Visit Bend Blog

Category: Spas

4 unique ways to renew and refresh in Bend this year

January 4th, 2018

2018 is officially here, and there’s a lot of chatter about rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation, and probably a bunch of other “re” words I’m forgetting.

In case you’re looking to hit refresh (hey, there’s another!) at the start of a new year, here are 4 unique experiences in Bend that can help.


Float away your worries

At Float Central in Bend, you can let all your cares float away while you do the same.

Floating is a wellness and healing technique that allows a person to be free from gravity and external stimulation in a relaxing environment. You slip into a tank that’s roughly four feet wide and seven feet long and filled with water that’s heated to skin temperature. Basically, you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.

Neat, right?

The idea is to let your mind slow down and your body achieve the ultimate relaxation. Since the tanks are soundproof and your ears are below the waterline, noise from the outside doesn’t reach you (though there’s no shame if you’re a wee bit claustrophobic and want to leave the door open).

The water is saturated with Epsom salts at a level that relieves your body from gravity, so you don’t exert any effort to stay afloat. Since your body isn’t fighting gravity or listening to chattering voices and the pinging of cell phones, your brain can spend its energy pumping out dopamine and endorphins while the rest of your body gets to rest, de-stress, and heal by lowering cortisol levels. Think of it as the ultimate meditation!

You can do a one-time float, but multiple floats over the course of several days, weeks, or months is the ideal way to get maximum benefits. Visit their website for pricing and info.


Commune with the stars

Some folks feel a strong connection with astral bodies and the heavens above, and if that’s your jam, you’ll find plenty of ways to reset your celestial clock in Bend.


Let Wanderlust Tours take you out to commune with the stars.

Wanderlust Tours lets you combine outdoor adventure with a chance to be dazzled by the night sky. In the wintertime, book one of their Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tours, or their ever-popular Bonfire on the Snow snowshoe tours for the chance to revel in glittery fields of snow underfoot and glittery blankets of stars overhead. All gear, transportation, and snacks are provided, plus a knowledgeable naturalist guide.

In the summer months, they’ll take you out on one of the high Cascade Lakes with an epic Starlight or Moonlight Canoe Tour (the difference being the phase of the moon, of course). Your naturalist guide will point out constellations and planets, and pack your brain full of awesome information about everything from trees to animals to the geology of Central Oregon.

If you prefer your stargazing to be a bit more indoorsy (perhaps with a beer in hand?) check out the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing. Brewery guests climb a spiral staircase or take the elevator to the third floor of the Hopservatory to witness one of the best views in Bend, with a stunning panorama from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood.

Tours take you inside the 17-foot rotating Ash dome to view planets, galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, the moon, and the sun through their 16″ reflecting telescope. Visit their website for tour schedules and information.

For other stargazing options around Central Oregon, check out the Pine Mountain Observatory (located 26 miles southeast of Bend) or the Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center (about 19 miles southwest of Bend).


Seek solitude on a hike

For me personally, there’s no better way to re-center myself than a hike in Central Oregon’s great outdoors.

Blogger Tawna’s favorite place to get re-centered, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Sometimes I crave the silence and solitude of a desert landscape like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. Other times I want the power and splash of a waterfall. On other occasions, I’m looking to reconnect with family on a kid-friendly hike.

Whatever floats your boat, check out Visit Bend’s hiking page for lots of ideas. You can also snag a good hiking guide book in our Bend Visitor Center.

Make sure you incorporate Leave No Trace practices (like picking up litter and staying on the trail) when you’re out there hiking. You’ll find ideas on how to do that on our Visit Like a Local page. Speaking of which…


Pledge to leave Bend better than you found it

The New Year is all about vowing to do better for many of us, and one way to do that is by taking The Bend Pledge.

The idea is simple: Everyone who spends time in Bend is invited to vow they’ll abide by a set of values that Bend lovers hold near and dear. Things like kindness and courtesy, safety and respect. Everyone who takes the Bend pledge will be entered to win a Bend vacation that includes three nights of lodging, meals, and activities for the entire Bend stay.

