Bending It!

Salem to Bend, the long way around.

So since many folks who read this blog find it through social media it will come as no surprise that we randomly decided to head to Bend, Oregon, for the Christmas break this year. We wanted to go somewhere we we could ski if the conditions were right but the trip did not have to be completely about skiing. Of course we looked to one of our favourite states first: Colorado. Early research showed us Colorado during winter peak was VERY expensive. So we cast a wider net. I first thought of Bend because I had been interviewed by a journalist who lived in Bend and during idle chit chat that surround the interview process that this guy was a digital nomad and chose Bend for its lifestyle. I also have a collaborator at the University of Oregon whom I queried. He mentioned his Son went to UO Cascades in Bend and, as is common in the USA got a tuition rider BUT my friend said it was probably more expensive that out of state due to frequent trips to the local ski hill, Mount Bachelor.

Time of booking versus time of writing. My height in snow later. Webcam images courtesy of Mt Bachelor.

Well that perked my interest and we found a nicely priced room at the newly built Residence Inn in town. Come December 1st and I was resigned to this being a hiking, biking and relaxing trip as there was anomalously little snow on the ground at Mt Bachelor. Well the snow dance worked and a series of atmospheric rivers dumped over 100 inches of snow (254cm) in 20 days. Yes, 10cm a day on average (for you metrically inclined). Some clicks and a significant amount of River’s college fund spent (kidding) and lift tickets were bought. Come the day to fly from Chicago I was worried Omicron and associated snarling of the aviation industry would scuttle our plans.

So, now let me address the variant in the room. Yes, we are flying and participating in activities that require congregant settings during a pandemic and amid a lot of uncertainty around Omicron. We discussed it as a family and came to the conclusion we had done everything right (vaxxed boosted, careful, masking etc) and we NEEDED this vacation. High risk, high benefit. After 2 hours of delays (well communicated and handled by United) and we were off. We had booked a night in Salem, OR, planning on passing through a lower pass in the Cascades. A helpful Facebook group helped us find a much longer but safer route (heavy snow still and an unfamiliar rental car) via the Dalles and through the desert west of Oregon. Our Christmas day drive was scenic, relaxing and fun.

Full of interesting towns, rivers and a huge gorge. Our first full day in bend (Boxing day) was a relaxed event with ~2 inches of dry pretty snow in town (and over a foot on the mountain) of enjoying craft beer and ensuring we had all we needed for our first day of skiing! The 27th (2nd full day in Bend) saw us heading into the Deschutes national forest to the mountain for our first day skiing since 2019 during “The Before”. It was a powder day! River was introduced to powder for the first time and I think they liked it. Downside: COLD. Wind Chills of -30 (at those temperatures Celsius ~ Fahrenheit). Gear worked well but there were a few failure points. After one journey above the treeline we stayed low. River did a lesson and came out linking turns well. We skied from open to 10 mins before close. A great day! Writing this on the 3rd full day in Bend (now a rest day before skiing again tomorrow) I can say I like Bend! Funky geology (volcanoes!) super friendly people and a real outdoorsy vibe. Yeah, I could live here 🙂

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