I don't believe in destiny.
But as I was eating a marvelously tasty Southwest Tofu Wrap at Bend's Cafe Yumm in the charming Old Mill District, I gazed at the central Oregon sky from our outside table and thought, "We could easily end up living here someday."
So call this a premonition. Or better, a desire.
After I shared this notion with Laurel, who was totally receptive to it, we talked about some of the pros and cons of moving from the Willamette Valley (rural south Salem) to the Bend area.
First con that came to mind: winter.
We come to central Oregon frequently from May through October. But hardly at all in the cold weather months. We figured that we need to brave the Santiam Pass in January or February and see what Bend is like in a non-balmy time of year.
On the pro side, we used to enjoy skiing -- both downhill and cross-country. Also, snowshoeing. If we were close to these activities, rather than having to drive several hours, we'd probably drag our 60'ish bodies into the cold and enjoy ourselves.
That's a big plus about Bend, all the nearby outdoor activities, as this glowing Sunset article says.
"Whoever visits bend, moves to Bend," people warned. So frequently, in fact, I took it to be the official motto of this always sunny central Oregon playground ― a blessedly bipolar high-desert home base, where you can trail-run along the rushing Deschutes River in the morning and hit the snowy slopes of Mt. Bachelor in the afternoon. My kind of town.
(A letter in Bend's Source Weekly from an athletic Portland guy talked about how he's a "jock" in his home town and a "woosie boy" by Bend standards.)
Driving into town, we saw the Trader Joes. And went, "ahhhhh." Actually, "ahhhhh, shit!" Because Salem recently was rejected by Trader Joes in favor of much smaller Corvallis.
Which sums up the problem with Salem: blah'ness.
Bend is a much smaller town, and has a whole lot more going for it. It just feels more alive. Given that I'm approaching my Social Security eligibility years, that quality sounds pretty darn appealing.
So, we'll see. No move is in the cards for the foreseeable future.
We need to do a lot more pondering and planning. But if there's any place in Oregon we'd move to (and naturally we don't want to leave the best state in the union), it'd be Bend.
These facts, even discounting the Real Estate web site source, are definitely on the "pro" side of the equation.
Bend has the highest average number of sunny days in the state. Clear days average 158 days per year with an additional 105 days that are mostly sunny. Many of the remaining days provide substantial sunshine.
Days that are totally cloudy do not often occur. Bend is the outdoor recreation capitol of Oregon, with snow-capped peaks dominating the skyline.
Bend is one of few places that visitors can literally ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Known as "the sunny side of Oregon," the Cascade Mountains act as a protective buffer, giving Bend only 12 inches of precipitation per year. That compares to 42" for Portland, 36" for Seattle and 20" for San Francisco.