We couldn't have asked for better driving weather heading to Bend. I wore the first tank top of the season. Admittedly, it doesn't take much for me to "bare arms". I borrowed a rooftop box from my awesome friend, Heather, and was glad there wasn't much wind so I could get used to the thing being up there.
Sleeping-in worked out in our favor as we managed to hit the Warm Springs area during magic hour. We should have stopped to take pictures. Driving through, you get glimpses of impressive gorges while crossing bridges. Too excited to get to Bend, we just marveled at the scenery through bug-smeared windows.
We arrived in Bend just at dusk and easily found our cute little vacation house. We unloaded and walked Bonnie over to Aspect Boards & Brews and each had a pint of beer. It's a small shop but it has a dog-friendly outdoor beer garden, fire pit and local brews on tap. If every retailer did this, I would go broke shopping while drunk. We met a friendly greyhound named Adam. He was a leaner and got lots of love from me. Next, we wandered back toward "The Lot" and grabbed dinner. The Lot is basically a bunch of food trucks and a dog-friendly beer garden with a covered eating area where they sometimes have live music. It's also less than a block from the place we were staying. There was a handsome Husky mix named Otis there that played with Bonnie on the sidewalk.
Ben didn't put on enough sunblock and got a sunburn on his nose. After snowboarding all day, I was hot, thirsty and envious of folks who were tailgating. We stopped by the resort dog park but didn't stay long. If only we had our own chairs, food and drinks, we could have let Bonnie play longer while we relaxed in the sun and iced my sore foot in the snow. Hello again, Plantar Fasciitis. We met a great big Malamute named Timber. She was sweet and we gave her lots of love. In fact, when her owner wanted to leave, Timber didn't want to go and kept leaning in for more petting. So, her owner started up her truck and started to drive away and Timber took off to block the truck's path. Her owner was driving slow, of course, and she stopped, hopped out and had to lift her big, silly girl into the back.
It was even hotter in Bend. For whatever reason, neither Ben nor I packed shorts. I ended up wearing a big scarf and wore it as a halter dress. We ventured out in search of shorts. Aspect seemed like the only nearby place that would carry anything we would like but they don't really sell street clothes and at this point, we were more hungry than hot.
The super friendly shop guy at Aspect suggested we go to dinner at Cabin 22. He said it was the "new hotness" in town, made for good people watching and was dog-friendly. He also made it sound like it was just around the corner on the main road into town. We walked a hot and dusty half-mile. Not usually a big deal, but I wasn't planning on walking and was wearing flip flips and you know... a freaking scarf as a dress. I had to hold the one side down because each car that flew past blew open my "dress". The restaurant did have a great outdoor seating. Ben and I were seated next to a huge circular fire pit that had places to sit around it. Bonnie received her own water bowl and there was definitely good people watching. We watched one guy drunkenly try to hit up a head-hunter for job connections in Bend. He was recently laid off from his job as "president of a telecommunications company." Good luck, buddy. We left shortly after a pit bull puppy peed under a nearby table and his drunk human thought dumping a glass of ice water on it would help somehow.
Walking home, we decided to weave our way though the residential streets instead of the busy highway and some kids came tumbling out of a house and asked to pet Bonnie. It was all very cute. The kids and the neighborhood.
When we got back, we soaked in the hot tub for a bit and that pretty much ended our day. Sleep was calling.
Driving back to Bachelor, we came across a few deer crossing. Ben also realized he left his helmet on the porch, so we turned around. We came across a few more deer (or maybe the same ones) crossing again. After picking up the helmet, we started back up toward another sunny day on the mountain. We parked at the main lodge again and Ben buried a few cans of beer into the snowbank next to our car.
We stopped at the Pine Martin Lodge mid-day for a snack and drink. It has a fantastic view of the mountain and I enjoyed soaking in the sun while eating a cookie. I also bought a t-shirt supporting the avalanche dog program from the patrol at the top of the Pine lift. Yesterday, I needed a screwdriver to tighten my right binder down and found one hooked to a bench near the ski patrol hut and Ben saw that the shirts were for sale. Came back today with cash and grabbed up a nice souvenir and got to pet a beautiful golden retriever avy dog. He was sleepy after a big day doing drills but really buddied up to Ben and even put his head on Ben's leg for optimal petting.
