smoke served up in a cool-looking cork vessel that holds in all that beautiful smoke. Pop out the cork and splash it into a tumbler garnished with lemon peel and a big ice cube. It’s the next best thing to cuddling beside an open flame under the stars.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, pick up a bottle of Smoke Tea Liqueur from Thomas & Sons Distillery (an offshoot of Townshend’s Tea). Described as “a campfire in a bottle,” it gets its flavor from pine-smoked Lapsang Souchong black tea (which is blended with vanilla bean, South African rooibos, and Pacific Northwest blackberry honey). You’ll find a number of cocktail recipes on their website, though I’m partial to sipping it neat as an after-dinner liqueur. You’ll find it in most Bend liquor stores, or at the Townshend’s Tea location in downtown Bend.
If you really want to get serious, Ginger’s Kitchenware in the Old Mill District carries the Fortessa Cocktail Smoking box—a small appliance designed to infuse cocktails and food with a savory, smoky flavor. Cheers!
Spice it up
Craving the flavor of campfire-cooked cuisine, minus the campfire?
Savory Spice sells multiple smoked spices that are great for giving everything from Bloody Marys to grilled chicken and burgers a great smoky taste.
It’s a gasPubs along the Bend Ale Trail are famous for their cozy fire pits, but those open fire bans apply to them, too. A few—like Riverbend Brewing, with its cool, contemporary-looking fire feature—have gas-powered flames that aren’t subject to the ban. Step out onto their patio in the evening hours and enjoy a pint of their Oregonized Love IPA.
Several Bend eateries and shopping areas also boast gas and propane-powered fire pits. In the Old Mill District, you’ll find a massive gas-powered fire pit outside Greg’s Grill, three smaller pits beside Anthony’s, another small pit beside the Naked Winery tasting room, and several vertical fire structures at Pastini Pastaria. While current smoke levels from area wildfires make outdoor dining inadvisable right this moment, expect that to change as soon as blazes are under control and our air quality returns to normal.
Have your s’mores and eat ‘em, too
One of the best things about camping is the magical combination of toasty marshmallows sandwiched between crisp graham crackers and oh-so-perfectly melted chocolate.
If you can’t shake your s’mores craving, drive to Brasada Ranch where you can cap off your meal at Range or Ranch House with gourmet s’mores delivered right to your table.
These are no ordinary s’mores, mind you. They feature locally-made chocolate from Goody’s Chocolates and marshmallows made fresh daily by Brasada Ranch’s award-winning chef. He also makes the graham crackers from scratch with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and honey.
Want to smell like campfire?Wind conditions and the tireless toil of firefighters across our region means smoke conditions in Bend are changing constantly. That said, it’s been a hazy couple of weeks in Central Oregon, and doctors have advised folks to be watchful of air quality (especially if you have asthma, emphysema, or other similar health conditions).
Keep an eye on the Department of Environmental Quality website to assess whether current conditions make it wise for you venture into Bend’s outdoors on any given day.
If you decide to head out, there’s a good chance a fifteen minute walk around the block will leave your clothes and hair smelling delightfully like a campfire. It’s almost like camping, right?
But if that’s not your jam, check out this blog post featuring 13 fabulous indoorsy activities to enjoy in Bend until our air is fresh and clean once more.
Forest fire season is upon us, and with several large blazes raging around Oregon, Bend has seen a bit of smoke this week. A short walk with the dog last night left us both smelling like we’d spent the evening by a bonfire, and folks with respiratory problems have been advised to stay indoors.
While it’s rare for Bend fans to give up even a moment of outdoor play in our glorious high desert paradise, there’s plenty of indoorsy fun to be found when smoke or rain drive us inside. Here are 13 of my favorite forms of indoor fun in Bend.
The High Desert Museum
One of Central Oregon’s top attractions since 1982, the High Desert Museum is a wonderland of wildlife, natural history, and art. It sits on 135 acres and boasts 100,000 square feet of exhibit space where you can get a close-up view of native wildlife including river otters, bobcat, porcupines, and badgers. Their raptor programs are a must-see, with owls, falcons, and hawks swooping overhead.
