I spent the week of April 15 over in Salem, where it’s a veritable explosion of colorful blossoms and vibrant green foliage.
Back in Bend, my gentleman friend was texting me photos of the scene outside our bedroom window:
Suffice it to say, spring looks different in Bend than it does in other parts of Oregon. But Bend-ites embrace it, as do our lucky visitors this time of year. Here are six unique things about springtime in Central Oregon.
The springtime striptease
Bend weather watchers have been crowing all week (April 22-26) about warm temperatures in the mid-sixties and low seventies.
What does that look like in Bend? Well, picture a lot of people wearing shorts and skirts with bare legs—no tights, hooray!
Then picture them all shivering like fiends, because it’s 15-degrees below freezing in the morning. Here’s what the weather report looked like Tuesday morning around 8 a.m.:
23-degrees one morning, and 72 degrees a few days later? Yep, that’s Bend in the springtime. It’s a bit chilly in the morning, but the warm afternoons make everything worthwhile. Besides, it’s fun to watch the full-day striptease as everyone around you peels off layers throughout the afternoon, only to bundle back up in the evening.
Our flowers look different here
Sure, you’ll see lovely little bursts of tulips, daffodils, and crocuses in well-manicured flowerbeds throughout Bend shopping districts and neighborhoods. But my favorite springtime flowers are the hardy blossoms that struggle through dry desert earth, popping up between volcanic rocks and the roots of ancient junipers. I won’t pretend to be able to name all the varieties, but if you prowl around areas like Pilot Butte State Park or the Oregon Badlands Wilderness this time of year, you might encounter sand lilies, larkspur, wallflower, Oregon sunshine, buckwheat, and many more. These random little orangey-red blooms shown on the left? I have no idea what they are, but seeing them sprouting through lava and sagebrush while I was rock-hounding at Fischer Canyon northeast of Bend totally made my weekend.
Sorry if you’re sneezing
Plenty of people are allergic to juniper, including my poor gentleman friend (who, during an allergy-inspired sneezing fit yesterday, declared, “I hate April.”) Since I’m blissfully devoid of seasonal allergies, I can say I love Bend’s juniper trees with all of my slowly-thawing heart. This time of year the junipers are especially fragrant, with lush, blue berries weighing down the branches. I smell them when I step outside, and I’m instantly transported to my childhood summers visiting my grandparents in Central Oregon.
If you are allergic, there’s still a way for you to enjoy Bend’s junipers. Stop by Bendistillery (America’s most award-winning craft distillery) and snag a bottle of their Crater Lake Gin, which is made with wild, locally-harvested juniper berries. Yum!
Please don’t remove the “C” from Bend’s canal signs
Yeah, yeah…we’ve all seen letters vanish from signs pointing out Bend’s irrigation canals. I’ve also heard plenty of cracks about how they’re essentially glorified ditches. I don’t care. I think Bend’s canals are beautiful, burbling bodies of water flowing through parts of town tourists don’t often get to see, and they begin flowing each year in April following their winter shutdown. There are some particularly lovely spots in the northeast part of town along Butler Market. You can head east or west from starting points along Brinson Blvd. or Purcell Ave., and the maintenance easement running along the west side makes a lovely walking trail (particularly for those with dogs).
Spring skiing done right
While plenty of other ski areas in the nation are winding down for the season, Mt. Bachelor is just hitting its stride. Bachelor has one of the longest winter seasons in North America, and Springtacular is the celebration of that extra-lengthy opportunity to savor snow-play. They’re open daily through May 26, and Springtacular festivities include concerts, competitions, camps, prize giveaways, discounted passes, and of course, regular old skiing and boarding. Don’t forget the sunscreen, and remember to dress in layers for those extra-sunny afternoons. Head up early and start your day right with one of their delicious Bloody Marys in the bar!
Dip your toes in the river
It’s still too chilly to flop your inner-tube in the Deschutes for a lazy, sun-baked float down the river. That’s melted snow, remember? Still, warmer springtime temps beckon us all to Bend’s abundant bodies of water, which makes this an excellent time of year to try standup paddleboarding. Go here to find a list of outfitters who can hook you up with rental gear, basic tips, or even personal lessons.
And lest you think having Fido on your board is strictly for paddlers with vast experience, I should point out the photo to the leftwas snapped during my second outing. Trust me, it’s easier than it looks. Also trust me when I say the water is colder than it looks, so don’t fall in (at least not for another couple months).