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How to rock your 2015 Memorial Day Weekend in Bend

May 20th, 2015

Every year, Memorial Day Weekend marks the kickoff of peak tourism in Bend. It’s when the Bend Visitor Center switches to being open seven days a week (9-5 weekdays, 10-4 weekends) so visitors can meander by for maps, brochures, and tips.

There’s a lot going on in Bend every Memorial Day Weekend, and 2015 is no exception. Here are seven things you might want to have on your agenda.

 

Shake your groove thing with The Decemberists, Ryan Adams, and Robert Plant

Sunset at the Les Schwab Amphitheater is one of many reasons to attend at least one concert there this Memorial Day Weekend.

Sunset at the Les Schwab Amphitheater is one of many reasons to attend at least one concert there this Memorial Day Weekend.

I’ve been hitting the Les Schwab Amphitheater for Memorial Day Weekend concerts every year since the venue opened, and I’ve gotta admit—2015 has one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen.

On Friday night (May 22) The Decemberists return to Bend to share their unique brand of American folk rock. I’ve seen this awesome Grammy-nominated band there once before, so I know the show is going to be fab (doubly so with the presence of opening act Spoon).

The Saturday night (May 23) show will feature Ryan Adams, another Grammy-nominated musician known for his unique country/rock/folk style and a name that’s easily confused with ‘80s musician Bryan Adams (not the same guy). My husband is actually more excited about opening act Jenny Lewis, so luckily, we get to enjoy both for the price of one ticket. Well, two tickets, unless we decide to rent a gorilla suit and cram both of us inside so we can get in for the price of one, but that just sounds hot and itchy.

Sunday night is a chance to give your liver a break from all those trips to the beer gardens and wine tent at the concert venue. On Monday (May 24) the Les Schwab Amphitheater will welcome the legendary Robert Plant (yes, THAT Robert Plant—former front man for Led Zeppelin, and winner of so many rock awards he’s probably stopped keeping track). If I were a betting woman, I’d say there’s a chance this show could sell out, so go here to get ticket info for this show or any other that piques your interest.

 

Play outside with temps in the upper 60s

OK, I'm not nuts about the possible rain on Friday, but the rest of this forecast looks pretty killer for Memorial Day Weekend.

I’m not nuts about the possible rain on Friday, but the rest of the forecast looks pretty killer for Memorial Day Weekend.

Unless the weatherman is lying, it looks like Bend has ordered up the perfect weather for Memorial Day Weekend 2015. Temps are expected to be in the upper 60s, which makes it perfect for some spring hiking or a round of golf on one of 26 courses scattered around Central Oregon.

Our marketing director and his wife will probably be out mountain biking or trail running, while my hubby and I are gearing up for an afternoon of standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes River.

 

Kick off Central Oregon Beer Week along the Bend Ale Trail

Cheers to Central Oregon Beer Week and the Bend Ale Trail!

Cheers to Central Oregon Beer Week and the Bend Ale Trail!

You can make your way around the Bend Ale Trail pretty much any day of the year, gathering passport stamps and collecting prizes for sipping your way along an impressively diverse group of breweries.

But Memorial Day Weekend also marks the start of Central Oregon Beer Week 2015. The event spans May 22-31 and includes tours, tastings, live music, parties, food specials, beer education, contests, and more. You can view a complete calendar of events here.

 

FishingCraig

Who’s ready for some trout fishing?

Let’s go fishing

Bend is known around the country as a fishing mecca, with Fly Fisherman magazine naming the city one of the top fly fishing towns in the nation. Trout season is already open on the lower Deschutes River, but this weekend it opens on the upper Deschutes as well. Now’s a great time to get out there on your own, or book a fishing excursion with one of the reputable fishing outfitters in Bend.

 

 

 

Hit opening day at the Central Oregon Saturday Market

Kick off the 2015 season of the Central Oregon Saturday Market across the street from the Deschutes Public Library. Browse handcrafted jewelry, artwork, clothing, household goods, and more.

It's opening weekend for the Central Oregon Saturday Market, so you get a bonus day!

It’s opening weekend for the Central Oregon Saturday Market, so you get a bonus day!

Normally, this is a Saturday-only event (as you might’ve guessed from the name) but for Memorial Weekend they’re open both Saturday and Sunday. This is always a great spot to grab gifts to take home to friends and family, so bring an extra shopping bag.

 

Catch a ballgame at the Bend Elks Youth Baseball Tournament

Since 2005, the Bend Elks (our local baseball team) have hosted one of the Northwest’s biggest youth baseball tournaments. Even if you’re not the world’s greatest fan of the sport, it’s hard not to be impressed by the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains and the sheer volume of high school athletes journeying here to play their young hearts out.

If you’re just showing up to watch, you’ll be happy to know there’s no gate fee. Catch a game or two, eat a hot dog, and feel happy knowing proceeds from team entry fees help support youth baseball in Bend. You can find details and game schedules here.

 

Two great bike races for the cycling crowd         

Road cyclists rejoice on Saturday, May 23, in the fast and furious Bend Don’t Break circuit course bike race. A beginner’s clinic that morning gives newbies a chance to prepare, or race hard in the more elite categories. The race is part of the 2015 Oregon Women’s Prestige Series, though there are plenty of men’s categories as well. It’s also part of the Oregon Senior Games this year, so folks in the 50+ category have a chance to vie for a spot in the National Senior Games.

Only at the Sisters Stampede do horses and mountain bikes ride side by side.

Only at the Sisters Stampede do horses and mountain bikes ride side by side.

On Sunday, May 24, head west to Sisters with your mountain bike strapped to your car, and get ready for the Sisters Stampede. This uniquely-Sisters event lets you race your bike on the beautiful Peterson Ridge Trail in Sisters. This is Oregon’s largest cross country mountain bike race, with 23 different race categories, and a party at the finish line. Each racer gets a goody bag filled with cool schwag, and there’s $1000 in cash prizes up for grabs for the top three men and women in the Pro or Cat 1 categories. There’s also a free kids’ race. For event details and registration, go here.

Believe it or not, that’s only a sampling of events happening in and around Bend this weekend. For a complete list, check out the Visit Bend Event Calendar. You can search for cool happenings this weekend or any other weekend you plan to Visit Bend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 vegan dishes you’ll love in Bend (even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian!)

May 14th, 2015
Cheesecake at Salud: Raw, vegan, and totally delicious.

Cheesecake at Salud: Raw, vegan, and totally delicious.

As you might have guessed from my previous blog posts on Bend’s best burgers, best bacon dishes, and best hot wings, I like meat.

But I have friends who avoid all meat and dairy, and I routinely field questions about the best spots in Bend, Oregon for someone who is on a strict vegan diet or who just enjoys vegetarian dining. While carnivores accompanying vegetarian companions can sometimes feel dread at the thought of forgoing critter flesh at mealtime, there are lots of restaurants in Bend whipping up vegan cuisine that’s sure to please the palates of meat lovers and plant-based diners alike.

Here are 10 vegan dishes from Bend restaurants you’re guaranteed to love whether you prefer to eat your animal friends or cuddle them.

Taco salad and dessert at Salud! Raw Food

I’m leery of any vegetarian restaurant that serves nothing but raw, vegan chow, and I’m also not a big fan of dessert. In theory, that should make me the last person in the world to enjoy Salud! Raw Food, but the truth is that I really dig this place.

Everything here is raw, vegan (though they do occasionally use honey), and organic, and you’ll find a plethora of wraps, salads, and smoothies on the menu.

Yummy taco salad from Salud.

