How I Ended Up in Bend

How I Ended Up in Bend

Update – October 2016: The founder of Beginner’s Guide to Bend isn’t in Bend anymore. Oh, the scandal. Catrina Gregory moved away but her words below, written in 2012/13, are here because they’re basically the origin story behind BGTB.

Enjoy! And stay tuned for the latest posts from the new co-editors, Laura and Irene. (And hopefully this page will eventually turn into “How We Ended Up in Bend” – the new editors in chief have their own unique histories with this little mountain town – you can read a little about Irene’s story here.)


Who do I think I am, all bloggity blog blogging about Bend? Well, I’m Catrina Gregory, and I’m new here.

Watch the video below for the five-minute explanation about how I ended up in Bend, and what it’s been like for me so far…

That’s me, dorking out on stage at the Tower Theater, a bundle of nerves, at Ignite Bend.

Why Bend?
Why Bend? Let’s start with these reasons…

In case you don’t have the patience for video, let me sum up. No, too much to sum up. Let me explain.

I grew up in Junction City, Oregon on Greenwood Street in a house built in 1892 equipped with a bathtub and a wood stove (no shower, but yes we did have indoor plumbing). Our living room flooring was a patchwork of old carpet samples liberated from the local hardware store. My brother and I sold night crawlers to local fisherman in moss-filled Chinese food to-go containers. We rode our bikes around the block, trampled mazes in the overgrown abandoned lot down the block, picked blueberries every summer, went to church three times a week, and flouted the law by squishing pennies on the nearby railroad tracks.

I was the quintessential small-town girl, but I knew I was small town. I dreamed of being a city girl. As a teenager, I subscribed to two magazines: Town & Country and a magazine about colleges. I wanted out. I wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore, I wanted to live in the big city. I wanted the country to be the place I had a second home. I wanted to hail taxis, and dance until dawn and complain about traffic.

All my dreams came true…well, I never really got the country house, but I morphed myself into a damn fine city girl. I lived in Seattle while I earned my undergrad degree, then Los Angeles, then New York, then back to LA. In LA and New York, no one ever thought I was a native, but they where always surprised to learn I grew up in the “RV Capital of the World” (Junction City, Oregon, population 3,000). I knew how to blend in just enough.

My life in LA was actually pretty awesome. I stayed away from Hollywood as much as I could, and had a sweet little community in Venice. I lived a block from the beach, and a stone’s throw from a few of the best restaurants and coffee shops in the city. I surfed occasionally, rode my beach cruiser everywhere, and couldn’t pedal more than a few blocks without passing a familiar face. It was an eclectic, diverse community of mostly single people like me, some artists, some professionals, just living the California dream.

It was the kind of community that you avoid dating in, mostly because it’s three square miles, and you just didn’t want to risk polluting your home turf, not to mention, destroying your privacy. Relationships sometimes need a little cover of dark to germinate and grow, and living them out on the Venice stage was never appealing to me.

But of course I did just that, and got myself hurt. The whole little enclave of Venice seemed to be so full up with memories that I didn’t know if there was room for new ones. I looked around and thought, “What now?” and all those other questions that get kicked up when you’re a little destroyed, like “Is this all there is?” “What do I want the rest of my life to look like?” “Will I survive this?” and, “Where can I get a vat of macaroni and cheese with bacon?”

Really in the end, it wasn’t about the heartache. Even if I could’ve eternal sunshined my way to a spotless mind, I still couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life in Venice. I couldn’t imagine aging there, or buying property, or really putting down real roots of any kind in such a transitory community.

Then there was quality of life. I mean, driving to my favorite trail run could take me 2 hours round trip in the summer (Malibu traffic, not glamorous). If you never left Venice, it wasn’t so bad UNTIL GQ named my street the hippest street in America. Game over.

I toyed with the idea of Austin for awhile (I still LOVE that city), but the city girl in me was all worn out. I wanted small town again, like under pop. 100,000. The very thing I ran away from as a young adult…I wanted THAT back. And I missed my family. But I couldn’t go back to the Willamette Valley. Too dark and damp. That pretty much left one option.

BEND, OREGON. Close enough to my family, lots of sunshine, reasonably affordable, and I could see myself starting over here, and spending the rest of my life roaming the trails, river banks, hills and mountains of Central Oregon.

You know how when your heart is effed up, you think it’ll never heal? Yeah, so when I decided to move, I imagined that Bend was the kind of place where I could be that quirky Botox-free spinster  with a magical green thumb who rescues misfit animals. I would wear stylish hats and kaftans, and collect birdhouses and wellies, and all my friend’s kids would call me Crazy Aunt Cat. They’d come over for dress-up high tea, and to make macaroni necklaces and misshapen pottery in my sun-dappled art studio. Hey, whatever it takes to heal.

