My little brother. He is the rare bird who deliberately chooses February to visit us in Portland. The reason: the snow-capped mountains beckoning for snowboarders. Dave last visited exactly two years ago, and we covered a LOT of ground in a few days. This time we had a whole Tuesday-to-Tuesday to explore new places.
Dave is our kind of guy: He loves his breweries and food. We kicked off his trip with a night at beer haven Apex, a pizza dinner at the Stumptown Coffee founder’s Roman Candle Baking Co., and a night cap at Balls the Cat’s Moonshine Kitchen & Lounge. Dave squeezed in a solo snowboarding trip to Mt. Hood while Jeff and I slaved away at work on Thursday. Friday night, Lindsay and Daniel joined us for a night out at our new fave Tilt (“handcrafted food built for the American workforce”) and Low Brow Lounge.
Then it was off to Bend, Oregon, for a long MLK, Jr. Day weekend! The Central Oregon city, located three hours from Portland, is one of the coolest escapes we’ve visited in the Northwest. It’s home to Mt. Bachelor and the sixth largest ski resort in the country, high-desert terrain, 17 breweries, the gorgeous Deschutes River (and the original Deschutes Brewery), and enough mountain biking trails and outdoor activities to keep any Oregonian busy for days. Lindsay and Daniel first introduced us to the city when L’s mom and step-dad lived there. We’ve been looking for a great excuse to go back, and Dave provided it.
On our drive past waterfalls, fog-cloaked hills and miles of evergreens, we stopped at Smith Rock State Park, which blows my mind at every glance. The park encompasses 651 acres of welded tuff (aka compressed volcanic ash) that juts 550 feet from the already 3,000 feet of elevation of the plateau. It’s incredible, and Jeff and I absolutely need to come back someday and hike through it instead of just stare at it for 30 minutes and leave. There’s an amazing little cafe just down the road from it, too – the Terrebonne Depot – where Dave ate his No. 1 meal from the entire trip: the South of Central Oregon Burger.
Jeff and I rented a little dog-friendly house in downtown Bend through Flipkey.com, and the three of us promptly ditched our gear (and Cooper) upon arrival and walked to McMenamins Old St. Francis School to catch the last 30 minutes of the High Gravity Extravaganza beer festival. Similar to the McMenamins Kennedy School in PDX, St. Francis is a 1936 Catholic schoolhouse-turned-eclectic hotel, complete with pubs, brewery, movie theater and soaking pool. Over the weekend, I even bounced around St. Francis on my own when the guys were snowboarding, and I scored my first prize through the new McMenamins Passport program (with which Jeff and I are slightly obsessed). Our absolute favorite spot on the property: O’Kanes Whiskey and Cigar Bar, which to me resembles a cross between an old chapel and something out of a Hobbit movie.
Of course, we made it a point to check out the other local breweries, including the buzzy 10 Barrel Brewing Co. and the recently-remodeled Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House. Lindsay and Daniel, knowing us well, recommended the hole-in-the-wall local joint D & D Bar and Grill, where we grabbed tasty Bloody Marys and watched football. Dave also tasted his first real Thai meal at Noi Thai Cuisine, where we dined on crispy spring roles, pad thai, panang curry and knock-your-socks-off crispy garlic chicken.
But what our Bend trip centered on was Mt. Bachelor, which boasts the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington at 9,065 feet, and a whopping 387 inches of average annual snowfall. Jeff and Dave snowboarded all Sunday as I putzed around the town, but on Monday Cooper and I joined them and I went dog-sledding! It was ridiculously fun. I snuggled into my one-person sled, the pack of eight (super enthusiastic) dogs took off, and my guide, Jerry, entertained me with everything I could ever want to know about dog-sledding. I found out he’s been in the sport for 35 years, started a major dog-sledding race in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and his daughter is the first legally blind person to complete the Iditarod. After my ride I lounged in the ski lodge, sipped chai tea and read the latest book from IDEO and Stanford Design School founder David Kelley and his brother, Tom. Perfect.
Early the next morning, Dave jumped a plane back to Michigan and it was back to work for Jeff and me. Thank you for visiting, Dave! It’s always great to get my family and friends out here for a bit. 🙂