Yummy taco salad from Salud.

My personal fave is the tropical taco salad made with organic greens, cabbage, cilantro, mango-pineapple salsa, spiced pepitas, and seasoned walnut taco “meat.” Yes, that’s “meat” in quotes, and while I won’t pretend it tastes like real ground beef, it’s pretty darned delicious, and adds a nice texture and flavor to the dish that meat lovers will find comforting. The whole thing is tossed with a chipotle-lime cashew cream dressing that’s zingy, creamy, and super flavorful. It’s also HUGE.

But make sure you save room for dessert. As someone completely devoid of a sweet tooth, I’m still a bit dumbfounded to realize how much I love everything that comes out of the desert case at Salud. Their “cheesecake” (again with the quotes) is particularly divine, with a crust crafted from almonds, dates, and a blend of spices. The filling is a mix of soaked cashews, raw agave, almond milk, and a variety of spices and essential oils, depending on the flavor of the day. Trust me when I tell you not to leave without sampling one.

 

Khi Mao Noodles at Noi Thai cuisine

Tasty noodles at Noi.

Tasty Khi Mao noodles at Noi.

I’m a big fan of the happy hour at Noi, so if you’re heading out on the town with a mixed bag of meat eaters and vegan pals, this is a great starting point. Most dishes can be prepared vegan, vegetarian, or with your choice of meat, but several dishes are designed to be vegan from the get-go. My personal fave is the Khi Mao Noodles (say that five times fast, then tell me how to pronounce it). These wide, stir-fried noodles are mixed up with basil, bell peppers, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and tomatoes. I added a bit of tofu, but meat-eaters can mix in other protein, while vegetarians can opt not to skip the egg that’s usually mixed in.

The noodles are unbelievably soft and tender, and there’s a great contrast of crunchy veggies and squishy noodles. The flavors are divine, too, with just the right mix of spicy and salty. You can pick the heat level from 1-5, and 3 felt like the perfect spice to me. The portion was big enough to be filling, but small enough I didn’t feel like I was gorging myself.

 

Peanut Curry and Lomo Saltado at Spork

Oh-so-delicious peanut curry at Spork.

Oh-so-delicious peanut curry at Spork.

Unquestionably one of my favorite stops on this quest for Bend’s best vegan food, Spork has a nice array of menu options and a staff that’s knowledgeable about how to make the non-vegan choices in vegan form.

Two things on the menu sounded too good to pass up, so I enlisted a vegan pal to help me try both. The West African peanut curry features peanut tomato curry with chickpeas, yams, cabbage, grilled onions & peppers, cilantro, and jasmine rice. It was flavorful, zingy, filling, and so generous I ended up with a nice pile of leftovers I devoured in secret several hours later so I wouldn’t have to share with my husband. Don’t judge.

The vegan version of Spork's Lomo Saltado.

The vegan version of Spork’s Lomo Saltado.

Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian stir-fry that’s not typically vegan, since it includes both seared steak and a fried egg. But we wanted to see how Spork turned a meat-heavy dish into a palatable vegan option, and we definitely weren’t disappointed. The dish was hearty and saucy, with red potatoes, sweet peppers, onion, grilled tomatoes, soy, radish, green onion, and jasmine rice. Instead of tasting like something was missing, it tasted like a complete, perfectly-balanced, delicious dish that was every bit as scrumptious sans animal protein.

 

Pretty much ANYTHING at Next Level Burger

Think you can’t get a delicious burger unless it was previously mooing in a pasture? Think again, then get your butt over to Next Level Burger where they’re serving up some of the best plant-based burgers you’ve ever tasted. Actually, scratch that—they’re serving up some of the best burgers, period.

Hard to believe it's all plant-based, but everything is at Next Level Burger.

Hard to believe it’s all plant-based, but everything is at Next Level Burger.

All items on the menu at Next Level Burger—from fries to hot dogs to burgers to milkshakes—are made from plant-based sources, so devout vegans won’t have to fret about that accidental piece of sausage slipping into your fry basket.

The standard Next Level Burger features a juicy patty with a whopping 26 grams of protein, along with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a sprouted-wheat bun. I picked the special sauce version for a few cents extra to get dill pickles, vegan cheese, and of course, the special sauce. The burger itself was delicious and filling, and the sauce left me licking the wrapper before trotting up to the counter to ask for more so I could dip my crispy crinkle fries in it.

You’ll find a surprising variety of burgers, salads, sides, and snacks on their menu, and the casual, unpretentious vibe makes it a fun spot for vegetarians and non-vegans alike.

 

The Karnabeet at Kebaba

You haven't lived until you've eaten cauliflower here.

You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten cauliflower here.

I know I should probably focus on some of the flashier vegan options at Kebaba like the falafel, the tabouli, or the curried tempeh. And while those are all delicious middle-eastern dishes vegans and non-vegans will surely love, I honestly can’t stop thinking about their karnabeet. Like, seriously—I dream about it.

Karnabeet is pan-seared cauliflower seasoned with tahini, parsley, and sumac. It sounds simple, but the flavors in this dish are like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Maybe it’s that Kebaba makes the best tahini around (totally true), or maybe it’s just that Kebaba has perfected the fine art of getting the perfect texture on the cauliflower. Whatever it is, your stay in Bend will not be complete unless you stop in and order this dish at Kebaba. Make it a double serving, then stop by the Visit Bend office and share with me.

 

The BBQ Tempeh Sando at Broken Top Bottle Shop

A chance to sample local beer from breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, plus a chance to get my barbecue fix despite my quest for vegan chow? Sign me up!

The BBQ Tempeh Sando at Broken Top Bottle Shop will leave you drooling with desire.

The BBQ Tempeh Sando at Broken Top Bottle Shop will leave you drooling with desire.

Then take me to Broken Top Bottle Shop, where you’ll discover a menu that’s super friendly toward folks with dietary needs ranging from gluten-free to vegan to pile-as-much-pork-as-you-possibly-can-on-these-nachos.

The vegan dish that really knocked my socks off at BTBS was the BBQ Tempeh Sando. It’s a soft, scrumptiously squishy brioche bun piled high with house-smoked shredded tempeh, vegan Georgia red BBQ sauce, and Carolina red slaw. You get your pick of sides, but I highly, highly recommend the crispy roasted Brussel sprouts with lemon zest.

It wasn’t until halfway through stuffing my face with this tangy, deliciously messy sandwich that I forgot I was eating a vegan meal and not something off the menu at my favorite barbecue joint. Added bonus: between their 12 rotating taps and the massive wall of coolers featuring every beer known to man, you will find yourself in Beervana when you come here.

 

The Cuban bowl at Laughing Planet Café

This is a favorite spot for a vegetarian friend of mine, so I’ve lunched here several times since the Bend location opened in 2014. There are oodles of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu at Laughing Planet, and while my pal is partial the Korean BBQ bowl with tofu, I’m a big fan of the Cuban Bowl.

The dish consists of plantains and sweet potatoes on a bed of brown rice and black beans, topped with pico de gallo and served with your choice of fresh salsa. It’s got that comfort-food combo of sweet, nutty, and zingy that makes me feel warm inside. Throw in a Highway to Kale salad (lacinto kale tossed with cojita cheese you can skip to make it vegan, plus organic carrots and a lemon-parsley vinaigrette, topped with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds) and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal.

 

Smoothies at Sarah’s Raw and Vegan Café

So many smoothies to choose from at Sarah's Raw and Vegan Café.

So many smoothies to choose from at Sarah’s Raw and Vegan Café.

