In the 72 hours leading up to this moment, I’d tasted 10 other craft beers. I’d climbed on 20-foot rocks off the Cascade Highway and dined at sunset on seared scallops at the top of Mount Bachelor. I’d felt the gush of air as the continent’s top cyclists raced by, navigating a tight course through Bend’s downtown streets. I’d mountain-biked for 30 miles on the breezy singletrack outside town, flowing through ponderosa pine with the ubiquitous views of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains flitting in and out of sight.
Details, Bend, Ore.
Then I’d hopped on a six-person Cycle Pub and pedaled from Good Life Brewery to Crux, where what should have been a quick stop evolved into a heady series of beer tastings as the sun turned the sky vermilion.
Soon, we’d remount the circular Cycle Pub (more on that later) and return to the city, cruising through Drake Park and across a bridge over the mellow Deschutes River, toasting everyone we passed. We’d find a place to eat, where the hardest choices would be between the crispy-skinned duck confit and the Columbia River salmon and whether to go with the Boneyard IPA or one of Oregon’s pinot noirs.
But right then, as I sipped the last of the Outcast and had it instantly refilled — that’s when I realized that I hated Bend.
No place should have it this good.
“Your vacation is our life.”
— A Bend bumper sticker
Of course, by Bend standards, all those activities I did in those first three days was hardly scratching the surface. The city — the largest in Central Oregon — boasts 71 parks and 48 miles of recreational trails. Less than an hour outside town, you’ll find 26 golf courses, whitewater rafting and fly-fishing in the Deschutes River, more than 1,000 climbing routes and 3,600 skiable acres at Mount Bachelor. Within two hours? More than 1,200 miles of narrow dirt mountain bike trails (or singletrack), which double as snowshoeing and Nordic skiing trails in the winter.
You can paddleboard on one of the 40 lakes in the region, hike and camp in the Three Sisters Wilderness, or summit Pilot Butte, a 479-foot-tall cinder cone in the center of town. Or just find something that floats — an inner tube, an inflatable mattress — and drift on a mellow stretch of Deschutes from Bend Park to the center of town; a $5 shuttle gets you back to your car.
Bend already hosts the annual BMC Cascade Classic bike race each July, the biggest staged race in North America. This month, it hosts the 2012 fly-fishing nationals and this winter, the 2013 snowshoe nationals.
And Dog Fancy magazine called Bend the most dog-friendly city in the country. It’s hard to say what the city doesn’t do perfectly.