Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trip to Bend, Oregon & other news

I'll pick up where my last blog post stopped. Alethea and I survived our last adventure. That adventure involved a 20 mile bike ride down to the Clackamas mall area and back. It was a fun trip that allowed us to check out a park that I plan on doing some running in (Lents Park) and do some necessary shopping. It also allowed for us to get plenty of exercise. Portland is such a bike friendly town. It was recently ranked by as the best bicycling city in the US for 2012 (story link). The title seems to go back and forth with Minneapolis, MN for some reason which I find somewhat amusing considering the weather in Minneapolis.

I wrote in my last post that I might have some interesting developments to report with the job search. Well I can report that I have found a job! I'll be working for Cambia Health Solutions. You can read more about what all Cambia does here at this link. I will be performing a similar role to my last job at Dell. My role will be a Problem Management Analyst in the IT department. I am excited but a little anxious about my new opportunity. I have been looking forward to going back to work full-time for awhile. Many people mind find that statement crazy but I actually do miss it and I am not just talking about the paycheck either which is always nice. I miss being productive on a regular basis. I enjoy solving problems and making things run (hopefully for the better). My understanding is I will be mostly working for home with the flexibility of working in an office if I so choose. The office is only located about 3 miles away from where we live. I can even take a short bus ride from right outside our apartment or bike to work which I plan on doing at some point. Don't worry, I don't plan on blogging about work. Most people would find what I'll be doing boring even if I find it quite interesting. I will just say again that I am exited and looking forward to it. Wish me luck!

Now that I landed a new job I figured it was about time to take a vacation! I am only half kidding. I had been wanting to take a little side trip for a few weeks. Since my start date wasn't going to be for a couple weeks we decided to take a mini-vacation. We briefly kicked around a few ideas but quickly decided we would venture to Bend, Oregon.

Deshutes River Trail in downtown Bend, Oregon
Bend is a little over 3 hours way from Portland in Central Oregon. We settled on Bend for a couple reasons. It is a part of Oregon we haven't been too and it is the home of 10 breweries (along with 2 distillers) despite having a population of only 82,000 people. They even have their own REI store. Knowing how we love craft beers and the outdoors it seemed like a great fit!

The craft beer portion of our trip consisted of completing the Bend AleTrail. The way the Ale Trail works is that you pick up a passport and get it stamped at each of the breweries. Once you get a stamp from each brewery you return your passport to the visitor's center to receive your prizes. The prizes are a commemorative patch and a Silipint flexible pint cup. In four days we visited the nine breweries located in Bend and trekked 20 miles outside of town to neighboring Sisters, Oregon to earn our extra credit stamp at Three Creek's Brewing. We also included a stop at Oregon Spirit Distillers where we met the owner, his wife, their dog, and one of the distillers. We went on a brief but informative tour and purchased a bottle of their bourbon whiskey which actually may have been my favorite alcoholic beverage of the trip. It is very smooth for a bourbon. I don't normally drink bourbon that much but it is something I would recommend trying out.

Alethea & I collecting our prizes for completing the Bend Ail Trail
I am not sure I could honestly say what my favorite beer was on the trip. Alethea notated in a recent Facebook post that we drank 23 pints, 42 samples, and 8 tasters on our trip (we also stopped at Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, Oregon and Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon, Washington on the way home). Many of the beers have run together in my mind. I enjoyed most of them. Some beers were a little flat or bland while some were more favorable. I know I liked what I had at Cascade Lakes Brewing, Goodlife Brewing, Boneyard Brewing, and Deshutes Brewery. Deshutes is probably my favorite overall. There is no one brewery that is good at everything but I believe Deshutes makes more beers that I like than the other breweries based in Bend. I know my favorite is the Green Lakes Organic Ale. I only had a 4 oz sampler of it on our trip but have had it at pubs and purchased it here locally in Portland.

Alethea with the owner's dog @ Oregon Spirit Distillers
Drinking wasn't the only thing we did in Bend. We balanced our consumption by experiencing some of the beautiful scenery. On our first full day we spent several hours in the Deshutes National Forrest. We drove up Lava Butte where we could see mountains and forest land for several miles on a beautiful clear day. We then drove over to Lava Tube and attempted to hike it but didn't make too much progress hiking the 1 mile lava tube. It turns out that my headlamp flashlight batteries were weaker than I thought. I had replaced them last fall while in Ireland but have apparently worn them down again. It wasn't safe for only person to have a properly working headlamp in a pitch black cave. We then decided to drive out to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument about 25 miles away. While there we hiked on the Big Obsidian Lava Flow which was pretty neat. It is still mostly covered in snow despite it being the first of June. The altitude in this part of the park was around 6,500 feet. We also stopped at the two lakes located inside the 17 mile caldera.

Video from Lava Butte in the Deshutes National Forrest

The other two outdoors activities involved hiking. The first hike was to Tumalo Falls. Tumalo Falls is located 13 miles outside of Bend. The base of the waterfall is located right next to the parking lot. We stopped at the first observation point before walking a few tenths of a mile to the upper part of the falls. After a quick peak over the falls, we hiked about a mile or so out before returning. The other hike we did was in the city of Bend itself. We hiked the Deshute River Trail. It is in downtown Bend but is very scenic. For many parts of the trail you don't feel like you are in a city of 80,000 people.

Tumalo Falls 

In all it was a very good trip. It was nice to get out of town for a few days and partake in some of our favorite activities without spending a lot of money. We did have a budget for the trip. I believe we finished $6 under our estimate! I am sure we'll be back in Bend before too long. I heard on more than one occasion that there are 6 more breweries in the works plus we didn't even visit Mount Bachelor the 9,000 foot mountain that is 20 miles away. Bend is probably known more for its winter sports than anything else. I am looking forward to going skiing or snowboarding in the not so distant future.

Big Obsidian Lava Flow @ Newberry National Monument

That is all for this post. As far as what is next for us is concerned, we'll be volunteering at the Fruit Beer Festival this weekend. I'll be starting my new job next Thursday. Diane and Ronnie will be coming out for a visit and then we'll be volunteering at multiple other festivals in the month of July. Good thing we took a little break when we did. Hope everyone is doing well!