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When I travel, I always try to hit up locally owned stores and restaurants, just to give back to the community. I mean, traveling is all about destination, so if I shop at Walmart and eat at TGI Fridays and McDonalds, not only am I missing out on the culture, I’m also not being a great tourist, because I am not spending money that will go back into the community. Yes, yes. I know I constantly talk about how I eat at both Hard Rock Café and Chili’s when I travel, but 95% of my dining experiences are at family-owned restaurants and pubs, food trucks, outdoor markets or buys from the local grocers. Not only is this good for their tourism, but it helps the environment as well. The food doesn’t have to be imported, which means fuel costs are minimal and local farmers, workers and owners can keep prices lower and benefit from my dollars.
This long holiday weekend, Eric and I took a little road trip to Bend and Sunriver in Eastern Oregon. It was a 3-hour trip from home, but still seemed like we were somewhere totally different. It’s been at least 6 years since we’ve made the trip, but there was a concert we wanted to see, so we made a mini-vacation out of it. We certainly did our part to help out the Bend economy, as we dined and shopped and explored Bend-only merchants and attractions. I’ll just quickly go over what the weekend held for us, as I will be going more in-depth on some of these things in future posts.
Our whole trip was just about 36 hours, including commute time, so we made the most of our time:
|I love gas stations that have a shop that sells EVERYTHING.|
Stopped in a tiny town on the lake called Detroit to get breakfast and gas. We found a great little coffee shop/café called KC’s and got some homemade breakfast sandwiches and lattes. A bunch of locals came and went as we enjoyed our feast and picked up a locally made item as a gift before we continued on to Bend.
|Eric testing out a kaleidoscope|
|How cute is this shop?|
In Bend we stopped off downtown, since we had some time before we could check into our vacation rental. We wandered down to Saturday Market (way small compared to the one in Portland, but with many of the same things). We made a couple of purchases, like homemade, organic dog treats and a handmade colorful top. We tested out some other things, like fancy lotions and knitted ear warmers and scarves, then wandered back down the street and checked out a few locally owned shops, where we also found some goodies to buy before getting back in the car and asking our GPS how to get to our next stop:
|Who doesn't love "free" candy?|
Goody’s Chocolate and Candy Factory! Yes, we took a quick tour for just $2 each and saw candy being made and tried a bunch of samples. Not bad for $2. Somehow this turned into lunch (even though it wasn’t much, but breakfast was super filling) and we decided to find our rental and check in. Once there, I totally wished we were staying longer than one night. They had bicycle rentals, tennis courts and our room was right on the golf course…though it was super quiet even when some golfers came by on their carts to play through.
|Amazing and huge|
We got settled in, marveled at the gigantic space of our home away from home, enjoyed our porch and then looked up some dining options on Open Table. We ended up at a restaurant called The Phoenix and ordered off the 3-course menu and saved a bunch of money by not having to pay extra for soup or salad and dessert to go with our meals. After that, we were off to see Tenacious D inconcert. Amazing, but it was SO cold. Layer, layer, layer in the desert and maybe bring some of those hand warmers that are cheap and go in your pockets.
|$6 per person for all-you-can-eat pancakes and waffles with fruit and sides.|
We slept in a little and then packed up for our ride back home, but first we had some other things planned. First things first: Pancake breakfast!
|Look at these cool ice rocks!|
Fueled and ready to hit the road, we stopped at Newberry National Volcanic Monument and hiked the Lava River Cave. Super cool and eerie, you need to bring your own flashlight, headlamp or lantern or spend $5 to rent one. We brought one from home and saved and parking only cost us $5, which we could use all day at the national park grounds. Affordable! If you’re afraid of the dark, this cave is probably not something you want to do, unless – like me – you are going with someone else and it is a busy day for tourists.
|Magma Elevator shows how volcanoes work!|
We made a quick stop to check out the visitor’s center and then we drove on to visit the High Desert Museum. Oddly, it was less wildlife and more museum, but it was still pretty cool and informative and we learned about the Indians and animal life in the desert as well as the pioneers. We were entertained by a lynx, a playful otter and saw Smokey the Bear, then went in search of lunch on our ride home.
Looking for somewhere kitchy and unique, we ended up at a place called Bronco Billy’s in Sisters, where they had a great love of old Clint Eastwood movies and saloon style dining. The restaurant used to be a hotel and you can still reserve a room to dine in upstairs. We tried out their burgers, one of which boasted to have won “Best Burger in Oregon”. While it was not the best burger ever eaten by us – in or out of Oregon – they were still pretty darn tasty and filled us up for our ride home.
Total cost for the weekend: $300 and some change, not including gifts and other items we bought, but for our rental, gas, food and activities (including the concert). Obviously, we could have done it cheaper by bringing our own food and staying in a budget hotel, but not by much and a third of our budget was taken up by concert tickets, so that also would have cut our costs by a considerable amount if we had just gone to Bend to go to Bend.
I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was a success. What’s your favorite weekend getaway?