Bend, Oregon and Crater Lake National Park

 
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For the past week and a half, we have been exploring beautiful Bend, Oregon. For those who have only explored Oregon’s coastal towns, central Oregon is most definitely worth checking out. A city of roughly 80,000, Bend is a laid back city with an eclectic vibe and inviting atmosphere. The downtown is filled with boutique shopping, microbreweries and fantastic dining. All that aside, Bend is the first city that we have been through since we began full timing that has a Trader Joes! I made it a point to shop there three times in 10 days just to prove my loyalty. They also had a Target….Oh yes, I am counting my blessings!

Where we stayed:

We put down roots (the kind that lasts for 10 days) at the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails RV Resort.  I will go into more detail about Thousand Trails campground memberships and how to determine if one is right for you in another post, but suffice it to say that we have loved our membership thus far. The 238-acre ‘preserve,’ as they call it, is located right on the Little Deschutes River. It is chocked full of amenities: two pools, a hot tub, pickleball courts, frisbee golf, horseshoes, a well appointed store, and much more. The preserve is very wooded and private, which is a big perk. It is south of Bend, and takes about 15-20 minutes to drive into the city. If you are looking seclusion and solitude that is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the heart of the city, this is the place to go.

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What we did:

Before we arrived in Bend, we stopped through Crater Lake National Park. This was Brandon’s first visit and my second, and, well….the pictures speak for themselves. Just, wow. Crater Lake is situated at nearly 8,000 feet elevation (which neither of us knew prior to arriving), so we were both shocked by the strong wind and 45 degree temperatures. We would have loved to get in a good hike, but opted for about an hour of pictures before taking off. We will be back at some point, Crater Lake!

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Being out in the middle of state and national forest, we were hiking a great deal. Our favorite hike was to Benham Falls (and beyond) on the Deschutes River Trail. This particular trail is an out and back, and follows the river the entire way. We parked at the river trailhead down the road from Lava Lands Visitors Center and did about a 7 mile round trip; it was serene.

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On October 4, we enjoyed one of the most fun fairs that we have been to in a while: Bend’s Fall Festival! It was such a good time. It is right in the midst of downtown, so several of the main streets were completely blocked off for this fun event. There were two stages of live music, tons of food carts, a farmers market, craft and art market and more. We spent nearly the entire day enjoying the tastes, sounds and musical talents of Bend.

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When we weren’t on a big hike or exploring the best of Bend, we were on the Pickleball court. Yes, you read that right: Pickleball. If you aren’t familiar, this is a relatively new game (created in 1965), and I always tell people it’s like a cross between mini-tennis and giant ping-pong! I noticed that nearly every Thousand Trails resort has pickleball courts, but didn’t think much of it at the time. Turns out this game is a big deal; big enough that several of the full timers that we met in Bend won’t go to a park unless they offer pickleball courts! Many of the hard core picklers (sure, we’ll call them that) met every morning at 10 am sharp to play for an hour or two. We figured that as new full timers, this was probably our best chance to get active and meet some new friends simultaneously, so we picked up a couple paddles and joined in. When in Rome, right? The thing they didn’t warn us about was how hard the game is. Many of the players were three times my senior, and still absolutely kicked my butt. Our first time playing, we were on the court for 3 hours. The next day, neither of us could walk. I kid you not – we limped around all day and whimpered when we had to sit down. We are still enjoying playing as much as we can! I promise to get a few pictures up of us playing at some point.

Our favorite eats:

CHOW provided me one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. I don’t say that lightly, because I have had (and cooked!) some really good breakfasts. You could mistake Chow for a darling neighborhood home; it’s quaint, has a large beautiful patio and a huge garden and yard. Our waitress informed us that this garden grows a good deal of Chow’s fresh ingredients – major bonus points. They emphasize a green, local and organic menu. They offer a select breakfast and lunch menu, but here you me, anything you order will be delectable. They specialize in variations of eggs benedict, so thats what we went for. I ordered the Caesar, which is a corn cake (a savory take on a pancake) topped with two eggs, two sauces, avocado and queso fresco. Brandon had the huevos rancheros. Both were incredible! Pro tip: check in on Yelp and get a couple of free coffees!

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Our first night in Bend we drove into town and found this cute downtown Thai spot, Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats, with great online reviews. It had a fun and hip atmosphere – the menus were even made out of wood! This isn’t your typical run of the mill Thai food; it is all very authentic (I love Thai food and hadn’t heard of several of the dishes). I took the waiters recommendation on a noodle curry dish, and I couldn’t get enough.

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As far as libations are concerned, I am going to be bluntly honest; I am not a beer drinker. I just cannot enjoy it, no matter how hard I try! While we were at the Fall Festival, our friends told us to try a sample of Atlas Cider Company hard cider. I like apples more than hops, so I figured it would be worth a shot. Uh….yes. So much yes! All the cider! They had four flavors, and each were delicious, but I preferred the blackberry. Do not miss Atlas if you are in Bend! Hot tip: they also sell it at the Trader Joes in town.

Bend, we love you and your great food, your wonderful campground, and your perfect sunsets. We can’t wait to see you again!

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