Go here right now and take The Bend Pledge and start your New Year off on a positive note!

4 fun date options for you and your Valentine in 2016

January 28th, 2016

Just 16 days, 9 hours, and 53 minutes until Valentine’s Day. Er, not that I’m counting.

Okay, I’m totally counting. When I’m not here singing the praises of Bend, Oregon, I make my living as an author of romantic comedy, so I kinda live for the schmoopy stuff.

Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!

Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!

When you mix my love of Bend with my love of…well, love…it’s a recipe for finding some of the coolest romantic dates in Central Oregon. Here are a few to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day 2016.


Get smoochy in the snow

The naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours can tell you plenty of tales about marriage proposals unfolding during canoe trips, snowshoe outings, and even cave tours. Considering how magical a Wanderlust adventure can be, it’s not surprising they get folks feeling the love. Their guides have even married people in the forest on snowshoes!

Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?

Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?

That’s why their special Romance on the Snow package is the perfect option for lovers looking to add a little extra amour to a standard snowshoe tour. This couples-only outing is offered February 13 and 14, with tours departing at 7 p.m. and returning home by 11 p.m. The $95 price tag includes all transportation and gear, a snowshoe adventure with a naturalist guide, a seat by the crackling bonfire in a glittering amphitheater hand-carved into the snow, hot cocoa with hazelnut espresso vodka, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne.

If you want to propose, hey, that’s up to you. If you just want to have fun with your longtime love or that special guy or gal you just started dating, that’s cool, too. Keep in mind that space is limited on the Romance on the Snow tours, so book early to make sure you and your sweetie aren’t left out in the cold.

And if those dates don’t work for you, a Wanderlust Tours gift certificate still makes an excellent Valentine’s gift.


Rub each other down

Admittedly I’m still a newlywed (17 months in February!) but one of the coolest romantic experiences of our marriage thus far was the Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

This is a special workshop designed by the Brasada Ranch Spa to give couples a special experience and new skills to take home and enjoy for years to come.  It was the highlight of our recent stay at Brasada Ranch, and it unfolded like this…

The hubs and I kicked off the experience by slipping into plush robes and spending a few minutes unwinding in the steam rooms of our respective dressing rooms. Then we met up in the Relaxation Room where we nibbled lavender honey shortbread cookies and sipped tea by the fountain until it was time for the separate one-hour massages we’d booked to get us into the zone.

After that, we joined a massage therapist who chatted with us for a while to determine our interests, goals, and familiarity with massage techniques (zero).  I got to go first, lying facedown on the massage table, tastefully draped, while the therapist showed my husband how to perform a variety of massage strokes on my neck, back, shoulders, and legs.

Gourmet s'mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!

Gourmet s’mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!

After 30 minutes or so, we switched spots and I got to learn how a 5’4” female (me) can use leverage and technique to exert the right amount of massage pressure on a 6’1” male (my husband) who prefers a firm massage touch. Since we don’t happen to own our own professional massage table, the therapist gave us tips for replicating our newly-acquired massage skills in our own home.

While you can book the Couples’ Massage Workshop even if you’re not staying at Brasada Ranch, it’s worth a splurge to book a room in one of their Ranch House Suites or luxury cabins. If that’s not in the cards for you, at least stick around for dinner or go straight to dessert with gourmet s’mores you can toast over the open campfires beneath sparkling stars.


What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

Over the last five years, the hubby and I have given each other Well Traveled Fork gift certificates for so many special occasions that if a holiday slips past with no fork-adorned slip of paper, one of us asks, “Wait, where’s the cooking class?”

A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.

A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.

Experts have said one of the best ways to bond a couple is to learn a new skill together, and I believe it. No matter how many classes we take together with the Well Traveled Fork, we always come out with something new. Maybe it’s a special knife handling technique or a tip for finding the best produce, or maybe it’s just the packet of recipes we go home with and try out again and again to remember how much fun we had.

Though the Couple’s Class scheduled near to Valentine’s Day is already sold out, there are plenty of other options on the 2016 docket. Classes range from Cooking With Bourbon to Easy Weeknight Meals and more. Check out the schedule to choose one that looks fun, then sign up with your sweetie so you have something to look forward to in the coming months.


