It was a pretty awesome weekend—my first in Bend.
The timing of my move, while accidental, couldn’t be better. The days are warm, the nights crisp. Oktoberfest and a parade for Bend’s gold-medal Olympian Ashton Eaton meant the streets of downtown were bustling with locals and a sprinkling of tourists.
Read also: MY FIRST DAY OUT AND ABOUT IN BEND
The air is a little hazy from smoke — 26,000 acres have burned or are burning in the nearby Pole Creek fire, and it’s still only 65% contained — but this is still a gorgeous place.
Here’s what I discovered this weekend…
Swans in Flight
I saw a gigantic white bird take flight off the Deschutes while running the Deschutes River Trail with Betty. I couldn’t figure out what it was until it landed again and swam to its mate. I managed to get a photo…
Holy moly it was an amazing sight. I’ve never seen a swan’s wings unfurled. This one probably had an 8-foot wingspan. EIGHT FEET. Who knew?
My mom brought me flowers for my front stoop including pansies. Apparently, pansies are quite delicious because they’ve been chewed down to a nub by the local deer. And the deer left me a little gift on my front walk, proving that shitting where you eat is all cool with Bend wildlife.
Best Brunch So Far: CHOW
Oh wow. I knew I was going to love this place. dropped into CHOW for Saturday brunch. There was live music.
Two guys with guitars. The singer was older and perfectly grizzled — like he could be a camp cook in a Western movie and his name would be Cappy or something. I had the Caesar: poached eggs over corn cake, avocado, Roja and Verde sauces, hollandaise, and queso fresco.
It was hearty and fresh and freaking delicious — order an extra side of hollandaise, the corn cake was moist but it needed more sauce.
And yes, that’s a scratch, Bloody Mary. I was hungover. The darling waitress talked me into it. with Crater Lake Vodka. I was supporting the local economy.
CycloCross and College Football
Saturday night was the Ducks’ game. Went to the local sports bar, Sidelines, with my brother, Lael, and his girlfriend, Kate.
This place is the Platonic ideal of a sports bar. Seriously. Met all the bartenders and locals. Super fun. Had the blackened fish tacos: a HUGE portion and surprisingly delicious.
Here’s a shot of my bro at the bar sporting his Hulk-Hogan handlebar situation. (He’s actually going to bleach it and go as the Hulk for Halloween before he shaves it off.)
A fight nearly broke out when some OSU fan started talking smack to Ducks fans. I’m told this is super rare, and that everyone gets along for the most part.
And true to form, the douchey OSU fan came back to apologize (after the owner verbally bitch slapped him, I think). All was forgiven in a heartbeat. Nice.
Sunday, I hit my dad’s cyclocross race at Seventh Mountain Resort. Dad is nearly 60 and still kicking ass. His course time was better than most of the guys in their 40s.
I love that this stuff happens on a regular basis here. Cyclocross season goes all the way into December. Oh, and not that I’m looking to date anytime soon, but damn, there were a lot of fit attractive men tottering about in bike shoes, wearing tight shorts, and looking all focused. Very nice.
Small Town Parades
Bend is a gold-medal Olympian. Actually, I think Ashton Easton is from neighboring La Pine, but the same diff. Sunday there was a little parade in downtown Bend in his honor.
It’s been decades since I’ve witnessed a small-town parade. I had an ex who used to love to say, “Nothing makes you feel superior like a small-town parade.” I thought that was funny back then.
But this time I felt nothing of the sort. I actually got a little choked up when the “Bend Olympians” marched through — a mix of Special Olympics athletes and traditional Olympic athletes.
The crowd cheered and hooted and hollered and I got misty-eyed for some reason. The crowd was really honoring them, all of them. Pretty cool. I didn’t get a good shot of the Olympians, but there were marching bands and cheerleaders, and special guests in convertible sports cars.
And of course the special-est guest, Mr. Easton. The middle-aged women around me were swooning… “Oh my, he’s so attractive!!” Ha!
Not one single part of me felt superior. I felt humbled and honored to be a part of something so genuinely celebratory. There was nothing superficial or fake about it. It was a community supporting their community… with gusto.
Dog Friendly: Fact or Myth?
After the Ashton Easton Parade, Dad, Lael, Kate, and I wandered over to Deschutes Brewery on Bond Street. We had three dogs in tow: Mini (Betty), Regular (Jane), and Super-Sized (Dexter). We sat outside and had a pretty yummy lunch.
I had the Brewer’s Salad, Lael had the Tri-Tip Sandwich (looked so damn good on that Texas toast), Kate had the Crab Roll, and Dad had the Turkey BLT with serious bacon and cheese coming out all sides.
Dexter is a gigantic beast (Great Dane/Bloodhound Mix) and the wait staff was super accommodating and awesome with our menagerie. Here’s Kate with Dexter and Betty at the Brewery:
Everyone seems to have a dog here, and there are lots of big dogs — which is great for Betty who thinks she weighs a hundred pounds and loves to play with dogs ten times her size. The only surprise was the “NO DOGS” policy at Oktoberfest, which wasn’t a huge deal since there was only a block of roped-off area in which dogs weren’t allowed.
The rest of the activities were all dog friendly. Including, obviously, the Wiener Dog Races. Verdict: So far, Bend is pretty damn dog friendly.
Wiener Dogs Don’t Race Very Well
I entered Betty in the Oktoberfest Wiener Dog Races. Hilarious. I’ve never seen so many small, short dogs in one place. It was a big event with huge crowds and a P.A. system – lots of commotion and cheering.
They zip-tied a number to Betty’s collar, Lael held her at one end of the track, and I was at the other with her favorite toy and treats. But in all the commotion, most of the dogs just got overwhelmed, and when the gates opened, they tried to run around to find their handler… including Betty.
We gave her treats anyway and retreated to Drake Park where she recovered instantly from the crowd-induced Chihuahua shakes, running around in big circles, showing off the warp speed the crowds didn’t get to see.
So, now the week begins, and I’m back to unpacking boxes. Heading out for a run with Betty shortly. The big decision of the day is which gorgeous trail/route to take. Not a bad life. It’s looking like the move to Bend was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
More to come…