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Friday Escape – Bend, Oregon!

In a few days I will again be embarking on a trip to the Land of Exceptional Beverages.  Ryan will be racing in the 2010 Cyclocross Nationals out in Bend and I’m going out to watch, partake in the festivities surrounding the Nats and drink as much beer as possible.  If you are wondering what in the world cyclocross is, HERE is a rundown.

Or, to sum it up, cyclocross is pretty legit.  Of course people say it’s fun, but they also say it’s painful and it’s not hard to imagine that a few minutes of this would be enough for anyone to start to wonder why in the hell they are doing it.  There is obviously just something about it.

I know it might slowly be dawning on some of you, as it has been creeping up on me as well, that it is already December.  That means, yes, this race is in the cold and the snow.  It will not be warm by any means.  All the more reason for me to get bundled up in my pouffer, a ridic hat of sorts, some wool leggings and my trusty galoshes/uggs depending on the sloppiness of the course.  There will also be plenty of “yarn” for me to fashion into a warm, liquid blanket.

In addition to the races, there will be a lot of events to entertain the racers and their friends and family.  One such event is run by a fellow Minnesotan, Charles Youel, and features bike art from local artists – it’s called artcrank, and I am looking forward to seeing what the Oregonians put forth.  The show is part of a broader art show that will be taking place throughout the city.  Maybe we’ll even pick up an original piece for our walls!

And of course, there will beer…lots of beer.  Naturally, I’m excited to throw back some of the great beers I quickly grew to love from Deschutes and Cascade, or the extra yummy Rubinator at McMenamin’s.  But, I’m also excited to explore more of the beers at 10 Barrel.  Their Apocalypse IPA was fantastic and I can’t wait to see what other deliciously brewed beverages they have to offer.  I’m not too worried about missing any opportunities, as each night there are parties to cap off the day of racing and I’m assuming their will be beers a-flowin’ during the day (for the spectators, of course).

If you are going to be out there, or if you are just curious, or if you feel like you just aren’t quite jealous enough of my trip, HERE is a full schedule of the events.

So yes, in just a few days I will be knocking back mind-boggling good beers, giving people plenty of cowbell, taking lots of photos, viewing original bike art, and just having an awesome time in a fun town.  Now if only it could come sooner…

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Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Cycling, Friday Escape, Travel

 

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Islam and Terrorism are not Synonyms

A couple news stories have come out lately that have really annoyed me.  People’s aversion to Islam and Muslims is really appalling, especially in a nation that is supposed to be a beacon of democracy and a nation of immigrants.  I know that other nations are struggling with anti-Islam sentiments as well, especially in European countries with high levels of Muslim immigrants.  However, I’m an American and so, am particularly peeved at what is going on here in the U.S.

A recent article in the Economist reported on the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where locals are protesting the building of a mosque.  Signs announcing the construction have been vandalized, local “leaders” such as congressional candidates and pastors have been outspoken about the negative impact of the mosque, and construction equipment at the site has been set on fire.

Now, three of the residents have brought a lawsuit to block construction of the mosque, citing that they “have been and will be irreparably harmed by the risk of terrorism generated by proselytising for Islam and inciting the practices of sharia law.”

First, in typical religious zealousness, the pastor forgets the principles of his own religion.  What happened to love thy neighbor?  Or the general human practices of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.  Or just not being ignorant.  Instead the pastor guides his flock by inciting hatred, suspicion and bigotry by pronouncing, “We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam.”  Please. 

Are there extremists who practice Islam and may in fact either truly believe they are living by the Qur’an or use Islam as lightning rod for gathering followers and a cover for their true, non-religious motives?  Of course there are.  Very few would deny this.  However, there are extremists in virtually EVERY religion.  There are people who hide under a veil of religion to achieve non-religious goals.  There are people that truly believe that their atrocious acts are what devout followers of X religion should do.  This is not unique to Islam.  Christians do this.  Hindus do this.  There was the 1995 Sarin gas attack on Tokyo carried out by the religious group Aum Shinrikyo.  The Westboro Baptist Church protests military funerals proclaiming that those deaths were god’s punishment for our tolerance of homosexuals.  It goes on and on. 

