As with Boulder, Colorado, Tyler and I wanted to check out Bend, Oregon as a potential home for our future selves. Somehow – maybe during his internet wanderings – Tyler had read about Bend and that it was the this great up-and-coming city in Oregon. We both checked it out on the web and astoundingly could not find much, if anything, wrong with it. The pictures we saw on the “Visit Bend” website looked amazing. The climate (Thank you Wikipedia!) was exactly what we wanted – warm days/cool evenings, mild winters and summers. Bend is also situated near mountains and a river, which appeared to have created this great “outdoors culture”. Additionally, housing seemed affordable and to my delight – there were food trucks! Needless to say, we were both absolutely psyched for the moment we would pull into town.
Unfortunately, our first glimpses of Bend had us take a moment’s pause. When we first drove off the highway, the town appeared to be very industrial. There were several older, brick buildings with run down machinery laying outdoors, and there were very few people in sight. It seemed kind of desolate. Nonetheless, we headed to “The Sparrow Bakery” for some lunch and internet. To our delight, The Sparrow Bakery, which was tucked into one of these old brick buildings, was quite charming. The staff were friendly; the food, delicious, and the internet, free! If you ever get to Bend, I recommend ordering the Waldorf sandwich. So good.
There, we hunkered down to catch up on some emails, edit photos, and write a couple of blog posts. As Tyler was editing his photos, I strolled though a couple of nearby artists’ shops. In one, I encountered a very nice man named Stewart (Stuart?) who, upon learning I was visiting town, whipped out a local eatery guide and proceeded to run through each page with me, highlighting his favorites and jotting down notes about the vibe of the restaurants or quality of their food. It was awesome!
Armed with a more positive feeling about our foray into Bend, we ventured further into town, checking out the downtown area (cute!) and other neighborhoods (some great, others not). We took Stewart’s culinary advice and ate some scrumptious meals, which I must note were mostly comprised of local and organic ingredients, which I dug. Our favorites spots were at Barrio, Jackson’s Corner, and The Lot. If you only have time for one dish there, we highly recommend, actually we insist, that you get the Jibarito Pork Carnitas at Barrio. They were A-MAZING.
Not to lead you astray, we did spend some time doing other things besides eating! Namely, we visited a couple of local attractions: The High Desert Museum and Pilot Butte. The High Desert Museum was an attraction mentioned in almost every guidebook I had read. It was also recommended to us by the breeders we had visited previously. I was much more excited than Tyler for our visit as I had read the museum showcased the history of the local area. By the end of our visit though, Tyler was loving it just as much as I was. Not only was the museum located amongst beautiful foliage, but there were also a number of animal enclosures, featuring animals commonly found in and around Bend.
Our second stop at Pilot Butte was equally fun. Pilot Butte appears to be just a really large hill located on the eastern side of the city. However, it’s much cooler than that. It is actually an extinct volcano that rises about 500 feet above the city! Pilot Butte is very popular with both locals and visitors, as the municipal government has taken great care to maintain both trails on the butte and a park that sits at its bottom. The most popular trail is only two miles round trip, but tons of people use as the backdrop for their daily exercise. In fact, we saw a surprising number of athletes using Pilot Butte as their training ground. One man passed us at least three times on our ascent. He was, of course, running; we presumed to get in shape for one of the many upcoming races Bend was playing host to. By the time we got to the top (you can see we were strolling pretty casually in sandals), we had quite the view.
While we definitely hemmed and hawed about our feelings on Bend, as our stay lengthened our appreciation for the city progressively grew. I would say that now, having a little bit of perspective, Tyler is still more enthusiastic about it than I am. Some of the neighborhoods still struck me as very run down, job options are limited. However, we’re not moving yet! These things could work themselves out in the next few years. We’ll see.
Nonetheless, Bend will always have a special significance to Tyler and I because it is where we got engaged. (brief pause for big smile) I’m 99% sure Tyler did not purposely choose that day so that he could add another “Pro” to our Bend list, but I will tell you he’s definitely been using it as one now! =)