Dinner and a show

Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of a cliché, but there’s a reason the old “dinner and a show” date never gets old for most of us. It’s a perfect blend of good food and dinner conversation, followed by a couple hours of entertainment that’ll give you a shared memory to talk about for months to come.

Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).

Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).

Reservations go fast on Valentine’s Day for a lot of Bend restaurants, so consider dining out the night before or after if your schedule allows it. If it doesn’t, you’ll still find a few slots available at many local dining hot-spots. Culinary options range from creative Northwest cuisine to Asian fusion to Italian to Middle Eastern to seafood to vegan cuisine and more. Scope out our Bend dining page to find something that piques your interest, or peruse the dining and drinking category on this blog for ideas.

As for the “show” component, you can search for musical performances at great venues like The Tower Theater or Silver Moon Brewing. If it’s a movie you’re after, head to the Old Mill District to catch the latest blockbuster, or opt for an indie film at the artsy little Tin Pan Theater. You can also scope out an array of live theater performances at places like Second Street Theater, Volcanic Theater Pub, and Cascades Theater (which has a special one-night-only performance of Venus in Fur on Valentine’s Day).

For more ideas, check out Visit Bend’s Event Calendar and search the date night you have in mind.

Oh, and when you call to make reservations at your Bend hotel or vacation rental, be sure to ask about romance packages or sweetheart specials. Many places have them, and they can range from rose petals on the bed to chocolates and an assortment of local craft beer or wine. Go here to start your Bend lodging search.


My romantic weekend at Brasada Ranch (and how you can win your own!)

October 8th, 2015
Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy a romantic evening by their private fire pit outside their suite at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy a romantic evening by their private fire pit outside their suite at Brasada Ranch.

When the folks at Brasada Ranch invited me to spend a weekend there familiarizing myself with the trappings of a romantic fall getaway, I was horrified.

“You want me to sleep in a luxurious suite, eat delicious gourmet meals, get massages with my husband, and go mountain biking at sunset to take in the beautiful mountain views?” I asked. “Why must I suffer so?”

As you might imagine, my romantic fall getaway at Brasada Ranch was no great hardship. Lucky for you replicating it for yourself is just as effortless (and could be even easier if you win the giveaway I’ll tell you about at the end of this blog post!)

So let me tell you about my weekend…


The digs

The last time I visited Brasada Ranch, I stayed in one of their luxurious cabins with my husband and two stepkids. While the cabins are amazing and perfect for a family outing, the Ranch House Suites are the place to be if intimacy and luxury are what you’re after.

The Ranch House boasts an array of deluxe suites, plus fine dining all under one roof.

The Ranch House boasts an array of deluxe suites, plus fine dining all under one roof.

These adult-only rooms are spacious and luxurious with all the bells and whistles—king beds with deluxe linens, a gorgeous two-headed tile shower, and a private patio with our own beautiful fire pit (plus access to a big hot tub reserved only for Ranch House Suites guests).

Simply stepping into the space was enough to drain all the tension from my shoulders and leave me feeling like I’d escaped from the stress of day-to-day life. Of course, the next segment of our journey is where the real relaxation got started.


The spa

One of the main reasons for our visit to Brasada Ranch was to check out Spa Brasada their expansive day spa and learn about the one-of-a-kind Couples Massage Workshop they offer.

But first things first.

Tawna enjoys a private massage before the Couples Massage Workshop.

Tawna gets a private massage before the Couples Massage Workshop.

Relaxation and romance was the order of the day, so my husband and I got checked in and bundled into soft, plush robes. We each spent a few minutes in the steam rooms in our respective dressing rooms before meeting up in the “relaxation room” (you know it’s relaxing if they name the room!) There, we nibbled Spa Brasada’s signature lavender honey shortbread cookies and sipped tea by the fountain until our massage therapists came to lead us into massage suites for one-hour private massages before our workshop.

I picked the East Meets West massage, a unique mix of Swedish techniques blended with acupressure points, polarity, and energy-based techniques. To say the whole experience was heavenly doesn’t begin to do it justice. It was an hour of pure bliss at the hands of a highly-skilled, supremely friendly therapist.