What is completely ridiculous, and really just adds to the problem, is assuming that anyone practicing Islam is a terrorist.  Islam and Terrorism are not synonyms.  Some Muslims are terrorists, but MOST are not.  Innocent until proven guilty is how our justice system is supposed to work and as a personal value, I always try to belive the best in people and look for the positive.  This is not to say that we should all walk around wearing rose-colored glasses in a constant state of naive, delusional “the world is perfect” bliss.  But, to go over board and be suspicious of all “under the banner of Islam” is absolutely absurd.  In fact, one-fifth of the world population is Muslim.  So because a small portion of these followers of Islam are terrorists, we should believe that over 1 billion people are terrorists because they are Muslim?  Just stupid.

Another problem is the congressional candidate.  Politicians often deserve the ridiculous reputation they have earned themselves.  People make fun of them for a reason – they say dumb things, change their opinions to pander to voters, donors, party leaders or whomever else can help them in some way.  At the worst, they abuse their powers, are corrupt and don’t care about enacting any positive policies.  Of course, there are other politicians who really work hard to do the best they can to balance constituent concerns, broader national concerns, personal beliefs etc. to make tough legislative choices and represent their constituents well.  This TN candidate is likely to be more of the former if she continues to make statements such as this one where she says that she is “opposed to the idea of an Islamic training centre being built in our community”.  Besides the inherent ignorance in a statement like this, which I have addressed above, it is stupid for another more practical reason – there are already mosques in the community!  This mosque is not even a new mosque, but an existing mosque that bought a larger property.

Finally, if you are going to assume a leadership position of sorts, such as a congressional candidate or pastor, you have some sort of responsibility to the general public to be more thoughtful in what you say and to think about what the consequences might be.  Of course there are amendenments that give you a lot of leeway in what you can legally say.  However, what is legal and what is right does not necessarily go hand in hand.  As Uncle Ben says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” 

Anyways, it looks as though this case will go to the TN Supreme Court.  Hopefully they will do the right thing. 

The second story comes from Oregon, where a Somali-born teen was caught in an FBI sting in which he was plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting in Portland.  Yes, this particular person was going to do something wrong in the name of Islam.  It is fantastic that the FBI was able to catch him and that he was not able to cause any harm.  But the reaction of his community was intolerant and short-sighted.  The mosque that the the man occasionally attended was burned.  The rest of the story is here.  What about the rest of the worshippers that have done nothing wrong and simply want to attend religious services like any other religious person?  Punishments should be dealt to those who have committed crimes, not to everyone associated with them.

The most worrisome part of an increasingly ignorant view of Islam, is that it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way.  Our attitudes and news stories such as these, fuel the extremists and help them persuade people that they are right – that Americans hate Islam and Muslims.

I know we can do better, so let’s stop the nonsense.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Foreign Policy

 

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Lost Pilgrims and Fake Turkeys?

Here I am happily sipping my Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee made through our french press and listening to some holiday music on the satellite radio.  Just put down a tasty egg sandwich for bfast and am getting excited for my first holiday EVER with Ryan.  Yes, we have been together for awhile, but he usually works the holidays, but not today!  So, we are whipping on a t-giving meal just for us – Cornish game hens, baby red garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade stuffing and some incredibly delicious wine.  Although Pinot Noir is not typically my favorite, this one is really, really good.  It’s the Commuter Cuvee by Grouchau Cellars based in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Plus,  a portion of the proceeds go to the Brett Jarolimek Memorial Fund which works on bicycle safety.

We’ve also invited Captain Morgan to join us in the form of warm apple cider and rum!  Tasty, especially since its so cold and nasty outside.

Thanksgiving is kind of a weird holiday, but I like that you just get together with friends and family, eat some good food and drink some good wine/cocktails.  Then you have the haters like the ridiculous PETA girls I saw yesterday protesting in front of the White House.  Yes, they are “naughty” pilgrims.

