Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bend, Oregon--why ski anywhere else? February 20-24, 2017

This year there was no drought in California.  In fact, the California of February 2017 is a virtual skiing wonderland.  Everything is open.  The snow has come and more is coming.  Just tell us where you want to go!

Bend. We want to go to Bend, OR.  We started going to Mount Bachelor three years ago, when nary a snowflake graced the slopes of Dodge Ridge just days before our departure.  Despite the 9 hour drive..which this time actually took 8.5, even with some fairly hairy weather in the Bay Area and around Shasta, Bend is worth it for us and here are some reasons why...

1)  It's not really THAT far.  Mostly what I heard from the Tahoe goers this year was that the trip up/back was a nightmare.  Traffic, closed roads, white out conditions.  People were taking 6-8 hours to get to and from Tahoe.  Why not take another couple hours and have it be smooth sailing all the way?  I read, watch PBS episodes, listen to podcasts, I even drove a little bit this time.  Before you know it..you are there.  That being said, I do believe good fortune was on our side.  We had friends leave two days before we did and they were delayed by unprecedented FLOODING in the town of Williams on Highway 5, requiring them to take 12 hours to get to the same destination.

2)  Ladies and gentlemen, it's CHEAPER, a LOT cheaper.  Everything is cheaper--lift tickets, rental packages, accommodations...what's more?...there is no sales tax in Oregon, so when you buy four ice creams at 4 dollars a piece, you hand over a 20 and you get 4 dollars back!..not some random amount dictated by the needs of the state at any given time.  Anyway, a three out of five day adult pass ran us $205, roughly 69$ per day (Teen 165, or 55$ per day).  This was with our taking advantage of a 10% discount for buying the tickets four days in advance.  I looked up three day advanced package purchases in the Tahoe area.  Kirkwood was comparable, but you had to book 7 days in advance, and the teen deal was not as good.  Northstar's 3 of 5 adult ticket even seven days in advance was $321 or $107 a day.  THIS IS THE DISCOUNTED RATE, PEOPLE.  And let me tell you, Bachelor is every bit as much a mountain as Northstar, actually Bachelor is 1000 skiable acres bigger.
We also paid 450$ for three days of rentals for five people for the run of the mill sports package.  Big shout out to the guys at Powder House in Bend who set us up for the third time. There is some break down that occurred between adult prices and teen prices and second and third day discount prices--but this translated out to less than $17 per day.  Are you kidding me?  I won't even try to compare that to any mountain rentals, but I did look up a few "in town" rentals in Truckee and Tahoe City.  Tahoe Dave's was $30/day for a beginner package with a two day in advance reservation.  Tahoe Sports Hub was about $26.  So you see where I'm going with all this.
But there's more...We stayed in a 3 bedroom,3 bath recently renovated townhouse with a full kitchen and a stunning view of the Deschutes River for four nights during ski week for a grand total of $1087.22.  I can't imagine how that would be remotely possible in the Tahoe Area.

3)  The snow is amazing and the mountain is huge..and just seems to be getting huger!  The addition of the Cloudchaser Chair (check out this YouTube video about opening day!) added 635 acres of skiable terrain and 6.2 miles of groomed runs to the south east side of the mountain making Mount Bachelor the fifth largest ski area in the United States, and the 8th largest in North America.  It doesn't get warm enough to melt and then get hard and icy again overnight.  The powder actually stays powderey, so forgiving and soft under your skis.

THIS TIME IN BEND....

Well so far I have reported on Bend three times, and I would have to say that in terms of weather, this year fell right between the other two.  The first time we endured snowfall and winds and treacherous visibility. The second it was so sunny that we skied without hats and in sunglasses and open jackets. This time, somehow qualified by the fact the weather only permitted us to ski two days...more on that later...no snow fell, no wind blew, and we could see, but the temperature was colder than that I had experienced even in Canada and Sun Valley Idaho.  Even double gloved and double wool socked, it was hard to prevent the 6 degree temperature at the top of the mountain from turning your hands and feet into ice sausages.  I had on six layers, plus a scarf around my face.  This year I decided to get on the band wagon and wear a helmet while I skied.  The helmet provided a lot of warmth and was comfortable.  I don't know why I didn't start wearing one a long time ago.  Well, I know why..I thought it would be clumsy and I wouldn't be able to see or turn my head.  None of those things happened.