Thoroughly relaxed, I headed into another private massage suite for the second part of our experience. My husband and I met with Michelle, who talked with us a bit about what we hoped to get from our Couples Massage Workshop. “I want to learn new ways to touch my wife,” my husband offered helpfully.

Tawna and Craig enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop.

Tawna and Craig enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop.

Michelle had us begin with me on the table, tastefully draped. She patiently explained a variety of techniques and strokes, demonstrating on my neck, back, shoulders, and legs while my husband followed along and practiced her suggestions. Michelle encouraged us to offer feedback about what felt great, and she gave plenty of encouragement as we went along.

Halfway through the session, we switched spots. It was my turn to practice on Craig, which was fun as well as enlightening. I’ve admittedly never been the world’s best massage giver, but Michelle showed me ways my 5’4” self can exert the desired pressure on my 6’1” husband without breaking my own back. Knowing we don’t own a massage table of our own, Michelle even offered tips for how we can replicate the techniques on a bed in our own home.

I’ve always said that learning something new with a significant other is the best way to bond as a couple, but learning massage? On each other? It doesn’t get any better than that. Seriously, this is one of those bucket list experiences you need to try at least once with your honey. Put it on your Valentine’s wish list or tuck a gift card in your sweetie’s Christmas stocking. The spa is open to the public, so you can book their services even if you aren’t staying as a guest.


The grub

During the busier summer months at Brasada Ranch, guests can pick between Range and Ranch House for dining, but things are a bit quieter in the off-season when Ranch House is your go-to spot for chow.

Cheers to our romantic weekend!

Cheers to our romantic weekend!

Instead of feeling limiting, it was actually quite nice to enjoy all of our meals in this quaint, cozy space with servers who remembered our names and little details like how Craig prefers his coffee.

There’s a surprisingly wide variety of cuisine in a single restaurant. The breakfast menu is teeming with creative twists on omelets and benedicts and waffles, while the lunch menu has a nice mix of sandwiches and salads and flatbreads. On one afternoon we had to hustle into town for my stepdaughter’s soccer game, and the kitchen crew helpfully packed up a pair of turkey club sandwiches for us to take on the drive.

Mmmm...pork chops!

Mmmm…pork chops!

But dinnertime was the real highlight here. The massive heaters on the deck allowed us to sit outside one night enjoying the glorious sunset and sweeping mountain views while we sipped creatively-prepared (and delicious!) cocktails. The views were still stellar even on the night we dined inside, and it was spellbinding to snuggle up together with a glass of wine and watch the sun sink behind the mountains.

The entrée selections were delectable, with a heavy emphasis on locally-sourced, regional selections. Steak, pork chops, halibut, even burgers were done with a creative flair I couldn’t possibly replicate at home, and the wine selections perfectly complemented the menu offerings. Dining at Ranch House certainly set the stage for romance. And speaking of romance…


The romance

No, I’m not going to give you intimate details of our romantic weekend. But I will tell you that Brasada Ranch excels at setting the stage for romance in everything they do, even the really simple things.

Tawna and Craig toast s'mores at their private fire pit.

Tawna and Craig toast s’mores at their private fire pit.

On one night we rented bicycles for a sunset pedal to Spirit Rock. The friendly attendant gave us a map and directions and helped us time our outing to maximize the colorful views. When we joked about bringing a bottle of wine, he pointed us to the General Store where they sell a surprisingly great selection of vino at ridiculously reasonable prices.

Then there were the s’mores. For years I’ve heard people talk about the s’mores at Brasada Ranch, which come with locally-made chocolate from Goody’s and marshmallows made fresh daily by Brasada Ranch’s award-winning chef, who also makes the graham crackers from scratch with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and honey. Guests get to toast the whole thing up in the fire pits on the back deck, but since our server knew we were staying in the Ranch House Suites, she offered to box up all the ingredients so we could take them back to our private fire pit.

