Monday, July 7, 2014

And, We're Back in Bend.

This week we were gung ho on getting out there and exploring. Summer will be over before we know it!

Bend has hundreds of parks, and we keep discovering new ones within walking distance of our house. Like most of the parks, it was along the Deschutes River; this one was appropriately, but not creatively, named the First Street Rapids Park.


We are going to have to learn to whitewater kayak one of these days!

The trail was along steep cliffs, which combined with the river, are super dramatic and striking. You can see a little bit of it in the below picture. We also made a new friend! I turned around and this orange tabby was following us down the trail. He walked right up to us and let me carry him around, purring. But he had a collar and didn't look malnourished, so we figured he had a home nearby, and sadly said goodbye to him on the trail.


Mike and our new friend, Baron.

One of the things we are trying to learn is foraging (it will be a useful skill both for camping and the zombie apocalypse). This trail had what I think are red gooseberries! I didn't try one right then, since I wasn't able to confirm it. I did try one of the berries on this bush by our house, though, because I was pretty sure they were huckleberries. I'm not dead, so I think I got it right. 

Maybe I'll go back and try one...

Mike has been foraging for mushrooms, and part of identifying them is taking spore prints. They look super cool when they come out and I'm wondering if we can do some sort of art piece with spore prints...


We also got a chance to try out Sparrow Bakery, which is known for their ocean rolls

pic from sparrowbakery.net

It's basically a cinnamon roll, but with cardamom instead. It wasn't up to the hype, but their patio was beautiful, and we enjoyed a cup of coffee outside. The bakery and surrounding brick buildings are an old foundry and blacksmith's shop from the early 1900s, and they have a lot of charm and character. The foundry is now an art workhouse, where various artists have their studios and also showcase their works.

Sparrow Bakery (left), part of the patio, and the old foundry (right).

I loved this very clear and straightforward sign in their mint garden!

Later, we made it to one of Bend's infamous happy hours. This town is a drinker's heaven with almost 20 craft breweries, and several wineries and bars, and every single one, plus a lot of the restaurants, do a daily happy hour. You can have a full meal and drinks, for two people, for about $20.00. It's pretty awesome. 

The Blacksmith - super nice restaurant, super cheap happy hour!

Amazingly delicious Strawberries and Cream with vodka and fresh Oregon berries!

One thing we miss SO much about Los Angeles is the Hollywood Farmer's Market. It was our church, and we went every Sunday for years. Here in Bend, they only have a market until September, due to the fact that no one wants to stand outside and sell you produce in the snow. This seasonal one is on Wednesdays and the whole town turns out for it. It's a pretty nice market, and Mike and I were super happy to find it.

Major points for a beautiful display AND being organic.

One thing Oregon does well - berries!
We tried almost every jam at this stand - they were SO good.

Over the almost 8 years of our relationship, Mike has gone with me to lots of concerts, but I've never been to one that he's picked, until now. We hit up Steely Dan at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, which I have to say has the nicest grass I've ever seen, and the view's not too shabby, either. It's right on the river, and clever non-paying types can cruise the water on paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, or floaties, and listen for free. They also had tons of gourmet food, including a coffee cart, a terracotta wood fired pizza oven, and a milkshake stand.

Les Schwab Amphitheater, with plenty of room to lounge.

See the people in the shallow part of the river, near the trees?

The next day was July 4th. Last year, we took the metro to Exposition Park in downtown LA, and saw the fireworks show from a roped off parking lot. This year, we discovered what small towns do for July 4th. Bend had gunny sack races, watermelon eating contests, a pet parade that was insanely crowded and popular, and a concert and fireworks show. All for free! We peeked at the pet parade, but decided to grill burgers at home and then see the fireworks show. We went to a nearby park, opened up the back of the Forester and watched from the comfort of our car, with blankets. It turned out to be a perfect night.

the best fireworks pic my phone was able to get!

We hope everyone enjoyed their long holiday weekend! Going forward, we have tons of stuff planned and we will be posting more often. Please feel free to follow us (link on the right) if you'd like to get updates!