I mentioned in my previous post that I tried to strike a balance between exploring Bend and stopping along the Ale Trail – mission accomplished!!
My hope was to get a sense of the place by exploring the town itself as well as some of the surrounding countryside – several days was not enough to do it all, but my stay there confirmed what my friends on the Magic Bus had discovered – Bend is a very nice spot in central Oregon!
My exploration of the town started one morning after a hearty breakfast – with Bloody Mary’s of course – at the Victorian Café with Ross and Robin who gave me a nice overview of the town – and they sprung for breakfast too – excellent and generous tour guides – before we headed out to see the neighborhoods and districts that comprise Bend.
Bend has two popular commercial centers-downtown and The Old Mill District – and each seemed to be anchored by “towers” – the old theater anchored downtown while the old mill stacks were excellent navigation aids to find the Old Mill district as Ross pointed out – tough to get lost in Bend!
The core downtown area is small but very nice and seemed to have some good shopping, a few good dining options and a couple of entertainment venues – there’s the Tower Theater, a renovated historic movie theater than presents nationally acclaimed music acts and theatrical events during the year and nearby there’s the Cascades Theatrical Company.
The Deschutes River runs right through town and there’s miles of trails along the river – very nice!
In fact, one evening I enjoyed a nice walk along the river working up an appetite for dinner at downtown’s “900 Wall “ – after all this is a “journey de cuisine” – chanterelles were in and what better way to top a tenderloin – and washed down with a fine cab 🙂
Just upriver from downtown, The Old Mill District lies on the ground once covered by timber mill operations – remember my geeky, historical note about the worlds largest timber mills – well, today the District is actually a very nicely done outdoor mall – a blend of well known shops such as Banana Republic, REI and Victoria’s Secret and restaurants – and – very cool – the site of the open-air Les Schwab amphitheater noted for drawing top name musical acts. Nice!
And, remember all the praise about this being an adventure and outdoor town ? Well, had to get out of town to explore some of that too
Headed out on the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway – and, despite the smoke (yup, here too!!) – had a chance to see some of that beautiful countryside that everyone was talking about.
It’s planted on the edge of the High Desert, straddling the Deschutes River between the desert and the mountains, so that the eastern half abuts lava rock, juniper trees and sagebrush while the western half sees a rise in elevation and is peppered with Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine trees and sub-alpine microclimates
Headed out on the 87 mile byway …
Round a bend to find Mount Bachelor looming larger than life—and find its image perfectly reflected in a mile-high lake around another bend—and you’ll understand why Scenic America named the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway one of the nation’s most important byways. The Byway passes through the heart of central Oregon, with the towering Cascade Mountains providing a constant backdrop for a recreational paradise that offers first class fishing, boating, hiking, rock climbing opportunities and wonderful alpine and Nordic skiing in the winter
South of Mt Bachelor, I stopped at Elk Lake with its historic guard station built in the 1920’s – had a nice visit with the Forest Service folks who had lots of stories to tell about the region and the lakes
Had a great day stopping at a number of turnouts as well as at a number of the lakes – and, everywhere, the mountains surrounded me – managed to get a couple of short hikes in too!
Really enjoyed my Bend exploration
Bend certainly seemed to be as advertised – a really fine town with lots going for it – too short a visit to see and do it all – now know why Ross and Robin spent 2 months here – guess I’ll put it on my “re-visit” list!
Time to move on however…
Time to head for the Oregon Coast before the unseasonably mild weather pattern changes…want to experience some sunny days on the beach.
Take care….see you down the road