The s’mores themselves were divine, but cuddling by the fire with the sound of crickets and coyotes around us and stars overhead was simply out-of-this-world. And being able to do that a mere 15 steps from our room was heavenly (not to mention convenient).


The deal

Okay, so by now you might be feeling a little jealous. “Hey, Tawna,” you may be asking. “How can I enjoy the same sort of romantic weekend you got to have?”

Tawna walks her bike (hey, it was steep!) up to Spirit Rock for sunset.

Don’t miss the sunset bike ride (or bike walk) up to Spirit Rock for sunset!

The simple answer is that you can visit Brasada Ranch’s website and book the whole thing in about two minutes. Easy as pie! (Or s’mores. Whatevs). Brasada Ranch is only a 25 minute drive from Bend despite feeling a world away and 20 minutes from RDM airport (with direct flights from PDX, SEA, SLC, SFO, DEN, and soon PHX).

But if you’re a fan of games and you kinda like winning things, you’ll want to keep your eyes on Visit Bend’s Facebook page October 13, 14, and 15, 2015. That’s when we’ll be doing a scavenger hunt. On each of those days, we’ll post an image from Brasada Ranch. Study that image, then go hunting for it on their website. When you locate it, copy the URL, then go here and paste it into the contest form. You’ll fill out a couple other small details, then hit “enter to win.” Voila! You’re in the running for two free nights of lodging in a Ranch House Suite.

Good luck, and may the romance be ever in your favor!


Feeling chilly? Here are five great ways to warm up in Bend, Oregon!

January 4th, 2013

Most folks flocking to Bend this time of year are in search of one thing: snow.

You’ll find no shortage of it this season, but what about those who (gasp!) don’t care for the cold stuff? I know…I should give up my Bend resident card just for writing that, but sometimes I crave a break from winter’s chill.

Whether you’re a cold-phobic like me, or just looking to thaw out after a day on the slopes, here are my top tips for getting warm in Bend this time of year.

Fire it up

I had a thorough roundup of Bend’s indoor and outdoor fireplaces in this post a few months ago, and it goes without saying a cozy fire is the ultimate way to toast your toes. I’m less apt to visit the outdoor fire pits in single-digit temps, but there are tons of great indoor options for cozying up to a fire.

Cozy up to the stone fireplace at Cascade Lakes.

Pilot Butte Drive-in on Bend’s east side not only boasts some awesome breakfasts and lunches, but a cheery gas fireplace in the center of the restaurant. Scanlon’s Restaurant in the Athletic Club of Bend has a unique, antique brick fireplace that was rescued from a historic hotel that was razed in 1917.

If you’re journeying the  Bend Ale Trail, be sure to hit O’Kanes near at the back of McMenamins Old Saint Francis Pub. They have a groovy indoor pot-belied stove that gets so hot sometimes it glows red. En route to or from the mountain? Swing by the 3,000-foot Cascade Lakes Lodge for a tasty pint and a chance to thaw out beside their massive stone fireplace.

Soak your bones

Few things warm me up faster than soaking in a nice, hot bubble bath. Though I can’t invite you all back to my place to join me in my tub, there are plenty of alternatives.

Make Bend your home-base, but get a little steamy with a short day-trip to Belknap Hot Springs on the McKenzie River.

The soaking pool at McMenamins Old St. Francis School is a gorgeous, semi-enclosed saltwater pool crafted in shimmering turquoise tile work. Check out the stars through the open ceiling as you bob in the warm, non-chlorinated water.

If you’re a hot springs fan and don’t mind a short drive from your Bend home-base, Belknap Hot Springs is one of my favorite spots along the McKenzie River. Make the 1.5-hour trek westward in the morning, spend the day soaking in two mineral hot spring pools and exploring acres of gorgeous gardens, and head back to Bend in time for a fab dinner. Roughly the same drive-time headed north will get you to Kah-Nee-Ta Resort where you can soak in their double Olympic-sized hot-springs fed mineral pool.

And don’t forget to check the handy chart onVisit Bend’s lodging page to scout for digs that boast hot tubs or in-room Jacuzzis.

A tropical vacation in Bend?