Admittedly I spent a lot of my vegan meal quest seeking out options that didn’t feel vegan. I wanted to skip places that felt like I might be denied entry if I wasn’t wearing a tie-dyed peasant skirt and boho braids. While I’m not suggesting those are requirements to enter Sarah’s Raw and Vegan Café, this place definitely has more of that vibe than any of the others on the list.

The focus here is on meal-replacement smoothies, though in the summer months they also offer a daily lunch special featuring items like raw mac & cheese (bites of yellow squash, olive oil, nutritional yeast), zucchini pasta ribbons, or collard wraps.

A platter of samples by the front door gave me the option to try a fun variety of smoothies. The Super Green is a tasty blend of coconut, hemp protein powder, Vitamineral Green, carrot, apple, spinach, celery, avocado, banana, dates, vanilla and sea salt. I also enjoyed the Women’s Passion, which features a blend of soaked almonds, dates, banana, goji berries, mulberries, Warrior Food, maca, eleuthero, satavan, vanilla, raspberries, and sea salt. My personal fave, though, was the Mesquite Magic made with soaked cashews, dates, banana, avocado, mesquite, maca, cacao, chipotle, vanilla, toffee, stevia, raw honey, and sea salt. It has a deliciously creamy, mildly-smoky flavor and turned out to be a lot more filling than I expected.

 

Falafel wrap at Mazza Bistro

The tasty (and budget-friendly!) falafel wrap and manakeesh at Mazza Bistro.

The tasty (and budget-friendly!) falafel wrap and manakeesh at Mazza Bistro.

Half the fun of ordering at this cute little middle-eastern café is trying to figure out how to pronounce the words. Manakeesh? Madjadara? No matter, it’s all delicious, and a great deal of it is vegan.

I almost didn’t order the falafel wrap at Mazza Bistro because it sounded so . . . I don’t know, ordinary. But I’m glad I did, since it turned out to be quite delicious. The cucumbers are cool and crisp, the sauce is creamy and tangy, the falafel is crunchy and warm, and the lavash bread that holds the whole thing together is soft and pillowy. Put it all together and you’ve got a pretty delicious wrap that’s both inexpensive and filling.

I also sampled the manakeesh (olive oil, roasted sesame seeds, zaatar paste spread on a pita, topped with cucumber, tomato, olives, onion and parsley). Non-vegans can get it with feta, but it was quite tasty without, and made a perfect appetizer to a tasty and bargain-priced lunch.

 

 

Edamame Bowl at Café Yumm

I’ve always been a huge fan of Café Yumm in Bend’s Old Mill District, and I became an even bigger fan when they opened their second location on Bend’s eastside.

Don't forget to snag a jar of the delicious (and vegan-friendly!) Yumm Sauce when you're at Café Yumm.

Don’t forget to snag a jar of the delicious (and vegan-friendly!) Yumm Sauce when you’re at Café Yumm.

Given my longstanding love of the Edamame Bowl, I wasn’t sure my fondness would hold up if I tried to make the dish vegan as suggested by countless vegan pals who pointed out this is an easy place to vegan-ify any dish. But I gave it a shot, and was pleasantly surprised.

The regular dish consists of organic brown rice, edamame, Yumm Sauce, shredded Tillamook cheddar, diced tomatoes, fresh avocado, sour cream, black olives, cilantro, and crumbled nori. It’s the perfect meal for vegetarians, but vegans need to ditch those pesky (albeit, delicious) dairy items. To do it, Café Yumm recommends substituting extra avocado, carrots, or cabbage. I figured I’d just ignore the “or” part and go for all three, which turned out to be a nice change. The avocado made up for the creaminess of the sour cream, while the carrots and cabbage weren’t quite the same as cheddar cheese, they added a nice crunch and pleasant bit of texture to the dish. As a sidenote, the Yumm Sauce is naturally vegan and can be purchased at the café to take home and spruce up all your own recipes.

How to celebrate Mom for Mother’s Day 2015 in Bend (you can start by winning rental gear from Tumalo Creek!)

May 7th, 2015

Mother’s Day 2015 is fast approaching, which means we’ve got a few extra options for celebrating moms and motherhood over the next few days.

While there are oodles of kid-friendly things to do in Bend throughout the year (and I’ve rounded up a bunch of them in this post and this one) here are a few things focused purely on celebrating the woman of the hour—hey, hot mama!

 

Treat Mom to a Mother’s Day brunch

Brasada Ranch makes a beautiful setting for Mother's Day brunch.

Brasada Ranch makes a beautiful setting for Mother’s Day brunch.

While bacon and mimosas might not make up for the 2 a.m. diaper changes, they sure go a long way toward letting Mom know she’s appreciated. Luckily, you’ve got a lot of options to pick from around Central Oregon.

Brasada Ranch is offering a fabulous brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday for moms who enjoy killer views and serenity along with their eggs. The meal will feature farm-fresh omelets, local artisan cheeses, meats, and produce, plus deserts and even a 10% discount on spa services booked between May 10-June 10. Brunch tickets are $43 for adults, $23 for kids 5-10, and free for young’uns 4 and under. You can make reservations by calling 541-526-6870.

For moms who prefer to stick close to the Bend Ale Trail, McMenamins is also hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The scrumptious meal will be served buffet style, and you’ll earn bonus points with Mom if you fetch her a pint of Ruby to wash it down.

Other local hotspots offering special Mother’s Day meals include Pronghorn Resort, Five Pine Lodge, and Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards. You can learn more about each of them by clicking those links.

 

CUTE ALERT! Show Mom some baby animals

Happy Mother's Day to Honey the porcupine and her new porcupette. You can see both at the High Desert Museum!

Happy Mother’s Day to Honey the porcupine and her new porcupette. You can see both at the High Desert Museum!

The only thing cuter than a baby porcupine is the fact that it’s actually called a “porcupette.”

As luck would have it, one of the porcupines at the High Desert Museum just gave birth to a wee one last week. Honey (that’s the new mom) and her porcupette are among many cool critters and exhibits moms can enjoy AT NO COST on Mother’s Day when all moms get FREE admission to the High Desert Museum May 10.

Now, as a stepmom whose young’uns won’t be with me on Mother’s Day, I felt inclined to ask if the “free admission for moms” applies to those of us who haven’t actually given birth or to those whose kids won’t be accompanying us to the museum. The answer is a resounding “yes!” though they added the caveat that the kids must be human—in other words, no dog-moms (though we’ll get to you later, I promise!)

A baby great-horned owl (and his mama) can be seen around Drake Park.

A baby great-horned owl (and his mama) can be seen around Drake Park.

If you still haven’t gotten your fill of baby animals, take a stroll through Drake Park and stare up into the trees. Odds are good you’ll see the mama great-horned owl and her fuzzy little owlets celebrating Mother’s Day in their nest. Those heading to the aforementioned brunch at Faith Hope and Charity Vineyard should also make a stop at Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch to check out the baby alpacas (called cria, in case you’re wondering).

 

Don’t worry, dog-moms—there’s stuff for you, too!

Until my late 30s when my stepkids entered my life, I considered myself a proud “dog-mom,” content never to procreate. Truth be told, I still consider my pooch to be my real baby, and I know I’m not alone. Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, so you know it’s a great place to be for Mother’s Day if your kids have fur and four legs.

Blogger Tawna and her dog-baby, Bindi.

Blogger Tawna and her dog-baby, Bindi.