See the EXT?  well...that's the temperature outside in the parking lot
On the top of the mountain it was much colder!!

Hard to believe this is the same parking lot 24 hours later...

Gearing up for some extremely cold weather!

A few had to ask which kid this is...
Sometimes it's easier to just stay dressed..even indoors!


WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN THE WEATHER SAYS NO??

We heard around town that the weather on the mountain the day we arrived had been pretty nasty, and that maybe it would be slightly better the next day.  It wasn't.  We knew as we drove up the road to the resort that things were going to be ugly.  Howling winds near our condo gave way to blasting snow at higher elevations, and by the time we reached the parking lot the snow was sideways, slamming your car doors shut as you struggled to open them.  I trudged to the ticket window and secured our prepaid three day passes, and got the delightful information that every lift on the mountain, minus one little beginner chair, was on wind hold.  Many chairs were not expected to open the entire day.  We met for a little family pow-wow as we watched the horizontal precipitation blast away at the parked cars.  As long as we made no attempt to ski, we didn't lose the day on our three day passes.  We dragged our sorry butts back to the car and drove home.

This is the weather saying "no."

But no matter!  Make lemonade, right.  Luckily Bend has a lively downtown with lots of cozy hangouts.  We made our stop Thump Coffee.  Thump is a cute little place with seating for about 10 with another 10 at the bar.  Most of my team had the Belgian Mocha but I opted for the Spicy Mayan Mocha.  We cozied with our travel books, our magazines, and my daughter with her SAT prep stuff and made our best use of the time.


Now doesn't this look like a nice way to spend a winter day?

Right across the street from Thump is Bonta Artisan Gelato.  This place was so crazy good the first night we tried it, that we went back a second time a few nights later. Bonta has gelato made from all organic ingredients.  Many vegan flavors are featured, making it a good place for those avoiding dairy.  Unique flavors including pumpkin spice, marionberry, salted chocolate, peanut butter with chocolate and chocolate lavender tempt customers even as they stroll in from the chilly streets.  The second night I scored a big hit with the fire strachiatella, a chocolate chip and cayenne pepper concoction.  Wow!  The website said they have a pint of the month club....OH SO TEMPTING!

 Yeah, baby!  Natural Artisan Gelato goodness!!

Yeah, we were stuffed from Mexican food, but
when will you be back in Bend???

And when in Oregon, drink like an Oregonian!  After a little lunch back at the condo, Craig and I left our disinterested kids at home and made a return trip to Deschutes Brewery Tasting Room.  There is a tour you can take and we have taken it before, but this time on finding out we were going to have to wait for quite some time, we decided to go straight to the Tasting Room.  The set up is spacious, with a bar, bar tables, and friendly staff.  For free, you can select four beers from a menu of about sixteen choices ranging from the very light Deschutes River Ale to the 12.2% ABV Abyss 2016 Reserve, beer so specially crafted it has a vintage!  As the pours are about 6 ounces, there is plenty to share with a friend if between the two of you you want to try even more by requesting different things.  The beer is good.  Frankly, since coming to Deschutes the first time, we are complete converts to the brewery. My fave is the Inversion IPA, which is available at Nob Hill and Whole Foods here in our neck of the woods.
 I couldn't have said it better myself!!

My choices for the day will be.....

After all this you are ready for a little soak in the hottub and a little homemade mac and cheese while looking forward to better weather on the slopes tomorrow!



WINTER WONDERLAND!

Thank you for reading this post!  Next it's off for a little southern CA jaunt to visit colleges with my daughter.  Don't know if will make the blog, but something's bound to soon!!

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