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How to do the ever-loving-heck out of Newberry National Volcanic Monument in two days (part 1, day 1)

July 10th, 2014
Blogger Tawna on the shore of Paulina Lake (wearing a Bend Ale Trail "Girl vs. Beer" shirt, of course!)

Blogger Tawna on the shore of Paulina Lake (wearing a Bend Ale Trail “Girl vs. Beer” shirt, of course!)

When the boss asked me to spend a couple days visiting Newberry National Volcanic Monument to give a first-hand report on what it’s like to explore the area with a family, I wept with misery at how much my job sucks.

That’s so obviously a lie that I can’t even type it with a straight face.

Truth is, I immediately texted the kids with the all caps message: GUESS WHAT AMAZING THING WE GET TO DO?!?!

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a breathtaking natural playground just south of Bend, teeming with ancient lava flows, cinder cones, caves, obsidian flows, lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains. I’ve been there many times, but never with the intent of mapping out the absolute perfect agenda for a limited time.

Next week’s post will spotlight the once-in-a-lifetime adventure of the Paulina Plunge, but today I’m giving you an easy itinerary to maximize a single fun-filled day at Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Here’s how we did it:

 

8:45 a.m.: Breakfast at Sparrow Bakery

Scrumptious ocean rolls from Sparrow Bakery – the perfect fuel to kick off a long day of exploring Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Scrumptious ocean rolls from Sparrow Bakery – the perfect fuel to kick off a long day of exploring Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

As we headed south on the Bend Parkway, we took exit 138 and popped in at Sparrow Bakery. The kids are crazy about their famous Ocean Rolls, and I opted for their bacon breakfast sandwich (a poached egg, bakery-smoked bacon, avocado, arugula, and aioli served on a hand-rolled croissant). The meal was easy to eat in the car, and provided the perfect sustenance for our morning journey.

 

9:15 a.m.: Arrive at the Lava Lands Visitor Center

The view from atop Lava Butte.

The view from atop Lava Butte.

Knowing the Lava Lands Visitor Center gets busy with folks jockeying for the chance to drive to the top of Lava Butte, we wanted to hit this stop first thing. We flashed our Northwest Forest Pass for access (though a three-day Monument Pass is just $10 and gets you in to all the areas. A one-day Northwest Forest Pass will do the trick as well if you plan to stick with this itinerary). The attendant granted us a 30-minute permit to drive to the top of Lava Butte.

Cedar and Violet use the big map in the Lava Lands Visitor Center to scope out where our adventures will take us that day.

Cedar and Violet use the big map in the Lava Lands Visitor Center to scope out where our adventures will take us that day.

The kids loved exploring the fire lookout tower at the top of the butte and snapping photos of the panoramic views. We opted to burn off a little energy with the ¼ mile hike around the rim of the caldera, oohing and aahing over the different types of lava rock and the fact that we were standing on the largest volcano in the Cascades.

Back at the bottom, we headed into the Visitor Center facility for a bathroom break and a chance to check out the interpretive exhibits, a short film, and a giant map showing us all the areas we’d be exploring that day.

 

10 a.m.: Explore Lava River Cave

I’ve had the pleasure of doing several Cave Tours with the folks from Wanderlust Tours, and I’m always in awe of the knowledge and experience offered by their naturalist guides, and impressed by the fact that they’re the only group permitted to take folks into some of Central Oregon’s most pristine natural caves.

Cave selfie! (Lighting provided by the super cool lantern we rented at the entrance).

Cave selfie! (Lighting provided by the super cool lantern we rented at the entrance).

But if you’re short on time or cash, or you just want to explore on your own, the Lava River Cave at Newberry National Monument is a good option. Located adjacent to the Lava Lands Visitor Center, the cave is one mile long and the longest lava tube in Central Oregon. You can bring your own headlamps or flashlights if you’ve got them, but I love the experience of renting a propane-fueled lantern for just $5 at the entrance.

The kids both told me the Lava River Cave was their favorite part of our day, and it was easy to see why. We hiked all the way to the end, making spooky noises and shadow-puppets as we went. A few scattered signs along the way shared interesting tidbits like the spot where we were standing directly under Highway 97.

Closed-toe shoes are a good idea for this hike, and a lightweight sweatshirt is a must, since it’s 45 degrees in the cave all year-round. Claustrophobes who feel nervous in smaller caves will appreciate the relatively open spaces in this one.

 

11 a.m.: Drive to Paulina Falls

12-year-old Cedar captured this lovely pic of Paulina Falls.

12-year-old Cedar captured this lovely pic of Paulina Falls.

We emerged from the cave and drove 12.5 miles to Paulina Lake Road. From there, it was another 12.5 miles to the Newberry Welcome Station where we kicked off the next portion of our journey.

Since tummies weren’t rumbling yet, we decided to see Paulina Falls before lunchtime. The lookout over the top of the 80-foot waterfall is just a short walk from the parking lot off road 21, and I expected the kids to be satisfied with a 10-minute stop for snapping some photos and chucking pine cones over the falls.

They surprised me by loving the waterfall so much they wanted to see it from all angles. We made the short hike to the bottom where they saw the falls from a different viewpoint. 12-year-old Cedar snapped a lovely waterfall photo we shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page, promptly racking up more than 1,000 likes and making the kid’s day.

 

Noon: Lunch at Paulina Lake Lodge

A tasty lunch overlooking the lake at Paulina Lake Lodge.

A tasty lunch overlooking the lake at Paulina Lake Lodge.

I’d stopped at this lodge plenty of times for a potty break or a snack at the gift store, but I’d never bothered to sit down for a meal. What a treat!

We sat on the deck outside to enjoy panoramic views of the lake and mountains while we studied the surprisingly expansive menu. The kids’ menu boasted standard kid-friendly fare like chicken strips and grilled cheese, both of which were deemed delicious by my traveling companions. I opted for a pulled pork sandwich with homemade coleslaw. It was zingy and tasty, and the views made everything that much more scrumptious. After we ate, the kids enjoyed a few minutes of skipping rocks from the edge of the dock beside the lodge.

Cedar and Violet skip rocks by the lodge before we set out on the next stage of our adventure.

Cedar and Violet skip rocks by the lodge before we set out on the next stage of our adventure.

Added bonus: the staff was so friendly and helpful they provided detailed instructions for reaching the next stop on our adventure and recommended a shovel to help scoop gravel from the hot springs. When we admitted we didn’t have one, they helpfully cleaned out an empty coffee can for us to use.

 

1 p.m.: Hike from Little Crater Campground to Paulina Lake Hot Springs

This is one of those “locals’ secrets” I’m probably going to get yelled at for revealing to you, but I don’t believe in hoarding all the good spots for myself. Besides, you have to work a little to find this one, so it’s unlikely to be overrun by a million beer-guzzling graffiti artists.

