Last year when Nellie was only 6 months old we got on a plane at some terribly early hour, flew across the country, experienced layovers and two different flights to come spend the 4th of July in Bend, OR. It was totally worth it, but it was one LONG ASS TRAVEL EXPERIENCE.
Overall though it was so fun to spend the 4th in Bend with little Nellie that we decided this year to make it a tradition. The best part though being that this year we could just drive down. No more 12+ hour travel days with a baby in our lap. This year we packed all the crap you need to travel with kids in the truck and 7ish hours later we were in one of our favorite places, Bend Oregon.
I fell in love with this yard when I was dating Adam, got married in it four years ago, and still can’t get enough of watching Nellie explore and play here.
The first full day in Bend we decided to kick off our vacation by heading to East Lake for some kayaking, fishing, and general fun on the lakeshore. East Lake is the most picturesque alpine lake surrounded by beautiful pines and mountains. There are great campgrounds around the lake I definitely want to come back at some point to stay in, and the beaches on the lake are spacious and inviting.
Last year we had a 6 month old who was just starting to crawl and I had to try to entertain her in the little sunshade and keep rocks and sticks out of her mouth. It wasn’t exactly a good time. This year though we let Nellie play with her Grandparents and our niece and headed out in the kayak. Adam fished and I trailed my hands in the cool water and just took a damn deep breath.
As I mentioned on Instagram, one of the things I definitely struggle with is the appearance of having control when it comes to parenting. Parenting has so little you can control, and sleep has always been a trigger for me for my anxiety. For almost the first year of Nellie’s life I tracked every minute of her sleep with an app. I was obsessive about wake time between naps, length of naps, bedtime and amount of sleep at night. Sleep felt like a rule I could follow, there were actual guidelines with real numbers I could track and maintain! But as any parent knows, even sleep isn’t actually something you can control. It’s about as out of control as it gets! As Nellie has gotten older I’ve simmered on my control with sleep, but it’s still a trigger for me. And something like missing a nap so we can be at the lake is hard for me. My impulse is to never stretch bedtime, to makes sure to be home for naps, and to keep a schedule that allows Nellie to get the “right” amount of sleep, even at the expense of the rest of our sanity.
Thankfully Adam is there to challenge my crazy and to remind me to chill the ever loving fuck down. Did Nellie nap at exactly 12 this day? Nope. Instead did I go on the kayak while she played in the lake with her Grandparents? Yep. Did she totally 100% survive without a care in the world or even a single fuss? Yep. Did she fall asleep on the drive home? Indeed. Was she totally ok and have an awesome day? Most definitely.
It’s a struggle for me, letting go, being flexible, but I’m trying. And I’m so thankful when I listen to Adam and I do because then we all have days like this. A day I would have missed if I was beholden to a fucking nap.
One of the other great differences this year was our “annual” trip to the Sunriver Resort pool, the “SHARC”. Kiddie pool, sand play area, crazy spray park, lazy rivers, slides, you name it it’s here! It’s busy as all get out, but it’s so much damn fun. Last year Nellie was this tiny little 6 month old thing that basically just sat in the shallow end where we put her in the baby pool and kinda splashed around. We didn’t even bother swimming with her in the deeper sections, and in about 20 minutes she was cold. It was cute and all, but overall pretty underwhelming.
This year though girlfriend had her 4th of July suit and she was ready.
She loved the kiddie pool this year, walking around, playing with toys, splashing and exploring. We took her into the deeper part of the pool too to swim around, kick her feet and experience real swimming, and overall she just enjoyed herself so much more. To see the change in one year and think how much more fun she’ll have each year after year was so fun. Looking at those kids around 4 years old just losing their minds made me so excited that this place is something she can always look forward to. Before I know it I’ll be hanging in the lazy river with her!
AHHHHHHHHHH “SUP life” as Adam calls it.
One of the biggest things Adam wanted to do again this year was rent stand up paddle boards. We took our first ever trip down the Deschutes last year with our niece and it was a total blast. This year though we snuck in two trips – one 6pm sunset float, and then a second the next afternoon. It was so amazing to let the Grandparents have some time to bond with Nellie while we got some much needed adult time. Floating on the river with tasty beverages, talking about whatever, laughing, dreaming about future plans, congratulating ourselves on being so smart to move back here, doesn’t even matter.
We had had two options that first night. Either leave Nellie with the Grandparents and go to a bar for a date night, or take out the paddle boards, and Adam pushed for paddle boards. It ended up being such fun to do a sunset paddle down the river with our tasty beers, timing it just perfectly to get out around 9 as the sun slipped behind the mountains. Definitely something we needed in so many ways.
The next day we did a mid-afternoon float that lasted almost 6 hours as we tackled a different section of the river we hadn’t traveled before. This time our cooler was even bigger than before, full of more tasty beers, cocktails in our new Hydro Flasks, lunch and snacks.
The temperature was low 80’s, slight breeze, and just hours of floating, relaxing, beer drinking, house viewing, and general amazing relaxation. The great thing about the Deschutes River is that it’s extremely lazy, so you can stand up on your boards and paddle, you can paddle on your knees, sitting cross legged, or even just lay down completely flat on your board and let the river take you. For long stretches of river we’d just lay our paddles across our boards to link ourselves together and then just float.
The whole time we just kept being like, “Oh so-and-so would love this we have to make them come with us to Bend and do this with us.” I think over the course of this single float we decided everyone we know would love this and they must come to Bend with us. So, basically if you’re reading this, join us in Bend next time! You’ll love the float. I’ll bring the beers.
At a certain point near the end we got pretty hot and dared each other to jump in. I stood up and went to jump, and mid, “1, 2…” I fell in. It was super graceful and I had to repeat my jump out of shame for my fall. The water was cold as hell but it felt amazing.
I was so shocked that Adam actually jumped in. Adam will NOT swim in any dark water (river, ocean, lake) no matter how hot he is, and apparently he is capable of getting too hot and drinking just enough beers to make him brave. Always learning something new about your spouse!
Our final super exciting Bend adventure was our 2nd annual appearance at the Bend 4th of July Pet Parade! When we got married four years ago in Bend I was having my hair trial in downtown Bend on the 4th (we got married on the 6th of July) and all of a sudden in front of my salon all these people and animals began parading by! There were dogs and bikes and cows and horses and it was so fun and small town! I vowed to come back some day with my kids.
Flash-forward to last year and we brought Nellie to her first ever Pet Parade! I had an outfit, she had an outfit, and even for a little 6 month old it was a super blast! So I was really looking forward to this year since Nellie is so much more aware. Again I picked out the perfect outfit and away we went!
Once again the parade did not disappoint. Everyone in attendance from the people in the parade to the people watching were in their most decked out 4th gear. Nellie loved watching all the dogs go by, it’s fantastic people watching for both an 18 month old and a 32 year old! It’s really an awesome family event and I plan to make this a family tradition. After the parade it’s always fun to walk through the festival in the park, dip your toes in the river, and walk to one of the local breweries for a beer and a bite to eat. Overall it’s just a super fun way to spend the 4th!
We stayed almost a week in Bend, and once again it was over before we knew it. Thankfully though this time we didn’t have to worry about when the next time would be that we’d fly ourselves all the way across the country. We’ll be back in late September for a family wedding, likely back again in the winter to play in the snow, and again however many times we want in the spring and summer to enjoy all the amazing outdoor adventures Bend has to offer.
Bend is one of my favorite places of all time and I’m so glad that I get to keep bringing my kids back here and watching them fall in love with it like I have.
Or the little brats will say they hate it just to spite me and I’ll still drag them here constantly because I’m the parent and I said so. That’s why.