Stick to the indoor exhibits if the weather is frightful, or head outside to visit an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904. You’ll also find a variety of educational, hands-on exhibits that will thrill visitors of all ages and bring history and science to life.
Mountain Air Trampoline Park
In less than a year of operation, Mountain Air Trampoline Park has become my 11-year-old’s favorite spot for birthday parties or weekend outings. The main court has 26 trampolines and is surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway.
Mountain Air even offers basketball and dodgeball, along with a giant airbag that’s crazy fun to leap onto from above.
Parents with toddlers they’d prefer not to see squished by older kids will be happy to know there’s a special zone for kids 46-inches and shorter.
Note to busty moms: Double up on the sports bras for this one. You’ll thank me later.
The Roundabout Art Route
One of the most unique art exhibits anywhere, the Roundabout Art Route is a collection of nearly two dozen pieces of public art on display throughout the city in the most unlikely places – at the center of Bend’s traffic circles. The circles, also filled with plants, flowers and trees, are designed to keep traffic flowing around the city.
Pick up a brochure at the Bend Visitor Center so you can map your route between sculptures. At the end, answer some simple trivia questions and return it to the Visitor Center to claim a cool edible prize.
Sun Mountain Fun Center
There’s plenty of indoor fun to be found at Sun Mountain Fun Center, especially if you have kids in tow. Bumper cars, bowling, and a staggering array of video games dispensing tickets you can cash in for prizes.
The pizza here is surprisingly awesome, with a great local beer selection to boot. If you get a break in the rainstorm or smoke haze, head outdoors to do a little Go Kart racing, mini golf, or a stint in the batting cage.
Deschutes Historical Museum
History buffs will adore this well-run museum located in the historic Reid School (Bend’s first modern school opened in 1914). The Deschutes Historical Museum has been operating in Bend since 1980, and features a unique variety of exhibits ranging from local history to an expansive temporary exhibit titled, “Winter Comes: Oregon’s Nordic Ski History.”
They’re also the host site for one of my favorite Bend beer events coming up Labor Day Weekend, The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Brew and Whiskey Festival Sept. 1-2. #JustSayin
When you vacation in Bend, there’s the tendency to run yourself ragged trying to cram in all the hiking, biking, paddling, and playing in the outdoor playground of the West.
Whether it’s rain, smoke, or just a need for relaxation that drive the urge for a spa day, you’ll find tons of great Bend day spas where you can pamper yourself. Opt for a mani/pedi, or get a massage to soothe well-worked muscles. Score a facial to counter the effects of our dry high desert climate, or book a special service like a mud wrap.
Aaaah….now that’s a vacation.
Wren and Wild Aerial Yoga
Want a super-unique indoorsy experience to add to your Bend vacation? Wren and Wild is Bend’s first aerial yoga studio. In case you’re not familiar with it, aerial yoga is a strengthening practice using sturdy silks suspended from the ceiling.
They offer private classes, group workshops, and even special sessions like mother/daughter aerial yoga. Check out their rates and schedule here.
Plan an escape
Both Bend Escape Room and Red Button Escapes offer a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.
Have an Airsoft battle
For those who’ve never heard of it, Airsoft is the generic name for air-powered toy guns that shoot small, plastic BBs. Peak Airsoft has an indoor arena where you can enjoy a safe, fun, fast-paced, adrenaline-filled action experience.
Playing at Peak Airsoft’s indoor arena revolves around loosely-guided, objective-based game modes requiring teamwork and strategy to complete the tasks assigned to each team. All equipment is provided, including electric M4-style rifles and full face protection
Guests can drop in for open play sessions or book a private party. For info and pricing, go here.
The Tower Theatre
Craving a bit of culture during your Bend visit? Check the schedule at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre and snap up some seats at an upcoming event. This renovated art-deco theater offers musical performances, films, plays, and more, so check their schedule to see what’s happening during your Bend stay.
Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will fall in love with this quirky Downtown arcade packed with vintage video games, but so will kids of all ages and generations. Vector Volcano is family-friendly, but they also serve local craft beer. Admission gets you unlimited game play for the time period you pick, with no quarters or tokens required.
Bowling is the ultimate family activity for all ages, and Bend is lucky enough to have two great spots for it. Check out Lava Lanes or Sun Mountain Fun Center for a fun-filled afternoon or evening of rolling strikes (or gutter balls—no judgement here).
Shop ‘til you drop
Not-so-hot weather conditions give you the perfect excuse to splurge on a little souvenir shopping in Bend. Whether you’re looking for art, clothing, outdoor gear, or edible gifts to take home for friends, you’ll find it all in Bend.
Scope out the eclectic array of unique shops in downtown Bend, the Old Mill District, and Northwest Crossing, or head for to national chains found at the Bend Factory Stores or the Cascade Village Shopping Center, you’ll find plenty of spots to give your credit card a workout in Bend.
It’s been three months since I wrote about Eclipse 2017, and now we’re mere days from the big event on August 21, 2017.
Some folks are giddy as chipmunks in a tub of popcorn. Others are freaking out about clogged roadways, water shortages, and the question of where we’re going to put the one million people expected to arrive in Oregon over the next few days.
About a quarter of those visitors will head for Central Oregon, so here’s what you should know about Bend travel as we approach the big day.
DO remember that patience is key. We’ll have lots of bodies in town, and everyone’s excited about this super-unique cosmic phenomenon. Treat your fellow travelers with kindness and courtesy, and they’ll do the same for you.
DON’T panic. Yes, some grocery store shelves are a bit bare, and traffic is going to be wonky for a few days. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s is a small price to pay for enjoying a full solar eclipse in one of the most scenic spots on earth.
DO get your hands on a good pair of eclipse glasses. There have been reports of fake ones showing up on Amazon, so if that’s where you got yours, double-check the source. If you’re in doubt, stop by the Bend Visitor Center to grab a pair.
DON’T wear eclipse glasses while driving. Uh, this should go without saying, since you can’t see a darn thing when you’re wearing them.
DO plan ahead. While the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will have incident response teams staged along roadways to keep cars moving and help those in distress, the high volume of vehicles means any trip—no matter which day you’re traveling or where you’re headed—will take longer than normal. Keep plenty of food, water, and medications in your car, and have a plan for tending to your (ahem) bathroom needs. Note: Your plan should not include peeing out the car window.
DON’T make the trip to Central Oregon if you haven’t reserved lodging in advance. Campsites, hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and yurts have been booked for years, so your odds of finding last-minute eclipse accommodations are about the same as my odds of turning into a rainbow trout and spawning in the Deschutes.
DO be cautious if you’re camping in Central Oregon’s great outdoors. There’s currently a campfire ban covering all public and private lands across Central Oregon, and with our region drier than a mouthful of sand, even a tiny spark from your car or cigarette could cause thousands of acres to go up in flames. Be wary of wild animals and conscious of leave-no-trace ethics. Pack your 10 essentials to ensure you stay safe no matter where you wander.
DON’T plan to travel on Monday. If your game plan is to wake up Monday morning and drive to Madras to experience totality at 10 a.m., you need a different game plan. Traffic will be bumper to bumper on two-lane highways, and even if you’re staying in Bend or Sunriver, you’re unlikely to reach your destination before the big event. If a city on the line of totality is your heart’s desire, you’ll need to start your journey sooner.
DO make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Dragging mufflers and catalytic converters have sparked some of Central Oregon’s worst wildfires. It’s also crucial to fuel up whenever you get the chance. Lines at gas stations have been long all week, with some stations running out of fuel (though tanker trucks are still arriving daily to replenish the stock). The demand for fuel will intensive as more people roll into town, so get gas when you can and check your other fluids while you’re at it.