I have nothing against people who want to be vegetarians (in fact, my good friend at Barkless Vegetables is a vegetarian), but I think PETA is a little extreme.  Leave me alone with my baby chicken.  You can’t make me eat your weird fake meat – in this case, they are peddling tofurkey.  Also, if you are going to go the way of getting your message across or garnering attention by using sexy ladies, then perhaps actually find some sexy ladies.  They look about as good as the tofurkey.

Speaking of pilgrims, while doing a little shopping at Eastern Market we came across a man who was aimlessly wandering around, perhaps looking for where he parked the Mayflower.

"It's a tall ship with big sails. Have you seen it?"

Wherever you happen to be today and regardless of how much real or fake meat you’re eating, Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2010 in Food and Drink

 

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I’m here for the bikes, beers and cowbells

My boyfriend Ryan loooooves bikes – all types of bikes.  In our tiny troll dwelling (English Basement in a rowhouse on Capitol Hill), he has 2 BMX bikes, a road bike, a mountain bike, a GIANT beach cruiser and his cyclocross bike.  While we are at it, let’s throw my one bike into the mix.  For all the math whizes out there, that is a grand total of 7 bikes in our little space.  So yes, he loves bikes.  He started out with BMX and mountain bikes when he was a kid.  Here in DC he got into road racing a few years ago.  This summer he discovered what has become his favorite bike medium – cyclocross.  I will say that it is far and away my favorite from a spectator standpoint.

If you are like I was, and I imagine most of you will be with me on this one, you have no idea what cyclocross is.  Cyclocross, or just cross, started in the early 1900s in Europe (imagine that) as a way for road racers to stay in shape in the off season.  Thus, races are typically held in the autumn and winter months.  Often, the races were “steeple chases,” because riders could cut through fields, forests, streams, etc. to get to the finish which would be in a neighboring town.  Usually as riders raced, they would keep the only visible landmark–a church steeple–in sight so that they knew where they were going.

Cross became popular here in the US in the 1970s and many of the features of cross hearken back to its earlier roots.  Courses now are off road and on grass, dirt, sand, mud, snow, etc.  Each course also has at least one spot that is a run-up where the rider must dismount the bike and run with it.

Ryan shouldering his bike

There are also barriers that require dismount.

Hup! Hup!

Most of the barriers and run-ups are placed around the areas where fans can see…mainly, the beer and food tent/pavilion.  Partially due to its European roots and probably also because it’s so cold during the race season, most of these events have some sort of beer sponsor…

Sponsored by Duvel and Ommegang

…and usually have Belgian foods (sausages, waffles, frites) and other food too.  Why Belgian food?  The Belgians are big into cross, and cycling in general, and have been fairly dominant in cross racing.  So, many of the traditions in American cross are taken from Belgium.  This explains why you will often see Flemish flags at cross events.

Lion of Flanders

However, at one point the Swiss were big contenders on the cross scene as well and as far as cross culture goes, they made a big contribution – THE COWBELL.

2009 Bend Cross Nats Cowbell

At any cross race there will be numerous cowbells that people ring as racers come by.  According to this account, the cowbell was a cheering aid that the Swiss cross team borrowed from Swiss skiers.  Then, the idea was imported into the US when the Saturn-sponsored team decided to give out cowbells as a gimmick.  And now, cross races have a fever….and the only prescription is…more cowbell!  I know, I know, easy joke but I guess it had to be made.

In addition to the awesome food, beer drinking and frantic cowbell ringing, cross just has a cooler vibe.  It’s more relaxed.  And to be honest, from the spectator standpoint, it’s just way more fun to watch.  There are the barriers which add an element of interest and an opportunity for debacle.  If America’s Funniest Home Videos teaches us anything, people generally find some sort of enjoyment, amusement or entertainment when other people get hurt.  I’m not afraid to admit that my favorite part of that show was always the rapid-fire montages of people getting hurt.  So, the barriers are a great spot to hang out, snap some good photos, and see if anyone trips up.

Plus, you still have the elements of most sports-watching that people love – you can dress up, be belligerent and cheer loudly (again with the cowbells!).  For most sports, people don’t necessarily dress in “costume” but really, when you have your team colors painted over half of your body with some crazy colored afro wig, you aren’t exactly in everyday attire.  Unless you are a clown by trade, in which case I apologize.  In cross, people wear whatever costumes they feel like wearing.