Tawna and Violet soak their toes in the hot springs after a two-mile hike around Paulina Lake to reach the spot.

Tawna and Violet soak their toes in the hot springs after a two-mile hike around Paulina Lake to reach the spot.

After lunch, we drove a short distance from Paulina Lake Lodge to the Little Crater Campground on the edge of the lake. There’s a day-use area at the very end of the campground, and that’s where we parked to begin the roughly two-mile hike along the lakeshore to the hot springs. At the point where the trail veers uphill, stick to the shoreline and watch for shallow pools fringed with logs. There are several hot springs along the way, and you’ll usually find a few folks soaking in them.

Don’t go expecting a deep soaking pool with seats and towel racks. The springs are shallow and rustic, and it’s a good idea to have something to dig with so you can make a larger spot for soaking and optimize the mix of chilly lake water and piping hot spring water.

Remember your sunscreen before heading out, and don’t forget a bottle of water and sturdy water shoes.

 

3:45 p.m.: Scope out the Big Obsidian Flow

Big, glassy hunks of obsidian adorn the trail at the Big Obsidian Flow.

Big, glassy hunks of obsidian adorn the trail at the Big Obsidian Flow.

By the time we’d hiked to and from the hot springs and expended a fair amount of energy splashing in the water, we were feeling pretty wiped. Luckily, The Big Obsidian Flow was just a short drive up the road and a fairly easy walk to the trailhead.

From there you can scope out views of glassy obsidian and a breathtaking hidden lake. This is Oregon’s youngest lava flow, where more than 170 million cubic yards of obsidian and pumice erupted from a vent in the caldera. A one-mile loop interpretive trail covers one corner of the flow.

The Big Obsidian Flow is one of several sites covered in the Volcano Tour from Wanderlust, so if you’d rather have someone else handle all the driving, planning, navigating, and narrating of cool geological facts, that’s a handy option.

 

4:30 p.m. A trip to East Lake? A drive up Paulina Peak? Or time to head home?

All in all, a great day at Newberry National Volcanic Monument!

All in all, a great day at Newberry National Volcanic Monument!

We briefly considered a short drive to East Lake for more sightseeing or a trip up 8,000-foot Paulina Peak for 360-degree volcanic views, but we had tickets to a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, so it was time to head home.

Visitors without concert tickets could probably manage either (possibly both) of these additional side trips. Those with an interest in seeing the Lava Cast Forest (a 7,000-year-old basalt lava flow that enveloped a mature forest and took the shape of trees while it cooled) would be wise to tack on that detour near the start of the trip while still near the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

But overall, we were satisfied with what we managed to pack in on day one of our Newberry National Volcanic Monument tour.

 

STILL TO COME NEXT WEEK:

Read about day two of our Newberry National Monument adventure, which includes a full day of biking, hiking, splashing, jumping, and sliding in waterfalls on the Paulina Plunge!

Bringing the kids to town? Here’s a roundup of ideas for your kid friendly vacation in Bend!

July 3rd, 2014

On the master list of my favorite childhood vacation memories, more than half are in Bend.

For a kid growing up on the rainier side of the state, there’s something magical about the bright desert sun, towering mountain peaks, and sage-scented air in Central Oregon. It’s the perfect spot for a family vacation whether you’re herding toddlers or corralling rowdy teens.

Here are some of my favorite ways to explore the kid friendly side of Bend for families.

 

Find yourself some family-friendly digs

Bend offers hundreds of amazing hotels, motels, vacation homes, resorts, campgrounds, and more that cater to families. You’ll find a great starting point here.

8-year-old Violet gets her giddyup going during the Cowboy Cookout at Brasada Ranch. Meanwhile, happy parents are enjoying a romantic meal just up the road at Range Restaurant.

8-year-old Violet gets her giddyup going during the Cowboy Cookout at Brasada Ranch. Meanwhile, happy parents are enjoying a romantic meal just up the road at Range Restaurant.

I recently got the opportunity to play tourist in my own town with a stay at Brasada Ranch. The luxury cabins made the perfect home base for all the hiking, biking, and horseback riding we could handle, and the kids went nuts for the massive swimming pools and waterslide. Our highlight was a romantic dinner for two at Range while the kids were busy roasting s’mores and riding horses at the Cowboy Cookout.

Mt. Bachelor Village is another nice option for families craving the amenities of a resort. For families who prefer the privacy of a vacation home in Bend, you’ll find dozens of Bend rental homes offering perks ranging from hot tubs to bikes to barbecues.

Looking for a cool camping option? These trailers from Cricket Rental can be towed with a regular old 4-cyl automobile.

Looking for a cool camping option? These trailers from Cricket Rental can be towed with a regular old 4-cyl automobile.

If you like the ease and simplicity of a hotel, you’ll find tons of great Bend hotels and motels catering to families. Enjoy the free hot breakfast buffet each morning at Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center, or let the kids splash in the indoor pool at the Doubletree by Hilton in the middle of Downtown Bend.

And for families who want a unique spin on camping, check out the luxury camper trailers available from Cricket Rentals.

 

 

Go play outside

Now that you’ve got a place to lay your head, it’s time to get serious about the real reason you came to Bend—frolicking in the great outdoors.

11-year-old Cedar frolics with Bindi on Elk Lake.

12-year-old Cedar frolics with Bindi on Elk Lake.

Water play is a popular activity in the summer months, and you’ll find plenty of that around Bend. To cool off like a local, rent a float tube from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe or Sun Country Tours (don’t forget your free life vest rental for the kiddos). Then learn everything you need to know about floating the river here.

The High Cascade Lakes are another great place to splash in the summer months. Elk Lake and Cultus Lake are my personal favorites with kids, since both offer great picnic spots, easy beach areas for swimming, and plenty of rental gear like boats and standup paddleboards.

If swimming pools are more your scene, the on-site pool at Brasada Ranch is great fun for guests there, or take a short day trip to enjoy waterslides and kid-friendly pools at SHARC (in Sunriver) or Kah-Nee-Ta Resort (in Warm Springs).

If there’s an adrenaline junkie or two in the family, try a whitewater rafting excursion from Sun Country Tours for the perfect blend of “bragging-rights-scary” and “not-going-to-kill-me-scary.” Even little ones can get in on the adventure, as the popular Big Eddy Thriller is great for kids 6 and up.

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.