Find your tropical haven in the High Desert Museum’s Butterflies & Hummingbirds exhibit.

It’s no joke. You can stroll a warm, tropical garden in Bend in the middle of January. Through April 7, the High Desert Museum is featuring their popular Birds and Hummingbirdsexhibit. Breathe the warm, fragrant air as exotic hummingbirds and butterflies flutter around lush plants. It’s a great way to learn about biodiversity, migration, navigation, plant interactions, and conservation of these fascinating insects and birds.

Or forget all that, and just figure it’s a darn fine way to get warm!

Make your body feel warm & fuzzy

You deserve a spa day. Luckily, Bend boasts a wide array of full-service day spas willing to pamper you silly in a warm, cozy space. Treatments like hot stone massage or luxurious facials are offered at more than a dozen spots and provide a wonderfully warm respite.

Opt for the ultimate cold-day pampering at Spa W ith their Moor Mud Body Mask. The treatment kicks off with a dry-brush exfoliation, followed by a purifying moor mud mask spread all over your body to cleanse pores and improve muscle tone. Then you’re wrapped up in a cocoon before enjoying a facial, followed by a serene Vichy shower and moisturizing application. Sixty minutes of warm heaven for $90 – what a deal!

Enjoy a relaxing Thai Yoga Massage in a toasty room with all your clothes on. What could be warmer?

For something a little different, try a Thai Yoga Massage. It’s an ancient, therapeutic full-body massage that combines supported assisted-yoga stretches, acupressure, gentle twisting, soothing rocking, and meditative, rhythmic massage. It’s performed fully clothed and oil-free on a comfortable mat in a cozy room, and I’ll confess I actually wept tears of bliss after my 90-minute treatment one blustery day last month.

Heat things up with red-hot romance

Visiting Bend with your paramour? There are plenty of ways to heat things up with some frisky romance. Bend boasts a number of fashionable lingerie shops like uber-classy French lingerie boutique Romantique in Downtown Bend, or the popular Victoria’s Secret shop in the Old Mill District. If you’re seeking something a little naughtier, Tres Chic in Downtown Bend offers lingerie with a more risqué twist.

If a nice bottle of wine is what it takes to get you feeling warm and frisky, Bend offers several great wine shops near Downtown and the Old Mill District. The folks at Good Drop Wine Shop are spectacular at picking the perfect wine to pair with your romantic dinner by the fire, or opt for a little Latin spice when you visit Southern Wine Group, specializing in Latin American wine. Cheers!

So what’s your favorite way to keep warm in Bend when the weather outside is frightful? Please share!

The great escape! Oregon couple heads to Bend for the ultimate kid-free getaway.

March 29th, 2012

Guest post courtesy of Adam Fenske

Would you like to know a secret?  My wife and I left our sick children with their grandmother for the weekend.  Do you want to know why we would do such an evil thing? Bend, Oregon.

We don’t get to cash in our babysitting chips very often, but Bend is certainly the place we go when we do. Now I want to make one thing perfectly clear: the best part of my life is spent with my two boys (Garrett, 5, and Micah, 3). The second best part is leaving them in the care of someone else.

Here are some of things we enjoyed recently when we visited my cousin, Tawna:

My wife went to Anjou Spa (read her post here) while my cousin, her gentleman friend, and I took a walk in Drake Park.  If you have ever had Mirror Pond Pale Ale (made by Deschutes Brewery, one of the stops on the Bend Ale Trail) then you might know it was named after Mirror Pond located in Drake Park. And for good reason. The beauty of Mirror Pond had us looking over the bridge for quite a while. I think my kids would have enjoyed the beauty for… hmmm ten seconds and then would have wanted to jump into the water. A refreshing dip, I’m sure, but not one I wanted to have. I would have needed an extra set of clothes after saving them.

Adam and Laura enjoy a happy hour drink at 5 Fusion.

And speaking of extra clothes we didn’t have to bring any for the kids in case of unexpected emergencies.  It’s amazing how many things you have to keep in mind when taking care of little human beings who depend on you for everything.  It’s amazing how much can be discussed when conversation is uninterrupted.  I half expected to look up and see Micah licking the sidewalk or Garrett throwing rocks at the ducks.