I’ve blogged numerous times about fun things for dogs to do in Bend, but here’s a link to a recent post written by my dog (yes, really) about her favorite Bend activities. From seven off-leash dog areas to dog-friendly restaurants and shopping areas, you know there are plenty of fun things to do with Fido for Mother’s Day.

But for those dog-moms who prefer an organized event, check out the Downtown Doggie Daze from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 9 (the day before Mother’s Day). Dogs and their companions begin at Mirror Pond Plaza and fetch paw prints at participating businesses. Those who gather all the paws will be entered to win prizes valued at more than $300. There’s also a 5k run/walk and a variety of demos and family-friendly activities for two-legged and four-legged participants.

 

Moms play outside in Bend—and they deserve a FREE kayak or paddleboard rental, right?!

I’ll be honest—my idea of a perfect Mother’s Day in Bend doesn’t involve fancy meals or elaborate gifts (unless someone’s figured out how to put a bow on a box of fresh air?)

Ahhh....this is the life! If you or a special mom in your life deserves to enjoy it, comment for a chance to win a free canoe, kayak, or SUP rental from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.

Ahhh….this is the life! If you or a special mom in your life deserves to enjoy it, comment for a chance to win a free canoe, kayak, or SUP rental from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.

Take me hiking. Plan a simple picnic in one of Bend’s countless city parks. Drive me to the Deschutes River or one of the high Cascade Lakes for an afternoon of standup paddleboarding.

Does the last idea sound good to you, but you’re lacking the basic gear? The folks at Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe can help with that! Comment here with why you (or a special mom in your life) deserves a free rental of a canoe, kayak or standup paddleboard and we’ll choose one lucky winner to get her wish!

Now get out there and thank your mama!

Mind Bend-ers: Which movie star played baseball in Bend?

April 30th, 2015

Mind-Benders-Logo

Photo courtesy of the Bend Elks.

Photo courtesy of the Bend Elks.

Welcome to your tenth edition of Mind Bend-ers, a special feature offering you the inside scoop on quirky Bend history and offbeat trivia.

Bend is famous for . . . well, having a lot of famous people.

Some were born here in the first place, and some showed up to live and play in the high desert. Google “celebrities in Bend” and you’ll find oodles of gossipy details about actor Matthew Fox’s DUI or retired NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s wine.

And while it’s easy to see why pro mountain biker Adam Craig might choose to reside in BikeTown USA, or why famed surfer Jerry Lopez would feel at home in the city Outside magazine named the world’s top SUP getaway, it’s a little less clear why a famous actor might move to Bend to play baseball.

Kurt Russell in his most recent film role, Furious 7.

Kurt Russell in his most recent film role, Furious 7.

Just a few of Kurt Russell's famous flicks

Just a few of Kurt Russell’s famous flicks

But that’s what happened in 1971. Back then, actor Kurt Russell was already a Hollywood success with appearances on several TV series and nearly a dozen movies under his belt. He also had a talent and a passion for baseball that left him straddling the line between the two worlds (which sounds like a recipe for a groin injury, but let’s not dwell on that).

While 20-year-old Kurt Russell was already an established actor, he also had the baseball chops to have teams like the Cardinals, Giants, and Twins scouting him. Naturally, he chose to play for . . . the Bend Rainbows?

Yep, it’s true. The Rainbows were a Class A minor league team in Bend that agreed to sign the young switch-hitter dubbed “a part-time player” by The Sporting News. Since Kurt had to miss spring training while filming Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, the assessment wasn’t too far off the mark.

Nevertheless, Kurt went on to play in 51 games for the Bend Rainbows, hitting .285 with one home run and 14 runs batted in with 179 times at bat. He was considered one of the better players in the league, and was even named to the All-Star team.

But with his film career taking off, Kurt reached a point where he needed to choose between baseball and Hollywood. But how to decide?

Tear a rotator cuff, of course!

By then he’d left Bend and was playing for the El Paso Sun Kings. He didn’t grasp the magnitude of the injury at first, and even flew to LA a few days later where a doctor checked him out. “He looked at me and he said, ‘Aren’t you also an actor?’” Kurt recalled later in an interview. “And I said, ‘yeah,’ and he said, ‘well you’re an actor all the time now.’”

So that was the end of Kurt Russell’s baseball career, but the beginning of a long and lucrative film career. The Bend Rainbows, too, came to an end in 1971, and though other minor league teams cycled through Bend’s Vince Genna Stadium over the years, the Bend Elks have called Bend, Oregon home since 2000.

While you won’t see Kurt Russell on the field these days, Bend is a terrific place to get your baseball fix during the annual Triple Crown Memorial Day Baseball Tournament, or at a regular season Bend Elks game. Check the schedule here, then make your weekend plans accordingly.

Just make sure you leave time to rent a Kurt Russell flick, too.

 

 

How to impress 4 important people with your Bend vacation

April 22nd, 2015

There are plenty of good reasons to plan that Bend vacation you’ve been dreaming about. Fun. Fresh air. Relaxation.

But there’s another good reason to crack open that day planner and start making hotel reservations. Did you know a Bend vacation can help you impress important people?

Don’t believe me? Here’s a roundup of four people I promise will be wildly impressed by your plans to frolic in Central Oregon’s mountainous high desert.

 

Impress your boss!

Working from home takes on a whole different dimension in Bend.

Working from home takes on a whole different dimension in Bend.

In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a romantic comedy author. On the days I’m not writing blog posts giving you tips on fun things to do around Bend, I’m writing funny smut.

Or trying to, anyway. See, sometimes I get stuck. In my younger days as an author, I’d force myself to sit at my desk gnawing on that plot knot until I fixed it. Most of the time, gnawing off my own foot would have been preferable.

Eventually it occurred to me that every time I gave myself a break and took the dog for a long walk, something magical happened. Blame it on Bend’s fresh air or the beautiful scenery, but within a few steps of my front door, I’d almost always solved my plot problem.

This is what brainstorming looks like in Bend.

This is what brainstorming looks like in Bend.

Okay, so most of you probably aren’t romance authors. That doesn’t mean your professional brain can’t be refreshed and rejuvenated in the same way. Explore Bend’s hiking trails. Spend an afternoon fishing. Take a bike ride. Whatever you do, get out of your element and into Bend’s great outdoors. I guarantee it’ll work wonders for your creativity, productivity, and probably a few other –ivities I can’t even think of right now.

See? I totally need to rejuvenate my vocabulary by ducking out early to go standup paddleboarding.

 

Impress your neighbors!

Look, I’m not one to advocate for keeping up with the Joneses. Just because Jim and Sally next door bought a new BMW doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

Your neighbors will be envious when they see your car loaded up with gear for your Bend vacation.

Your neighbors will be envious when they see your car loaded up with gear for your Bend vacation.

That said, is it really the worst thing in the world to want your neighbors to feel just a teeny, tiny bit jealous of you? Like if they see you loading up the roof rack with all your bikes, kayaks, skis, and sporting equipment, is there a small part of you that kinda wants them to feel a twist of envy?

Maybe that’s just me. Or maybe you’re a kind and generous soul who would never, ever want to inflict those kinds of feelings upon your dear, sweet neighbors. In fact, if you love your neighbors that much, why not rent a Bend vacation home with them? There are oodles of them around town, ranging from private residences with hot tubs to little cottages on the fringe of popular hiking and biking trails.

Just make sure the Joneses know you’ve got dibs on the biggest room.

 

Impress your significant other!

Planning a wedding in Bend is a surefire way to romance your sweetie.

Planning a wedding in Bend is a surefire way to romance your sweetie.