Once you’ve had your fill of water, head out for another form of family recreation. Cog Wild offers family-friendly mountain bike outings for riders of all ages and experience levels. If you’d rather get the whole family on a single bike together, try a surrey outing with Wheel Fun Rentals and use the opportunity to explore Bend’s stunning Old Mill District. (Insider tip: Don’t try to squeeze through the posts designed to keep cars off bike paths or you’ll end up banging the pedals. Um, not that I’d know anything about that).

Prefer a guided adventure where someone else does all the driving, navigating, and answering questions about geographic features and which bugs you can eat? Wanderlust Tours offers unique outings ranging from cave tours to moonlight canoeing to volcano exploration.

 

Feeling indoorsy?

There’s a limit to how much outdoor activity you can pack into a Bend vacation. Sometimes the limit is determined by sunburn, and other times by your offspring’s short attention span. Whatever the case, there’s plenty of indoor fun to be had in Bend, too.

Getting up close and personal with a desert tortoise at the High Desert Museum.

Getting up close and personal with a desert tortoise at the High Desert Museum.

The High Desert Museum offers a great chance to explore Bend’s culture, history, and wildlife. While you’ll have to set foot outside to get to a few exhibits like the otter and the birds of prey, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly areas in the main part of the museum (including Vivi the bobcat who seriously looks like she needs a belly rub).

I told my 12-year-old stepson I was on the fence about including Sun Mountain Fun Center in this post because parents might not like the idea of their kids playing video games on vacation, but he reminded me they also have bumper cars, batting cages, mini golf, go-carts, bowling and more. Smart kid. Or a kid who’s angling to go there again, which isn’t a bad idea now that temps are soaring and a little air conditioning can be refreshing.

Get a close-up look at how they make Oregon ice cream (among other delicious treats!) during a Goody's factory tour.

Get a close-up look at how they make Oregon ice cream (among other delicious treats!) during a Goody’s factory tour.

For families with a sweet tooth, Bend-based Goody’s Chocolates offers factory tours with samples of candy and ice cream that will give your kids enough of a sugar buzz to fuel them for the next activity.

Frugal families seeking a couple hours of respite from the pitter-patter of little feet might enjoy the Regal Cinema Movie Express program in the Old Mill District. Every Wednesday and Thursday from late June through mid-August, the young’uns can catch a kid-friendly flick for just $1 at 10 a.m.

 

 

Get ‘em some culture

Bend’s arts and culture has gotten a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason. It’s one of the most approachable, down-to-earth art scenes around, with public art like the Tin Pan Alley collection and the Roundabout Art Route (both of which make fun opportunities for kids to check out paintings and sculptures in Bend’s great outdoors).

Michael Franti is one of many performers whose concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater are family-friendly.

Michael Franti is one of many performers whose concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater are family-friendly.

My own step-kids are big fans of live music, and Bend is an amazing spot for that. Freebie concerts like Munch and Music, Alive After 5, and Free Summer Sundays are all family-friendly and fun for all ages. Bring your low-backed chairs and a picnic, or buy tasty food and drinks on-site.

The lineup of summer concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater always includes several shows that are great for the whole family. My stepdaughter and I got to groove on-stage with Pink Martini last summer, and Michael Franti’s shows are always a kick for young’uns. Coming up later this summer, Amos Lee’s July 18 show looks like it should be a fun one for families to enjoy together. Go here for ticket info.

 

Feed the beasts

It’s been brought to my attention that children occasionally need sustenance. Luckily, just about any place you go in Bend is happy to cater to people who can’t legally vote.

Cedar and Violet enjoy making their own pizzas at Flatbread Community Pizza.

Cedar and Violet enjoy making their own pizzas at Flatbread Community Pizza.

One of our favorite family-friendly dining spots is Flatbread Community Pizza. The kids get to assemble their own pizzas and watch them bake in the wood-fired oven, while grownups can enjoy a cocktail, beer, or wine and munch on gourmet pizzas and salads. My personal favorite is the maple fennel pizza with a side of their brand new chopped kale salad (grilled stonefruit, golden beats, chevre goat cheese, candied walnuts, blood orange vinaigrette). They even have a wine flight specially created to pair with pizza.

Another reliable option in the Old Mill District is Red Robin. People with a chip on their shoulder about chain restaurants might turn up their noses at this option, but parents who’ve reached the end of their rope and just want a reliable dinner spot with a menu guaranteed to please cranky kids will be happy to know it’s there (and has some pretty terrific salads to boot!)

Families craving fine dining will find plenty of delicious fare at 900 Wall, with the added bonus of a kids-eat-free special starting at 5 p.m. on Sundays (excluding holidays).

Enjoying a family-friendly dinner on the balcony at Deschutes Brewery's pub in Downtown Bend.

Enjoying a family-friendly dinner on the balcony at Deschutes Brewery’s pub in Downtown Bend.

One thing we hear a lot from parents is that they fervently wish to enjoy the Bend Ale Trail, but assume they can’t do it with kids in tow. Au contraire! Quite a number of Bend’s breweries have terrific family-friendly options. Bend Brewing Company has one of the best kids’ menus in town, and Crux Fermentation Project has an incredible outdoor patio with a huge field where kids love to frolic.

One of the most kid-friendly spots along the Bend Ale Trail is Deschutes Brewery. Beer fans of legal drinking age will appreciate the opportunity to sip suds at the birthplace of Bend’s craft brew scene while enjoying gourmet eats like tangy baby back ribs, or my personal favorite, Mirror Pond Mac & Cheese (made with spinach, roasted shallots, house-cured tasso ham, Tillamook cheddar, and bread crumbs, served with a side salad). The hearty kids’ menu features the usual fare like pizza and mac & cheese, and there’s a huge gluten-free selection for those who need it.

Planning to be in Bend for Fourth of July 2014? Here’s everything you need to know!

June 25th, 2014

‘Tis the season for fireworks, parades, Fourth of July camping trips, and floods of phone calls to Visit Bend from travelers seeking information about all those things.

Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions we get this time of year. Since it wouldn’t be very nice if we only gave you the questions, we’ve also taken the time to provide answers. We’re helpful like that.

Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.

If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing spots, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Get there early with a blanket or chairs, since some of the popular locales can be packed.

 

Q: What special events are happening for July 4?

A: One of the most popular Bend traditions is the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to noon. Cost is $4 for kids and $6 for adults, and proceeds support local charities.

The Pet Parade is a spectacle all by itself!

The Pet Parade is a spectacle all by itself!

My personal favorite event is the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes.

parademapIf you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed starting at 9 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so get there nice and early.

After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.

Craving a more intimate celebration? Brasada Ranch (just 16 miles northeast of Bend ) is holding an Independence Day All American BBQ. You can enjoy great food, live music, lawn games, and panoramic views of three (yes, THREE) firework shows across the region. Dinner is served from 6-8 p.m. and music goes from 7:30-10:30. Cost is $39 for adults and $23 for kids 5-10.