DON’T stop on the highway or on the shoulder of the road. The eclipse is expected to be Oregon’s biggest traffic event in history, so it’s crucial to keep vehicles moving. The aforementioned ODOT incident response vehicles will be helping with this, offering to push, pull, or drag stranded vehicles off the road. They’ll also have basic first aid supplies in case the need arises. Keep in mind that the highway hits temps of 116-degrees Fahrenheit in the sun, so it’s really not a fun place to hang out anyway.
DO keep an eye on ODOT’s website, which has road cams, eclipse updates, and more. Their Twitter feed will have up-to-the-minute info about traffic incidents and road conditions across the state, as will their trip check hotline at 511. There’s also a statewide, non-emergency hotline that allows you to ask questions about eclipse viewing, safety, traffic, road closures, and more. The number for that is 211, or you can text “eclipse” to 898211. The 211 hotline will operate August 16 through August 23.
DON’T plan to skedaddle out of Central Oregon the instant the eclipse is over. A recent survey of 1,430 travelers journeying to the area for the eclipse found that arrival dates are staggered fairly evenly over the six days leading up to the eclipse, but nearly half of visitors plan to leave Monday. That’s an awful lot of traffic to fight, and there’s really no need—just chill in Bend for a few more days of floating, hiking, biking, and savoring everything the beautiful high desert has to offer!
It probably won’t surprise you to hear Bend’s forests are full of critters.
But some are shocked to learn there are a few critters that could put a crimp in your vacation plans by, say . . . eating you.
Don’t freak. In 43 years as an outdoorsy Oregonian, I’ve never crossed paths with any of them. In fact, sightings of these three creatures are rare, and actual confrontations are rarer still.
Nevertheless, it pays to be cautious. With recent cougar sightings on the upper-traverse of Southfork, a bear sighting on Tumalo Creek, and the constant presence of the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake in the high desert, I’d like to share a few things you should know about each of these oft-misunderstood creatures.
What to know about cougars
Before I launch into all the scary-sounding stuff, it’s important to note that according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there has never been a recorded cougar attack on a human in Oregon history. Not one.
Nevertheless, it’s smart to be educated when you’re venturing into the wilderness.
Cougars are elusive and solitary predators, and it’s estimated there are 6,500-6,800 of them statewide. With the average male staking claim to a territory of up to 100 square miles, they’re obviously cruising around Central Oregon.
While most people never see a cougar, it’s likely one has spotted you if you’re a frequent explorer in Central Oregon’s wilderness. Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to these big cats:
- Keep dogs leashed and small children in sight when hiking in cougar country.
- Avoid jogging or trail riding in low light conditions and in bushy areas where cougars hunt.
- Watch for cougar signs, including tracks, droppings, scratched trees, and food caches.
- Never hike alone, and carry a walking stick that can be used as a weapon if needed.
- Talk, sing, or make some other kind of noise while hiking to reduce your odds of surprising a cougar.
- If you encounter a cougar, respond by making yourself look as large as possible. Hold your jacket open, wave a stick around, make eye contact, do anything you can to look big and scary and threatening. Whatever you do, don’t bend down and don’t run—it’ll trigger the cougar’s chase instinct.
- Unlike bears (we’ll get to them in a second) cougars do not “bluff charge.” Playing dead is never recommended if a cougar charges. Fight back, focusing your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes.
The legend is true. There’s another kind of cougar in Bend, just like in any town where attractive young men make easy prey for women of a certain age.
If you’re looking to be caught by one, wine bars are a good bet. Bend has several amazing ones, including Portello WineCafé and Sip Wine Bar. Even if you don’t spot human cougars there, both places make excellent spots to go for a tasty glass of wine and some nibbles. Sip has ladies’ night every Wednesday with $1 off everything from 4- close, while Portello has wine flight weekends every Saturday and Sunday night.
What to know about bears
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon is home to about 25,000-30,000 black bears (many of which are not actually black, but cinnamon or brown in color).
Plenty of them make their homes in wilderness areas surrounding Bend, so here’s what you should know if you’re hiking, fishing, or camping in bear country:
- Keep campsites clean and sleep at least 100 yards from cooking and eating areas.
