For all of the groundwork laid in pursuing our bed & breakfast dream, there’s one foundation element that has been missing—where. Until Todd and I figure out where we want to live and run our inn, we can’t move forward in a meaningful way. The only thing we’ve known for sure from the get-go is that we both want to get out of California. It’s expensive, it’s crowded, and we’re ready for a change—a new adventure.
We each have our own criteria for identifying possible locations. Todd’s criteria are simple. He wants elbow room, space for a large shop, and needs to be close to mountains to support his dirt bike hobby and future dual-sport touring business.
My requirements are a little less concrete. The vision of my perfect place has more to do with how it feels than an itemized checklist of “things.” For me, the perfect place will feel like peace and ease and connection. It will be warm and spacious, and filled with light. And there will be abundant natural beauty with lots of color.
Also, having lived most of my life in California, I’m a bit of a weather wimp. I want some place that is not too hot or too cold; too rainy or too snowy. Basically I’m the Goldilocks of climate.
Of course, there are more practical considerations when choosing a location. The B&B should be either in a destination or close to a destination. Ideally, the area provides activities, attractions, events, and dining options to bring people there most of the year. We do, after all, want our inn to be a financially viable business. I also want a good source of local vendors for everything from food to amenities.
Somewhere between the practical and conceptual lies our perfect place.
Not too far afield
Other than entering essay contests for inns in Maine and Virginia, Todd and I decided to focus our location search west of the Rockies. If we’re going to pick up stakes to start a new life and business, choosing a location that wouldn’t be so different geographically and culturally than what we know seems more manageable. (I’m still having an internal battle over whether moving some place more familiar or radically different is the right path.)
Two areas rose to the top of our list—northern Arizona and southern Oregon—and so I pinned up a state map of each on my office wall. After some consideration, Todd took Arizona off the list because the dry, dusty conditions are not ideal for a good dirt-bike riding experience. That left (for now) southern Oregon, specifically Ashland and Grants Pass/Rogue River Valley. When we started studying the map, another region of Oregon caught our attention—Bend. It’s close to mountains and I have heard anecdotally that it is a desirable location for both its outdoorsy lifestyle and good weather. (Official Visit Bend literature boasts 300 days of sun a year.)
With potential destinations identified, we began planning our road trip to central and southern Oregon. I booked the B&Bs where we would stay (more on that in another post).And as luck would have it, Todd has friends in all three locations, so we had reliable sources who could give us the inside scoop on an area. After a small glitch (we had to reschedule our trip from early September to early October because of Todd’s impending layoff), we were packed up and hitting the road.
After a night’s stopover in Klamath Falls and a visit to Crater Lake, we made it to Bend. We had high hopes for Bend. From everything we read, the area had a lot to offer that interested us both and made Bend sound like a place we’d like to live. True, what we read was marketing material generated by the Bend Visitor Center. (And well done marketing materials at that. Well written, visually appealing, and a great website that extends the content. Apologies, former occupational hazard.) Still, we were hopeful.
Bend did not disappoint us. Without recounting every excruciating detail of our visit, suffice it to say that Bend and the surrounding area seem to meet both practical considerations and our individual desires, including a great sense of spaciousness.
While Grants Pass/Rogue River Valley is a lovely area, we did not get the same feeling there. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Ashland because we had to cut our trip short. We plan to visit Ashland on our way back up to Bend in a month or two. So this story is to be continued.
Whether or not Bend ends up being It for us remains to be seen. The experience, though, has given us a good sense of what we’re looking for.
In case you’re interested, here’s a list of the places we ate, drank, and stayed in Bend.
Where we stayed
Fun, eclectic décor in what used to be a boarding house for the local mill workers. The breakfast buffet was very good and the made-to-order waffles were delicious.
Where we ate
We weren’t terribly hungry, so we nibbled on a couple small plates, sides, and salads are perfect. The homemade coconut-lime ice cream was heavenly.
One of the more interesting Asian restaurants I’ve experienced, combining Japanese, sushi, Korean, and Pacific Northwest. The food was delicious, creative, and fun (Steve McQueen roll, anyone?).
A lively place with a great variety of dishes and a generous gluten-free menu. It was our last night and we both wanted something basic and simple. The risotto and roasted chicken hit the spot. I’m sorry I didn’t get the etouffee or gumbo. Next time.
Where we drank
I know it will seem like we did an awful lot of drinking while in Bend. Really, you get the best local scoop from the folks who work in bars. All in the name of research.
The Black Butte XXVII is outstanding and not to be missed, and you can only get it there. We’re sorry we didn’t bring a couple bottles home. Deschutes also makes a gluten-free beer that’s quite good.
Stihl Whisk(e)y Bar
The most extensive list of whiskeys we’ve ever seen and a great bartender to boot.
The fun, hip new bar in town. Love that they serve Pabst Blue Ribbon 40oz “trashy” (in a brown paper bag) or “classy”(in a champagne bucket).
Bend Brewing Company
Nothing fancy just good beers.
They make a variety of tasty spirits under the Crater Lakes label. The hazelnut espresso vodka and hatch green chili vodka were particularly interesting ... and tasty.
If you’re ever in Klamath Falls, go to Basin Martini Bar. They mix a great drink (try the Hazelnuttini), and Todd discovered his new favorite rye whiskey there. Not to mention, cheap!