For the fitness-minded among you, the annual Spark Your Heart 5K run/walk will kick off at 8 a.m. in Riverbend Park. Details and registration are here.

 

Q: Uh-oh…Tumalo State Park is full. Where can I camp?

A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, and 2014 will be especially crazy with the holiday falling on a Friday. A good starting point is Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:

There are plenty of places to camp in and around Bend.

There are plenty of places to camp in and around Bend.

 

Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post.

 

Q: What hikes are open?

A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go. Cascade Hiking Adventures is another terrific resource for hiking ideas.

 

Q: Are things like the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands Visitor Center open on July 4?

A: Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Des Chutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission all day on July 4.

 

Q: We really like the way you write the Bend Buzz Blog and would like to buy you some fireworks. What would you like?

A: Why thank you! Sparklers and smoke balls, please. I like the green ones.

Five things you’ve gotta smell in Bend, Oregon

June 20th, 2014

At the rate technology is advancing, I like to think I’ll someday be able to offer you a scratch-and-sniff blog post.

While I can’t do that yet, I can tell you Bend, Oregon, is one of the most deliciously fragrant places I’ve ever been. Sure, it looks beautiful, but here are five things you absolutely, positively must smell in Bend and Central Oregon.

 

The woodsy trail above Big Eddy rapid is one of the best places to catch a whiff of the scent of warm pine needles.

The woodsy trail above Big Eddy rapid is one of the best places to catch a whiff of the scent of warm pine needles.

Pine needles in the sun

There’s a deliciously nutty, piney fragrance you’ll notice when you hike the ponderosa-lined trails around Bend. The sun-soaked high desert earth bakes the needles to aromatic perfection, and I find myself wanting to press my nose against the red-barked trunks. I notice it most prominently along the Deschutes River Trail in the summer months when the sun shines particularly bright, but since it’s sunny year ‘round in Bend, you can pick up the scent nearly any day of the year. To find it for yourself, head up Century Drive and pick a trail that looks appealing. Then close your eyes and breathe deeply. Try not to run into any trees.

 

Festivals and Farmers Markets

Munch and Music is one of many deliciously fragrant festivals in Bend.

Munch and Music is one of many deliciously fragrant festivals in Bend.

I suppose you could just call this “food smells” and be done with it, but the fragrance enveloping Bend’s many festivals and Farmers Markets is so much more than that. It’s layer upon layer of delicious culinary scents like pungent leafy greens, grilled onions, and batter-dipped corndogs. Add in a dash of sunscreen, spilled beer, and the fragrance of poly-vinyl bouncy houses warming in the sun, plus a subtle undertone of river water and pine. The result is an indescribable perfume that’s actually not all that indescribable at all—it’s the fragrance of fun. To find a festival that fits your vacation schedule, check Visit Bend’s event calendar.

 

Juniper and sage in the rain

Dogs love the smell of juniper and desert sage, too.

Dogs love the smell of juniper and desert sage, too.

While I love this medley of fragrances in the sunshine, too, there’s something especially mesmerizing about the way these two scents mingle on our rare rainy days in the high desert. Imagine the woodsy, floral aroma of sage rinsed clean with the green botanical notes of juniper. I recently made saltimbocca (thin pieces of chicken breast wrapped in sage leaves and prosciutto) and served it with a Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, and that was pretty much the culinary equivalent of this fragrance. The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is a particularly lovely place to breathe in this intoxicating blend, with the added bonus of uncrowded trails and raw, scenic beauty.

 

 

 

Grassy lake shores

The grassy banks of Elk Lake are a divine spot to breathe in the scent of summer.

The grassy banks of Elk Lake are a divine spot to breathe in the scent of summer.

I’m not sure if it’s the tangle of reeds and grasses, the musk of damp earth, or the bright scent of the river water itself that produces this deliciously clean fragrance. It’s probably a mix of all three, and there’s something about it that instantly lowers my blood pressure. Sometimes I like to take off my shoes and squish my toes in the mud to fully embrace this fragrance. There are a few spots on the shore of Elk Lake where this is an option, and nearby Hosmer Lake is another great spot to wade in and experience it. There are also a number of spots along the Deschutes River with deliciously muddy banks, so take off your shoes and start sniffing. Wait…that came out wrong.

 

The cornucopia of food smells in Downtown Bend

900 Wall is the source of many amazing smells (not to mention tastes!) in Downtown Bend.

900 Wall is the source of many amazing smells (not to mention tastes!) in Downtown Bend.

Anytime between lunch and late-evening, you can walk the streets of Downtown Bend and breathe in the most heady blend of food smells imaginable. There’s a mix of exotic spices from Toomie’s Thai Cuisine, Taj Palace, and Five Fusion wafting on the breeze as you stroll from Minnesota Avenue toward Wall Street. Near 900 Wall and Brickhouse, you’ll breathe in the scents of peppery grilled meats and garlicky pizzas bubbling in wood-fired ovens. Don’t try this when you’re hungry, as there’s no possible way to resist ducking into one of the restaurants for a bite. On second thought, a state of hunger is precisely when you want to do this.

So that’s my roundup of five of my favorite fragrances in Bend. What’s yours? Please share in the comments!

From guided horseback riding to solo trail rides, you’ll find plenty of equestrian adventure in Bend

June 12th, 2014

My grandparents raised racehorses in Central Oregon, so I grew up associating Bend with saddles and curry combs.

I’ve seen a recent uptick in journalists and visitors seeking info on horsey adventures in Bend, so I’m clearly not the only one realizing Central Oregon is a pretty fab place to get your giddyup going. Equitrekking recently named Bend the #1 town on their list of five great equestrian communities, so now seems like an excellent time to review the options for equine activities in Bend, Oregon.

Visit Bend blogger, Tawna, enjoying a morning horseback ride at Brasada Ranch with her family.

Visit Bend blogger, Tawna, enjoying a morning horseback ride at Brasada Ranch with her family.

Most Central Oregon visitors aren’t stuffing their own horses into carry-on luggage or making the trek over the mountains with a horse trailer in tow. Luckily, a plethora of local stables and equestrian centers make it possible for you to saddle up and ride off into the high desert sage anyway.

I recently visited the Brasada Ranch Equestrian Center where I joined my fiancé and his eight-year-old daughter on a trail ride. She immediately declared it “the best part of my whole summer,” which was saying something considering summer hadn’t actually started.

Even on a cloudy morning, the mountain views from the Brasada Ranch trail ride are breathtaking.

Even on a cloudy morning, the mountain views from the Brasada Ranch trail ride are breathtaking.

