If you're a Central Oregon local and an archetypal Bendite, you're probably already starting to plot a course to maximize your outdoor Disneyland experience this summer. Breweries, rivers and trails, oh my.
For those who still need some direction, below are some gear tips from a tried-and-true decade-deep professional recreation and lady of high desert leisure. Try to harness the fervor you put into prepping in March 2020—hoarding toilet paper and dried goods, for example—and you'll have the summer of a lifetime!
- K.M. Collins
- While riding your bicycle in town is a recommended summer move, so is recreating in the vast lands east of Bend and Redmond, where acres of public lands get fewer visitors than the showier mountain areas.
Learn to ride a bicycle [or rickshaw]... gasp... in town!
I know what you're thinking: You don't bike. But once you see the arterial traffic congestion on each thoroughfare on a midsummer day in Bend, you will have no choice but to start riding. There is nothing worse than sitting in a car like a schmuck at dusk when the weather is pristine and you're caught at a traffic light. If you have to be in transit, at least be enjoying the evening from the saddle of a bicycle. Find your second-hand two wheeled gem on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace now, before the season is in full swing.
Pro tip: If your mountain bike is so expensive you are unwilling to lock it up outside music venues, restaurants and grocery stores, why not just get a $100 runner bike for townie riding and stop talking about how expensive your mountain bike is?
Utility hydration canteen
Whether it's a blue cobalt glass container or a HydroFlask, it's important to have a beverage receptacle that is both functional and fashionable. With an assortment of sizes and colors available, your HydroFlask will tell everyone around you that from your office desk to the trail to the music festival, you "Drink in adventure."
Pro tip: It goes without saying: single-use plastic water bottles are so early 2000s, and they pollute our bodies and environment. Choose reusable.
Fancy townie layering
This may come as a surprise, but one of the unique attributes of the high desert landscape is that from 6pm to 8pm the weather oscillates from its peak temperature of the day to its coldest. And the range can be great. For this reason, you can be sweating in the blazing sun at Drake Park in the early evening, then freezing on the Bend Brewing Company porch by sundown. Solution: layers. My combination for success is a tank top, long sleeve or hoodie and light puff—synthetic or down.
Pro tip: Pata-gucci is the top rung when it comes to outdoor apparel, closely followed by Ark'teryx. There is a happy medium between worn in and brand new you want to walk with your outdoor apparel. Don't keep it looking too fresh.
Get your floatie shopping on
Though it might seem like early season to be inflatable-animal shopping (flamingo, unicorns and alligators preferably), if you don't order your floatie now, they may be out of choice stock by the time summer hits in full force. In which case, you may have to settle for D level floaty like clear plastic reclining mattresses and innertubes. Bummer, bro. If you don't want to be the laughingstock of the Deschutes River urban corridor, order now, while supplies last.
Pro tip: If your floaty should become impaled in the lacerating lava rock in the whitewater park, kindly walk your deflated heap of plastic to the rubbish bin. Better yet, use a heavier-weight floatie not made from lightweight polyvinyl that can withstand several seasons. Bend Park and Recreation District does not recommend unicorn floaties on the river.
Armpit hair color
As per all national trends, the armpit-hair-dying bandwagon is hitting Bend about six years post prime, and it's predicted to crash land amongst locals. With many Bendites sad over their inability to express themselves through facial hair now covered with masks, armpits are the new beard. In terms of equity, women are feeling stoked about this form of expression and trend. You get what you pay for, so go for quality coloring.
Fast forward to mid-summer. If you haven't gotten out much and feel like summer is passing you by, remember one thing. Often summers in the high desert drift into the deep fall before hibernating for the winter. FOMO is the assailant of fun. Enjoy whatever the summer brings, whenever it brings you anything, in Bend or otherwise.