I didn’t realize until I started plotting out this blog post how frequently I’ve written about romance in Bend. Like this post on planning a romantic Valentine’s Day. Or this post on unique date ideas in Bend. Or this post on the best spots to kiss. Or this post featuring five adorable stories of couples who got engaged in Bend. Or this post on how to plan a fabulous proposal, honeymoon, or wedding in Bend.

In my defense, I’ve been blogging here nearly five years, and I am a romance author. Still, that’s a whole lotta romantic ideas at your fingertips. Really, you have no excuse not to use them to prove to your loved one that you’re all that and a bag of chips.

 

Impress your parents!

A cooking class with The Well Traveled Fork is a great way to impress your parents with your new culinary skills.

A cooking class with The Well Traveled Fork is a great way to impress your parents with your new culinary skills.

This one’s a little tougher, depending on who your parents are. Like maybe mom and dad have always pushed you toward self-improvement. Why not use your Bend vacation as an excuse to learn a new skill? You can take a cooking class from The Well Traveled Fork or learn to snowshoe or kayak with the naturalist guides from Wanderlust Tours.

If it’s professional development your parents want you to work on, check out the continuing ed classes from Central Oregon Community College or consult Visit Bend’s event calendar for a roundup of educational opportunities during your planned vacation.

Maybe mom and dad have been nagging you to change your wardrobe or cut your hair. There’s tons of great shopping in Bend, and you can get that haircut while you enjoy a tasty Bend craft beer if you stop by Bond Street Barber Shop.

Oh, and if your parents are nagging you for grandkids? Er, go back and read that last section on romance. You’re welcome.

 

 

6 ways to love the planet this Earth Day (and every day!) in Bend

April 15th, 2015

Earth Day is April 22 this year, and while I’m not in the habit of throwing a black-tie cocktail party to celebrate, there are a few ways I plan to mark the occasion in 2015.

In case you’d care to join me, here are 6 great ways to celebrate the earth when you’re in Bend.

 

 

Prowl thrift stores and consignment shops

I love supporting Bend retailers selling new goods from handbags to household décor, but there’s something about thrift stores that makes my thrifty green heart feel giddy. It’s recycling at its best, and a great way to save a few bucks.

Bend has a nice abundance of thrift stores ranging from Goodwill and the Humane Society Thrift Store on the south end of town, to the Opportunity Foundation Thrift Store in northeast Bend. You can see a pretty good roundup here and find treasures in every single one.

Rescue Modern Consignment is one of dozens of Bend shops packed with fabulous secondhand goodies.

Rescue Modern Consignment is one of dozens of Bend shops packed with fabulous secondhand goodies.

If you prefer to restrict your secondhand shopping to treasures that have already been whittled down by professionals, consignment shops can come in handy.  My personal fave is Rescue Modern Consignment located in Downtown Bend just a couple blocks from the Bend Visitor Center. They have a huge array of clothing, shoes, and accessories, and clearance racks that can’t be beat. Another Downtown fave for attire is Dalia’s. It’s a smaller boutique with a particularly great selection of denim and dresses.

For those who prefer used sporting goods or previously-loved home furnishings, check out the Gear Peddler or Déjà Vu Consignment Furniture. I’ll let you guess which one has the sporting goods and which features home furnishings.

If you have goodies of your own you’re looking to recycle, check with the individual stores and ask about their consignment programs.

 

 

Shop for upcycled products

Sara Bella Upcycled makes tons of great products from castoff plastic bags.

Sara Bella Upcycled makes tons of great products from castoff plastic bags.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, upcycling is the practice of taking used items or waste products and turning them into something new.

There are a number of creative Bend companies practicing upcycling, and two of my favorites are Sara Bella Upcycled and Spoke Bracelet.

Sara Bella takes plastic bags and banners and turns them into totes, zip pouches, fashion wear, and more. At last count, her products have kept more than 31,000 bags out of the landfill. You can shop online for Sara Bella products, or even have her custom make something using your own banner or bag. You can also visit her shop in the Bend’s Makers District or pick up some of her cute wallets at the Bend Visitor Center.

How about  some bling made from old bike parts by Spoke-Bracelet?

How about some bling made from old bike parts by Spoke-Bracelet?

Speaking of the Bend Visitor Center, that’s also a great place to find Spoke-Bracelet jewelry for that bike fanatic in your life. As you can probably guess from the name, Spoke-Bracelet makes beautiful bracelets from used bicycle spokes. We have a terrific selection in the Visitor Center, or you can shop online or scope out the selections in a variety of Bend shops. Like Sara Bella, they also offer custom work, so get in touch if there’s a special something you’d like to have made for you.

 

 

Bid bye-by to plastic water bottles

With so many amazing reusable water bottles on the market these days, there’s really no excuse for cluttering up landfills with disposable ones.

From Hydro Flask to DrinkTanks to Cosco Cups, tons of Bend companies make reusable beverage vessels.

From Hydro Flask to DrinkTanks to Cupsco, tons of Bend companies make reusable beverage vessels.

You’ll pretty much never catch me without my trusty 21-ounce water bottle from Bend-based Hydro Flask. I’m sipping from mine while I type, and it’s still swirling with ice cubes I put in there at noon yesterday. My husband is fond of the flip-top 18-ouncer for his morning coffee, which he swears keeps it hot until late afternoon.

When you’re looking for something a little burlier to fill with Bend craft beer, cider, or kombucha, DrinkTanks makes a terrific 64-ounce growler, or you can pre-order the party-sized 128-ouncer.

And rather than using your growler or mini-keg to fill paper cups that will end up cluttering the landfill, substitute stainless steel cups that feature the Bend logo. They’re made by Cupsco and sold in the Bend Visitor Center.

 

 

 

Leave only footprints, take only photographs

Wrappers from this picnic were packed out after this hike on Black Butte. Promise.

Wrappers from this picnic were packed out after this hike on Black Butte. Promise.

It goes without saying that leaving trash behind along Bend’s hiking trails and recreation areas is a big huge no-no even when it’s not Earth Day. If you pack in those picnic fixins’, make sure you also pack out the empty containers. If Fido does his business behind a bush, use your compostable doggie doo bags to remove his malodorous calling card.

And hey, if you spot someone else’s trash along the trail, earn yourself a few good karma points by picking it up and packing it out.

 

 

 

Don’t toss it, mend it!

Once upon a time, an unraveling hemline was the signal I needed to pack up my favorite skirt and haul it off to Goodwill. No more!

Allison at Utilitu Sewing & Design can hem up those yoga pants so you don't have to toss them. (photo courtesy of Krystal Collins).

Allison at Utilitu Sewing & Design can hem up those yoga pants so you don’t have to toss them. (photo courtesy of Krystal Collins).

Since I discovered Utilitu Sewing & Design, I’ve had jeans patched, sweaters repaired, and skirt hemlines altered to a more fashionable length. Though Allison of Utilitu is committed to keeping local clients happy with speedy turnaround times, she’s also open to helping out Bend visitors as her schedule allows (particularly if you’re in town for a longer stay). Drop her a line if you bust a zipper or need a patch on your favorite pair of hiking pants.

And while this isn’t necessarily a travel-friendly suggestion, have you ever tried dyeing old garments to make them look new again? Seriously, my closet is filled with skirts, sweaters, t-shirts, and even undies that became brand new to me again with a little hot water and a packet of Rit Dye.

 

 

 

Check out Bend’s Earth Day Parade April 25

The annual parade is one of many don't miss events celebrating Earth Day in Bend.

The annual parade is one of many don’t miss events celebrating Earth Day in Bend.

