city guide: bend, oregon

as chris and i have been traveling, we’ve come upon some hidden gems in both cities that surprised us and places within each of these cities that we just love. for us, we prefer to have one solid coffee spot, a great place to grab a drink and chat, a decent grocery store, and access to nature. the access to nature piece has definitely become more of a focus for us lately as we have realized that in the absence of a huge community, being out in the wild is what gives us life.

so, here is my first city guide. bend, or. bend completely captured our hearts. we had only ever really heard of eugene or portland so when chris landed a job in bend we just hoped there would be something to do. it ended up being some of the best weeks of our life. bend is located on the deschutes river and they have most definitely taken advantage of that with trails along the majority of the river. it is also so close to the mountains that you can easily summit a peak in a day. the old craftsman houses didn’t disappoint either. here are some of my favorite spots.

food, drink and shops

crux fermentation project

crux fermentation project

crux fermentation project

in one word. brilliant. the tap room is set in such a way that you can watch the sun set over the mountains. that view never gets old. crux made the sunset even greater by fashioning their happy hour a 1/2 hour before and 1/2 hour after sunset. ah, the perfect time. they also have a great little outdoor area with games and fire pits. families would come for dinner and a drink and their kids would all play together in the lawn attached. that is a great set up.

chris and i got to know the bar tender there. this ended up being the only place that we wanted to go. we didn’t even try all twelve breweries that are in bend. we tried a few and crux always won. they had a few sippable (aka boozy) beers that were to die for.

lone pine coffee roasters

lone pine coffee roasters

lone pine coffee roasters

this cute little shop is around the corner from the main drag but well worth a dip into the alley way. their chai is to die for. i was trying not to drink a ton of coffee while in bend and this chai certainly helped me out! they make it from scratch (no concentrate here) and it is spicier than most but so good. chris always got a coffee and was pretty pleased.

we made this spot our place to go to chat not work. i visited others to get work done but it was always a treat to have a coffee with chris here.


on one of our last nights in bend, we thought we should at least give another establishment a chance over crux. we chose barrio, a tapas spot. it was amazing. the atmosphere wasn’t nearly as pretentious as some tapas spots and it had a ton of vegetarian options. it was one of those meals that you don’t eat a ton of food but are so satisfied.

repeat performance sports

this cute little shop has everything you could need for all of the wonderful activities that bend has to offer. it is a second hand shop but so much of the equipment was like new. it is the perfect spot to pick up sporting gear for kayaking, cycling, camping or climbing.

things to do

tin pan theater

tin pan theater

tin pan theater

this is one of the cutest theaters. it has approximately 20 seats and comes complete with a little bar that serves beer, wine, popcorn and snacks although it has to close during the films since it’s right within the theater. the tin pan shows local or independent films. we saw one of the trippiest movies i’ve ever seen but it was worth it for the experience of the tin pan theater.

deschutes river trail

yoga on the deshutes river

yoga on the deshutes river

the river trail was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places to be. it went for miles from city park, duck pond all the way to canyons that made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere. i would take conference calls along this trail and walk and talk if i didn’t need my computer. the runs along this trail were simply wonderful. chris and i dreamed and planned for hours on this trail.

broken top mountain

jumping in the glacier lakes

jumping in the glacier lakes

this was by far my favorite hike. we left at 10:30 one morning, climbed the mountain, played around in the freezing glacier lake and was back in bend by 4 pm. not too shabby. this hike isn’t super hard and rewards you with such beautiful views and the glacier lake is pretty rockin.

paulina hot springs

digging out springs in paulina

digging out springs in paulina

this was one of the first hikes we did and it was so well worth it. we couldn’t find the lake or the springs so we finally parked in a lot and just tried to figure it out. after a short trek around part of the lake we came upon bubbling water. we found out that when you dig around these “bubbles” you create your own little hot spring. fortunately we came upon others who had shovels and so we have a nice spring dug at the side of the lake. it was certainly hot!

south sister

south sister in a storm

south sister in a storm

i’ve written about this hike before but thought i should mention it again here. this was one of the most mentally challenging hikes of my life. it starts going straight up through trees which is really quite beautiful. you get a small break on fairly flat land until you are basically walking up a gravel wall. there is also a false summit which is particularly lovely.

my advice is to steer clear of this hike is there even resembles a cloud in the sky. the first time we tried we didn’t bring much along thinking we were pretty good hikers and it would be no big deal. we got caught in a storm with winds and freezing temps. the second attempt was a sunny day and it felt like a completely different hike.

so long san francisco.

feet on the street of San Francisco

it has reached the time to leave san francisco and see what else california has to offer. i say that in a very passive way because we have been given opportunity to stay, but feel like it is time to leave. we have learned to love this city and it may have finally started to love us. but in this sweet year of travel, we have decided we need to move on.

