in defense of Bend (and, perhaps, the scrunchy)

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part three) On Friday morning we made a return visit to Pig 'n' Pancake. After breakfast, I stopped by their gift shop and picked up a stuffed animal version of their mascot and logo for a friend who's got a thing for pigs (but I had to have a picture before I gave it to her).

From Lincoln City we headed east, through Salem and across the Cascade Mountains to Bend, the hub of Central Oregon. My grandparents have lived in Bend for as long as I can remember, when you could buy a house there for $30,000. Ten years ago, when I lived there for about a year, the town was home to around 30,000. The population has more than doubled since then...which makes me feel really old, but I like being able to return to a place a couple times a year and remark on the way things have changed and grown since "my day."

I like Bend. I don't think I could live there again, at least not for awhile, but I enjoy visiting. The people are really friendly, there's a ton of stuff to do and always new restaurants to eat at, and the dress code is super casual. Most people who've been to Bend like it, but I have a friend who recently stopped there on her backpacking journey from Seattle to L.A. and she complained that Bend is a town where the scrunchy is still in style. The scrunchy is, I think, not so much in style as it is functional. The way I like to look at it, being a pretty casual person myself (although I can't say I own a scrunchy), I never feel underdressed or self-conscious in a town like Bend.

The other key to enjoying Bend is an apprecation for the great outdoors. You can play outside all year-round, from skiing on Mt. Bachelor in the winter, to kayaking down the Deschutes River in the summer. Just outside of Bend you can go spelunking, geocaching, and in general explore all manner of geological wonders, such as Big Hole, Hole in the Ground, and Crack in the Ground (yes, that's really what they're called).

My grandparents and the great outdoors is precisely why my Dad moved there in 1997. In addition to spelunking and geocaching, Bend is, apparently, not a bad place to paraglide, and paragliding is the love of my Dad's life. It's a solo sport that requires years of training and experience (unless there's a tandem pilot handy) so we spent most of the time chillin' at home, walking along the nearby creek and hanging out with my Dad's cat, Ozzy, who was my fifteenth birthday present.

Next time...more about Bend, and our return home, via a ghost town at Shaniko, the Columbia Gorge, and a red-eye flight to the South.

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