After 20 years of operating one of Bend's most prominent guiding companies out of a building in their backyard, Wanderlust's owners are finally opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Bend. We recently sat down with Dave Nissan to talk about the tourism industry in Bend, the path to now and a few stories about the company's first van.
Source Weekly: So, Dave, why'd you guys open a shop?
Dave Nissan: It's the right time. Wanderlust has had specific needs ever since we started. In terms of the retail front, we have sought for a dozen years for a place that has warehouse space, retail space and met our parking needs. Finding all that was impossible. Thus, a couple years ago, we purchased a warehouse for our gear and as soon as this space opened, we pounced.
SW: Is this going to strengthen your business?
DN: Yes, it has already come to fruition. When our current or potential clientele base has the opportunity to visualize an actual office, it will enable them to walk in and say, "Gosh, I've wanted to do this for a long time." The manifestation of that is real, we've been open less than a week and we've had that kind of walk-in traffic since day one.
SW: How'd you get started in the tour industry?
DN: I knew I wanted to guide tours when I was a senior in high school. I was cruising through Europe with some buddies and we jumped on a bus tour in Paris. I thought, "Wow, this is awesome, I want to be that person up there." So I got my undergrad degree in German to market myself better to lead tours. After college, I got a job with a large tour company where I first developed my personal love for the natural and cultural world.
SW: Were there any struggles when you started Wanderlust?
DN: In 1993, we started with a nucleus of six summertime trips and there were definitely a few hiccups along the way. I remember being 31, getting my feet grounded and our greatest investment was a van with a payment of $504.14. That will forever be emblazoned in my mind. There were days when the checking account had six dollars and you wonder how you're going to get by, but you manage.
SW: Did you have any wild ideas for expanding your business?
DN: One of the things I'm proud of about Wanderlust is our innovativeness. Literally, we sit around the office, pop open beers and say, "OK, what's going to be the next cool thing that we do?" If we're serving people with extraordinary stuff, it's going to knock their socks off.
SW: What was your most memorable trip?
DN: There are too many to count but one time during a moonlight snowshoe trip it was a crystal-clear night and a guy pretended like his snowshoe was broken. He was already on one knee so he opened up an engagement ring box and the ring sparkled. The most important thing is that what we do impacts people's lives because our country is filled with an urban populace that has us sitting on our bums all day long. To remove people from that environment and allow them to see an eagle and osprey sparring for a fish—it's life changing in a way.
SW: How has recreation in Bend changed?
DN: I love the way Bend has developed in terms of their outdoor recreational pursuits. When we started, there were only a few others in town. Since then, the industry of outfitters here have all segmented themselves and they're nothing but complementary to one another. It's a very different landscape than it was 20 years ago. When you look at all of the amenities that Bend provides, it's outstanding. It's not just the outfitter guides; it's the full complement of amazing lodging and gastronomy.
SW: Is there any story behind the name, Wanderlust?
DN: It's a German word meaning "the desire to travel." Hermann Hesse wrote a book called, "Narcissus and Goldmund," about a young boy around 16 who lived in Germany and he had wanderlust. I reckon that I, too, had wanderlust and still do.
New Path Proposed South of Lava Butte
New Path Proposed South of Lava Butte
The Deschutes National Forest is proposing to construct a paved path from the north side of Sunriver to the Lava Lands Visitor Center, located just south of Lava Butte. Released last Wednesday, the Forest Service's plan includes the creation of a six-mile path, trailhead parking and a restroom at the north end of the trail.
While the trail will provide access to more of the area, the $2.3 million project has been criticized because of the number of trees that must be removed to build it, said Scott McBride, Recreation Operations Supervisor for the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District.
"Our goal is to provide a typical trailhead and bike path by taking down the least amount of trees possible, " McBride said. "We have much support from the city of Bend and Sunriver Homeowners Association for the plan."
Want to see this path come to fruition? Got something to say about the trees? A 30-day comment period ends Jan. 11 so be sure to put your two cents in fast.
Mail your comments to Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, 63095 Deschutes Market Rd., Bend, OR 97701 or email email@example.com with "Sunriver to LLVC path" in subject line. For any additional information, contact Scott McBride at 541-383-4712. (JAW)