Nevertheless, I had to agree. The wranglers who accompanied us took excellent care in making sure everyone was properly mounted and comfortable in the saddle. Our group ranged from experienced riders to young kids who seemed uncertain which end of the horse to feed.

My trusty stead was named “Sweet Girl,” and seemed joyfully undaunted by the flatulence of the horse riding in front of us. While I admired breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains and entertained a few western-themed fantasies that may or may not have involved shirtless cowboys, the professional wrangler leading our pack made engaging conversation with the eight-year-old, while the wrangler at the back soothed the nerves of a nervous six-year-old first-timer in our group.

Brasada Ranch Equestrian Center offers a variety of options for rides and lessons ranging from 1.5 hours to 2 hours to custom experiences. Go here for pricing and details.

There are plenty of other equestrian centers in Central Oregon offering guided trail rides and instruction. You’ll find a good roundup of giddyup on Visit Bend’s horseback riding page. Besides Brasada Ranch, visitors speak highly of their equestrian experiences at Sunriver Stables, Seventh Mountain Resort, and Black Butte Ranch.

The kids learn proper care and grooming for horses during a private lesson at Rhinestone Ranch.

The kids learn proper care and grooming for horses during a private lesson at Rhinestone Ranch.

If you’re looking for a horsey experience outside the resort scene, Bend has a number of small, independent ranches and stables offering boarding and private lessons.

Last year we gifted the young’uns with a few private lessons from Rhinestone Ranch. Located just five miles east of Costco, it’s a handy option for guests staying at a Bend hotel or vacation rental who want an equestrian option that doesn’t require much drive time. Owner Trisha Gallucci did a bang-up job of not only making the kids comfortable riding the horses, but teaching them how to properly comb them and clean their hooves. For more ideas on smaller, independent equestrian facilities, go here.

So what if you already have your own horse and you’re looking for a place to saddle up and ride?

Todd Lake is one of the most popular lakes for horse enthusiasts along the Cascade Lakes highway. Horse-friendly trails lead into the Three Sisters Wilderness, offering access to lovely spots like Cayuse Crater and Soda Creek. There are even a few tent campsites equipped for folks staying with horses.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness offer another option for riders looking to head out on their own. Southeast of Bend on Highway 20 near milepost 18 is the Badlands Rock Trailhead. Popular with the horse crowd, the soft trail offers a look at the area’s unique volcanic rock formations along with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.

If you prefer to enjoy horses from a slight distance, rather than from the saddle, don't miss the Oregon Classic.

If you prefer to enjoy horses from a slight distance, rather than from the saddle, don’t miss the Oregon High Desert Classics the last two weeks of July.

For horse enthusiasts in the mood to be spectators, Bend is also home to a number of impressive equestrian events. The Oregon High Desert Classics is a world class horse show held east of Bend the last two weeks of July as a benefit for J Bar J Youth Services. The show offers free viewing during the day, plus celebration under the Patron’s Tent at night.

The Rose City Opener is another top-notch equestrian event bringing hunter/jumper competitors to Bend each May.

Fans of horse racing can travel to Prineville the second week in July for the horse racing segment of the Crooked River Roundup.

Parents of horse-crazy kids should check out the horseback riding camps at Camp Tamarack offered throughout August.  While junior learns horse handling skills and grooming techniques, mom and dad can schedule a romantic grownup getaway in Bend.

Now get on out there and giddyup!

 

 

Everything you need to know about floating the river in Bend, Oregon

June 6th, 2014

It’s been nearly three years since I wrote this post about floating the Deschutes River in Bend. Though it’s long-buried in the archives, it continues to rack up the highest number of views of all the Bend Buzz Blog posts.

See that sandy beach off the right just below the bridge? That's a great spot to start your float on the Deschutes River.

See that sandy beach off the right just below the bridge? That’s a great spot to start your float on the Deschutes River.

Think that says something about the popularity of floating the river in Bend?

In the interest of making sure we’ve got the latest-and-greatest info out there for our lovely readers, here’s a revamped version of the post for your enjoyment . . .

For those who don’t live in Bend, the idea of floating the river can seem a little daunting. You see all the smiling, happy people floating past as you stroll through the Old Mill District for dinner or shopping, but um…well, how do they get there? And what are the rules?

Hey, relax. Floating the river is a cinch.

The easiest place to kick off your river float is from Riverbend Park, though another great spot is Farewell Bend Park just a little upstream on the opposite shore just a few feet downstream from the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge. Either place offers a safe, sandy shore for you to launch your air mattress, float tube, or raft. If you want a shorter float, you can also start just downstream from the Colorado Avenue Bridge on the sandy beach in McKay Park and float from there to Drake Park.

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

Don’t have an inner tube or a PFD? No problem. Head over to Riverbend Park and look for the little trailer with the Sun Country Tours logo on the side. Not only do they rent float tubes and standup paddle boards, they loan free PFDs (personal floatation devices) to children 12 and under. Another great option for float tube rentals is Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. They also rent PFDs, canoes, kayaks, and standup paddle boards and are conveniently located close to the Old Mill District.

Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to floating the river. I’m a big fan of the single air mattress and a slow, easy stroke to keep myself heading straight. When I’m floating with the family, we usually opt for a queen-sized air mattress with the two kids in the middle and the grownups on either side for easy one-armed paddling.

OK, so you’ve got your floaty and you’ve hoped in the river somewhere near Riverbend Park. Now what?

You’ll meander along the Deschutes through the Old Mill District, passing under a couple bridges and waving to happy shoppers and diners. As you approach the Colorado Avenue Bridge, you’ll see a bunch of signs pointing you toward an exit. Follow the signs carefully, as a trip over the spillway would pretty much ruin your vacation (not to mention your life).

Preparing for our family float last Father's Day.

Preparing for our family float last Father’s Day.

Once you’re out of the river, you have the option of walking around the spillway and continuing your journey by putting in again from the beach in McKay Park and floating from there to Drake Park. That’s usually what I do, but if you’re pressed for time, you can always hoof it back to your starting point or catch the Ride the River shuttle back to your starting point. If you continue on to Drake Park and you’re not shuttling with a two-car buddy system, the Ride the River shuttle can pick you up from here, too. Just be sure to check the website beforehand for schedule and pricing, since it doesn’t run every day and won’t kick off this year ‘til July 5.

