Bend, OR - Viva la Vacation

I'm just excited to not be running anymore here 
One of the unexpected awesome benefits of the Insight program was the friendships with similar life stage and like-minded people that you develop over the course of 12 weeks by (virtually) living together. An even better unexpected perk is that when you suddenly find yourself with a job lined up, post-PhD, "vacation is all I ever wanted" mindset - then hey, there's someone else in Insight probably in the same position. In our case, Amelia and I (and her husband Tom, who was cashing in major vacation time) all wanted to celebrate our freedom with full days of intense physical activity. Since Amelia and Tom already live in Outdoorsy wonderland paradise (re: Bend, OR), I flew out to see them to evade a running race Harvey wanted me to do with him (aww shucks).

River we stand up paddle board on and ran along 
Amelia Zen
Bend is a small-ish city-town of 80 k people in central Oregon, straddling the desert and the mountains at 3600 feet. Bend is known for it's cyclocross scene and beautiful hiking, so it sounds like a Lo-dream, right? We kicked off Saturday with a slow breakfast, and then Amelia took me on an 8 mile trail run along the river with her friend Becca. Remember how I wanted to avoid running with Harvey this weekend? Yeah, that didn't work. I made it about 4ish miles before 'letting them go on' (re: not vomiting on the trail).

After running, Amelia and I regrouped and brought stand up paddle boards to the river and putsied up and down for an hour or so. It was a pristine Fall day, and I'm pretty sure a rejuvenation spa has nothing on SUP with Amelia in Bend. We capped the day with a few hours of intense at-home pinball ("Don't touch the DOOR") and then totally passed out.

Bike ride with excessively tall adopted daughter 
Sunday was the beginning of epic adventures day. Amelia and I drove out to Sparks Lake in the mountains to paddle again, but the lake was too shallow. Instead (because there are always choices in Bend), we went on a relaxing 8-10 ish mile hike around Devil's Lake and then up into the mountains. I say relaxing and mean "thank everything we weren't running again"... Amelia and Tom are in amazing trail running and mountain biking shape and consistently wore me out over the weekend.

Parents and awkward adopted daughter on Obsidian trail 

We then picked up Tom and decided to rent a bike for me (pink Santa Cruz Tall Boy!!) and do the "classic" 22 miles Bend Loop. I must admit, this was brutal for me - we steadily climbed up a mountain for 8 miles or so (> 1000 ft of elevation gain, how much more, I don't want to know) and my lungs were unhappy with this experience. Unlike Michigan mountain biking, Bend trails are dusty and rocky, featuring fewer roots and bigger everything. This is also the trip where started making jokes about me being the 'adopted daughter' they picked out to reach the high shelf (see above and to right picture).

Drinking spring water without filter O.O 
Shiny obsidian trail 
I'm just so glad not to be running! 
After summiting though, I had this amazing epiphany: mountain biking is, in fact, all about going DOWN the mountain. It was INCREDIBLE - there were jumps, fast turns, and mega air as we raced down the mountain for miles. It was truly akin to flying or something and was unbelievably fun. Most of the time when I mountain bike, I'm pretty much in perpetual fear for my life, but in Bend, it was totally different - I had a permanent massive smile radiating on my face the whole way down. Good job Amelia and Tom, you probably undid a lot of damage Michigan (re: Brighton rec, "this is not fun") mountain biking had done ;)

Monday was my last day, so obviously we had to completely exhaust ourselves. We went out by Sisters, OR and hiked Obsidian trail, a 12 mile trail. When I say 'hiked', I mean, we trail ran up (I feel so bad for myself right now) and then 'walked casually' (re: on and off running) on the summit loop and then Amelia and Tom ran down again after Lo faceplanted and gave up on running (I'm DONE).

But hey, the trail was totally beautiful. Surrounded by massive lava flow boulders, mountains, and evergreen forests, the landscape was surreal. On the summit loop, obsidian flecks coated the mountain and trail making everything sparkle. Even more, there was pristine glacial springs and subsequent waterfalls. I even drank some of the spring water and don't appear to have crippling bacteria ravaging my body right now (lottery = won). It was a beautiful trail and would definitely recommend hiking it :)

After ice cream (feeding Lo was a serious venture in Bend... I was constantly ravenously hungry), we returned to Bend for another round of mountain biking, this time with a weekly women's group. It was an awesome cool down ride between 12-15 miles or so, and we got to work on a few technical pieces, which was great for me.

Life in Bend is amazingly awesome... it's definitely a place I want to go again and maybe even live one day. So much of it reminded me of Boulder - walking through the streets at night with a clear night sky above with a visible Milky way and a outdoor focused community. Super thanks to Amelia and Tom who were AMAZING hosts and activity partners - it takes a lot to wear me out, and Amelia and Tom definitely succeed. Hopefully there will be more trips with all of us in the future !

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