Golden Gate Bridge at dusk

Golden Gate Bridge at dusk

it seems like we have been in san francisco for a long time. and we have. we came in the youth of fall and are leaving in the middle of winter (although this weather has certainly confused us)! so much life and transition and learning has been done here. we met amazing people and developed deep friendships with them. we learned new skills, how to be even more hipster, and what small space looks like. our definition of home changed while we were here.

Ocean Beach near sunset

Ocean Beach near sunset

we showed up on my birthday with the whole city seeming fresh and new. for the first two weeks we went on walks in all of the various neighborhoods just trying to figure out things like how pacific heights blended with the marina. or how to get from the mission to our house without going through the sketchy parts.

The Wiggle - best bike route around

The Wiggle – best bike route around

chris mastered the commute to san mateo knowing exactly when to leave our place to get to work on time. i mastered the commute down to my class at general assembly in the evenings. we learned the value of quarters for laundry and dollar bills for the bus although i was always one quarter short of a dryer load. golden gate park has the treads of my sneakers in its path from our house to the beach and back on countless runs. and the pie shop probably knows our names. i drool just thinking of that pear caramel pie.

we were able to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and niece a few times. we saw elephant seals (gross), hiked in marin, camped all over the place, and even made it down to joshua tree and san diego. on days where we stayed closer to home we found peace and space at land’s end or the presidio. it was so wonderful to be in the middle of a city but able to escape to these places at a moment’s notice.

Chris at Ano Nuevo

Chris & the Elephant Seal

Thanksgiving Day in Marin

Thanksgiving day in Marin

it is amazing what a short four months can do. i still can’t believe all that happened in that short time but it also feels like a very long time. i am so very happy to say that it felt good to pack up our apartment, throw it all in the car and move on. southern california will house us for the next few months which is somewhere i never thought we’d live.

Drinks with Glory at the Top of the Mark

Drinks with Glory at the Top of the Mark

so, we transition away from big city life, public transit, wonderful friends, an amazing church, and the hills of san francisco but i know with all my heart that God has something for us here in southern california. he will reveal himself in new and expected ways. and we will be transformed again. this i love.

i miss grand rapids.

there. i said it.

traveling is awesome. it’s amazing. i have seen and experienced some pretty awesome things in the past few months for which i am forever grateful.

but it’s not home. we try to make it home. we decorate with things that represent us and don’t take much space. we try and forget that space matters in our home and pretend we’re okay with it not representing us at all. but i miss home. i miss my house. i miss my creaky floors and paint chips and the old bones of that house.

i miss our community. i miss the evening that has no plans and a list of wonderful friends to call and have over for tea or a glass of wine. i miss being known. i miss having friends who know my story so that experiences or events that come up don’t need explanation but make sense and are woven into our story together.

i miss our cat. i will take the title of crazy cat lady any day. our cat is currently missing, roaming the streets of grand rapids and that breaks my heart. i want to cuddle with her and play fetch with her. i want a warm furry body to know when i’m sad and come and comfort me. i don’t want to be alone in an apartment, i want a cat with me (cue, pathetic cat lady).

i also know, deep within me, that this time is precious. i know we are supposed to be traveling right now even though it feels lonely and uncomfortable. i take comfort in that. i believe in that. and i also know that i will choose to live in grand rapids. it is not because i grew up there and have no other place to go. it is because i love it. it is because there are amazing people there and that is worth a lot.

for the love of november / december

i don’t quite have the right words to explain the beauty, challenges, contradictions, and wonderfulness of life right now. the pull to be back in grand rapids for the holidays but also feeling perfectly content here. envying the snow and cold, but also walking around without a coat and loving it.

so, here are a few photos of the happenings of late.

DIY Christmas Decorations

we decorated for christmas. minimal, i know, but given our transient lifestyle i really didn’t want to spend a dime on decorations. sprigs from the park it is!

view of san francsico from twin peaks

we took a sunday afternoon stroll that led us up lots and lots of stairs to some amazing views of the city.