After the walk, we picked my wife up at Anjou Spa.  Laura looked as relaxed as I felt.  I instinctively wanted to ask if she needed to go potty because it had been a while since I had asked this question. I am the man who is constantly looking for bathrooms in case the kids need to go at a moment’s notice.

We found ourselves quite hungry and Tawna suggested 5 Fusion Restaurant.  We felt like we were on another planet where we didn’t need to worry about if the restaurant had color crayons or if they were expensive, and if we’d have to pay for any breakable items.

We didn’t have to walk very far to arrive at 5 Fusion Restaurant.  This place was amazing.  I love Sushi but don’t get it too often, so when Tawna gave us her own 5 star rating, I couldn’t resist.  It lived up to the hype.

I pride myself with my ability to share and be well mannered. After all, I have to set a good example for my children. But after taking a bite of the crispy fritter (with sweet chili sauce) I can’t say my manners were controlled.  I don’t think chopsticks were meant to stab others’ hands when they are trying to get the last slice.

In addition to the filet mignon lollipops, spicy salmon rolls, and unagi rolls, we also sampled from 5 Fusion’s extensive cocktail and beer menu. I tried two different local IPAs, while the others enjoyed drinks ranging from the cucumber gimlet to the drunken mango. Suffice it to say, everyone left full and satisfied. As an added bonus, the owner came over to our table just to see how we enjoyed the meal. After a dinner like this, I wanted to hug her.

Adam and Laura take Tawna’s dog hostage and enjoy a hike at Pilot Butte.

What could be better after a wonderful meal then to take another walk?  We strolled downtown Bend visiting the shops that were still open, and showing Laura the ones we’d visited earlier during her massage. I tried on hats at Cowgirl Cash and pretended to be John Wayne, while Laura admired purses at Clutch: a handbag boutique. I may have tried on a purse or two as well, and I found one that brought out the colors in my eyes.

After a good night’s sleep, I had the energy to drag everyone out of bed for a walk up Pilot Butte. If you consider yourself a physically fit individual, you can run it. If you are a generally healthy person, then try walking. If you have children who will collapse halfway up and resist taking another step then you might want to drive (seasonal road closures permitting). However you decide to get up there, you will be glad you did.  With the panoramic view, you will get a chance to see more than a dozen local peaks and the whole city of Bend.

After our hike, we visited the Old Mill District for some more shopping and more walking. I stopped at REI to browse and check out the photos, and then we all trooped into Savory Spice Shop. They had a variety of seasonings that would have you cooking for 10 years before using the full array of flavors they have to offer. Tawna bought a few things to use later for cooking dinner to accompany the growler of IPA we picked up Boneyard Beer. We also checked out the Les Schwab Amphitheater, and studied the impressive list of concerts lined up for the season.

After our shopping adventure, it was time to hit a few stops along the Bend Ale Trail. This was our first visit to GoodLife Brewing Company, and I’ll definitely be back. Bread?  Gotta order it.  Nachos?  Do yourself a favor and go down that road. Beer? Put a spotlight on the main attraction. We toured the facility that was led by a young man who knew how to brew. While it would have been cute for the boys to ask what “beard” was and why they shouldn’t touch the hoses or go across the lines, the cuteness only goes so far before the tour lasts twice as long while we chase them around yelling, “Quit crawling around the hops!” However, our tour did take us outside to a patio area where many attractions are held on a daily basis in the summer. Another kid friendly thing to do at a later date.

We woke up the next day and, sadly, knew it was time to go back home but also with joy at seeing our children.  It doesn’t take long before you miss the crazy and chaotic lifestyle, but we needed one last hoorah. It didn’t take long to convince Laura we needed to climb Smith Rock located 15 minutes north of Bend. This is where rock climbers go to obtain a slice of heaven.  This is where people who are not crazy (and prefer hiking) go to get a slice as well. No matter how you get there, it is a breathtaking view.  I didn’t have to stop while climbing but did just to soak in the beauty. You can walk around the mountain or walk over it which is what we did.