There are a few rules you need to know before you hop in the water. Under Oregon law, all boats must carry a Coast Guard-approved PFD for every person onboard or being towed. Children under 12 must wear PFDs at all times on a moving boat, including inflatable rafts and kayaks. That doesn’t include individual air mattresses, inner tubes, and floating toys. However, if any of these are tied together, they count as “boats” and the PFD law applies.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Have some sort of water shoes that stay on your feet so you have protection when you hop out of the water and have to hoof it across a hot, rocky surface to your car or shuttle. Chacos, Tevas, or Keens are a good idea. Flip flops are risky, as they can slip off easily (my favorite Havaiana is probably still buried in the muck somewhere).
  • Buy a waterproof pouch to wear around your neck for any essentials like car keys or phone. Consider having your sunglasses on a strap as well, in case you fall in.
  • Pay attention to the signs as you approach the Colorado Avenue Bridge so you know where to exit the river safely.
  • Please, please don’t litter. If you bring beverages or snacks, do not dump bottles and wrappers in our river. If I see you doing this, I will have no qualms about shoving you over the spillway.
  • Have fun! This is pretty much a given, though.

For more information on floating the river, including safety tips and a handy map, check out this page from Bend Metro Parks & Rec.

And for more ideas on other forms of water recreation including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and more, check out this page on the Visit Bend website.

It’s full! Now what? How to cope when everyone had the same idea for a Bend vacation.

May 29th, 2014

The fact that tourism is booming in Bend, Oregon is either a testament to how well we’re doing our jobs at Visit Bend, or a testament to how cool Bend is. How about we just say it’s both?

In any case, it’s not uncommon for vacationers to arrive in the summer months to discover everyone simultaneously had the same idea about where to stay, where to drink, or what to do. Never fear! If this happens to you, here’s a roundup of ideas to make sure you can still snooze, sip, and splash in style.

 

Help! The campground I like is full!

The reason everyone wants to camp at Tumalo State Park is probably the same reason I'm getting married there in three months – the place is freakin' beautiful!

The reason everyone wants to camp at Tumalo State Park is probably the same reason I’m getting married there in three months – the place is freakin’ beautiful!

We hear this most often from visitors hoping to stay at Tumalo State Park. No surprise, since its proximity to Bend and natural beauty make it the ideal place to camp (not to mention the ideal place for my upcoming wedding, but I digress).

If you arrive at the campground to find it packed, there are still plenty of spots to pitch your tent or park your camper. The Visit Bend website has an awesome page devoted to camping and RV parks, complete with handy grids to show you the amenities available at each place.

There are several private campgrounds within the city limits of Bend. Crown Villa (smack dab in the middle of town) and Scandia RV Park (also right in the city limits) both offer plenty of RV sites to choose from.

If you’re willing to stay 20 minutes west of Bend, Sisters City Park has both RV and tent sites in a lovely creekside setting.

State Parks are another great option for those willing to drive 20-40 minutes. Smith Rock State Park has great spots for tent campers, while La Pine State Park, Cove Palisades, and Prineville Reservoir can all accommodate both RVs and tents.

Looking for a cool camping option? These trailers from Cricket Rental can be towed with a regular old 4-cyl automobile.

Looking for a cool camping option? These trailers from Cricket Rentals can be towed with a regular old 4-cyl automobile.

Some tent campers might enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of dispersed camping in the Ochoco or Deschutes National forests.

RV enthusiasts will find hookups and bathrooms with showers at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park. Though Mt. Bachelor doesn’t have hookups, they do offer bathrooms and showers in the Guest Services building for those who want to park their RVs in the designated area at the mountain.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a super-unique camping experience, try renting a luxury camper trailer from Cricket Rentals. Then haul your temporary new home wherever you please. Ask about their “glamping” packages, as well as options for pre-reserved campsites and equipment delivery/setup.

 

Help! The brewery I want to visit is jam-packed

OK, here’s the thing about the Bend Ale Trail: Having a program that lets participants earn prizes for gathering passport stamps at up to 14 breweries means Bend’s brew pubs are among the most popular attractions in our fair city. Nearly 50% of all Bend travelers visit at least one brewery during their stay, and 6-7% of Bend tourists list “beer tourism” as the primary reason for their visit.

As you can imagine, some of the breweries get packed, especially on holidays and weekends. I was reminded of this over Memorial Day Weekend when I dropped by Crux Fermentation Project for their sunset happy hour specials and discovered they had a two-hour wait for food (though for the record, I got my beer sampler in record time, and they were happy to offer me free bowls of tasty potato chips to nibble).

These cozy couches at Hideaway Tavern are my favorite spot to grab a craft beer when the crowds get crazy at Bend's breweries.

These cozy couches at Hideaway Tavern are my favorite spot to grab a craft beer when the crowds get crazy at Bend’s breweries.

So what’s a beer enthusiast to do when faced with daunting crowds? Well, the fact that there are 14 breweries to pick from means you’ve got a lot of options. Can’t find a table at 10 Barrel? Head over to GoodLife, which has an awesome outdoor biergarden and tasty beer to boot. Unimpressed by the wait time at the first brewery you try in Downtown Bend? Keep walking. Silver Moon, Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery, Boneyard Beer, and McMenamins are all within a few blocks of each other, so whip out your Bend Ale Trail map and hoof it to the next one.

Of course, sometimes you’re not in the mood for a quest or for throngs of people. This was how I felt Saturday night, and my solution was to head to Hideaway Tavern. As the name implies, it’s a little off the beaten track. Besides offering a quiet refuge from the crowds, it’s a great place to grab a local craft beer and some out-of-this-world grub (try the truffle mac & cheese or the poutine with duck gravy).

Other non-brewery options for grabbing local craft beer include Summit Saloon, Broken Top Bottle Shop, Brother Jon’s (which has two locations), Riverside Market & Pub, and Platypus Pub. You can also opt to hit one of the local growler fill stations and take your beer to go so you can enjoy it at your Bend vacation rental or Bend hotel.

 

Help! I want to float the river, but didn’t bring my tube

I feel your pain. Floating the river is one of Bend’s most divine summer pleasures, and on hot weekends, it feels like everyone has the same idea to laze on an inner tube or air mattress while drifting down the Deschutes.

Few pleasures on earth compare to a lazy float on the Deschutes River in the summertime.

Few pleasures on earth compare to a lazy float on the Deschutes River in the summertime.

More than once in my 16+ years in Bend, I’ve discovered a hole in my favorite air mattress in mid-July and spent half the afternoon running from Target to Fred Meyer to Walmart, only to discover the shelves cleared out because everyone had the same idea.

The aforementioned shops are all great options, and probably the most popular places to search for air mattresses and other inflatable devices. Big 5 Sporting Goods and BiMart aren’t usually the first places people check, so their shelves are often still stocked after the other guys have run low on inventory.

But if you’re just here for the weekend, why not rent your floaty? Sun Country Tours, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe both offer rental float tubes that are far superior to what you’ll find to purchase on most store shelves. These are professional-quality tubes with handles, mesh bottoms, and plenty of room for you to kick back and relax. Best of all, you won’t have to pass out in the parking lot because you also forgot your air pump.