Riley with Madison
we drove inland for some quality time with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. perfect time for a holiday photo shoot with their new one coming in february!

mike, madison, and riley

riley jumping in mud puddles

we went camping in joshua tree. i think chris rocks the camping / coffee / model look. it was really cold, but we survived with our waining michigan blood.

Joshua Tree with Coffee

painted canyons with friends

our friends from Michigan, Nancy & Ryan, joined us. it was awesome to play around joshua tree with them.

sunrise in joshua tree

walking through painted canyons

ryan walking through painted canyons

making home.

i believe we have entered phase two of our time in san francisco. that feels good.

phase one was a roller coaster. so many feelings of “this is supposed to be awesome and it isn’t.” or constantly asking “what is wrong with us? why aren’t we loving it here? ” or just sitting with the fact that maybe we aren’t big city folk. maybe.

phase two ushered itself in very oddly. i was traveling for work, chris hauled all of our belongings to a new apartment, shut the door, and headed back to grand rapids. six days later, we arrived back to a new apartment and began to make home here.

this new place has ushered in new life for us here in san francisco. we are saving money here. we have a parking spot (!!!!!). we have natural sunlight. we have a full refrigerator so our produce won’t go bad. ultimately, this new apartment feels like home and that is important given that it’s been four months since we called our home in grand rapids home.

more than a new place, something has changed on the inside. phase two ushers in a little less frantic “we have to see and do everything” and a little more “let’s lead normal life here”. this weekend consisted of laundry, organizing, cooking, and decorating our new place. that felt good. normal felt good.

we have also started to make friends. i’ve always considered myself an independent person but it can get lonely in a big city. some nights were the good kind of lonely, enjoying quiet at home. some nights were the bad “i’m doing laundry on a saturday night” kind of lonely. but through all of those days and nights, i’ve learned about this city. i’ve learned about places to go, people to see, and a pie shop to love. google maps doesn’t reign my life anymore, i can navigate.

pie at chile pies & ice cream

pie. our favorite shop. this could be trouble

last weekend we went on a hike to land’s end. it’s beautiful and literally where the land ends. we went with friends, we jumped on rocks, we climbed up cliffs and we laughed. we had good conversation, true conversation and ended the day with delicious indian food. it was a tipping point, a day where you breathe deeply, sigh, and just stand in gratefulness that you’re in this place, can enjoy this peace.

land's end, san francisco

there is a labyrinth and apparently chris being pushed over.

land's end san francisco

it won’t stay this way forever, i know that. but right now i’ve been given a gift. i have the balance of adventures and new experiences while beginning to make friends and relationships. that balance is hard, it takes work, and it is here in some small ways which i am so grateful and in awe of.

with thanksgiving approaching, i can only stand back in awe of what God has brought into my life, how he has shaped every experience in the last few months for good. how he has brought us through phases and how we trust he’ll bring us through more. this thanksgiving won’t be with my family with a midwest chill. it won’t be in a cozy large home, but it will be where we call home for now. and i’m blessed that it will be with friends. for this i am grateful.

san francisco, why are you so hard to get along with?

i have been asking this question for about the past month. why can’t i love this city? this was the city of my dreams! i would travel here for work and love it. i would feel inspired, run around and even celebrated running across the golden gate bridge! i have imagined moving to san francisco for a few years now. it’s a tech hub, people bike all over the place, there are state parks all over and the temps are stable all year long!

running golden gate bridge

me on the bridge. january 28, 2012.

after asking this question, i think that i have finally been able to come up with the answer this past week. chris and i have been talking up and down and back and forth trying to figure it out.

it’s a big city. it will be harder to find your routine.

duh. we have found it harder here to get our routine down. it’s obviously bigger than bend and so there is more to choose from which is great, right? it also makes it harder. i think we’ve nailed a walking route in golden gate park, i’ve found the coffee shop that i work from often, and a bike route that i love. it sounds crazy but simple things like seeing the same barista every day or not having to use google maps to bike downtown are huge these days.

chris is also working nights which adds a lovely dynamic. what does one do alone at night in a city? is it safe to walk here there and everywhere? we’ve been working on establishing what this means.

we’ve been traveling for over two months.

