Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Patti Morrow of Greenville, S.C.
Where, when, why: After a February business trip to Portland, I thought, “Why not see what else there is to do in Oregon?” So I set off driving across the Cascades via the scenic Mount Hood pass to the city of Bend, often called the “outdoor playground” of the West.
Highlights and high points: I stared open-mouthed as I approached the base of Mount Bachelor, capped in snow and surrounded by snow-dusted pines set against the electric-blue sky. Waiting at the base was Jeff, my guide from Wanderlust Tours, with my snowshoes in tow. It was my first time snowshoeing, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be much good at it, but it turned out to be more fun than I’d expected, especially running down the snow-blanketed hills. But the pièce de résistance was emerging from blazing our own trail into a clearing revealing a postcard-worthy vista of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Cultural connection or disconnect: Dog-sledding through the towering hemlock pines with Mount Bachelor as a backdrop was magical. As the Oregon Trail of Dreams sled dogs bounded along the twists and turns, with me bundled under blankets on the Iditarod sled, tour guide Jerry Scdoris steered and chatted amicably about his 35-year career as a trainer and racer, and how his high-energy dogs love the chilly weather and being out on the open trails. No whips or “motivational” instruments of any kind needed (or wanted); the dogs respond solely to various vocal inflections of Jerry’s “Hey!”
Biggest laugh or cry: Across from my room in the Oxford Hotel was Let It Ride, an outfit offering tours of downtown Bend on electric bikes. I signed up and moments later was seated on my own motor-powered bike. I’d never operated a hand-throttle before, so perhaps I was a little too eager. The bike jolted and off I went, squealing as the ice-cold air blasted across my face.
How unexpected: I’m not a beer drinker; in fact, beer hasn’t passed my lips since my early 20s. But Bend is renowned for its world-class microbreweries, so while lunching at Crux, I decided to try its “Freakcake” craft beer. You know, when in Rome. . . . The Freakcake is a dark, non-traditional beer, barrel-aged in whisky kegs with lemon and orange zest, before undergoing a secondary fermentation with sour cherries, raisins, cranberries, figs, dates and currants. As I took my first tentative swallow, my eyebrows flew up into my head. Instead of the typical bitter beer taste, it was really good! Savory with a hint of sweetness, it went down easy — too easy.
Fondest memento or memory: I was delighted not only with the stunning beauty of Bend, but also with how solo-friendly it was. The tour guides, shop owners and restaurant staff couldn’t have been nicer. But the Oxford Hotel clinched it. Not only was this upscale, eco-friendly hotel smack in the middle of downtown Bend, but the staff went out of its way to assist me at every turn. The bellman, Todd, even walked me to my late-night dinner reservation at Barrio, about a block from the hotel. On my last day, the staff left a card in my room that said, “An involuntary return to the point of departure is, without doubt, the most disturbing of all journeys.” (Iain Sinclair). And so it was. I reluctantly left Bend thinking that I hadn’t had enough time there — the telltale mark of a successful adventure.
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