We're in Bend, Oregon, staying at the Phoenix Inn and Suites by downtown Bend.
The hotel is a standard American offering. Form follows function. Color is added to give it personality but mostly it's a comfortable space to retreat in privacy.
A continental breakfast is offered. My wife, a purist about these matters, always wonders about this. "What do Americans think when they go to Europe and encounter a real continental breakfast? Are they shocked to discover a continental breakfast doesn't include malt waffles and eggs, unless the eggs are boiled?"
The standard American eggs in these breakfasts seem like another celebration of form over function. Other hotels offer uniform round, yellow 'scrambled' eggs. It's an egg patty, is what it is. This hotel offers a standard American cheese omelet, featuring uniform half moon yellow omelets with some cheesy substance in the middle. I have yogurt and granola, featuring that standard American yogurst, Yoplait.
Outside of the downtown, Bend is pretty much standard American with an Oregon. There is an outlet mall, Costco, real estate offices, Bi Mart stores, a big WalMart, Rite Aid and so on. Downtown has a comfortable, pleasant, slightly artsy feel, but there are similarities here with Corvalis and Grants Pass. Red pavers are used for the sidewalks and hanging flower baskets adorn each street corner. It's pedestrian friendly, full of crosswalks and sidewalks. The drivers almost always stop for pedestrians. Some just veer, which I guess is better than taking us on.
Like most Oregon small towns, there are several used book stores to explore because, you know, we need more books. Passing one last night - closed - my wife looked at it and said, "That book you're looking for is probably in there."
"Caleb Carr? The Alienist?"
"Yes, I'll bet it's in there. We'll need to come down here tomorrow and look."
You see how clever she is?
Bend, though, has a number of breweries and pubs. They also have 'The Ale Trail'. I won't attempt that this trip. In fact, I'm thinking of tapping a few of my Brains on Beer friends to make a run up here to do 'The Ale Trail'.
What gives Bend its most character remains its geographic situation and features. We drive through high desert to arrive, passing the remnants of volcanos topped with snow. The three Sisters' snow covered peaks, each over 10,000 feet high, peer down on his with bemused patience, no doubt thinking, "Now what are these humans up to?" They've been here about 170,000 years, so they've watched our antics with amusement.
Also like most Oregon small towns, there are several coffee shops. We found a fabulous one, full of character by a fringe of space between downtown, the river and the park. It has your favorite shoes' worn, comfortable feel. Called The Looney Bean, they don't have a Mexican mocha but they make an attempt and the results are enjoyable. Plus, it has that writing feel. My wife finished her coffee and drifted off to give me time to write.
"Twenty minutes?" she asks.
I wince. We're both trying but I'll yield to her. We're on vacation. It's not fair to her to leave her wander the town alone.
She has just left. Time for me to write like crazy, for at least twenty minutes.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com