In case all that environmentally-friendly shopping, sipping, hiking, and mending isn’t enough for you, don’t miss Bend’s annual Earth Day Fair and Parade in Downtown Bend. Sponsored by the Central Oregon Environmental Center, the event goes from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features live music, local food, family-friendly activities, and more.

The parade kicks off at 10:30 on Louisiana Avenue by McMenamins and proceeds through Downtown Bend. Folks wanting to participate should come dressed as your favorite species (though parade rules prohibit written words, motorized vehicles, and live pets).

Want to kick things off a little earlier in true BikeTown USA fashion? There’s a community bike ride leaving Juniper Swim & Fitness Center at 9 a.m. and cycling to the parade site. Check out details here.

The big day will also include drumming and art workshops as well as a variety of other activities. Keep an eye on the Environmental Center’s event page for more details.

5 outdoor activities to burn off your beer calories in Bend

April 9th, 2015

I like Bend beer.

One of many ways blogger Tawna makes an effort to earn those beers along the Bend Ale Trail.

One of many ways blogger Tawna makes an effort to earn those beers along the Bend Ale Trail.

I also like wearing a bikini without cringing in horror each time I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the Deschutes River.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to have both things without one canceling out the other. It’s even possible to have a little fun while you’re at it.

Using this website, I plugged in the stats for the CDC’s estimation of an average 35-year-old woman (5’4” and 166 pounds). I don’t know about you, but none of those numbers apply to me personally, so you’ll probably want to plug in your own stats to get an accurate calorie count.

But this is more for fun than for actual scientific research, so here we go with my roundup of how much Bend recreation you’ll want to enjoy to cancel out all those extra calories along the Bend Ale Trail.

 

Hike Pilot Butte to earn some suds from Worthy Brewing

You can see Pilot Butte from Worthy Brewing, and you can burn off those beer calories by hiking it.

You can see Pilot Butte from Worthy Brewing, and you can burn off those beer calories by hiking it.

Pilot Butte is the 500-foot dormant volcano in the middle of town, and folks enjoy driving, hiking, or jogging to the top for a killer views of the city.

It so happens Worthy Brewing is located just a little east of Pilot Butte and boasts splendid views of the landmark. It’s convenient for watching fireworks when Independence Day rolls around, but also a handy way to remind yourself what you’ve gotta do to earn those tasty Worthy beers.

Craving something simple like their Easy Day Kolsch? It’s light, crisp, and on the low-cal end of the spectrum at 130 calories for a 12 oz serving. Using those stats I gave earlier, our 35-year-old woman could enjoy a leisurely, 40 minute stroll with her dog around the flat little track at the base of Pilot Butte and burn 159 calories. Score! You can even put an olive in that Kolsch if you want.

How many of these can you enjoy after a hike up and down Pilot Butte?

Earn your Easy Day Kolsch with a hike up Pilot Butte.

Eyeing something heftier like Worthy’s Dark Muse Imperial Stout? That bad boy comes in at about 350 calories, so you’ve gotta hoof it to the top of Pilot Butte to earn it. Figure the whole hike takes a bit less than an hour, and half of it is the equivalent of walking up stairs, while the other half is a mellow downhill hike. That should burn around 500 calories, which is more than enough to earn you that Dark Muse and a cozy spot by one of Worthy Brewing’s fire pits.

 

 

Play nine holes of golf for a few cans of Good Life

The golf cart at River's Edge is well-stocked with tasty Bend beer.

The golf cart at River’s Edge is well-stocked with tasty Bend beer.

I’m not a golfer, so I was a little stunned when I learned the number of calories you burn whacking a ball around the course. A golf-fanatic pal told me it takes an average of two hours to play nine holes, and when I used our handy online calculator and selected the option to carry your own clubs, it showed me a whopping 916 calories. This article confirms what our little calorie counter says, so we’re going with it!

Another good way to enjoy Sweet As Pacific Ale from GoodLife Brewing.

Another good way to enjoy Sweet As Pacific Ale from GoodLife Brewing.

There are more than two dozen golf courses around Central Oregon, and most of them boast drink carts stocked with tasty Bend craft beer. On a hot day, few things taste better than a cold can of Sweet As Pacific Ale from GoodLife Brewing, and the drink cart at River’s Edge Golf Course has plenty to go around (along with brews from other favorites like Deschutes and 10 Barrel).

But let’s focus on the Sweet As, since its mild flavor and Pacific hops make this the perfect easy sipper for a warm day in Bend. A 12 ounce can of Sweet As has 183 calories, which means you could have three or four of these and still reap some calorie-burning benefit from your golf game (though your golf game may not benefit from that much beer).

If you do opt to guzzle several cans, be sure you line up a sober driver or a cab, OK?

 

Earn your Deschutes beer with an afternoon of paddling or skiing

When summer rolls around, I start itching to hop on my standup paddleboard and hit the Deschutes River. One of my favorite post-paddle treats is River Ale from Deschutes Brewery. At 140 calories for a 12 ounce serving, I only need to paddle for 20 minutes to kill 159 calories. Since I usually go for an hour in an afternoon of SUPing on the Deschutes River, I can have two beers or nibble a couple hot wings at their Bend brew pub.

Photo courtesy of Deschutes Brewery (folks who know how to make beer that's worth working for in Bend!)

Photo courtesy of Deschutes Brewery (folks who know how to make beer that’s worth working for in Bend!)

If it happens to be wintertime when your craving for Deschutes beer hits, you’ll probably want something a little heartier to drink. My personal fave is The Abyss Imperial Stout, with its deep, dark body and complex notes of molasses and licorice. A beer this big packs a whopping 344.53 calories for 12 ounces, or 632.5 calories if you guzzle the whole 22-ounce bottle (an endeavor you’d want to undertake verrrry slooowly). Luckily, an hour of skiing at Mt. Bachelor burns about 657 calories, so earning your Abyss bliss won’t be tough.

 

 

Bike for your 10 Barrel brew

Mountain biking is a terrific way to justify those extra calories from your Apocalypse IPA.

Mountain biking is a terrific way to justify those extra calories from your Apocalypse IPA.

The great thing about Bend is that you can mountain bike all year long, even when snow is flying in the mountains.

You can also enjoy 10 Barrel’s flagship brew, Apocalypse IPA, all year long. Coincidence? I think not.

One hour of mountain biking on Phil’s Trail in Bend should burn about 637 calories for our aforementioned average female. The hoppy, complex, super-drinkable Apocalypse has roughly 195 calories for a 12-ounce serving, so you can swig a couple of them and still reap some calorie burning benefit from your singletrack adventure. You’re welcome.

Now who’s ready for swimsuit season?

 

3 things in Bend that sound illegal, but aren’t (we swear!)

April 3rd, 2015
Want to win a two-hour tour for six people on one of these bad boys? Keep reading to learn how!

Want to win a two-hour tour for six people on one of these bad boys? Keep reading to learn how!

Sometimes you feel like being rebellious. Maybe you want to tear the tag off your pillow, or you find yourself scurrying across the street with only four seconds left on the crosswalk timer.

If you’d like to highlight your Bend vacation with something that sounds naughty but won’t get you arrested, here are a few activities to add to your list.

 

 

 

Strip off your clothes in a brewery

Tackling the whole Bend Ale Trail wearing nothing but your birthday suit will probably land you in jail, but there’s one stop along the way that will let you come pretty close to that.

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

At McMenamins Old St. Francis School, there’s a beautiful tile soaking pool just waiting for you to strip down and slip into its warm, silky depths. You can’t go completely nekkid, but you can don your favorite bikini or swim trunks and enjoy your soak while sipping a tasty McMenamins beer.