So, I started sketching kaftan designs, bought a Subaru and a pair of Sorrels, packed up my worldlies, and made the leap. Yep.

From the moment I stared at the ocean in Venice and decided it was time to say goodbye, to the moment I drove into my new driveway on the westside of Bend, barely 4 weeks had elapsed.

I didn’t really think things through, it was a little lonely at first. Still is, to be honest. I miss my tight-knit circle of friends so much, a part of my heart feels like that hole left behind just after the dentist yanks a tooth.

Bend is one of those towns where it takes a little while to find your groove. No insta-friends to be made, and frankly, I respect that. So, we’ll work for it, Bend and me. Let time and serendipity bond us together when we’re both ready.

I’m not going anywhere. Moving to Bend was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s been a bit of a rocky start, but I love it here. It’s not a hard town to love. For starters, every restaurant in town has mac and cheese on the menu (love! hate!), and there’s only one block of pavement between my backyard and the Deschutes River Trail. It’s a beautiful place, with a bazillion things to do. Being a beginner is pretty fun, and my hope is to share the stuff I’ve learned about loving, living, surviving and thriving in Bend with whomever cares to read it…


Oh, and if you’re the super curious type, check out the original post I wrote when I decided to move to Bend back in 2012. And also the 15 things I thought I’d probably love about Bend, Oregon before I actually moved here, and the 4 things I actually love about living here, a year later.









13 thoughts on “How I Ended Up in Bend

  1. I so wish that you had been around 7 years ago when I moved here! I am a transplant from LA as well and totally had the Bend Barrier the first year or so. Luckily, I have found friends and have had a couple kids so the barrier is gone. Great speech and blog site!

  2. Just found this site after reading your piece in The Source. I’m a new transplant myself – new as in I haven’t yet spent my first full week here – and this post is just what I needed to read. We are feeling the newness and loneliness but also the amazement at what a lovely place this is. It’s confounding, but I know that we’ll find our tribe in Bend. BTW I write as well, but focus on fiction. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. Hey all. I’m new to Bend also. Kind of. Moved here a year ago to be with my boyfriend… But we broke up a few weeks ago and I realized my life was all about him, and now, I’m kinda alone here. Of anyone wants to hang out, email me at 40 yr old single mom, not a stalker.
      Btw, love your blog. Very cool!

  3. Just watched this twice (I know, I’m not the most prompt of your L.A. circle) just because I MISS YOUR FACE SO MUCH and Instagram pics just wont cut it unless Betty steals the phone from you and snaps a couple for me. I LOVE the presentation and you brought it home with the visuals. Cooked yesterday with DJ and spoke about how these soirees are simply not the same without you… Not sure my stuffing came close to the pan you and Alex whipped up but I was proud of it. Counting down the days to Montana… Really, a little misty just thinking about it. love, j.

  4. I’m looking to relocate out West from Illinois when I retire at age 56 in 2 1/2 years and Bend is one of my top picks, in addition to Bellingham WA, Bozeman MT Boise ID and Boulder CO. My choices are based on proximity to mountains, streams, lakes, and availability of outdoor recreation opportunities. I appreciate your views of Bend as a newcomer, especially the parts about fitting in because I will be in the same boat. Look forward to getting your blogs thru email.

  5. Hi Catrina Gregory. We have a lot in common. I am from LA. I actually lived in Santa Monica, I don’t really like beer( i prefer martinis), I don’t have kids, I work from home and I am moving to Bend!
    I have such a amazing group of friends in LA and I am a bit nervous about meeting people in Bend. I WANT TO EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING BEND HAS TO OFFER.
    I am actually moving to Bend with my hottie boyfriend. The reason we are moving is we are seeking a better quality of life. I am writing you this memo because I think you should adopt me!!!!!! Take a chance! I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. I am def. not a stalker and I really like to have a good time. Basically I am up for new adventures.
    If not……. no worries. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and maybe I will run into you on the streets of Bend!

  6. We are close to making the move to Bend too! We are currently in the Willamette Valley, and yes, DAMP is the word. BF and I are over it. Can’t wait to make the move and start exploring the area more. We just got back from a vacation there and it was awesome. Also, I love and respect your Princess Bride reference. 😉

  7. You are funny girl! My wife and I got some good belly laughs. We are thinking of moving to Bend… to meet you next time we are in Bend…..we want to check out winter so we are driving up from Moraga Ca in January…crazy right….we will bring the french wine. Thanks for the laugh….Jay and Michelle Robinson.

  8. Very interesting. We are thinking of retiring to Bend from Phoenix and are looking for all the info we can find.

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