THE KAERU KID: Farewell, Bend


High Desert Museum. photo by the Kaeru Kid

Bend, Ore. received its name when pioneers traveled to farmlands west of the Cascades. They forded the Deschutes River at the last hospitable place before reaching their destination and would call out “Farewell, Bend” and those that stayed here gave it the full plaintive call as its name, but when the application for a post office for the town was granted in 1886, the bureaucrats shortened the name to just Bend.

My other tadpoles (two grandsons) moved from San Diego to Bend and provided me an opportunity to try another accommodation choice besides staying with relatives, friends or couch surfing. This choice is called Affordable Travel Club ( I signed up for a $65 fee and so far had one member, an older gentleman, request a stay with me. This was a pleasant experience. He was here for a reunion with some old friends at a close-by casino. His wife was supposed to join him, but she decided not to come at the last minute.

Hosts receive $15 a day for a single guest and $20/day for a couple. The host provides a room and breakfast. Obviously, this is not for monetary gain, but a way for members to travel the world for a budget cost. In Bend, my hosts were longtime members and most of their experiences have been positive, but they did say some members’ idea of breakfast might be skimpy compared to yours.

Members are generally older than the couch surfing members, as might be expected. My stay in Bend with this couple was a great introduction to this alternate lodging experience. It was like a bed and breakfast stay at a bargain price. The hosts extended warm hospitality in a beautiful home and gourmet breakfasts were icing on the cake. We had delightful conversations only during breakfast because of my having to leave early to spend long days with the tadpoles. I look forward to more stays with members.

The Deschutes River. photo by the Kaeru Kid

Bend is a delightful four-season area that is attracting more and more residents, except for those like me who hate rainy weather and cold winters. One cannot have the lush green trees, lakes, rivers, and rainbows without rain. Timber was the main industry for years, but as that declined, tourism increased because of winter sports at places like Mt. Bachelor; road, mountain and in town bike riding; fabulous fly fishing; world class golf courses; canoe, kayaking, float tubing; white water rafting; hiking and other outdoor activities. This is no place for couch potatoes.

The regional headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service contributes to the economy. Many doctors were lured here because of the recreational activities and a regional medical center was established for Central Oregon.

Other businesses such as breweries were lured here; Bend claims more breweries per capita than even Portland, Ore. We tried a few and some had close-by top-notch restaurants associated with them.

High Desert Museum. photo by the Kaeru Kid

My tadpoles took me to the High Desert Museum, which they enjoy so much they have an annual membership. It is a highly recommended visit for the whole family to gain an idea of the wildlife in this area and a historical review of the area. On weekends, there is an area where volunteers dress and demonstrate life in pioneer days. Lavalands Visitor Center was saved for a future visit. The tourist center provides and online booklet (needs to improve its navigation tools guide):

The attractions here in Bend also drew world-class chefs who provide a wide assortment of food, although my dining experiences were limited to kid-friendly choices, and there were plenty to choose from such as Baldy’s BBQ.

The historic Old Mill District provides shopping and dining right on the Deschutes River. When the largest sawmill ceased operations, it was converted into this charming site. An art festival was held adjacent to it during my visit. The Old Town downtown provides a true small town strolling experience. Like so many other communities, they have a first Friday art walk if you are visiting then. An added incentive for shopping is the absence of sales taxes.

Bend is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. If you visit, you may end up saying “Hello, Bend” instead of “Farewell, Bend” and add your name to the census.

Las Vegas Tidbits

Knowing something that most others do not seems fun to many people and can be used as a marketing tool. The secret pizza place at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel fits this model because there is no sign, no name and is very difficult to find. Go up the escalators to the third floor and you will see Jaleo Restaurant and look left for a small narrow passage lined with album covers. At the end of this tunnel is the pizza place, which is run by two New York City guys who say their ingredients are made fresh daily. Well, I love New York-style pizza, but this place can’t compete with Famous Ray’s and others in NYC. It’s not bad, and fun to impress others about your inside knowledge of Las Vegas. Just don’t believe all the great reviews.

Settebello’s Pizza in the Henderson Green Valley area (140 Green Valley Parkway; (702) 222-3556; serves authentic Naples pizza and receives many well-deserved accolades.


The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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