Don't Bug Me: a visitor's view of Bend

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Earlier this month, friends from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, who were married in Camp Sherman at the Deschutes Land Trust's Metolius Preserve five years ago, came to visit. The husband writes a column for the North Star Journal, Rhinelander's weekly newspaper. Here's his view of a visit to our fair city.

"We spent a few days in Oregon last week, Bend to be specific. Bend, where boomtown has become bust, where the gold rush of real estate investment has ground to a halt as people learn the difference between an investment and blind speculation. They thought they had the one; in fact they had the other.

Still, Bend is a lovely place and people on the sidewalk stroll along in a positive zippy manner though this may be due to the fact that from any given place on the main drag there seem at least two coffee shops in view at any time, at any place. A double shot of espresso can do wonders when the blues got you down.

We spent the days with dear friends, lazing about and doing little at all: there were no heroic ventures on this trip. Occasionally we would ride bicycles to the downtown and do what all tourists do which is to try to look like we were locals. When you do that you invariably consider every move before you make it and think about every step you take, thus causing you to wobble about and look exactly what you are which is a tourist trying to fit in.

We'd blunder about for a while and then find a coffee shop where we'd sip strong espresso, sunglasses over our eyes even in the shade as locals do.

Afterwards we'd stride off, revved on strong brew, looking zippy as any native. Then we'd make a wrong turn and look like total dufflesses.

Bend does have a lot of things going for it and in the heat of summer the high desert area houses hardly any mosquitoes. 'Had one in the room the other night' our host mused, 'first of the year'. He advised leaving the window, screen-less, wide open and we did. We also spent two evenings outside as night fell, two bug-free evenings.

After a too-short visit we flew home over snow covered mountains, Mt. Hood and Mt Bachelor, over the stubbed off top of Mt St. Helens, saw in the far distance Mt Shasta. I looked at the pure white snow, dazzling in the sun and suddenly missed winter, thought: I should have brought skis.

We arrived home as shadows stretched long across the yard. The dogs went crazy in welcome; they do not like our vacations. We lugged suitcases inside amid the chaos of jumping pups. My wife told them they were good dogs and then took them outside to check on the garden. We'd left to the promise of vegetables soon to ripen.

She was in quickly. I raised an eyebrow. 'That didn't take long'.

She had a look in her eyes that suggested some agitation. 'The mosquitoes! They're horrible."

Then the story goes on to tell of mosquito hell and finishes with:

"We spend the evenings inside, safe behind screens. Mosquitoes swarm outside. The whine of their little wings is background noise to the

sounds of a summer evening. We live in fear of going outside.

I sit on the porch, in the coolness of sunset, as darkness falls and my mind wanders, wanders to Oregon, to Bend, where boomtown has gone bust and McMansions sit empty, in foreclosure. But, hey, no mosquitoes! And snow on the mountains in July!

And I think, next time, next trip, maybe we should spend more than a couple days."

Attention VisitBend and COVA, time to roll out that "come visit our virtually bug-free part of the world" tourism campaign.


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