On our way back to Bend, we stopped at a couple ski shops along the main highway into town. We wanted check out the local flare but these shops didn't have the kind of vibe we expected. For the most part, this area had more bike shops, restaurants, pubs and breweries. Maybe all the "hot" snow gear is in Sunriver, the resort town we were told was kind of snooty.
We drove through downtown Bend to scope it out. On the other side of the freeway, is a busy area with lots of strip malls and box stores. We saw a fully operation Blockbuster Video!
Back at the house, we changed and took Bonnie for a walk and had dinner at The Lot. At A La Carte, we got an order of the Blame Canada fries and some kind of curry fries. They were out of cheese curds, otherwise we would have gotten an order of Vladimir Poutine. I loved the curry fries. We were also finally able to try the wasabi dogs from Bend Burgz and Dogz. They were out of dogs the first time we stopped by. Moral of the story... The Lot is hoppin'... Get there early while supplies last. In the end, it was way too much food. We got a couple of pints in the beer garden, did some people watching and then headed back to the house to relax in the hot tub. After being in the sun all day again, soaking in the tub with the weight of all those fries put me to sleep. Disco nap turned into "is it morning?"
We went to brunch at Chow. They have an outdoor deck and patio that allows dogs. When we got there, it was a bit of a wait. The outside area wasn't being seated and the space inside is tiny. They told Ben that the outside server didn't show up. Someone must have dragged him out of bed or another person came in on their day off because it started moving quickly and we were sat under a nice big tree. The Bloody Marys were good. Ben snuck Bonnie a piece of carrot from his drink. I guess she loves carrots. My hash had big, satisfying chunks of meat and was delicious.
After brunch we explored more of Bend. It felt like we had pretty much exhausted the shopping near our house, so we drove over the river to visit the Old Mill district. Again, we were hoping to find some local ski bum flare but the shops downtown were mostly touristy type things or normal clothing shops and more restaurants. I could be making this up, but I swear I saw a bookstore/ brewery. Genius! The Landing, I mean... Old Mill shopping area was a mall and we barely drove through any of it before deciding to turn around and go somewhere else. Ben went to Recycle Music and Ranch Records and I wandered around with Bonnie and found Gear Fix, a big sporting goods consignment shop I could have spent some serious time but I ended up at... gasp... A craft brewery!!! Atlas Ciders. It was too nice to spend time indoors looking for outdoor gear and Atlas has outdoor seating, corn hole games set up and a water dish for dogs. Inside, I believe there were pool tables. I got a pint of the house cider and sat in the sun and waited for Ben to get done record collecting. We wandered around more and bought a Bend magnet at a store selling touristy shirts.
We went to the Mcmenimans at the Old St. Francis School. We ate in between the buildings in a courtyard area. Basic pub fare and good beer on tap. At one point, the wind went from calm to super crazy back to dead calm, all in a matter of 30 seconds. It was like a thermal wind gust swirled through. A woman there mentioned that the same thing happened the afternoon before somewhere else. So, I guess crazy 4 PM wind swirls are a thing in Bend.
We hit up a dog park, saw passed the riverfront park and saw some legit LARPING! Got home and packed then hung out in the backyard with Bonnie. We went foraging for food at around 8PM but found that most of the trucks at The Lot were closed, so we walked to 10 Barrel Brewing which is open late. Another dog-friendly, outdoor patio with a fire pit. More pub fare and beer!
On the way home, we hit every kind of weather. Snow, wind, rain, sun, repeat. Even so, we decided on taking the scenic route and drove towards Hood River. Passing by Mt. Hood, we saw that they had a ton more fresh snow fall compared to Bachelor. Oh, well... we've been there a bunch of times and probably wouldn't have gotten there for first tracks since it is about 2-3 hours from Bend. In Hood River, we ate at Kaze Sushi and Japanese Restaurant. It's a small place with a friendly staff and a nice view from their patio seating. I was glad for something besides pub food and we enjoyed a couple rolls and a sizzling plate of noodles. We went for a walk with Bonnie along the river after eating and just before some serious rain came, we loaded back into the car and took off.