Captain Morgan or Hook or some sort of swashbuckler

Turkey hops barriers with riders

Even the riders themselves sometimes don a costume…

Cycling...a way to "clean" the environment

Piggies love the mud!

There are even some races that have a TANDEM race category.  Whoever thought of a tandem bike is nuts.  Even on what should probably be “leisurely, fun” rides with a significant other, these bikes obviously bring out some sort of inner demon in people.  We just aren’t meant to be attached – it’s unnatural!  I mean, the tandem is nicknamed the “divorce horse.”  Sounds disastrous to me.  But, in the races, it’s usually teammates or friends on the bikes.  Maybe slightly less detrimental to the riders home life, but stressful nonetheless.  The tandem course is not modified so the riders must navigate the dismounts and barriers while trying not to kick each other in the face and be able to handle the bike through tight turns on the course.

Fitting for TOMS one-for-one campaign!

Bottom line is people are loving cross, fans and riders alike, and it’s becoming more and more popular.  I’ll be off to the cross nationals in Bend, Oregon this December so I will be sure to do a follow-up post then!  In the meantime, there are many websites devoted to cross, but one blog in particular seems like it would be informational and entertaining to someone who is new to the sport.  Plus, I like the name: Mud and Cowbells.  If you ride a bike, you should look into racing cross.  If not, convince one of your bike-riding friends to take it up so you can go throw on a costume, drink tasty beers, watch some cross, and of course, ring some cowbells!

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Cycling

 

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Green Lakes…Central Oregon’s Most Popular Day Hike for a Reason

One last adventure from my trip to Bend last month….

After a very fortunate series of flight bumps due to mechanical problems, my flight leaving Bend was delayed 24 hours! This gave Ryan and I the chance to try to tackle the hike to Green Lakes!!!

Last year, when I brought the snow in September, our backpacking trip had to be cut short and we never made it to the Green Lakes area.

Soooo snowy!

This year, as we set out, it was looking a little hazy and there was a chance of rain.  Not ideal conditions and the views wouldn’t be as spectacular, but at least it was not snowing!  We decided to step off on the Green Lakes trail right from the start instead of the round about way we were going last year.  Ryan and I had a great time traipsing along this leisurely trail.

© 2010 Heather Freitag

Every so often the sound of running water added a nice soundtrack to our walk and I even got to try out some cool water shots with my camera!

© 2010 Heather Freitag

One of the most interesting things about Bend is the topography.  On the hike, there were meadows…

© 2010 Heather Freitag

dense pine forests…

Ryan in the Pines

ground up pumice stones….

The white stuff on the ground is pumice

lava flows…

From last year's snowy hike

and waterfalls…

© 2010 Heather Freitag

Along the way, you are in nearly constant company with either South Sister or Broken Top mountain.  Especially for this Midwestern girl, it is a very cool thing to be in the mountains!  Nothing like it in Minnesota, that’s for sure!  The highest point in Minnesota is Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet, whereas the trailhead for Green Lakes is at 5,400 feet and just goes up from there!

© 2010 Heather Freitag

The Green Lakes area is absolutely beautiful.  The water, not surprisingly, is a pretty shade of green – not quite turquoise and not the weird, sickly algae green of some lakes.  Broken Top reflects in the water, straight out of National Geographic.

© 2010 Heather Freitag

Click here to view more of my photos!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2010 in Hiking, Travel

 

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Out and About in Bend, Oregon: Part 2 – Land of Exceptional Beverages

After my first trip to Bend, Oregon I endearingly termed it “The Land of Exceptional Beverages.”  (It should really be their motto, perhaps I should petition them).  Adding to their goliath standing as some of the most fantastic beer to ever hit my lips, the breweries in Bend also have incredible food.  You can’t really go wrong with any brewery you choose, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Deschutes Brewery – Deschutes is probably my most favorite of all the breweries.  The beers are fantastic, food is absolutely delicious and the staff is always friendly.  Plus, I bought my first growler there, so maybe I am just bias.  My go-to beer is the Green Lakes Organic; however, their Mirror Pond Pale Ale is also tasty and has picked up lots of awards over the years including the 2010 Gold Medal for Classic English-Style Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival.  Or if you are more in the mood for something heavier or something to warm you up during the cooler months, be sure to get the Obsidian Stout – very good and chocolatey! 

