I lived in Vancouver, WA and worked in Portland, OR for 14 years and had never experienced central Oregon. I was too busy exploring the Willamette Valley when one day my husband said to me “We should move to Bend!” After the shock had worn off and I had processed what he said, I was intrigued that my Vancouver born and bred husband wanted to move 200 miles away. I was a military brat as a child so moving wasn’t a scary idea to me. However, the only memory I had of Bend was 7 years earlier when my husband was miserably sick and I tried out snowboarding for the first time which meant I spent most of the day falling on my bottom and was very sore the next day. Thus, I had a very hard time being on board with the idea of moving.
Then, in January, my husband surprised me with a snow shoeing adventure from Wanderlust Tours. Snow shoeing
had been on my list of adventures I really wanted to do so I was extremely excited to go! Upon closer examination of my gift I noticed that Wanderlust Tours is in Bend, OR. Not only was I getting an adventure but we were going to
get the opportunity to explore Bend again! A few weeks went by and we hopped in the car and began our journey over Mt. Hood to Bend. There’s a moment of stark delineation between rain forest and high desert as you exit the Mt. Hood National Forest that’s jarring in an awe-inspiring way. We traveled from a mountainous, vibrant green, and dense forest under cloud cover into a sunny, cloudless, flat desert with actual tumbleweeds crossing the interstate. At this point, I was not convinced that moving was a good idea. However, as we got closer and closer to Bend the scenery began to change again. Buttes appeared in the distance, Smith Rock with its infamous Monkey Face ridge in the east and ponderosa pine trees peppered the view.
A sense of wonder and rugged adventure filled me as we pulled into the parking lot of Wanderlust Tours. We were greeted by friendly staff who helped us get fitted for snow shoes and had the opportunity to meander around the premises as we waited for the rest of our tour mates. When I asked if there was a water fountain to top off my water bottle, I was told that “Bend’s tap water is safe to drink.” I was skeptical of this statement but chose to fill my water bottle anyway and save a trip to the store (side note: I later found out that the statement is true and is actually one of the many things Bend takes pride in. It could also be the reason why the beer is so good). Once all our tour mates arrived, we piled into a van and made our way to Mt. Bachelor. Along the way the tour guide gave us lots of information about Bend, Mt. Bachelor, the local wildlife, etc. but I was distracted by the natural beauty of the route between Bend and Mt. Bachelor. The snow-covered hills and trees were so serene and unlike Mt. Hood, which you can see for miles as you approach, Mt. Bachelor is tucked behind a corner that makes the first vision of it spectacular. As you’re driving along you sense the rise in elevation but you don’t actually see Mt. Bachelor until you turn a corner and there he is in all his splendor. I remember saying to my husband “It looks like a post card!” It was at this point that I began to question if we could really live here. Could we make this our reality?
Our tour guide pulled into the parking lot and gave us safety instructions then our tour began. At first we moved like a search and rescue team, all spread out in a wide line but soon formed a single file as we realized that walking through the snow is much easier if you follow in someone else’s footsteps, namely our guide’s. He seemed unaffected by the elevation and snow pack and simply walk through the woods. If you’ve never done it, snowshoeing feels very similar to walking in the sand with the added bonus of never knowing how far deep in the snow your steps will plunge you. One minute your upright, next minute you’re trying not to do the splits. Soon we came to a clearing where the “brews and views” part of our “Shoes, Brews and Views” tour began. We got to know our tour mates a little better and enjoyed some local brews together in the middle of the Deschutes National Forest. On the way back from snowshoeing we talked with the tour guide about what it’s like to live in Bend and Central Oregon. From that conversation we could see the pure love he had for Bend and were a bit envious but also excited that we were actually considering moving.
The next day, we woke up to another beautiful sunny day with crisp mountain air that felt so cleansing to inhale. This was a real treat since it was February and we were used to clouds and rain in the valley. On this day we decide to explore Bend a bit and went on a walk-about in the Old Mill district, Drake Park, Mirror Pond and traveled east to Brasada Ranch. This was the day I fell in love with Bend and Central Oregon.
For those of you that are wondering why we’d travel 20 miles east of Bend to Brasada Ranch, I’d like to say: “Excellent Question!” which I’ll answer for you now. On the second day of our trip my husband let me know that we were not only exploring Bend but also Brasada Ranch that day. Being the go-with-the-flow kind of gal I am, I said “Sounds good to me! But why?” to which he responded with “I have a job interview.” He got the job, I got one a month later and within two months, we became Bendites. It’s been 5 years since that day and we’ve never looked back. So, if you live elsewhere and you take a Wanderlust Tour while in Central Oregon be prepared to put your house on the market and move here. If you do move here call me and we’ll share a brew, views, and snow shoes. P.S. All Village Properties guests get a 10% discount on tours with Wanderlust Tours!