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  • michelle m. davis

Moving to Bend

I used to envision Oregon as covered wagons, lonely trails, desolate prairie with wide-open skies. Did I mention we are moving there?

We are not really moving. My husband, Scott, and I recently bought a vacation home in Bend, Oregon. We plan to spend a lot of the summer and winter months at our new home, but we are not ready to give up our permanent residence. Why Bend? I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.

Quite honestly, Scott and I have been contemplating buying a vacation home for the past ten years. We’ve been close, but we’ve never been able to take that final step. Although last January was my first time in Bend, Scott stayed there the previous June during a guys’ bike trip. When they came back, all of his friends warned me that he had fallen for this mountain biking mecca. Since I knew how much he loved this place, I had started conversing with a local realtor, planning to “check out” some properties on a trip there this past winter.

Still, I doubted that I would embrace this Oregon town anywhere close to how Scott had. Would I like Bend? I am pathetic on a mountain bike, and where is Bend, anyway? I’ve never heard of it!

From the start, Bend fit most of our key requirements. We wanted a place where we could be together as a couple or with our sons, enjoying our passions such as skiing, mountain biking (that would be my husband), hiking, trail running, golf, and fishing. And, since kayaks and paddleboards are staples in Bend, why not try those, too? Unlike East coast weather, Bend is unique; they said you could ski in the morning and then play golf in the afternoon. Activities are not confined to specific seasons, earning Bend the reputation of being a year-round playground!

Not only is Bend an awesome place to have fun, but it is also a fabulous town for drinking. This central Oregon location of about 80,000 boasts more coffee shops than anything else. Being that it is close to the Starbuck’s birthplace, you might assume that there would be a Starbucks at every corner. While it certainly has a presence, it is crazy the number of amazing independent coffee shops throughout the town. And if it is past coffee hour, no worries, there are over twenty incredible breweries in Bend. In fact, there is even a bar in the local ski shop. You can enjoy a local IPA while getting fitted for a week skiing at Mount Bachelor! This sets a warm vibe, attracting genuine people who love the outdoors and appreciate the good, simple things in life.

Man cannot live by beverage alone… and that is easily remedied in Bend. The food is delicious with restaurants offering a myriad of organic, tasty, succulent selections. Whether getting an Ocean Roll at Sparrow’s with your morning coffee, grabbing tacos at El Sanchez, or meeting friends at Zydeco for dinner, Bend has options for everyone. And, if you prefer to cook at home, the grocery stores are sublime. The organic produce, farm raised meats and fish, and homemade treats are endless. Try the gluten free chocolate cookies at Newport Market… best I’ve ever tasted!

All of this sounds fabulous, right? Is this the real reason we are moving to Bend? I’ve asked myself a hundred times why this place? It is in the middle of Oregon, a state I know absolutely nothing about other than misguided notions regarding desolate prairie lands as I mentioned above. There are no direct flights from Philadelphia, and it takes a full day to get there or return home. And, we are challenged with how to get our dog back and forth. What is it? Why have we found it and it’s found us? Could we be attracted to the name? Do we want to “Bend”?

Confession time… I am a very inflexible person, both physically and mentally. After years of attending a variety of yoga classes, I still cannot touch my toes or do some of the poses that seem easy for everyone else. Sure, I run, so I expect to have tight hamstrings. And, there is probably a lot about my genetically inflexible back. But, perhaps there is something else. Are years of being rigidly organized, but mentally inflexible catching up to my body? Has my strive for perfection come at a cost? Did determination to be “politically correct” and hold my tongue do more than just cause flutters in my belly? Could it be that focusing on “getting it done” was really “undoing me?” It is worth pausing and contemplating. If I were to become more mentally flexible, would my body follow? Could I increase my range of motion if I broadened my outlook and became open to new possibilities and experiences? Is moving to Bend at this time of my life an opportunity to open up and let go?

This past year I have spent a significant amount of time trying to discover what my purpose is and how can I get there. In essence, how do I become the best version of myself? Not how can I be the best, but how can I be who I am and do what I am meant to do? And then a friend suggested that there could be a correlation between the name of our new home to my personal journey. Could that be true? Yes, I’ve been working on being more flexible, living in the moment, appreciating those around me. And, I have noticed the impact of this effort. I worry less, smile more, and feel better. Is it now time for me to move to Bend, even if it is on a temporary basis, as I continue on this journey? Will being there, in that environment, promote my personal growth, allowing me the room to transform into the better version of myself that I strive to be? Will I have life experiences and encounter individuals who will assist in this path?

I believe so. January 2017 was my first trip to Bend. The weather last year was unusually cold and snowy. When we landed in LA, we learned that our connecting flight to Redmond/Bend was delayed due to the snow. Delayed is not the appropriate word – cancelled was more like it. In fact, we couldn’t get into the airport for two days. (We later learned that this was the first time in 15 years that the airport shut down due to snow.) So, Scott, my oldest son, Jack, and I were stranded in LA for two days without luggage, wearing winter clothing, I might add.

Normally, that would rock my boat to capsizing. Although I did have a toddler tantrum at the airport (both Scott and Jack were playing “not it” with who was going to tell me that our luggage was in Phoenix), my behavior subsided, and I slowly, perhaps reluctantly, embraced this opportunity. I hadn’t been in LA for 28 years, so I took a deep breath, made a hotel reservation, and committed to two days in the “City of Angels.” After a quick trip the next morning to REI for lighter clothes, we spent the day in Newport Beach with my cousin and his family… such a silver lining. For years he’s been bugging me to visit, but we were always too busy. Now was the opportunity, something that wouldn’t have happened if we connected to our flight. Hmmm…

Some people might think that this was a bad omen… a message stating, “NO – STOP – DO NOT GO TO BEND.” However, I took the exact opposite view. I looked at this as an opportunity for me to “bend” and become more flexible, living in and enjoying the moment. When people heard of me stranded in LA with no luggage for two days, they imagined me making my family’s life a living hell. However, this time, I could recognize that it was a situation beyond my control, I was capable of “going with it,” a new experience for me.

Two days later when our plane finally landed at the Redmond/Bend Airport, the trip proceeded flawlessly. Skjersaa's ski shop gave us a free day of rentals, the snow was epic, and we immediately felt at home in this town. We encountered a variety of “cool” people, all of whom were genuine, interesting, and passionate about their town and their sport! And, there was not a stereotypical Bendite…..we met people of all ages who came from everywhere.

This time what we felt was different. Sometimes you just know, and after we saw “our house,” despite the fact that the lock box was buried in three feet of snow and took our realtor twenty minutes to uncover it, we didn’t hesitate. We knew that this was the place for us. We were ready to “Bend.”


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