My favorite food to get at the pub is whatever mac and cheese they have at the time.  Last year when I went, they had a lobster mac that was yummy and this year’s mac was even tastier – Cajun shrimp mac and cheese!  I will say, it is definitely spicy (and I cook with habeneros), so if you don’t like spicy food, don’t get it.  Other favorites from the rest of our group: Adam loved his elk burger and  french onion soup and we all agreed that the sweet potato fries were as my sister says, “bomb.”

Cascade Lakes Brewery – Cascade is a little out of the way compared to some of the others, but is definitely worth the effort.  I have also been told that it is a great place to stop in after a day of skiing on Bachelor (I have only visited Bend in September so I can’t say that I have experienced it first hand, but I can imagine that it would be awesome!).  My first time at Cascade, I made that common mistake that I mentioned in the last post – I did not order what Ryan did!  He ordered the blackened buffalo burger and it is in my top five all time best burger.  Every time that I have been to Cascade since, I have ordered the blackened buffalo burger.  I also usually go with the 20″ Brown (a deliciously malty beer) to accompany my tasty lunch.  Lots of people also like the Blonde Bombshell, which is good and more mild than most of the beers in Bend, making it a good choice for those that don’t necessarily like really hoppy beers (blasphemy!).    

10 Barrel – The newest of the breweries, 10 Barrel seems to really have gotten it right!  So much pressure is on if you plan to open up in Bend – lots of strong competition!  Still, they did a really great job of creating a good atmosphere, having a really nice outdoor space and putting together some really good beers.  My favorite was the Apocalypse IPA, which actually has crept its way up to become one of my all time favorite beers.  Did not have a chance to eat here at all, but I know Ryan and his parents liked it!

McMenamins – McMenamins was a Catholic school back in the day and was turned into a beer-drinking resort.  There are a few different bars throughout the “campus” and outdoor fire pits that you can sit around while sipping on the nectar of the Gods.  If you go to McMenamins and could only order one beer (In what world would this HORRIBLE circumstance occur, I am not sure, but let’s be prepared for anything), the one beer should be a Rubinator.  This Frankenstein concoction is a mix of two of their brews: the Ruby (a raspberry ale) and the Terminator (a stout).  For any of you that used to mix all of the pop (soda for those of you unfortunate fools who grew up outside the midwest) in the self-serve fountain station, this is what you were trying to achieve.  It’s nice to know that the common sense idea that if you like one thing and you like another, you will love them if mixed together does work from time to time!  Doesn’t always turn out that your childish ideas manifest into fantastic ones, so relish in this!  

Getting Rowdy

I love, love, LOVE microbrews and especially the beers that are all hoped up.  However, sometimes you just wanna get out and get a little rowdy.  Microbrews are not always the best choice for this….so, we went out and explored some of the other bars in Bend….

The Wall – The second night that we were in Bend (my sister’s first night), we all went to The Wall.  This bar seems to be a true local’s bar and while I understand that some local’s bars aren’t as warm and friendly to outsiders, the bartender at The Wall was absurd and incredibly rude – in fact, she was a bitch.  Jason was ordering a round for all of us and started ordering with her.  She walked away to get those drinks and when she came back he asked for the rest.  Her response…”you’re killing me.  Are you going to be ordering any more drinks?”  Now, I realize that in text only this might not be so bad.  Perhaps she was going for the sarcastic/flirty approach and trying to garner a bigger tip.  Absolutely NOT the case.  She was dead serious and clearly annoyed at us.  Let me also say, this is even more unbelievable to me as we were ordering grey goose gimlets and Hennessey.  Not only did she have the personality of a urinal cake, but she was also as dumb as a sack of hammers.   