this has less to do about san francisco and more to do with our general state of being. we’ve been away from family and friends for over two months and while it has been amazing, there are large parts of us that just want to have the folks who know us well do life with us again. we realize we have an amazing community in grand rapids which makes being away harder. but, we have found an awesome church and slowly (VERY slowly) are building relationship there. this helps.

owning a car in this city is hard. and expensive.

because we’re driving around the country, we obviously depend on our car to get us from point a to wherever point b is. all of our stuff in tow. our apartment (that we’re paying my left arm for) does not include parking. this means that we are at the mercy of street parking which is hilly, unavailable and has great consequences if you don’t do it right (think a parking ticket for being over a curb and a tow for being in a tow zone a few minutes too long). they clean the streets all the time here as well so we have to watch out for that or another tow will be in our future.

our apartment is also tiny which is fine, but we haven’t figured out how to hang out here comfortably yet. essentially it’s a garage converted into an apartment so lovely old character that we appreciate doesn’t exist.

chris hanging our bikes with care. in the kitchen.

chris hanging our bikes with care. in the kitchen.

but we’re slowly overcoming this. the past few days have been awesome. we’ve felt some renewal, hope, and general excitement of being here in san francisco and using this experience to really mean something and not just to let the days pass. a few things that are wonderful:

we’re only three hours away from this cutie. 

riley drinking from straw

visits to see my brother and family are much easier. it makes sense to spend three days out there. it’s a car ride, not a plane ride. and auntie em time rocks.

the area is really beautiful if you find the right hikes (or nature walks as we call them).

walking to land's end. yes, the land ends here.

walking to land’s end. yes, the land ends here.

spending the morning watching the surfers. and wishing i was in there with them!

spending the morning watching the surfers. and wishing i was in there with them!

biking has transformed the city for me.

we ordered a U-lock from Amazon and it was probably the best investment we’ve made in a long time. we now can ride our bikes around the city with ease and lock them with care. i rode into the steelcase showroom to work this week and on my commute was surrounded by 20 other bikers. we were like a little biking community out to pedal the city together, power up the hills, and elbow those cars out of the way. it’s much more fun to bike around the city than drive. and you see so much more than just walking.

i’m taking a class.

as referred to above, san francisco is the tech hub. circumstances lended themselves just right so that i can take a 10 week coding class. that’s right, i’m a geek. i love it. having something consistent every monday and wednesday evening has been lovely. and i’ve been challenged which is good.

san francisco. you’ve been a bit harder to love than i previously thought. you make our bank account look pretty sad. your hills still make my heart race. your parking rules suck. but i believe there is something about you to love. i believe God is teaching us something through you. so, here’s to you san francisco.



saying goodbye to bend.

leaving bend

it’s  true. we said farewell to our beloved bend this past week. it blows my mind how quickly time went while we were there and also how that place felt like home so quickly. no, not even close to our grand rapids home, but it felt right.

deschuttes river trail, bend or

chris and i were reflecting on our summer and how it’s been two months since we’ve lived in our house, three months since our first wedding anniversary, and a world of craziness since then.

bend or hammock

i think bend became a refuge for us. after trying to “travel” for so many months, talking with recruiters, figuring out logistics, and finally just leaving, bend felt right. yes, it’s extremely gentrified. if you don’t like the outdoors or beer, there’s not a ton for you to do. and it’s small. but it represented something huge for me.

jumping near broken top mtn

in bend, i learned to explore again. i played in the rivers, hiked up the mountains, sat in hot springs, and took bike rides just because. in bend, i learned to live with people as a married person. i had roommates who were awesome, shared the chicken’s eggs, and lived in the same space well. they became friends. in bend, i learned that quiet time is quite alright. on the days when chris worked, i worked but also had time to be. i read, i walked along the river, i daydreamed, and i thought and sorted through a lot in my brain.

it felt healthy in bend. we were insanely active, the air was clean and cars stopped for you to walk across the street even if you weren’t in a cross walk. we made routines, established our “spots” and built some relationships.

we also missed grand rapids, missed our people and missed the events that were happening. but we were in bend. we went where we felt called and it was good. it was the gift of time, of beauty, and of exploration; both internally and outside.

i am so grateful for bend, for what it helped me think through, for the beauty it showed me, and what it gave to our marriage. will we be back? i hope so.

but for now i look ahead. we’re in a big city, people don’t stop all the time, there’s diversity. and now san francisco has something to offer. it will look very different from bend, but i’m open to receiving whatever it has for us.