- Keep dogs on leashes or in cars.
- Never, ever pick up a bear cub. If you’re concerned it’s been abandoned, contact the Forest Service or Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but odds are good the mama is nearby watching. And it goes without saying you should never get between a mama and her cubs.
- Use flashlights at night and don’t camp or hike alone.
- Make noise when hiking so you don’t surprise a bear. Some people wear bear bells, while others swear by singing or talking to create noise that alerts bears of a human presence. It wouldn’t hurt to carry bear spray if you’re venturing deep into the wilderness.
- If you see a bear, pick up small children immediately. Remain calm and take steps to identify yourself as human and not a prey animal. Speak calmly and stand still, but slowly wave your arms.
- If the bear comes closer or stands on its hind legs, it’s likely curious and not threatening. Keep speaking in low tones and do not scream or make any sudden movements. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched screech.
- If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways. This allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Do not run, and if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Always leave the bear an escape route.
He may look like a bear, but the massive, shaggy creature found at NW Home Interiors is actually Buddy.
He’s a friendly Burmese Mountain dog who hangs out in the showroom at this fabulous furniture boutique in Downtown Bend.
He supervised my purchase of a massive king bed frame made from repurposed barn wood, so I can assure you his taste is quite exquisite.
What to know about rattlesnakes
While rattlesnakes are common in the high desert, there are a few telling statistics when it comes to snakebites. Roughly 90-percent of victims are male, 50-80 percent of bites are to the hand, and at least half the victims were intoxicated at the time of the bite.
In other words, if you’re drunk and handling a snake on purpose, it kinda ups your odds of snakebite.
But if you’re cautious, alert, and not trying to pet one, your odds of an unpleasant encounter with a rattler are actually quite slim. Snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. Really.
A few tips to help you stay safe in areas where rattlesnakes are found:
- While bears and cougars are most often found in forested areas, rattlesnakes prefer Central Oregon’s more desert-like areas like Smith Rock and the Crooked River Grassland areas. Be especially alert when hiking in these areas, but if you’re hiking above 6,000 feet or meandering around in the city, you can probably chill.
- Since they’re coldblooded animals, snakes hibernate in winter and come out when the sun shines to absorb heat from rocks and the ground. That means you’re most likely to find them sunbathing in rocky, brushy areas, especially near a water source.
- Be especially cautious about where you’re putting your hands and feet when scrambling along rock ledges.
- If you encounter a rattlesnake, move away. It wants to avoid you as much as you want to avoid it. If it starts rattling, it means you’re too close, so back the heck away. The snake’s very last defensive move is to strike, so don’t give it any reason to do that. Snakes aren’t aggressive by nature—they just want to avoid being stepped on.
- If you hear a rattler but you’re not sure where it is, stay calm and locate the direction of the rattle. Do not panic or you risk being bitten when you freak the bleep out and stumble over it.
- Snakebites are rare, but they do happen. What you should NOT do is tie a tourniquet around the affected area, cut the wound, or suck out the venom. There’s also no need to kill the snake. Instead, stay calm and summon medical help. If you’re in a group, send someone else to get a ranger or call 911. Getting to a medical facility quickly is important so a professional can determine how much venom (if any—about 25% of rattlesnake bites are dry) was injected and which type of antivenin is needed.
Often mistaken for rattlesnakes are harmless bull snakes, which are also known as gopher snakes. Compounding the problem, bull snakes like to imitate rattlesnakes by shaking their tails as a defense mechanism.
Your first cue that you might be looking at a bull snake would be the lack of a rattle on its tail. If there’s no rattle, check out the body. Though they have similar patterns, bull snakes are usually cream or pale yellow with black or brown markings, while rattlesnakes are much darker. Also, rattlesnakes have triangular-shaped heads, while the bull snake’s head is usually the same size and shape as its upper body.