We got back in the car and off to home.  We enjoyed both a restful and active weekend and were more than ready to see our kids.  I hope to offer my kids the opportunity to enjoy a trip to Bend when they are adults with children.

Because heaven knows they will need it.

(Psst….don’t forget to read Laura’s post about her amazing experience at Anjou Spa).

Anjou Spa offers guilty pleasure without the guilt

March 29th, 2012

Guest post courtesy of Laura Fenske

A weekend with my husband away from my boys (who of course, are the light of my life and adorable and all that stuff) sounds like heaven.

Going to Bend for a long weekend is one of our favorite activities. That plan seemed destined for failure the week before when my 3 year old son had a high fever and that progressed into a double ear infection requiring a good dose of antibiotics. Then on Thursday, I developed a crippling migraine that ended with a day stay in the hospital and our other son running a fever. Friday finally arrived, and I was tentatively back on my feet with a dull headache and both boys dosed appropriate meds and left in grandma’s loving care.

Onward to Bend! We arrived in Sisters Saturday morning, and my headache started to creep its way back. I called my husband’s cousin and asked for a massage referral in hopes of heading off the migraine. She suggested Anjou Spa and Salon, and when I called, they graciously fit me in within hours!

The luxurious front desk at Anjou Spa.

I showed up expecting a typical massage and my expectations were blown away with how lovely the entire experience was at Anjou. After checking in, I was taken on a small tour to familiarize me with all the amenities. The first stop was a locker room to stash my personal items. The staff gave me a plush robe with sandals to wear during my stay. Very luxurious!

The next stop was the sauna. As a sauna virgin, I was a little nervous about ending up passed out on the floor only to be found hours later. Luckily, the staff was happy to answer my rudimentary questions about how to use it appropriately, and I felt comfortable enjoying this perk.

From there, we moved on to the Relaxation Room which brought us through a wall of curtains to a room filled with overstuffed chairs and couches. This room can be used before or after your massage for as long as you would like to stay and relax. There’s an exfoliation hand station in one corner of the room, and a refreshment station in the middle of the room offering cucumber water, tea, almonds, and dried cherries.

The locker room makes a great place to spiff up for your night on the town.

They also offer a complimentary beverage to all clients. Some options include the Anjou Signature Cocktail (Oregon Spirit Vodka or Merrylegs Gin mixed with Crazy Dave’s Ginger Brew and a squeeze of lime), wine, beer, and non-alcoholic options. My choice was the champagne served with a splash of Black Mariah (Oregon Spirit Distillers newest creation, a delicious Marionberry Cordial). At the point that I sat down with my champagne, in my robe in the relaxation room is when I realized I had made it. I truly was in Bend, on vacation…ahh. And I had yet to even have my massage!

My massage therapist was Crystal Neff, and she made me feel comfortable right away.  She has a welcoming and calm demeanor, and I appreciated that she listened to what I wanted and really focused on my areas of concern. I prefer a very firm massage, and she was able to apply enough pressure to make a noticeable difference on my neck and head. A personal preference of mine is to not be chatty while having a massage, nor have to do very much active listening. Crystal offered a very nice balance of asking a couple of personal questions at the beginning to show interest, but then staying comfortably quiet during the experience, except to ask clarifying questions about the massage itself.  The massage room was lovely and the blankets were warmed, which was so cozy on a cold day.

After the massage, I went back to the locker room. There was a fully stocked shower that I was able to utilize with high quality soaps, shampoos and conditioners.  Anjou offered lotion, hair dryers, towels and everything else you would need to get back into the clothes you arrived in and head out again without missing a beat. That was particularly a nice surprise for me, since we were heading out for a nice dinner directly after the massage, and I hadn’t thought ahead to my need for a shower after the massage.

My Anjou Spa experience kicked off what was the beginning of a lovely vacation in Bend (you can read the rest here in Adam’s post). Besides massage, Anjou also offer skincare, facials, wraps, and more. I highly recommend any of the above for anyone hoping to add some pampering to their Bend adventure!

(Pssst….don’t forget to read Adam’s post about their kid-free Bend adventure here).

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