On Saturday night, Ryan’s parents put together a bbq for all of us that was incredibly yummy.  Afterwards, Ryan and Adam decided to stay back and kick it on the patio because they wanted to get up early and do a big ride on Sunday.  Their version of taking it easy was to finish almost an entire fridge full of beers.  The rest of us (Jess, Dre, Mike, Steve, Jason and Jeff) decided to unleash the fury on the poor, unsuspecting town of Bend.  

Velvet Lounge – We started off our night here and it’s a great little spot to do just that.  The place is small and there is limited seating but we managed to get a snag a corner section pretty quickly.  Red bull vodkas woke us ladies up and got us ready to go!  Meanwhile, Jason started on his grey goose gimlets, which he drank all night and introduced to all of us (really tasty!) and Steve went for the always classy 40 of PBR. 

Summit – The Summit is mainly a mediocre spot to chill and get some beers.  However, like many things, it is what you make of it.  On this particular night, we turned this place into a dance party that could only be rivaled by a cheesy dance movie ala Save the Last Dance or Step It Up.  We were busting out moves like the running man, the fisherman, and my old roommate Liz’s “space dance” just to name a few.  There was also a whole lot of putting our hands up in the air, like its a stick up, stick up, stick up.  And when Taio Cruz  came on, we all threw our hands up in the air sometimes, saying aaaaayo.  I wanna celebrate and live my life, saying aaaaaayo.  And then the DJ would put on Usher and…Haaands up, and suddenly we all got our haaaands up.  Needless to say, the next day my side was sore from all the aggressive fist pumping that I was doing.  While we were getting dressed for brunch the next day, Jess started to try to dance to the music (she’s always dancing) and started with a calm little move until she realized how sore she was…..”I think I tore my rotator cuff dancing last night!”  Hahahaha. 

Seven – So, after showing everyone up at Summit, we were off to Seven – a “nightclub” in Bend.  What a joke!  We also went here for maybe 15 minutes one of the other nights.  During that time, someone threw a pool ball at Jason, hitting him in the back and somebody else was trying to start something with my sister mistaking her for someone with some crazy name.  Why did we go back?!  Just as the elusive number of licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop – the world may never know.  This time was more entertaining for me because there was a go-go dancer cage and all of the yahoos I was with got up in there.  I remained uncaged and took photos of the hilariousness. 

As a side note, I don’t know how I have not mentioned this yet….Mike’s arm was in a sling this whole time after having shoulder surgery just a week or so before.  Yes, Mike and his “bat wing” were up in the cage too!  While he was up there cutting a rug (my favorite old lady expression), he managed to shake loose his therapeutic ball that he is supposed to use to work his arm muscles.  Once our dancing fiend noticed that he had lost this, Dre turned to me and in a dead-serious tone said, “I know I am going to find it.  Let’s go find the ball.”  So, there we were crouching down with our cell phones scouring the dance floor and every nook and cranny of the room for a black therapy ball.  Eventually, we gave up on our quest and we all waited until the bar was clearing out for the night.  Finally Mike learned from a very dense bartender that she had found it and thrown it away.  Unbelievable.     

JC’s – A sportsbar, JC’s is cool if you want to chill, chat, play some pool, or load up the jukebox.  It also can be fun if you have a ridiculous bunch of folks who are all a little “three sheets to incoherent.”  JC’s was also the host of a major turning point for Jess and Dre.  While I was trying to get another round, my sister bounded over, shoved her phone in my face and yelled, “look what comes up when I google giblet!!!”  I immediately started laughing.  She thought I was laughing at her google findings and continued to try to discuss them with me.  “It’s a gimlet with an ‘m’ not giblet with a ‘b!'”  I finally managed to correct her.  For the entire weekend she thought they were called vodka giblets.  While Jason and I made fun of her, she called Dre over to back her up.  Sadly, yes, they both had thought it was giblet…A little while later, Jason and I tried to order girly shots while Mariah Carey was pumping from the jukebox, but we were too slow!  Turned out we would need to take gangsta shots instead.  Night went from there……

Somewhere during one of these nights, Ryan and I paid a visit to the dumpling cart.  SUCH A GOOD IDEA!  These dumplings are very, very good.  Find them and enjoy!

