McMenamins Old St. Francis School
LIKE A LOCAL
From the moment I land, my own wheels start turning. Redmond airport is like the West Coast's version of Wings, where people are smiley and bags tumble out straight away. My rental SUV is steps from the exit and shockingly affordable. I cruise into Bend in 20 minutes flat.
Our home is McMenamins Old St. Francis School, a Catholic school turned hotel. Our storybook-sweet cottage, the Friary, has three bedrooms, a kitchen, and wood-burning fireplace. With its sunny porch and grassy yard, we feel like we live here, if only for the weekend.
Which helps me rationalize running an errand, on vacation, to a rather impressive REI, in the recently revived Old Mill District. (Yes, I know there are REIs everywhere, but I'm a sucker for tax-free sneakers.)
"My husband and I moved here last year from San Diego so we could have trails out our back door," says the saleswoman, an ultramarathoner who apparently churns out 18 miles along the river like it's a walk in Bend's Drake Park.Inspired, to a point, we head for the Deschutes River Trail. A 3-mile loop takes us upstream, alongside the wide, rippling black water, through a ponderosa pine forest, and over a soft, needle-strewn path and footbridge. We pass quacking ducks, great blue herons, and only one person, walking her yellow Lab.
Reports of fresh powder in the mountains put us in the mood for winter ― which, we marvel, is just 20 miles west. Snow starts to pile high alongside Cascade Lakes Highway, then boom, there's Mt. Bachelor. It's massive and pristine. No high-rise condos or chaotic village scene. We schuss down Bachelor's open slopes and pick our way through whitebark pine until the thought of hot toddies and a soak in the Turkish bath lures us back to our hotel.