Other things mistaken for rattlesnakes in Central Oregon include discarded pieces of rope, cables, and bike inner tubes. Instead of running from them, how about doing a kindness to our environment (not to mention your fellow hikers) and picking up any discarded rubbish you might spot on the trails? For more Visit Like a Local tips, go here.
Now get out there and enjoy Bend!
Over dinner a few nights ago, my husband got out his calendar and informed the kids that their summer vacation is officially at its midpoint.
Even for those of us past the days of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, that’s a wakeup call. How can that be? There’s still so much to see and do and drink and explore in Bend before cold temps set in and our days get shorter.
It’s time to get serious, guys. Here are four things we should all pledge to enjoy for the second half of summer 2017.
Float the river
Can I confess something? Even though I live mere miles from the put-in point for floating the Deschutes River, and even though I recently wrote this blog post detailing everything you need to know about floating the Deschutes River, I have yet to do it this summer. Not once.
My excuse is that I’m usually on my standup paddleboard instead, but that’s really not the same thing as floating lazily down the river in an inner tube with the sun on my shoulders and my backside in the water.
The crowds aren’t an excuse either (though I’ve heard that from pals who’ve been avoiding the river on weekends). One solution is to hit the river on weekdays, preferably earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. You can also avoid parking and traffic hassles by using the Ride the River shuttle.
Head out for a hike
I have my tried-and-true favorite hikes I do regularly, like Pilot Butte, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Alder Springs Trail, the Deschutes River Trail, and several others I rounded up in this blog post on family-friendly hikes.
But summer is the best time to explore new terrain, and there’s plenty of it here, even for those of us who’ve spent most of our lives hiking around Bend.
Rumor has it that popular areas like the trails around Sparks Lake and Green Lake are packed to the gills this summer, and I won’t lie—that’s a deterrent for people (*raises hand*) who venture into the wilderness to escape crowds.
But here’s the lovely thing about the High Cascade Lakes—there are lots of them. If you start at Todd Lake and find the parking lot full, it’s a ten minute drive to Devils Lake. If you strike out there, try Hosmer or Elk Lake or one of dozens of other little lakes that require a short hike to reach (which means you’re more likely to find solitude when you get there).
There’s plenty of room for everyone, and no need to get frustrated or make your own parking space on the fragile forest floor.
For a great map and tips on where to go as you head up the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, stop by the Cascade Welcome Station, which is operated by the Forest Service and located near milepost seven on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.
Hit the hottest events
Some of summer’s best events happen in the second half of summer, and that’s certainly the case in 2017.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater still has several great shows remaining this season, including Steve Miller Band (this Friday, August 5), Michael Franti on September 8, and Modest Mouse on September 22. As of Thursday, August 3, tickets are still available for all three shows.
On August 18 and 19, Shakespeare in the Park will present Titus Andronicus in beautiful Drake Park, with VIP tickets available for those who want to eat, drink, and be merry in style.
Personally, I’m super-jazzed the powers-that-be scheduled this year’s Bend Brewfest for my birthday weekend. August 10-12 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater will be craft beer bliss with 60+ breweries pouring more than 200 different craft beers and ciders. Pro tip: Get your hands on the program ahead of time in The Bulletin or The Source and mark the beers you most want to try so you can make a beeline for those booths before the taps run out.
Speaking of beer, the Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer & Whiskey Fest is slated for September 1-2 this year, so make sure your calendar is marked accordingly if you love barrel-aged beer.
For families, the popular Munch & Music concert series will come to a close August 10 with Pigs on the Wing, which means the Munch & Movies series will kick off August 19 and continue through September 9 with fabulous films shown in scenic Compass Park.
One of my favorite things about the warmer months in Bend is the chance to enjoy meals in Bend’s great outdoors.
Some of my summertime faves include Crux Fermentation Project, the cozy courtyard at Jackalope Grill, the sunny patio at McKay Cottage (one of my favorite breakfast spots!), and the riverfront deck at Currents at the Riverhouse.
And speaking of riverfront dining, make sure you scope out my roundup of 11 great spots for riverfront dining in Bend.
