A long time ago, with a waistline far, far forgotten, I skied and skied and skied at Mt. Bachelor in Bend. Fast-forward three-plus decades and Bend is again my go-to getaway spot, with a new twist. The hook is now the last surge of summer — after the kids are back in school, the sun still hangs long in the sky and the golf clubs come out to play. The snow months are cool, but Bend is just as chill when it’s warm. The tab: Harmon Park Bungalow rents for $224 per night (seasonal), plus tax and fees; $80 per person for dinner at Bos Taurus (starter, midpriced steak and side dish); and $35 per person at Trattoria Sbandati for antipasti and a pasta or secondi course, tips not included; Outdoor City USA was free.
Harmon Park Bungalow nailed the location near Drake Park — Bend’s Central Park — and it’s within walking distance of three of Bend’s 20-odd breweries. It’s not much farther to the myriad eats, shops and watering holes of downtown. I’ve rented several houses from Bluebird Day Vacation Rentals, and this two-bedroom, three-bath bungalow (with convertible sofa in the living room) had the comfort often lacking in a stand-alone rental. A broad front porch was ideal for afternoon brews, and the private, shady backyard was spot-on for grilling or chilling by the babbling fountain.
Bos Taurus is the scientific term for most types of domesticated cattle. It’s also the name of Bend’s top beef house, which features a variety of breeds, suppliers and aging techniques that eclipse the cookie-cutter sameness of many name steakeries. The Wagyu hanger steak — rib-eye meets filet —stood tall, but the overlord at our table was the dry-aged, bone-in Holstein strip loin from Flannery Beef. For dinner of another persuasion, compact Trattoria Sbandati is made warm and lively by big-hearted people who put love on a plate. Our favorites: ragù Bolognese on tagliatelle and sformato, an Italian soufflé-ish flan of eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, asparagus and béchamel.
What do you call mud, gravel, banked curves and jumps over obstacles on a road bike? Cyclocross. We watched several competitions in this European import at the first Outdoor City USA. This three-day tribute to hiking, biking, climbing and running, hitched to a street fair with beer and food, music and active-sports manufacturers and vendors, returns to Mt. Bachelor next summer, Sept. 11-13. For a more low-key activity, do not overlook Bend golf. Tetherow plays like an eons-old seaside course though it’s draped over a ridge of lava exposed by a wildfire nearly 30 years ago. Widgi Creek Golf Club combines thread-the-needle, pine-wrapped fairways and keep-you-guessing greens.
THE LESSON LEARNED
Bend is vibrant. Someone who lives in Bend is here for the outdoor lifestyle. Someone who visits Bend is here for a short-term embrace of that same lifestyle. It has nothing to do with age. An 8-year-old on a downhill mountain bike run is no more an oddity than someone in full gray mode kayaking the whitewater of the Deschutes River. Ageless. Endlessly fun.
Harmon Park Bungalow, 815 N.W. Harmon Blvd., Bend, Ore.; (541) 728-4400. Bungalow not wheelchair accessible.
Bos Taurus, 163 N.W. Minnesota Ave., Bend, Ore.; (541) 241-2735. Wheelchair accessible.
Trattoria Sbandati, 1444 N.W. College Way, Bend, Ore.; (541) 306-6825. Wheelchair accessible.
Tetherow, 61240 Skyline Ranch Road, Bend, Ore.; (844) 431-9701
Widgi Creek Golf Club, 18707 SW Century Drive, Bend, Ore.; (541) 382-4449