The pool is quite literally a work of art, with shimmering turquoise tile, luminous stained glass, breathtaking murals, and an open-air ceiling that lets you check out the night sky. It’s filled with soft, buoyant saltwater, which makes for an environmentally friendly soak. You can visit the pool daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the general public, or between 7 a.m. to midnight if you’re staying on property. Check the website for fees and info about when you can take the kiddos and when it’s an adult-only affair.

Then you can sit there with your plastic mug of Terminator and enjoy the thought of all those happy families having dinner just down the hall from where you’re soaking your half-clad bod.

 

Nab stuff that doesn’t belong to you in the forest

If you’re intrigued by the idea of slinking around the woods in search of treasure hidden by someone else, geocaching might be your thing.

GeocachingTourWanderlust

The folks from Wanderlust Tours can take you geocaching in style!

Geocaching participants use a GPS or mobile device to hide and seek containers all over the world. The caches typically include little trinkets or toys tucked inside a waterproof container, along with a logbook where participants can enter their date and code name. Find a box, snatch a goodie, replace it with a goodie of your own, and voila—you’re geocaching! It’s a free, fun form of guilt-proof stealing. You can learn more about geocaches around Oregon here.

Want to try it with a little hand-holding from the pros? Wanderlust Tours offers A GPS Eco-Challenge Tour that’s perfect for groups of eight or more people. It’s a mix of geocaching, The Amazing Race, and something the Riddler from Batman might devise. It’s perfect for corporate groups, a scouting troop, a pack of students, or a couple families that want to have fun. The tour is $65 per person and includes all your gear and transportation, plus any bootie you swipe out there in the woods. To learn more, go here.

 

Drink beer while biking

CyclePub! The ultimate drinking and biking experience.

CyclePub! The ultimate drinking and biking experience.

If you’ve journeyed to Bend recently, odds are good you’ve seen a nifty bike/bar hybrid from CyclePub. The crazy contraption lets participants pedal and swill beer at the same time, and pretty much every time I explain it to someone, they ask me, “how on earth is that legal?”

The answer is that you have a sober, trained captain provided by CyclePub who’s steering and driving the whole thing. Think of it like a limo you might hire to drive you around while you sip champagne. Then picture something a whole lot cooler that actually lets you burn off those beer calories by pedaling all over town.

While you might see CyclePub spinoffs in other cities, it’s worth noting that the one in Bend allows you to drink beer while the bike is in motion. That’s not the case with the laws in many other spots, so enjoy that perk while you’re here. There are other strict rules about how alcohol can be handled and transported, so consult their FAQ page for details.

 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Want a chance to pedal and guzzle for free? We have a gift certificate for a free two-hour tour for six on the Cycle ‘Round bike from CyclePub. It expires May 31, 2015, so you have to be able to use it before that date. For a chance to win, confess in the comments with something naughty you’ve done that you’re willing to admit publicly. We’ll pick a winner on Tuesday, April 14!

My itinerary for a perfect day in Bend, Oregon

March 26th, 2015

I’m visiting my parents in Kauai this week, which has me thinking a lot about vacation planning. Several times a week, I’m asked to come up with the perfect vacation itinerary for travelers visiting Bend.

The Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area in NE Bend is a perfect place to enjoy a long walk with Fido and some killer mountain views.

The Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area in NE Bend is a perfect place to enjoy a long walk with Fido and some killer mountain views.

My suggestions vary widely depending on whether you’re a beer geek seeking tips for navigating the Bend Ale Trail, or someone seeking family-friendly vacation ideas for summer or for chillier times of year.

But if you asked me straight up how I’d plan my very own perfect day in Bend, Oregon, here’s what I’d tell you.

6:30 a.m. Visit the dog park

I’m a morning person, and so is my dog (though she prefers to mask her person-ness beneath fur and paws). Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and the town boasts an impressive seven off-leash areas, but my personal favorite is Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area. It spans 17 fully-fenced acres filled with trees, trails, grassy areas for fetching, and even a spray park to frolic in when the weather is warm. It’s a great spot to stroll and enjoy the sunrise in the company of my favorite four-legged companion.

 

7:30 a.m. Breakfast at Jackson’s Corner

JacksonsCornerEastside small

Jackson’s Corner’s new eastside location is light, bright, and airy!

One of my favorite spots for a tasty, locally-sourced breakfast is Jackson’s Corner. Their original location near Downtown Bend is fabulous, but I’m especially delighted they opened a second spot in northeast Bend. That makes it a convenient post-dog park stop, and they’re open at 7 a.m. for my fellow early risers.

Mmmm....biscuits and gravy at Jackson's Corner!

Mmmm….biscuits and gravy at Jackson’s Corner!

I’m a big fan of their biscuits and gravy made with Redmond Smokehouse gravy over housemade buttermilk biscuits, and I usually add a side of roasted seasonal veggies just to make things healthy. If I’m eating solo, I’ll probably grab a book and choose a sunny corner table or a spot next to the outdoor fire pit so my pup can join me. If I can persuade a pal to join me, I’ll talk him or her into ordering the roasted red pepper scramble (organic spinach, roasted peppers, organic eggs, and Tumalo Farms chévre) so I can sneak a bite or two.

 

9:30 a.m. A family hike

Bubble blowing atop Pilot Butte!

Bubble blowing atop Pilot Butte!

By this time the rest of my family should be up and around and jonesing for some outdoor fun of their own. Pilot Butte (that 500-foot dormant volcano in the center of Bend) is one of our favorite spots if we feel like sticking around town. We like to hike the paved road all the way up if we’re there during the car-free months spanning October through May, or we’ll stick with the dirt path if it’s summertime. In any case, our favorite thing to do is bring a container of bubbles and a big bubble wand with us on our hike. When we reach the top, my husband flings bubbles while the kids and dog chase them around the summit.

If we feel like venturing a bit further, we might head south toward the Newberry Volcanic National Monument for a full day of adventure, or head out to explore one of the breathtaking waterfalls in and around Bend. If it’s wintertime, a snowshoe adventure might be a fun alternative to a regular hike. In the warmer months, we love nothing more than pumping up the air mattresses so we can all float the river.

 

11 a.m. Shopping, sightseeing, and lunch in the Old Mill District

The Fenske-Zagurski clan enjoys a surrey ride through the Old Mill District, courtesy of Wheel Fun Rentals.

The Fenske-Zagurski clan enjoys a surrey ride through the Old Mill District, courtesy of Wheel Fun Rentals.

Now that we’ve all worked up an appetite, we’ll head to the Old Mill District for a bit of fun and sustenance. With the kids in tow, we’re likely to hit family-friendly favorites like Red Robin or Flatbread Community Oven where kids get the opportunity to make their own pizzas. During non-kid times, we’re partial to seafood hotspot Anthony’s or local favorite Greg’s Grill, where the river views are unbeatable (especially in the warm months when you can sit outside).

On a chilly day, we might spend a few hours browsing the Old Mill shops before venturing to the Regal Cinemas Theater to catch a movie. If it’s a sunny day, we might stroll along the river for a bit before renting a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals so we can pedal around together and enjoy the scenery.

 

1:30 a.m. Outdoor adventures with Wanderlust Tours

I’ve been lucky enough to experience every outing offered by Wanderlust Tours, so I know an adventure with their naturalist guides is high on my list of things to enjoy on my perfect day.

A cave adventure with Wanderlust Tours makes an excellent addition to your Bend vacation any time of year.