Now get out there and enjoy the rest of summer!
Every week, I hear from guest bloggers asking for a chance to write for the Bend Buzz Blog, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve agreed in the last seven years.
There has to be an extra-special reason for it—like, say, the convergence of my trip to Orlando for the Romance Writers of America national conference (part of my not-so-secret life outside Visit Bend) and the launch of an awesome new Bend business that piqued my interest.
That’s where Zilaida Salgueiro comes in. She’s the founder of Locals Compass, which is a new business that creates personalized travel itineraries for Bend visitors who want to experience Bend like a local. Customers choose a local expert whose interests align with their traveling style and interests, then answer a few questions that will help the local design the perfect itinerary for them.
Naturally, it seemed like a good chance to ask Zilaida what her perfect day in Bend might look like. Here’s what she had to say…
Off to a great start
I’d start my day with breakfast at La Magie Bakery and Cafe. Now that I live downtown, I love that I’m a short walk away from an awesome breakfast.
I also love the coziness of their decor and portion sizes. If I know I’ll be having dinner at a friend’s house later that day, I like buying some of their pastries to bring for dessert.
It’s the simple things in life
Looney Bean is one of the places that made me fall in love with Bend during my first visit back in April 2015. That’s why a perfect day in Bend must include paying them a visit. My go to drink is their Dirty Hippie (chai latte with a shot of espresso).
Once I have my order in hand, I head over to their lawn area in the back, find a chair and place it facing the water, sit back and, either listen to some good music (currently on a Happy Folk kick on Spotify), or read a good book. Life moves fast but I always feel it slow down while I’m there.
For lunch, I’m off to Wild Rose Thai! It is the first place in Bend that recognizes me as a regular. I guess paying them a visit almost weekly would accomplish that.
My go-to for lunch is their Kaho Soi Curry (spicy level 2, please!). I’ve honestly lost count of how many people I’ve told about this place or have taken with me for either lunch or dinner. If you catch me there for dinner I’m probably enjoying their Kaw Pad Boo (stir fried jasmine rice with Dungeness crab meat, yum).
Work it (out)
Now that my belly is full, it’s time to work off some calories with a hike. If I feel like a challenge, my go to is a trip to Smith Rock to complete Misery Ridge. If I want a less calorie-burning experience (read, less challenging), I head over to Pilot Butte or Shevlin Park.
One of my goals for this year is to complete the #52HikeChallenge (52 hikes within one year), which should be achievable living in Bend! I tend to enjoy hikes with amazing views the most, so I’m excited to tackle Black Butte and others before summer comes to an end.
Dinner and a show
No matter the season, I’ve found it to be a great place to fully grasp some of the best things that Bend has to offer: craft beer, good food, and the great outdoors.
There are certain things that make it on most visitors’ summer bucket list: Go hiking, catch an outdoor concert, then set out for a leisurely river float before ending your evening with a cold pint along the Bend Ale Trail.
They’re all pretty simple activities you can probably master all by yourself.
But there are special ways to take your enjoyment to the next level (not to mention leaving Bend’s special places even better than you found them). Here’s how to do it.
Head out for a hike
You’re already familiar with the concept of lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other, so you’ve nailed the first part of hiking.
Knowing where to hike is the second part of the equation. Spots like Pilot Butte and the Deschutes River Trail make awesome in-town options with minimal drive time.
Tumalo Falls is just a short drive away (though you’ll want to get there early to dodge crowds and find a parking spot).
For more ideas on where to hike around Central Oregon, check out this post.
How to do it better:
Okay, so let’s say you arrive at your chosen trailhead and find the parking lot full. It’s not uncommon this time of year, and what you don’t want to do is get frustrated and smash out your own parking spot atop delicate saplings and the fragile forest floor. Instead, have a backup plan for an alternate hike nearby. There are plenty to choose from, and it’s better for everyone if we all spread out. A great guidebook can help you get a good list going.
