This is the third in a series of posts chronicling the adventures of Lil' Louie, the smaller, plush-ier version of everybody's favorite hockey-loving blue bear, as he goes around the world to meet Blues fans in every corner of the globe. To catch all of his previous stops or to hear the genesis of this project, see here.
Today's adventure come to us via John, aka doubleduck, in Oregon.
Lil Louie made it to Bend, Oregon where one of the many mottos is "Your vacation is our life." Before we get to Lou's explorations, though, a bit about the guy that hosted him.
I grew up in Iowa where ponds freeze and hockey is a thing people actually play. It wasn't until moving to Missouri at the age of 19, though, that I really had my team. I became roommates with a bunch of people from St. Louis and my love for the Blues began there. Decades later I live in a state where hockey is not nearly as popular. Portland has the Winterhawks, but that's about it. So, sharing my love of the Blues entails watching on my television at home as seen below and texting with a close friend back in Missouri. Here Louie got to watch Jake Allen's first shutout of the season with me.
When I'm not watching them on TV, I spend my weekdays in the office reading SLGT. Louie got the joy of spending an afternoon at my desk staring at the trees out the window.
If people don't spend every, waking minute thinking about hockey in Bend, then what the hell do they do there? Well, a lot. Central Oregon, and Bend in particular, is a vacation destination for many reasons, namely beer and outdoor recreation. The biggest drawing point is probably Mt. Bachelor where the US ski team occasionally trains and where I get some turns in on my snowboard.
Another renowned outdoor locale in central Oregon is Smith Rock, where rock climbers come from all over the world to test themselves. In the picture below, that black hill in the middle of the picture way off in the distance is actually Black Butte, which I'll reference later.
Now, Bachelor and Smith Rock our outside of town but only by about 20 minutes. In town, however, are some other outdoor attractions. The Deschutes River flows right through the heart of Bend and downtown there is a small dam which creates Mirror Pond (yea, it's called a pond even though it's part of the river. Go figure.). Louie and I took a little walk in Drake Park in downtown Bend to get a shot of Mirror Pond, which will also be referenced later.
While downtown, I thought I'd swing by the local non-profit radio station I volunteer at. Shameless plug, Variable Velocity streams live online at kpov.org on Tuesday evenings (8 p.m. PST). I rotate with two other people so we each only have to volunteer every 2-3 weeks.
From there, I have to drive across town to get home. On our way, I figured I'd take Louie up Pilot Butte.
While up there, Louie got a good view of Bend and, to the west, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor were trying to peek through the clouds.
The outdoors are all well and good. But, you're probably fixated on the fact I mentioned beer earlier. Well, Bend is home to one of the larger craft beer brewers in the country, Deschutes Brewing, which is home to iconic beers like Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, each named after some of the natural landmarks noted above. The brewery just happens to be a few blocks from my office so I let Louie have a look at their facility.
Deschutes isn't the only brewery here, though. Central Oregon is home to (at last count, I believe) 24 craft breweries (18-19 of which are in Bend which has a population of about 82,000 people). While enjoying the Blues win over Anaheim, we sampled a local Bend beer, Worthy Brewing's Farm Out Saison (my neighborhood brewery), as well as another Oregon brew, Hop Valley's Citrus Mistress. Of course, my alma mater, the Oregon Ducks, kicked off their football game against Arizona State during the final minute of the Blues game, so we watched that, too.
Fortunately, although Bend doesn't have any hockey to watch, we will soon have an ice rink. Across from Deschutes Brewery (on the other side of the roundabout, which Bend city planners apparently have an infatuation with) is the rink which is supposed to open this winter. It's the structure in the background here:
It was a short but adventurous trip for Louie. I'm a little sorry to see him go as the Blues were 2-0 during his stay (and the Oregon Ducks won, too). But, he's off to Culver City, CA to visit Ashley, aka RealBadRobot, next. Bon voyage, Lil Louie, and Go Blues!!!
Lil' Louie will return next week in a California Adventure. For information on how you can get Lil' Louie to visit your corner of the globe, see the original post here. Although be warned, if you wish to sign up now you'll go to the back of the line, meaning you probably won't get to see him until at least April.