A cave adventure with Wanderlust Tours makes an excellent addition to your Bend vacation any time of year.

Wanderlust recently kicked off the season for their half-day canoe trips, and since that fits nicely with today’s schedule, we’ll head out with them for the afternoon. Odds are good we’ll see otter, osprey, eagles, and more, so my wildlife quota will be met for the day. It’s also a great chance to enjoy the area’s breathtaking volcanic landscape and some of the best mountain views you’ll see anywhere.

If the day happens to be a snowy one, we could easily swap our paddles for snowshoes and head into the mountains for one of Wanderlust’s spectacular snowshoe tours. They provide all the gear, instruction, and transportation, which makes it a great way to fit in a little snow play without too much hassle.

And if the weather isn’t cooperating for an outdoorsy adventure, Wanderlust’s cave tours are another terrific option that’s available year-round.  That’s a favorite adventure for my stepson in particular, who shared his experience with the cave tour in this post.

 

5:30 p.m. Time to hit the Bend Ale Trail!

This might sound odd with a couple kids in tow, but there are plenty of stops along Bend’s legendary Bend Ale Trail that somehow manage to be incredibly kid-friendly without losing their edge.

Sunset at Crux Fermentation Project is a great way to cap off your day of adventure in Bend!

Sunset at Crux Fermentation Project is a great way to cap off your day of adventure in Bend!

My personal fave is Crux Fermentation Project, which not only boasts some of the best beer in town, but also the best grilled cheese sandwich you will ever consume in your entire life. The kids can enjoy snacking, toasting their toes at the fire pit, and chasing each other around the large grassy field while the grownups split a taster tray and enjoy a little dinner.

If we’ve got room in our bellies (and room on our Bend Ale Trail passports) for another stop, we’ll likely head for Bend Brewing Company in Downtown Bend. They’ve got a terrific kids’ menu, one of the most impressive taster trays on the trail, and a primo location right above the Deschutes River (perfect for a post-dinner moonlight stroll through Drake Park).

 

Pimp my beer! Five beer accessories you must try in Bend, Oregon (plus a chance to WIN the ultimate beer vessel from DrinkTanks!)

March 19th, 2015
Keep reading for your chance to win this amazing growler and specialty Keg Cap system from DrinkTanks!

Keep reading for your chance to win this amazing growler and specialty Keg Cap system from DrinkTanks!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the success of the Bend Ale Trail, it’s not to have an empty stomach if you visit all 14 breweries in one day.

Wait, no. That’s not the message I wanted to share. Let’s try this again.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the success of the Bend Ale Trail, it’s that Bend visitors and locals love their craft beer. We love it so much that we’re not content to merely drink the beer. We have to cherish it. Coddle it. Dress it up in pretty clothes and parade it around.

If you love your beer—I mean really love your beer—here are five beer accessories you truly need to have.

 

A belt buckle that doubles as a bottle opener

Get your bottle opener belt buckle in the Bend Visitor Center!

Get your bottle opener belt buckle in the Bend Visitor Center!

Have you ever found yourself standing around at a party and had a sudden, insatiable need to crack open a cold one using an article of your own clothing?

Of course you have!

And since they haven’t invented bottle openers made from underwear, you need the next best thing in the form of an official Bend Ale Trail belt buckle with built-in bottle opener.

These heavy-duty accessories come in three finishes (copper, bronze, and silver) and can be purchased in the Bend Visitor Center for just $28. You know you want all three of them.

 

A beer glass that bounces when you drop it

I’m not saying I have a habit of knocking over my beer glass after I’ve had a few, but . . . actually, that is what I’m saying.

Silipint! The beer glass that bounces when you drop it.

Silipint! The beer glass that bounces when you drop it.

That’s one of many things I love about Silipint silicone pint glasses. Topple a regular beer glass onto the floor and you end up with a pile of shattered glass, but a Silipint just bounces and rolls.

Even if you’re not in the habit of dropping your adult beverages, Silipints are just practical. I fill mine with hot tea every morning, using the handy travel lid to keep things from sloshing around. When that’s gone, I switch to ice water, which my Silipint maintains at optimum temperature without making a sweaty mess. When evening rolls around, that same Silipint makes a fabulous vessel for my favorite Bend-made suds. How many other glasses are that versatile? Slop a bunch of hot coffee into your Riedel wineglass and let me know how that works out for you.

You can find Silipints for sale all over Bend, including the Ticket Mill Outlet in the Old Mill District and at the Bend Visitor Center. If you want a special Silipint declaring “I completed the Bend Ale Trail,” you’re going to have to earn it by bringing us your completed Bend Ale Trail passport to claim your prize.

Hook your beer up with some fancy attire from Deschutes Brewery.

Hook your beer up with some fancy attire from Deschutes Brewery.

 

A sweater for your beer

You want your beer to be attractive, fashionable, and cozy, right?

Your beer needs a sweater. Lucky for you, Deschutes Brewery has one. It’s a dapper little knitted number that serves the dual purpose of keeping your beer cold and your hand warm.

It’s stretchy enough to fit a 22-ounce bomber or a regular 12-ounce bottle, and the bold hues of black, gold, and red will leave your beer feeling stylish and sassy.

At only $8 a pop, how can you not own enough for a whole six-pack?

 

 

 

A growler you can rub for three wishes

Keep rubbing your Crux growler and wait for the genie to appear. Or some really great beer. Whatevs.

Keep rubbing your Crux growler and wait for the genie to appear. Or some really great beer. Whatevs.

Pretty much every brewery in town offers a logo-adorned growler, but only Crux Fermentation Project sells one that looks like Barbara Eden might emerge from it at any moment.

Did I just date myself with an I Dream of Jeannie reference?

No matter. The growlers they sell at Crux look wicked cool, and you can buy them online for only $18.

You can also pick one up at the brewery itself, which is a much better idea. I hear the odds of seeing a genie are markedly improved when your growler is filled with fresh, delicious Crux beer.

 

The growler to trump all growlers

There are several companies in Bend making high-end, airtight growlers with double-walled construction that keep your drink cold for up to 24 hours.

Can't you picture yourself taking this on a hike in Bend? Enter for a chance to win the ultimate growler from DrinkTanks!

Can’t you picture yourself taking this on a hike in Bend? Enter for a chance to win the ultimate growler from DrinkTanks!

And while they’re all pretty fabulous, the folks at DrinkTanks have taken the game to a whole new level. They started by giving their growler a big, sturdy handle and a clamp-on lid with a double-bail locking system that’s guaranteed to be totally leak-proof.

Then they created an add-on Keg Cap Kit with a hose and CO2 cartridges you use to transform your growler into a personal keg.

Mind = blown.

We had the chance to test drive one in the Visit Bend office and it rocked my ever-lovin’ world. We sampled a regular stout poured from the growler and then tried it with a little pump of C02 and honest-to-dog, it was like sipping beer straight from the tap. As a bonus, it comes in 11 stylish finishes and can even be engraved for that added personal touch. You can pick one up in a regular 64-ounce size, or get in on the Kickstarter campaign to support the creation of a massive 128-ounce growler (which officially makes it the world’s largest beer growler, in case you were wondering).

The 64-ouncer runs $69, plus $45 for the Keg Cap, but guess what? The folks at DrinkTanks are giving one away for FREE!

Enter to win by commenting on this blog post with your favorite Bend beer. For an extra entry, tell us in your comment if you’ve shared a link to this blog post on Twitter or Facebook (we’ll give you bonus entries for each of those tasks).

We’ll pick a winner on Friday, April 3.

Happy drinking, everyone!


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