Next, make sure your pack is loaded with the essentials: No earth-harming disposable plastic bottles for you, no sir! You’ve got your reusable Hydro Flask tucked in your pack (we sell ‘em at the Visitor Center if you need one). You’ve also got your trusty map and the rest of your ten essentials tucked in your pack.
After you set out, make sure you stick to marked trails to help protect our forest areas. Follow Leave No Trace ethics while you’re out and about, and please, please don’t litter.
Want extra bonus points? Carry a small trash bag in your pack and pick up litter left behind by hikers less conscientious than you. Now that’s how you Visit Like a Local!
Float the river
No activity represents the quintessential Bend experience more than floating the river on a warm summer day. All you really need is a floatation device, a willingness to get a little wet, and a plan for getting back to your car at the end. You can learn everything you’ll need to know in this blog post.
How to do it better:
I know it looks crazy-fun to ride a giant inflatable swan down the Deschutes, but flimsy pool toys can get chewed up in the Passageway Channel of the Bend Whitewater Park. Since popped floaties create gobs of garbage at the takeout point, you should either plan on renting a more durable tube, or simply hoof it along the portage path around the Passageway and put in on the other side.
Next, take extra care with the footwear you choose. Flip-flops might protect the bottoms of your feet on the walk back to your car, but they also flop right off in the water or on the muddy river bottom. The result? You’re without shoes, and the river ends up clogged with them. Instead, choose sturdy water shoes like Tevas or Keens.
And speaking of your car, there’s no need to do the dual-car shuffle between your starting point and end point. Just buy a pass for the Ride the River Shuttle and leave the driving to someone else!
Catch a concert
Last year, Travel + Leisure named the Les Schwab Amphitheater one of America’s coolest music venues, so it’s no surprise if catching a concert there is on your summer bucket list.
Here are the bare basics you should know: Buy tickets early, since some shows sell out. Each concert has different rules for what you can bring, so go here to learn if your concert allows low-backed chairs and blankets or if those are a no-go for your show.
Empty water bottles are cool (remember those reusable Hydro Flasks we talked about earlier?) but no outside food or beverages are allowed. Oh, and plan for temperature shifts—even if it’s 90-degrees at the start of a show, you may need a jacket by the end.
How to do it better:
With help from The Broomsmen, the Les Schwab Amphitheater has gotten serious about reducing waste at concerts. The Take Note Initiative seeks to make Les Schwab a more sustainable venue by eliminating single-use plastic bottles and making sure vendors use 100% compostable cups, plates, and utensils. So what does this mean for your concert experience?
For one, it means you can buy a limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for just $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages. Not only can you use it from one season to the next, but the thing glows in the dark. How cool is that?
Want to be an extra-super-duper informed consumer of live music? Check out this blog post featuring 15 tips for concert-going at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Hit the Bend Ale Trail
The number of breweries in Bend seems to climb daily, and there are currently 15 on the Bend Ale Trail. That means you can grab a printed passport or download the free app to gather stamps as you sip your way around the trail of suds.
Before setting out, peruse the list of Bend Ale Trail breweries here, and get a feel for which one(s) you want to hit. Choosing one close to your hotel or vacation rental will make it easy for you to walk from brewery to brewery. Since most of them post current tap lists online, you can browse options beforehand to get a feel for what you’d like to try.
How to do it better:
The first rule of Fight Club is . . . wait, no. Wrong blog post.
The first rule of the Bend Ale Trail is NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. Seriously. We have Uber, Lyft, taxis, guided tours, horse-drawn carriages, and a zillion other options to keep you alive and out of jail. Go here to learn more. As a matter of fact, read that entire blog post, since it has oodles of tips about navigating the nation’s most awesome trail of beer.
Chief among them: Pace yourself. Drink lots of water. Remember that you don’t have to drink a drop of alcohol to gather passport stamps and earn prizes (seriously—no purchase necessary). Eat hearty snacks or meals at the breweries not just because it’ll help absorb alcohol, but because the food is really freakin’ awesome.
And did I mention the part about not drinking and driving?