Not that I’d know anything about that.

8 things to do for 2014 Memorial Day Weekend in Bend, Oregon

May 22nd, 2014

Bend is a pretty spectacular place to be any time of year, but there’s something extra-special about Memorial Day Weekend. Maybe it’s that we’re all shifting our gazes to summer, or perhaps it’s the energy from all the out-of-towners flocking here for a long weekend. Or maybe it’s just that there’s so freakin’ much to do. Here are 8 awesome happenings lined up for you between May 23-31 2014:

Jam with The National at Les Schwab Amphitheater (May 23)

There's nothing like a great concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

There’s nothing like a great concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

Every year I get giddy about the kickoff of Bend concert season at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. This season’s first show takes place Friday evening, May 23, with The National promising a moody blend of indie folk rock. Opening for The National are the Tune Yards. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the music starts at 6:30. If our weather holds out, it looks like it’ll be a rain-free evening with warmer temps in the day. Things cool off quickly at night in Bend, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket or someone warm to snuggle. Low-backed sand chairs are allowed for this show, and there’s a ton of great food and beverages sold inside the venue. Ticket prices range from $39 to $40 and you can purchase them at the gate or right here.

Kick off Central Oregon Beer Week (May 23-31)

Bend’s first big beer fest of the season kicks off Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s a doozy. This year’s Central Oregon Beer Week spans May 23-31, and offers a nine full days of events guaranteed to leave any beer connoisseur drooling. Um, in a good way.

Mmm....beer.

Mmm….beer.

You’ll find a complete calendar here, including fun stuff like growler fill specials, barbecues, live music, karaoke contests, beer education, and more. There’s even an ice cream truck cruising around with beer-themed flavors to enjoy. Bottoms up!

Catch a ballgame at the Bend Elks Youth Baseball Tournament (May 25-27)

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.

Happy Girl Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k, and Happy Little Kids’ Run (May 24-25)

Happy,  happy girls.

Happy, happy girls.

Grab your girlfriends and get running! The scenic route starts along the Deschutes River, and includes a mix of gentle trails and paved surfaces. Women will be spoiled with a great goody bag and a fun pre-race expo, plus on-course support (including handsome pacers). Finishers get a cool custom necklace instead of a medal. The expo is Saturday, and the run is Sunday, and you won’t want to miss either. For details and registration, visit the event website.

Opening day for the Saturday Market (May 24-25)

Kick off the 2013 season of the Central Oregon Saturday Market across the street from the Deschutes Public Library. Browse handcrafted jewelry, artwork, clothing, household goods, and more. 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.

Finale weekend at Mt. Bachelor (May 24-25)

The Pond Skimming Championships at Mt. Bachelor.

The Pond Skimming Championships at Mt. Bachelor.

I’m not even a skier, and I’m heading up to Mt. Bachelor for their final weekend of the season. This is the place to be if you’re looking to kiss winter goodbye with the ultimate panache. Check out the North American Pond Skimming Championship on Sunday, or enjoy live music and a cold one (or eight) at the annual Brewski celebration of Bend’s craft beer. There’s still plenty of snow for skiing and boarding, so this is your chance to carve a few final turns this season.

Time to break out that fishing rod (May 24)

Bend is known around the country as a mecca, with Fly Fisherman magazine naming the city one of the top fly fishing towns in the nation. Trout season opens on May 24 this year, clearing the way for you to fish lakes and rivers throughout the area. To celebrate, Confluence Fly Shop is having a Trout Season Kickoff Party May 23, complete with discounts, giveaways, beer, and more. You’ll find details here.

Two great bike races for the cycling crowd (May 24 & 25)

Road cyclists rejoice on Saturday 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 2013 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, 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. Now in its fifth year, 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. 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.

Mind Bend-ers: Meet Klondike Kate, Bend’s original fun, fearless female

May 15th, 2014

Mind-Benders-Logo

 

Klondike Kate in all her splendor.

Klondike Kate in all her splendor.

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

Women in Bend have always been the adventurous sort, pursuing passions like skiing, rock climbing, rafting, and marching through downtown wearing a showgirl costume and rolling a cigarette with one hand.

The latter was the domain of Kate Rockwell, more commonly known as Klondike Kate. Klondike Kate earned her nickname from an illustrious career as a vaudeville performer and showgirl, which included a stint in Alaska before the spring of 1910. That’s when Kate plunked down the cash for a horse, a gun, and a camping outfit.

In other words, all the necessities for a lady of the time.

She bought a piece of property 40 miles east of Bend sight-unseen and spent three years homesteading to earn the title to the land. When she wasn’t wrangling cattle, Kate frequented local dance halls and became the 1915 equivalent of a cougar, marrying a 20-year-old cowboy when she herself was 39. The marriage lasted only a few years, and was one of many tumultuous relationships in her life.

“She was a good businesswoman, but she made poor decisions with men,” explained Vanessa Ivey, Museum Manager for the Deschutes County Historical Society.

The house where Kate lived on Franklin Avenue in Bend. Notice the stone fireplace built by "bums" Kate picked up around town? Not too shabby!

The house where Kate lived on Franklin Avenue in Bend. Notice the stone fireplace built by “bums” Kate picked up around town? Not too shabby!

Hey, haven’t we all done it a time or two?

In any case, Kate eventually left her homestead in the mid 1920s and moved to downtown Bend on Franklin Avenue to be closer to the general populace. The general populace had mixed feelings about that.

“People either took to her and became friends with her and called her Aunt Kate, or they highly disapproved of her and avoided her,” explained Kelly Cannon-Miller, executive director for the Deschutes County Historical Society. “She was the source of a lot of rumor mongering.”

Her choice to hire local transient men to construct her new fireplace and do other work on the home raised the ire of cultured folks in Bend, many of whom found it unladylike for a woman to pick up bums. “Some people thought she was a prostitute or a lady of ill-repute, but that was never the case,” Ivey added.

Klondike Kate is honored in one of the newest paintings added to the Tin Pan Alley art collection. The painting was created by Sheila Dunn, and can be seen in the alley beside Toomie's Thai Cuisine.

Klondike Kate is honored in one of the newest paintings added to the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection. The painting was created by Sheila Dunn, and can be seen in the alley beside Toomie’s Thai Cuisine.

For those who adored her, Kate was a legend. She earned accolades for tending to the sick, particularly during the flu pandemic of 1918 when the whole city of Bend was quarantined for two months. The Bend Fire Department made her an honorary member for her tireless efforts to bring food to firefighters while they fought blazes on cold nights. Charitable to a fault, she was famous for declaring, “Whenever I get down to my last dollar, there’s always someone who needs it more than I do.”

