Saturday, September 8, 2012

Checking out the vibe in Bend, Oregon

Aug. 26- Sept. 8, Bend, Oregon

We are now into our second year of full-timing in our motorhome and our second week of a month-long stay exploring Bend. After spending two months in the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast, we were ready for a change of scenery but not ready to leave the perfect summer weather of the Northwest.  Another reason for coming to Bend is a chance for us to stay long enough to get a feeling for life here as it is a place we are strongly considering for a summer home. I have a romantic notion of a cabin on the Metolius, but realistically we are more interested in a cottage style home walking distance to town.

The park we chose to stay at here in Bend is Crown Villa RV Resort. What a place this has turned out to be!  Having only seen it on-line, we took the risk of making a reservation and hoping for the best.  Before we came here, we did hear from some travel friends that they loved this park and we concur. The sites are some of the best laid out ones we have been to (minus Willow Tree in S.C), made of brick pavers with about 20 feet in between sites and a green expanse of lawn of about 50 feet behind each street.

 crown villa green space

The designers of this park left a perfect balance of limbed-up Ponderosa Pines which grace the park without blocking out too much light. Other amenities include a tennis court, spa, exercise room, fenced dog park, and a pitch and putt area. Sadly, there are no individual firepits (mostly due to the high risk of fire in this area), but they have two gas firepits and an outdoor cooking area open for anyone in the campground to use. I also must say that this is the most service-oriented park we have ever been too, with daily garbage and recycling pick-up, a local newspaper delivered daily, and a staff eager to help with any questions. We also like the location of the park as it is only about three miles from downtown, but is set in a rural area away from any busy roads. The cost of $1099 a month is high for us, but we decided to splurge a little to experience this beautiful park.

jetta in crown villa dog park

We also have friends who live here in Bend so we get to be social both inside and outside the park—something that makes me happy as I have been spoiled to be around friends and family most of the summer.  Vic has friends here that go back to his days as Ass’t. Principal at Sweet Home High School in the 80s and one of my closest friends from high school days in Crystal Lake, Illinois, just moved here about a year and a half ago. We also discovered some folks we used to know in Corvallis are living here now, so the popularity of Bend seems to be resurging. This area was one of the fastest-growing destinations in the country due to its plethora of outdoor activities which include skiing, hiking, fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and golf. As a result, real estate here went crazy until the economy collapsed in 2008. The bubble burst and properties fell to almost half of their peak prices. Since it is now a good time to buy again, especially with interest rates so low, it seems like the prices are starting to rise again, Time will tell! The town itself, about 80,000, also has great restaurants, several brew pubs, music venues, and a wide variety of shopping opportunities. They even have the first Cycle Pub (drink beer while you pedal) I have ever seen.

A fun time for us the first week was having our friends Ann and Don come to stay with us for the Labor Day weekend. This is the first time we have had a couple share this small space with us but it seemed to work out great—except for the slow leak in our queen sofa bed air mattress. They even brought their dog Charlie, a 20 lb. Cockapoo, who made himself right at home with our two pooches. I hope they don’t mind I am including this shot of the cozy crew in the morning.

Over the Labor Day weekend we took a drive out to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, to visit some of alpine lakes about thirty miles south of Bend.

Boy were we surprised how popular the lakes were on a holiday weekend. The parking areas at three different lakes, Sparks, Elk, and Hoesmer were all filled up with boaters, hikers, and fishermen. After checking out a few of the lakes, we ended up heading back into town for a hike along the Deschutes near the Old Mill District.  It was fun to see the river in full use in the downtown area.

deschutes river fun

After our river walk, we headed back to the RV resort for a potluck barbeque. The park offered hamburgers and hot dogs and provided live music and about fifty “campers” brought various side dishes and desserts to add to the picnic atmosphere. We thought we might stay an hour or so and come back and play cards, but ended up being the last to leave the place at about 11:00 p.m. We joined two other couples at one table and enjoyed several bottles of wine together, finishing off the evening around one of the park’s gas fire pits. We even had a little Crater Lake hazelnut espresso vodka from a local distillery to share around the fire which added to the enthusiasm for storytelling.

The last day of Ann and Don's visit, we joined another couple from Corvallis who live here now, Gene and Candy, for breakfast at one of the more popular breakfast spots in town called Chow. They had a guitar player entertaining you while you waited for a table or enjoyed eating outside. Gene and Candy shared their passion for living in Bend and inspired us to make full use of our kayaks while here. They also have paddleboards—something I have not been interested in trying, but it did look fun on the river (vs. the ones I have seen on the ocean or Gulf). Kayaking on the alpine lakes is high on the list. Vic hurt his back a little last week, so we have been waiting for it to be stronger. We also want to put the kayaks in some of the quieter areas on the Deschutes. It looks like it would be pretty easy to pedal upstream in several places, especially those near the Old Mill and out by Sunriver. We shall investigate.

We were sad to say goodbye to Ann and Don as we probably won’t see them until next summer. I am just saying “see you later” and staying open to other opportunities for getting together that might come our way. 

One place I really wanted to go to during our stay here was the Metolius River at Camp Sherman. I fell in love with this place long ago when my boys were young and we stayed at Black Butte Ranch, another resort near Camp Sherman. Fast forward several years. We took a little day trip there with the dogs and it sure hasn’t lost its beauty. This place holds the ultimate romantic vision I have of retirement in a cabin overlooking a babbling river. I always feel spiritual when I come to this place and it did not disappointment.

Don’t know where the days have gone, This is the longest stretch I have gone without writing a blog entry. It’s been more fun to spend the days outside with such perfect weather (low 80s as a high, 40s as a low), than inside on a computer.  I am also marking the passing of my second year of retirement as a new school year starts up again—it still feels surreal not to be a part of the fall ritual of going back to school. I think I have been reveling in having no pressing responsibilities this time of year.  It sure wasn’t that way for at least three decades or even longer when I include my own schooling.

Yesterday we had a big surprise from our friends Bruce and Sharon who decided to come to Bend on their way from Seattle to LA to also check out the real estate market. They are staying at a resort about thirty minutes from here called Eagle Crest—another place I had wanted to visit on this trip. We had dinner on the balcony of their condo overlooking a canyon on the Deschutes. Here is an example of thinking you were saying goodbye for the year and then we ended up with another opportunity to reconnect. Amazing friendships!

Today was the first Oregon State Beavers home football game against Wisconsin.  Last year this time we went to the OSU vs. Wisconsin game in Madison. The Badgers shut us out; it was brutal. But, I am happy to report that the Beavers defeated them 10:7 today.  Way to go Beavs! It’s even a little bit amazing that football season is already here.  The days are supposed to get cooler this week with high in the 60s and lows in the 30s!  I am fine with the cooler days but I think Vic is going to get antsy to fire up this coach and start heading south. I promise I won’t wait so long to do another update on our stay here; hopefully, it will include kayaking in the alpine lakes!  Ciao.


  1. Whew that's a lot to take in. I've been wondering where you were. Now I can see. That's some resort you are staying at. I've found that the title "resort" doesn't always mean a thing but this one sure looks and sounds like the real thing. Although the monthly rate is more than my mortgage was. :-)

  2. Yes more than a little splurge for us. We will have to make up for it with boondocking and Passport America parks in October and November. State parks here are about $30 a night with no sewer, so the difference isn't that great. One challenge of following the good weather is we are always in high season!

  3. Sounds like you are having a great time. Love Oregon!!!

    Miss you guys

    BJ and Mike


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