Monday, September 30, 2013

Wrapping Up Our Stay In Bend, OR

We like Bend, OR so much it's one of our top choices of places to settle down if we decide to buy a house again. It's got a cute and vibrant downtown and some cool older neighborhoods. No matter where you are in town you are only minutes from an incredible variety of outdoor recreation in some gorgeous natural settings.

The existing 2 year college will become a 4 year university (part of the Oregon State University system) in the next three years. The excellent medical industry is slated for expansion in the next few years too. Bend is already considered a retirement destination; we spoke to several couples who were here looking for property during our stay.

That said, Bend does have some drawbacks. It's population, and housing prices, have exploded in the last 20 years and is predicted to grow from 81,000 people to 115,000 by 2025. The city is working furiously to accommodate this growth; with the accompanying traffic and construction boom that must happen as well. City planners have already shown they are keen, and able, to provide walking/biking trails as a key part of the new infrastructure.

We'll keep Bend on the back burner, let it simmer for a while as we continue our travels (we've only been on the road for a year!), knowing we can visit any time and enjoy its many pleasures from the comfort of our home on wheels.

Here's what we've been up to during our last couple of weeks in Bend:

Fantastic metal buffalo sculpture in the Old Mill District.

There's great mountain biking on Phil's Trails, on the West edge of Bend. Hard packed dirt single track through the forest. From the main trailhead all trails head West and slightly uphill, making the return ride a fun, flowy slightly downhill joyride! The Deschutes River Trails dirt trails are prettier, but these trails are lots of fun.

Phil's Trail system.

Mountain Bike Art!

Fall colors are popping up here and there around town.

The Lava River Cave is cool...42 degrees year round! This cave was found when part of the lava tube collapsed. Today you can walk about a mile into the tube, lights are necessary and can be rented at the entrance.

You walk through the collapsed portion of the lava tube to enter the cave...

Lime green rocks at the entrance!

Once inside, the first couple hundred feet are very rocky, then the floor smooths out.

We enjoyed Smith Rock so much a couple weeks ago, we returned to hike around the mountain. This hike was about 7.5 miles, with a climb on the back side of the range. We searched for otters in the river, having heard about them on our previous visit, but did not see any, perhaps the drastic change in weather had something to do with that. The views on this hike were incredible. The recent weather system had left the local mountains enveloped in white.

Mt Bachelor, the local ski destination, shines in its cloak of white.

In my previous post on Smith Rocks I was enamored with this rock formation.
Turns out it is named Monkey Face!

From left to right: Broken Top, South, Middle and North Sisters, all dominate the Western horizon.

Mt Jefferson bathed in sun and clouds.

The uphill part of the hike was a series of gentle switchbacks...with views!

From the top we looked down on the Crooked River canyon walled in by Smith Rocks.
The snowy peaks of the Cascade Range in the distance.

The weather was quite cold during our last week in Bend (40's - 50's during the day) and the last couple of days have been rainy and that kind of weather always gets me in cooking mode. I made a new batch of Harissa, a delicious Mediterranean condiment that goes on anything you want to spice up: meats, vegetables, eggs, grains, beans, breads...the uses are many. Here's my version of Harissa, I made it pretty spicy, using dried chiles we bought in New Mexico, but milder chiles will make a less piquant sauce.

I made a neat version of biscotti as well using this delicious recipe from The Way The Cookie Crumbles. I used only whole wheat flour, only brown sugar and omitted the lavender (because I didn't have any). This recipe is a little less fussy than traditional biscotti by making them into bite size pieces instead of long wedges. Yummy!

Today is our last full day in Bend and it's supposed to be a rainy one. We'll try to sneak in one last walk along the beautiful Deschutes River and perhaps hang out in the library for a while, which happens to be in charming downtown Bend...a nice place for a stroll.

Tomorrow we cross the Cascades for a visit with my daughter and son in law, Chantal and James, in Myrtle Creek, OR. So looking forward to seeing them!


  1. We do plan to live in Bend when we become road weary. Starting our third year though and it is not yet on the horizon. Vic likes Polson, Montana quite a lot too but I need to be closer to an ocean. Isn't it great to be able to enjoy it all as full-timers?

    Myrtle Beach--isn't that close to Seven Feathers? We fell in love with their campground.

    Enjoy your visit with your daughter!

    1. Yes, Myrtle Creek is close to 7 Feathers...we will be staying at the On the River Golf and RV Resort. It's well rated and only a couple miles from my daughters house.

      It's really great to have the opportunity to really stop and explore places thoroughly before we decide where we'll eventually settle! Love this lifestyle!

  2. You've done an excellent job preparing us for a visit to Bend. Now we just have to get back west!

    I love the idea of hiking into a lava cave...very cool!

    More magnificent views from your hike. The snow topped mountains are a favorite fo mine.

    Travel safely and have a wonderful visit with Chantal and James.

  3. Hi Lisa, Just thought I'd stop by and thank you for the great comment you left. I've heard many good things about Bend from an Oreganite friend of mine in Virginia. You've painted another beautiful picture of it as a great place to live. Hope they don't grow to big to be wonderful which is what my hometown is doing.

  4. Now I know why we should come back and check out Bend! And I do miss the snow capped mountains. Beautiful!

  5. That metal Buffalo sculpture looks amazing. Glad you had a great time in Bend. Enjoy the visit with your daughter. I get to see my son this weekend in the time with my kids.