The drive back along the Columbia River is extremely scenic. Sort of reminds me of driving in Canada along the Sea to Sky highway. There were sun showers the whole way, making for even more dramatic lighting than the usual golden hour magic. Determined not to miss out on another photo op, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. We climbed up to the bridge and I took a ton of pictures with my iPhone but it wasn't until we were on our way back to the car that the sun popped out and I got this shot with my phone...
Riding Mount Bachelor
On Friday and Saturday, it was sunny. I would say the summit area was mid to upper 40s and base was mid 50s. Ben thinks it was 10 degrees warmer. Most of the east facing areas were lumpy slush. Even at elevation, the area off the Summit chair was soft snow.
There was a ski race course closing off certain parts of the mountain, but the place is plenty big. The areas around the Pine Martin and Skyline lifts have shorter blue and green runs, which were more crowded than the runs around the Northwest Express lift which has more black diamond terrain with longer runs. The northwest side of the mountain gets less sun and the snow was less slushy. There were even a couple icy spots in the shade but the runs were smooth and fun to ride fast. The lift itself is a long but fast quad that takes you pretty far. It was less crowded which I think helped keep the snow keep nice. It does get a little flat toward the bottom. I guess the nickname of Flatular fits this place.
We found a fun, natural half-pipe area that was shaded by trees near the Sunrise lift and there was an impressive man-made half-pipe near the Westside Village base area. There were tons of terrain parks all over the mountain with huge features that Ben and I looked at but didn't touch.
It was a little more crowded on Saturday than it had been on Friday but the only significant wait we had was the first time we loaded onto the Pine Martin Express with everyone else who arrived late like us. We got there later than we did on Friday because we had to go back for Ben's helmet. The crowds really seem to spread out over such a huge resort and for the rest of the day there was little or no waiting in lines.
Monday, the snow was a mixed bag of dust on crust or dust on total mush. Wind up top meant Summit and Northwest chairs weren't running. Visibility was at times poor. They opened the Rainbow and Outback chairs. Outback is next to Northwest but doesn't go as high. It's mostly blue runs with a couple black diamonds. Rainbow is a chill little area but the chair was a long, slow and windy ride. Either it's a slow fixed lift or they were running it slow because of wind. Either way, we didn't want to spend that much time on a lift and only rode it once. It reminded me of the old Silver Fir lift.
I really liked the areas around the Northwest lift with the smaller crowds and longer, fast speed runs. With the spring weather, we didn't venture off piste much except for the natural half pipe. That was fun but there were always slow-pokes in there that made it hard to get through it all the way.
It can get a little noisy. We could hear the hippy jam band that was playing in the beer garden the first night we were there. Also, while sitting in the TV room, you can see a lot of people walking by. Some of them were rowdy. But The Lot closes around 8pm so, the noise doesn't last into the night and generally wasn't awful. Tranquil cabin in the woods this is not. Although, each morning, it was practically a ghost town with only one or two cars on the street.
The shower has good pressure but gets freaking hot. There isn't much counter space around the sink, but there are cabinets and shelves to put toiletries. The claw foot tub would make for great bathing, but with the hot tub in the backyard, we never used it. The yard is fully fenced but not exactly private with a view into a neighbor's window from the hot tub. I think it is a laundry room.
They had plenty of towels for our 4 night stay. We used the washer and dryer once just so we didn't have to pack a ton of nasty laundry.
There was an empty lot next to the bungalow. On Google streetview, there was a house next door that was gone when we were there. There are a handful of newly constructed houses nearby that are extremely modern looking, which totally don't match the neighborhood, so I wouldn't be surprised to find a 4 story Jetson's house next door, which would further deteriorate the feeling of privacy in the yard. Hopefully, something tasteful goes into the space next door. Now that I think about it, the freshly turned soil all along the fence might be where they are planning to plant some privacy trees or something in between the properties.
