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5 ways to get your fresh air fix in Bend without being a butthead

Gardening 1600

It’s day #89765 of quarantine, or something like that. If you’re watching the weather, you know Bend should see highs in the 70s this week. 

While it’s tempting to take this as an invitation to sun-soaked adventures on your favorite hiking and biking trails, I’m here with a simple plea: DON’T DO IT.

Not only are trailheads and parking lots closed for safety’s sake, but first responders are stretched too thin to handle that busted arm you risk with your outdoor adventure. Staying home, staying safe, and helping to flatten the curve are top priorities right now.

So what’s a Bend-loving seeker of fresh air to do? You can still score sunshine and outdoor fun with a side of social distancing. Here are five ways to do that in Bend.


Savor the sun in your own yard

Admittedly it’s best not to bask where Fido does his biz in the backyard, but there are upsides to sun-seeking on your own property (besides, yanno…not dying of COVID-19).

Lounging in a lawn chair with a good book means you’re likely to get lost in another world anyway, and you won’t move a muscle to do it. Anoint your spouse or kids to be your personal cabana boy and keep the drinks flowing. 

Enjoy all of this while supporting Bend businesses when you order takeout or delivery from a Bend restaurant. You can also nab your reading material from a locally-owned bookstore you’ve found through Indiebound, or scope out digital offerings from the Deschutes Public Library


Dig up some dirt

My best discovery in the midst of this Coronavirus crisis is that my teenager will literally beg to pull weeds and plant flowers if it means getting outside for a bit.

Blogger Tawna’s teen cheerfully pulls weeds and plants flowers in the front yard. Yeah, Tawna can’t believe it, either.

Why not make it a family affair? Plot out that vegetable garden you’ve been dreaming of (though hold off on planting for now we’re not past the threat of frost). But this is the perfect time to order seeds online and start germinating them in containers you already have around the house.

Grab some bright spring blooms to brighten your yard, or take time to edge the lawn and sprinkle wildflower seeds around the perimeter.

If you’re an apartment-dweller without a row to hoe, there’s still plenty of green to be had with container gardening. A pot of basil, a pot of oregano, a bit of mint, and you’re well on your way to homemade spaghetti sauce with a side of mojitos (yeah, I know they don’t go together, but it’s quarantine. Don’t judge). In a pinch, you can get your hands dirty while staying indoors by repotting and fertilizing your houseplants.

For those whose green thumbs twitch for a different sort of herb, cannabis dispensaries in Oregon are considered an essential service. Most in Bend are offering curbside pickup, and you can peruse your options here.


Wash your car

Under normal circumstances, outdoor chores like car washing are as fun as stapling your nostrils together. 

These are not normal times (and also, I don’t recommend the nostril thing). Look for ways to get outside and accomplish tasks you’ve been meaning to tackle anyway. Rake up dead leaves, prune your shrubs, wash the Subaru, or scoop dog doo. 

Is it fun? Is it glamorous? Nope. But it’s an excuse to safely get outside, and that’s what we’re going for.


Cruise around your neighborhood

I’m not talking about car cruising, okay? Authorities are asking everyone to avoid unnecessary driving and stick close to home. Fender benders land folks in the hospital every day, and we can’t spare those resources right now.

Blogger Tawna keeps a safe distance from her neighbors while out walking near her house.

But here’s where it’s handy that Bend is surrounded by thousands of miles of biking and hiking trails. Skip the ones that require drive-time and focus on the ones you can access easily from your house. 

Take a walk around the block to see the spring blooms popping up in yards. Bust the bikes out of the garage and plan a family pedal party around the neighborhood. Even a stroll to the mailbox is a chance to stretch your legs and breathe fresh air.

Just be sure you’re cautious about social distancing, keeping a minimum of six feet of space between you and anyone not in your immediate family. Avoid crowded parks and walking paths. Wave to those neighbors from afar, but save hugs and handshakes for later.


Take it easy

I get it, a lot of this is tough to take for the active-minded folks who love Bend. My favorite spring hikes are off limits now with BLM and Forest Service trailheads closed and the wisdom of health authorities urging me to stay home.

But there are ways to find safe alternatives that don’t put you or others at risk. Itching to do some mountain biking? Skip the singletrack and pick a gravel cycling route someplace close to home on vacant Forest Service roads without a soul in sight. That singletrack will be waiting later when social distancing is no longer the norm.

Ditto that for rock climbing and that full-contact football tournament you’re planning with your neighbors. Now’s the time to hunker down, keep your body in one piece, and stay at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you.

Is it tough? Yep. Quite frankly, it sucks.

But it’s how we’ll keep ourselves and others alive to enjoy Bend’s outdoor splendor another day. That’s worth a little sacrifice, isn’t it?

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