All and all, if you don’t have a good time in Bend, you won’t have a good time anywhere.  If you prefer a more chill mode and enjoy microbrews (this is me) then you will love all of Bend’s breweries and will have plenty to do if you try to make the rounds of all the brewpubs to sample the panoply of beers!  If you want to go out and be redonkey (my sister), then you can go out and do that too.  Or, you can combine the two ventures into one incredible weekend…trust me, I did and it was fantastic!  Such a good vacation!!!

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Food and Drink, Travel

 

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Out and About in Bend, Oregon: Part 1 – FOOD!

So, when we weren’t hiking and cliff diving at Crater Lake, what is there to do in Bend, Oregon?!  LOTS!!!  I know some of you may be thinking, “I’m not very outdoorsy,” but that will not stop you from having a good time.

Since my time there kind of blurs into one big ball of awesome, I am not even going to try to sift through it all and write chronologically.  Instead, I guess I will go by categories of deliciousness and fun!  This first part will address food and non-alcoholic beverages!

The food in Bend is not messing around.  Two of my favorite things about places to eat in Bend are that many places have outdoor seating and that most are not national chains, which makes Bend that much more unique.  To start your day, you could go to the Starbucks (one of few chains that you aren’t escaping from) or you could go to Bella Tazza, a local cafe with only 2 other locations in Oregon.  The outdoor seating area is fantastic for relaxing, catching up with friends and people watching.  I have never deviated from getting the white chocolate mocha, which is delicious.  Ryan always gets one of their teas and literally goes there every morning whenever he is home.  He recommends trying the blueberry hibiscus.

The cafe also has quite the array of patrons.  I have seen students, businesspeople, lots of dogs, a man with a parrot (he and his parrot were on a roadtrip from Arizona), people either embarking on or just finishing some sort of athletic/outdoorsy/adventure activity, and even Alec Baldwin!  Yep, Alec Baldwin.  One morning, Ryan, his friend Aaron and I were outside sipping our yummy hot beverages when Ryan’s “I see something interesting/weird/annoying/awesome” look came over his face.  He excitedly said, “There’s Jack Donaghy!” in a hushed tone.  Sure enough, Alec Baldwin walked by pushing a stroller and he and a friend went into Bella Tazza and got some drinks.  But if you are in a hurry or if the endorsement of Ryan, myself and Mr. Baldwin are not enough for you, then you could also try one of the many coffee huts – literally there is a plethora of these things.  Don’t know where any of you are from, but in my time living in Minnesota, Syracuse, Philadelphia and Washington DC I have never seen a coffee hut.  They are usually stationed in parking lots, like at a gas station for example, and you can drive up and get your coffee.

Breakfast – Oh breakfast.  The jump-start your day meal.  Most important meal of the day.  You would be hard pressed to find better options than two places across the street from one another – Big O Bagel and Westside Bakery and Cafe.  Now, I already discussed the bagels in the Crater Lake post so I will gloss over that (refresher: think salmon, or just go back and read my other post! haha).  How to describe the interior of Westside….maybe Ryan said it best when he said that it’s what places such as TGI Fridays and Applebee’s try to achieve, except that it’s real.  Covering all of the wall space and shelving are random pieces of Americana.  You can find old-school lunchboxes, cartoon action figures, mounted animals, a life-sized statue of Elvis, a running train set….you get the idea.  Is it nauseating?  Somehow it isn’t.  Maybe because it isn’t contrived and force-feeding you the idea that it’s a hometown restaurant, but instead effortlessly creates this vibe in a natural and interesting way.  And the food is awesome and filling.  If you are like me and can’t make up your mind, convince someone to order pancakes while you order a scrambler and then share!  You will not regret this.  Last time I was there, I ordered the salmon eggs benedict – yummy!

