Category Archives: Roadtrips

Two weekends in Bend!

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Weekends of 24-Aug and 31-Aug, 2019

 

Our old neighbors moved to Bend a year or so back; Sarah had kept in touch with them though, hearing about life in the high desert and what it was like getting acclimated to the town.  Bend’s definitely an interesting city, from what we heard – similar to Hood River in a few ways, but much bigger and a bit more intense.  Also, with more activities that Sarah and I are into, so… definitely worth hearing about.

When they messaged Sarah, asking if she’d be free and willing to house-sit and dog-sit for them while they were away on a family road trip, the answer was a very quick “yes!”

 

We packed up, and hit the road.  The plan was for me to start in Portland for the week, and to come out and visit during the weekends – That way I wouldn’t have to burn up too much vacation time, but would still get to join in for some of the adventures and exploration.

The hiking can be seen in a few other posts (Ed. Note: See “Hiking Misery Ridge”, along with “Hiking out to Moraine Lake” for those!) but for here, let’s talk about Bend itself.  It’s absolutely an interesting city, and we had a really good time exploring and playing tourist for a few days.  It’s fun, you know?  We effectively took a vacation to a strange city and explored, all without having to get on a plane or anything.  It makes me curious how many other cities are nearby that we should explore…

 

Back to Bend, though.

It’s a neat place!

 

In the “downtown” area, the contrast between old and new is really stark; it seems similar to Hood River in that way.  It may just be my perception, but it seemed like Bend was a town that was quickly trying to grow and catch up to the people in it – and the line between “things for boomers” and “things for millenials” was very stark here.  Literally a river, in fact…

 

On one side of the river, we walked through tiny boutique shops full of vintage, single-source, hand-crafted jewelry and art, sprinkled with cute bistros and small cafes.  All of them situated in small reclaimed buildings that were small and sometimes cramped, but every one looking like it could have been a house a few days ago.

On the other side of the river, we explored an outdoor mall, with sit-down family restaurants and familiar stores.  All custom-built, with soaring entries, beautiful woodwork and interesting sculptures dedicated to the history of the town and the area.

On the banks of the river we explored the Art in the High Desert festival, attended primarily by older and more affluent folks browsing art priced from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

On the river itself, we saw young tech folks floating, carousing, and enjoying the weekend off from their jobs.  Some in kayaks, but most on inner tubes… and some in huge inflatable castles.

We never really found the “main city center”, though we did look around.  The area above was more of the new Bend, which looked to be less than 10 years old maybe?  Farther out was a more familiar desert town, with some amazing Mexican restaurants and your standard assortment of grocery stores.  Even a LEGO store, interestingly enough.

 

Of note – the food in Bend was excellent, and the lines / waits were quite reasonable.  A big difference from Portland, and very much a welcome one.  Especially when Sarah and I went out to brunch and only had to wait a few minutes for our table.

 

Thankfully for your intrepid adventurers, we weren’t alone on this exploration.  No, I don’t mean Ollie.  She was around, but… she wasn’t any more helpful than she ever is.  She can find dog treats from a thousand yards, but can’t help us find an interesting comic shop or neat cafe to have lunch.

Our neighbors, however, were excellent hosts even if they weren’t there in person.  They’d left Sarah a whole list of places to explore, which her and I worked through one by one.  We found awesome bookstores, interesting breakfasts, and other explorations.  It was fun, and a really good chance to re-connect and relax together while exploring a new place.

Daniel’s bachelor party – a Richmond Adventure

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02-May through 05-May, 2019

Richmond, Virginia

A weekend party.

Daniel’s getting married over Memorial Day, and since we’re all smart enough to know that a good bachelor party will leave bruises we knew that this weekend was the closest that we could be to the wedding, while still giving him time to recover enough after the adventure.

Thursday, 02-May-2019 into Friday, 03-May-2019

I did that thing, again.

You know, the thing that I almost always regret? Where I take a red-eye flight, so that I don’t have to burn an entire day flying from coast to coast?

Well, this time I didn’t regret it!

I landed in Richmond at 8:30am on Friday morning. First things first, I grabbed a coffee.

Then, a Lyft, and then I called Brian, so that he could be ready to let me into the room he’d rented in the Richmond Hostel.

Our goal of the day was to, first, wake me up enough that I could actually be useful. So we went to a diner, we all ate excellent diner food, and I drank a lot of coffee. With me awake, we could now head to the real target – Manchester Wall.

Manchester Wall has nothing to do with the city of Manchester – instead, it’s a series of pillars that once held up a bridge across the James River in Richmond. A bridge that no longer exists, because the Confederate army destroyed it right before Richmond was taken in the Civil War. And now those pillars are bolted, and available for climbing!

(Editors note: the above statement is not quite accurate, as Daniel has informed me. It turns out that the South side of the river James was previously a city called Manchester. And, as such, Manchester wall is the piling of the Richmond-Manchester bridge, on the Manchester side. THANKS, DANIEL)

After climbing we needed food – a brewery called Legends Brewing happened to be right nearby, and also happened to be amazingly delicious… both excellent qualities for a group of sun-drenches, dehydrated, hungry creatures such as ourselves.

*** Honestly, the rest of the weekend was amazing, but I never had a chance to write up a full story about it. Now it’s July, and I still haven’t posted anything… so please forgive the brevity, and enjoy the photo gallery in place of a long winded storytime.***

Friday: climb, legends brewing, traditional southern restaurant for dinner, first Friday, Tom Petty coverband

Saturday: breakfast, go-karts, little ceasars, paintball, showers and painkillers, BBQ, drinks drinks drinks! Small breweries, Tang and Biscuits, barcade, some rooftop bar, regret.

Sunday: regret. Some food, some napping, breakfast, regret, flying home, regret.

Joshua Tree, March 2019 – The superbloom

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Thursday through Sunday, 21-Mar to 24-Mar-2019

Ohh man, we’re going climbing!!!

It’s been ages since Sarah and I were able to go on a dedicated climbing trip together – with the New Year successfully rung in, vacation days saved up, and strength and health in our limbs, it was time to get back on the plane and get some rock under our feet.  I set up flights, rented a truck, and we set off toward Joshua Tree…

This post will be broken up into three sections: Joshua Tree itself, Climbing, and the superbloom.  We took a lot of pictures, so… trust me.  This is for the best.

 

Joshua tree has a superbloom going on.  Or, while we were there, there was a superbloom.

Basically, the desert got a lot more rain than usual (Congrats California!), and everything decided, “Hey, now’s a pretty good time to flower and grow and be all kinds of energetic!”.  And so all the plans were happy.  And the Sarah was happy, because Sarah’s love flowers.  And the Ben was happy, because Ben’s also love flowers, and also also love seeing happy Sarahs!

We frolicked, and took pictures, and saw sunsets, and… well, the photos speak for themselves.  It was amazing, and intensely beautiful – it seriously looked like the entire desert had been invaded by growth – from the huge pineapple-sized flowers on the Joshua Trees to the tiny little while blossoms in the desert…