Kate died in 1957, and her ashes were scattered from an airplane over the site of her former high desert homestead. Perhaps that’s part of why her spirit lives on in Bend. You can see it every day in the fearlessness of our outdoorswomen and in the brazenness of the ladies out on the Bend Ale Trail. Whaddya say we all lift a pint in memory of Klondike Kate?

Bend Ale Trail 3.0 launches today! Here are 7 tips for navigating your beerventure.

May 8th, 2014

Next month, the Bend Ale Trail will mark its four-year anniversary. We’re getting a jump on the celebration this week by launching Bend Ale Trail 3.0, featuring a newly-updated Bend Ale Trail Atlas and two new breweries: Riverbend Brewing and Rathole Brewing. We’ve also introduced a brand new prize structure that lets you get the most out of your beerventure.

In honor of the new release, here are a few tips for maximizing your Bend Ale Trail experience.

 

Plan your route wisely

The new Bend Ale Trail atlas in front of one of the newest breweries to join the program, Riverbend Brewing.

The new Bend Ale Trail atlas in front of one of the newest breweries to join the program, Riverbend Brewing.

Gone are the days when you can safely hit all the breweries in a three-hour span (something I accomplished more than once back when there were only seven or eight stops). The new Bend Ale Trail atlas features 14 (yep, 14!) breweries. While no purchase is required to obtain a passport stamp at any of the breweries, half the fun is sampling the suds at all the locations.

With that in mind, you want to be smart about your routing. Your best approach is to study the map beforehand online, in your printed Bend Ale Trail Atlas (available at all participating breweries and the Bend Visitor Center downtown) or in your free app for Droid or iPhone. While there’s a good cluster of breweries in and around downtown, there are now a fair number outside that zone.

One strategy is to start with the outlying breweries, including Worthy Brewing, newcomer Riverbend Brewing, and Cascade Lakes Brewing Company. Yes, I realize those three breweries are in completely different directions, but the objective here is to start early with the ones that require driving or biking to reach.

From there, you can leave your car in a safe location and maneuver on foot between the breweries near the Old Mill District. A good route there is to start with Rat Hole Brewing, then Crux Fermentation Project, Brew Werks, and finally the Deschutes Brewery brewing facility. A sane beer drinker would call it a day here, but the ambitious among you (or those limiting yourselves to small samples at each stop) could theoretically keep going on foot to Good Life and 10 Barrel from here.

The cluster of breweries in Downtown Bend makes another nice batch to hit on foot. A fairly easy route there is to start at Boneyard, then hit McMenamins Old St. Francis, then the Deschutes Brewery pub if you didn’t already hit the brewery itself (though you can always do both to enjoy both the impressive facility tour and the equally impressive pub fare). From there, continue on to Bend Brewing Company and Silver Moon.

And of course, don’t forget Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters, which makes an excellent excuse to plan a little day trip to this cute town 22 miles west of Bend (see this post on road trips for tips and ideas).

 

Keep an eye on the clock

Be sure you know everyone’s hours of operation before you set out. For instance, the Deschutes Brewery warehouse stops offering tours and tastings at 5 p.m. You can still get your passport stamped at the downtown pub, but the warehouse tour is a pretty cool highlight you really shouldn’t miss.

A Hydro Flask filled with water is a great tool to take along on your Bend Ale Trail adventure.

A Hydro Flask filled with water is a great tool to take along on your Bend Ale Trail adventure.

You also want to keep in mind that Boneyard’s tasting room closes at 6 p.m., so plan to hit them a little earlier.

10 Barrel is always packed to the gills, so your best bet there is to avoid lunch hour or dinnertime. Hours at all breweries are subject to change seasonally, so when in doubt, call first.

 

Be smart with your beer intake

Eat a hearty meal before you set out. Bring your own water bottle or ask for glasses of water at brewery stops so you stay well-hydrated. Order food at pubs throughout your journey so you always have something in your belly. Opt for smaller schooners instead of full pints, or stick with a little sample every now and then instead of glugging whole beers. Above all, be responsible. Which leads to the next topic.

 

Don’t even THINK of drinking and driving

There are tons of great ways to ensure everyone stays safe and out of jail. I’ve had a blast doing nearly every single item on the following list:

fron view of cowboy carriage in front of cascade lakes brewery

Cowboy Carriage – one of many fun ways to trek the trail without drinking and driving.

Seriously, guys, don’t drink and drive. I once had to bail a pal out of jail for making this mistake. He was lucky, as were the other people in his path that night who could have been injured or killed if things had gone differently. You DO NOT want to mess around with this one.

 

Blogger Tawna in her Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.

Blogger Tawna in her Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.

Don’t forget your schwag

Besides the beer, one of the best parts of the Bend Ale Trail is the fact that you earn prizes for collecting passport stamps at the breweries you visit. With the newly released Bend Ale Trail atlas comes an update in the prize system. Participants can now earn a commemorative Bend Ale Trail Silipint pint glass for visiting just 10 of the 14 breweries. Those who visit all 14 will not only receive the Silipint, but also a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener.

Also new to the Bend Ale Trail program is the creation of Bend Ale Trail month. Each November, anyone who completes the Bend Ale Trail and submits the passport at the Bend Visitor Center will earn a free Man vs. Beer or Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.

When it’s time to turn in your passport and collect your prize, remember the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon downtown is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We’re closed Sundays until our summer hours kick in Memorial Day weekend. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Visitor Center is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Scope out food specials and tap lists beforehand

The risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction....totally worth maiming someone for.

The risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction at Old Mill Brew Wërks.

Call me a neurotic planner, but I love checking before I set out so I know who’s got seasonal specials and don’t-miss food deals. I’m a huge fan of the food at Old Mill Brew Wërks, so I always make sure I hit them around mealtimes or happy hour for the best deal on their to-die-for risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction. Their bacon-wrapped scallops are also a culinary highlight here.

The cream cheese jalapeño wrappers at Riverbend Brewing are another item to include on your must-try list. These bad boys are hand-rolled and stuffed with applewood smoked bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeño and served up with a divine Thai chili sauce.

Knowing McMenamins Old St. Francis has a late-night happy hour starting at 10 p.m. makes it a great last-stop for $3.50 pints and $2.50 Cajun tots. Don’t be afraid to study your map carefully or call around beforehand asking about specials.

Above all, have fun out there as you explore our beloved beervana. See you on the trail!

 

Save the date!

Bend has oodles of beer festivals on the horizon, so if you’re a brew fan, make sure you mark your calendar for these dates:


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