July 7 – 9
A hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs sent us on our way to the next stop in the itinerary, my Brother’s place in Bend. We cruised into Grants Pass to get gas and ice, not stopping as usual at Cary’s for toffee as they had unexpectedly closed earlier in the year.
With Joanna taking the wheel for the first shift of driving we worked our way south on I-5 towards Medford before exiting the freeway to take a familiar route to the east and north of Crater Lake. I took over just before Highway 199 which took us up to Bend.
We arrived early in the afternoon at Chuck’s place and settled in for what would be, much like at Kamp Angst, three nights of a routine that varies little from visit to visit. We spent the afternoon talking, something we would do throughout our stay as he lives alone and when presented with an audience, has a lot to say.
Feeling the need for some Mexican food, we drove to El Caporal, a place he’s eaten at and would turn out to be quite good. We started with a pitcher of Margaritas, then ordered; for Joanna it was the Relleno and tamale combo and for I, the Picadillo Tostada with guacamole. We’d been lucky so far with our choices for this food category and this would be another successful meal.
The next day Joanna and I went out for a short ride, thinking we’d get a longer one in the following day. This wouldn’t work out as planned, but sometimes that is the way it goes. We rode towards the Deschutes River, then backtracked to head east of Chuck’s house, essentially riding up to El Caporal before stopping at a Starbucks for a snack and then returning to the house.
After getting cleaned up, I took the Highlander to a nearby car wash as it was quite possibly the dirtiest it has ever been, completely coasted from the dirt roads at Prairie Creek and Kamp Angst.
Later that day, the three of us drove out to Mount Bachelor to check out a fishing spot that Chuck had gone to just after he moved to Bend. In the intervening years though the State had come in and done some reconfiguring, trying to restore the habitat after a flood year.
We walked along the creek as Chuck tried to orient himself to what his memory was telling him it should be. It was a beautiful afternoon, warm temperatures and the lack of humidity one takes for granted living on the west coast. The volcanic mountain crests stood out sharply against the blue skies, small clusters of bright white clouds acting as exclamation points above the peaks.
We drove back into town and although a bit early, not so much so that we couldn’t stop in at Baldy’s Barbeque for dinner. Another of Chuck’s favorite places, this location, the original, is a small shop with just a few tables and booths for seating. Our waitress, in a wheelchair, served us as capably as an able-bodied person would have, something gratifying to see.
They had $4 cocktails so Joanna and I ordered one apiece and later a Boneyard RPM IPA for Joanna and a 10 Barrel S1nistor Schwarzbier for me to go with our meal. We split a Baby Back Ribs and Smoked Turkey combo with slaw and corn pudding instead of the usual Mac and Cheese. The ribs were perfect, but the smoked turkey was disappointing, not much flavor and dry. The corn pudding also wasn’t a hit, a mushy conglomeration that didn’t deliver much taste of corn. These minor criticism’s aside, we’d return just for the ribs.
The next morning, I took the Highlander to the dealer for its scheduled 95,000-mile service (four years old, we’ve put over 40,000 miles on it during three cross USA trips and the 2014 six-month journey to Europe). This took a bit longer than anticipated and by the time I got back to the house, it was too late, and too warm, to go out for a ride.
So we drove down to the Old Mill district to do some shopping at REI, then hit a couple of bike stores as I was looking for a particular style bike jersey, before heading over to 10 Barrel Brewing for our final meal in Bend. This has become a regular stop for us when in town, the surroundings friendly and comfortable, the beer and food top-notch.
Chuck ordered his usual selection the fish and chips, Joanna the Grilled Shrimp Skewer (White balsamic and chipotle glazed shrimp served over fresh watermelon and couscous with an avocado pesto) and I the Chipotle Chicken Sando (Beer marinated grilled chicken with pepper jack, lettuce, red onion, tomato, and chipotle mayo, on Big Ed’s potato bun).
Joanna’s shrimp was innovative and delicious, and I was quite happy with my sandwich, primarily because unlike so many served elsewhere, it actually stayed together from beginning to end. How many times have you attempted to eat a burger or chicken sandwich only to have to resort to knife and fork part way through as it either disintegrates or top and bottom slides off the meat.
We left the next morning for Seattle thinking we could have used another day with my brother, a bike ride beckoning but time constraints dashed that thought. We return here enough though to know that we’ll just get that ride in another time.
El Caporal: http://www.elcaporalco.com/
Boneyard RPM IPA: http://boneyardbeer.com/menu/rpm-ipa/
10 Barrel S1nistor: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16873/45496/?ba=msubulldog25
10 Barrel Brewing: https://10barrel.com/