Oh, Bend. In honor of Throwback Thursday or Travel Thursday – whatever clever alteration makes your heart the happiest – I’m thrilled to share some photos of our long weekend in Bend, OR. We decided to go for my 24th birthday and by the time the weekend was over we were plotting how we could realistically move there. Like immediately. We fell hard for the enchanting downtown streets, breathtaking vistas, effortless accessibility to nature, gregarious townies, and – of course – the plethora of breweries. We settled into a lovely pattern of hiking in the morning and getting our fill of succulent eats and chill Bend culture in the evenings. I put together this little video with the highlights of the trip and am so excited to share some photos of the weekend below. Enjoy and VISIT BEND! Or don’t. We may actually want keep it our little secret 😉
The road trip from Tumwater, WA to Bend, OR began on Friday morning. Properly outfitted with coffee and a puppy who simply could not stay awake in the car we were off! My birthday weekend coincided with Memorial Day weekend – we were certain that we were just so smart to have planned this road trip when we had an extra day off. However, so did thousands of other people; there was a bit of traffic and the planned four-hour road trip easily stretched into six. Lucky for us, the drive was spectacular. After making our way to Portland and a quick stop for sandwiches, we began to climb into the mountains. The road narrowed and majestic pines began forming a canopy over our heads. Somehow the sky got bluer and we popped the sunroof to get some crisp air in the car. Before we knew it, we dropped down a hill and were out of the mountains, into the desert.
Winding through Madras, Redmond, and finally arriving in Bend our first stop was to our hotel – TownePlace Suites by Marriott. Simply cannot beat the free morning breakfast and no pet fees! Bags hauled in and Sampson finagled into his harness, we walked into the Mill District in search of dinner. What we found was a joyous crowd making their way to an outdoor summer concert and a collection of matching storefronts. Making a note to return during business hours the following day, we strolled across a parking lot – Sampson tugging us along after a day spent in the car – and found ourselves in a lush park that edged the Deschutes River. Seventy-five glamor shots with an uncooperative puppy and one hidden staircase later we found ourselves again next to our hotel. Jumping in the car and heading towards downtown we achieved both dinner and the first stamp in our Bend Ale Trail Passport at the Bend Brewing Company. We later both agreed it was our favorite meal of the trip, me with mushroom risotto and Cameron with a blue cheese burger. Anxious to continue our evening exploration and still restless from a day in the car, we moved the evening along to Cabin 22 to enjoy their outdoor fire pits that could easily fit 15 people around the circumference while we planned our hike for the following morning.
After a standard Marriott breakfast – if you’ve stayed at a Towneplace Suites or Residence Inn you know exactly what I’m talking about – we got an early start on the day to tackle the Tumalo Falls hike. Pro Tip: Tumalo Falls is not actually at Tumalo State Park. It’s about 45 minutes away 😀 However, as we found ourselves in the State Park we decided to explore for a bit and then make the decision if we wanted to trek back to the Falls. Best decision ever. We later chatted with a local couple who said that Tumalo Falls was typically a favorite destination and thus had very crowded trails whereas we had the trail along the mesmerizing Deschutes River in pristine Tumalo State Park to ourselves. Sampson got to be off leash most of the time as we took in the crisp air, speckled pine trees and watercolor canvas of blues stretching from the river to the sky.
Nearly six miles later, we were getting hungry and had very important lunch plans. Heading back into Bend, we made a beeline for Schlotzsky’s!!! For the record, I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches – be they homemade or from a sandwich shop. My only exception is a Schlotzsky’s sandwich. Nearly a decade ago, we had this gem of a sandwich shop in Lacey but it’s since been replaced forcing me to memorize every remaining Schlotzsky’s in my general five to seven state vicinity. Colorado Springs has one that I am certain to frequent each time we visit Justin, Coeur d’Alene has one that I insisted upon daily visits each time I visited Cameron freshman year of college. And Bend. In Bend, I can get this magical stack of air-infused bread, simple spreads, and turkey. Have I talked about the sandwich enough? 😉 After I had my fix, we returned to the hotel for a quick freshening up and ventured back downtown to take in the delightful streets. Eclectic shops sit beside with old-fashioned ice cream parlors, local breweries next to shuffleboard bars. We settled in a quaint square that seemed to be a locals hangout and watched the world go by, eventually striking up a conversation with a couple who resided part-time in Portland. As our stomachs began to grumble we moved on to their dinner recommendation – Zydeco. One cheese plate and steak later we sleepily ventured back to our hotel.
Sunday morning began with a relaxing stroll to the Mill District for a coffee and some duck stalking by Sampson. We moseyed down the river, hand in hand, finishing our coffee and enjoying the sunshine. The Deschutes was littered with stand up paddle boarders, gleeful children, and kayakers making the most of a sleepy Sunday morning. We continued out of town and spent the morning walking the river loop, eight miles in total. I’ll let the photographs show you the vistas – they do a better job than any words I could string together.
As the sun hit the middle of the sky, we were ready for lunch and anxious to garner another stamp in our Ale Trail Passport. The highly rated Columbia Brewery allowed pups on the patio and would save us a trip back to the hotel to drop Sampson off. We were sold. Turns out it was one block from our hotel and plenty capable of serving up the perfect afternoon substance. The remainder of the afternoon was a relaxing one, full of passport stamp drive-bys and wistful house hunting. You thought I was being dramatic about the moving, didn’t you? Nope. A quick stop to the packed 10 Barrels Brewing Company and full dinner at the neighboring Sunriver Brewery (get the soft pretzels) and we were back for an evening hot tub session and bed.
Unwillingly packing up our things the following morning we headed out of Bend, vowing to return shortly, and pointed due north. Destination: Smith Rock State Park. The burnt orange rock, streaked with fiery red veins rises out of the flat desert landscape simply daring you to challenge it. Challenge it we did. We hiked along the aptly named Crooked River for a few miles, before turning skyward and beginning 4-milemile ascent to the top of the rock. Worth every labored step (might want to fact check that bit with Sampson via the photos below) the top afforded us a spectacular panorama of the Cascades and the patchwork quilt of farmland and swaying grasses below.
Northern bound yet again we made a quick pit stop in Madras for some authentic tacos and table side made guacamole. Should you find yourself in Eastern Oregon you must stop at Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine. Although we will always be loyal to our beloved Boulevard Tacos in Portland, this made a valiant grab for top spot.
Bellies full of tacos and guac, we began meandering our way through the pass at a glacial pace (see what i did there) and running the gas tank to a remaining balance of .004 gallons (OOPS!) we armed ourselves with patience and worked our way homeward. Over six hours later, we arrived to find our front walkway had been given the Fixer Upper treatment by our very own Chip and Jo! Best. Parents. Ever.
Bend, we will be back for you soon! After all, we only got 9 of 20 passport stamps 😉0