Traveling With a Dog
Bend is a dog friendly town. We had plenty of dining/drinking options where we could sit with Bonnie outside. We were lucky the weather was nice but The Lot has a covered area, so even on rainy days, we could have taken her out to eat with us. Lots of businesses have bowls set out of dogs and there are plenty of other dog walkers roaming the city. It's like they issue you a mountain bike and a dog when you move to town. It seems you have your choice of bike/kayak and husky/lab.
We found a dog park next to the Deschutes River. It had fairly fresh mulch covering the whole inner park area, so there was no mud or dirt. It was a bit dusty. There were a few piles of rocks here and there, I guess for the dogs to mark. The outer area near the water is in a separate fence area because you have to cross a jogging path that runs along the water. I wanted to get Bonnie to swim but all she did was bark at ball-obsessed dogs who weren't interested in playing with her. I really wanted Ben to see her swim. I got her to swim once before at a dog park on Mercer Island and I thought for a second she might try to swim to Bellevue. But I can't seem to get her in the water again. Maybe Lake Washington was so cold, she lost interest in jumping into any waterways ever again.
Bachelor has a dog park and I was really excited to let Bonnie play in the snow off leash. She has had plenty of days up at ski resorts playing in the snow while on her 50 foot leash but she's never been off leash in the snow. What Bachelor really has is an area where they would prefer you took your dog to potty rather than let them run loose in the parking lot. It's not fenced. There is a garbage can and they provide biodegradable bags. It is in the snow but without a fence, we couldn't let Bonnie roam freely and it didn't result in much playtime for her. The reality is, many dogs do roam the parking lot and Bonnie had more interactions with other pooches while tethered to our car via the long leash. Watch your step is all I have to say about that.
On the way home, we walked her along the water at Hood River Waterfront Park. They have a great little beach with a swimming area. If it wasn't so chilly, I might have put my feet in the water to try and get Bonnie to swim. I wish she was a ball dog or frisbee dog and would jump in the water to fetch.
Spring Snowboard Gear
For the sunny days, I took the vent covers and ear-muffs off the helmet, wore the sunny day lens for my Smith I/OS goggles. I was comfy in my red Volcom pants and grey Volcom jacket and my lightest base layers. Actually, I wore T-shirts I bought for running. It was perfect. Just a bit warm when gliding into the lift line near the base of the mountain and just a bit chilled when off-loading at the Summit. Perfect in between. Walking around Safeway wearing the pink and black striped long johns was a little dorky but Bend is full of dorks like me on their way to or coming from outdoorsy things. Plus, springtime is when the Gaper Gear comes out of the closet. I saw some seriously retro ski clothes. One guy was wearing acid wash shorts and a T-shirt tied Carmen Miranda-Style. Those people gotta shop, too.
I wish I knew for sure what temperature it was on the hill. I think it was upper 40s lower 50s but Ben thought it was 50s-60s. He always dresses too warm and gets hot. I am usually either too hot or too cold. On this trip, I was pretty happy every day. I did get a little cold on the one snowy day we had. I think it was at 30 or a little below with lots of wind. I wore my Red Roxy parka and grey Roxy pants with the usual base layer and fleece. Plus, I wore my new face mask. I could have used another layer with all the wind and long lift rides.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Bring the backpack camp chairs and Little Buddy cooler. This was a major road trip fail!
Going to a brewery town? Buy a growler!!! 10 Barrels Brewing had a current deal where you could buy a growler and get 2 free refills! And now the above listed cooler takes on deeper, more tragic meaning with its absence.
Find a small thermometer and compass to clip to my gear so I can answer the questions "How warm?" and "Which way?" and totally banish the feeling of wonder for good.
While the sarong was great as a dress in the unexpected hot weather, shorts are so small, why not pack a pair? A belt, too... to hold the sarong in place. It's a pretty scarf and worked as a dress, when it wasn't flapping open, flashing motorists a look at my hot pink underpants.
A notebook to jot things would help blogging. Trying to use the phone to make notes wasn't fun while sitting in the sun, enjoying a beer. Relying on remembering things weeks later when I finally sit down to blog is insane. The whole point of this blog is because I can never remember what happened. Plus, I could totally be one of "Those" people who bust out journals at coffee shops and pretend to be writing a novel. "I just like the feel of my fountain pen gliding across my Moleskin's pages."