Mexican and Pizza – Two of my favorite types of food!  Pizza Mondo, Cibelli’s and Pisano’s are all good and you can buy pizza by the slice.  Mondo is a Bend one-and-only, while Cibelli’s has a few Oregon locations and one in Florida (weird, I know).  Not sure about Pisano’s…  My favorite was Mondo.  Get the after mountain special – for under $7 you get two slices and a beer of your choice.  I will also mention that Ryan had a pizza at Pisano’s after I left that he loved – the extreme hawaiian.  For Mexican, it has to be El Jimador!  Good food and really tasty Mango Margaritas!  Plus, they have a little outdoor seating area which is always enjoyable.

Afternoon treat – On one of the afternoons in Bend, Jess and I played frisbee by the Les Schwab Amphitheater and then walked downtown.  By the time we got there, we were both thirsty and wanted a fruit smoothie!  Luckily, as we rounded the corner we saw an easel with FRESH FRUIT SMOOTHIES printed in chalk.  We stopped in at the Looney Bean and got very good fresh fruit smoothies.  I really liked the vibe there and they have an awesome outdoor area that juts up to the river.  You can sit at tables, in the grass, under a gazebo or in some Adirondack chairs facing the water.  Great place to relax!

Smoothies!!!

Out back at Looney Bean

 Anthony’s – One “morning” we went here for brunch and sat out on their spectacular patio.  The view is of Mt. Bachelor and the Deschutes River, or if you are like Steve and you get the bad spot at the table, then your view is of some disgusting woman who thinks that picking at her toes is proper brunch etiquette.  Despite this (which really only affected Steve…haha), Anthony’s was great!  First off, the waiter told us from the start that if we wanted something that was not on the drink menu that it was not a problem.  Great!  I ordered a bubbly mojito (a mojito with champagne) and Dre ordered a bellini.  Everyone else ordered from the menu and we were all happy with our drinks!

The food was also very yummy and even though we were annoying with our banter about sides of fruit while trying to choose a side, our waiter was fantastic and even chimed in on the discussion.  I know you are all dying to know what it was about – the make up of a fruit side.  Dre wanted fruit instead of a salad.  I initally thought, what a delicious idea!  But then I was nervous, would it be delicious or would it be an uninteresting, unappealing cup of watermelon, honeydew and canteloupe?  I hate watermelon, dislike honeydew and am indifferent toward canteloupe.  Eventually, I decided I was being too ridiculous and bothersome and just said I would stick with my salad.  Poor choice in the end because this was the best side of fruit I have ever seen!  Pineapple, grapefruit, raspberries, etc.  Ya win some, ya lose some I suppose.

Rigoberto’s – After one absurd evening (which will be described in brief in Part 2), my fellow drink swillers and I got a cab to head back to the house.  First, let me say that it was a minivan cab which was awesome because there was a lot of us.  So, we pile in and ask the driver, “Are you the trivia cab?!”  “No.”  The driver responded.  (As an aside, we weren’t just being incredibly dumb and annoying….Bend does have a trivia cab.  If you make it to your destination with a strike remaining then your cab is free.  If not, you pay your fare).  After only about a second’s worth of disappointment, one of us chimes in with, “Caaan you be the trivia cab?!”  “No.”  Hmmmm….Not to be deterred from our quest for knowledge, one final plea was made.  “Do you want us to ask youuu triviaaa?!”  “No.”  Okay sir, got it, obviously not an Alex Trebek fan.  In that case, “Can you take us through the drive thru at Rigoberto’s?!”  Finally a yes!

Despite being busted for selling meth out of one of the locations, Rigoberto’s has delicious burritos.  Or at least, I perceived them to be.  I have never actually had one while close to sober so I guess I can’t fully put a stamp on this, but if you go, I always had the Oregon Burrito and was never unhappy with my decision.  It’s a monster burrito stuffed with carne asada steak and steak fries.  So, we pull up to the window and I make the executive decision to swing open the minivan door so that we can see the menu better and so that I can shout our orders out.  Pretty sure that cab driver hated us…I apologize sir.  Nevertheless, yummy burritos were had by all!  Well, and a quesadilla for Jess.

Stay tuned for Out and About in Bend, Oregon: Part 2 – Land of Exceptional Beverages!

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Food and Drink, Travel

 

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