Bend is bustling these days, over loved and filled to capacity. Floating the river can feel more like navigating bumper cars at an amusement park than a calming activity in a small town like it used to be.
This morning I joined some ladies who are mutually part of the Outdoor Women's Alliance of Central Oregon. This is the chillest, most welcoming group of outdoor women that I have run into since moving out of the state of Alaska. (I might be biased, but AK breeds chill outdoor ladies and then outsources them in my book.)
At 5:30 AM on Thursdays I wake up, wonder why I am doing this, go back to sleep for ten minutes (or twenty if truth be told) and then jump up and rush out the door to meet Lauren and Erin at the shop (and later Katie at the tiver) to load up SUPs for our 6:30 am paddle in Bend.
Every week, I am awed by the peace of Bend at that time. This morning, we paddled down through Drake Park, and I was reminded of how beautiful our town is. That time of day it almost seems like the quiet small town that I came to live when my daughter was less than 2. We spent days exploring the park, she once had Canadian Geese steal crackers from her chubby hands as we picnicked on the grass above the pond and below the hill. We used to roll down that hill over and over (there weren't junkies in the park then). I remembered their little baby faces and knowing people with smiles everywhere that we went. At 6 AM Bend is a small sleepy town and the weeping willows are peacefully resting on the slow moving water of the pond, and when I talk to these cool ladies who are new to town I feel that small town connection and am grateful for it.
People, connection, that is what I knew this town to be once. Community. It is nice to feel that again these mornings, and I look forward to the next early morning paddle where it is just ourselves, the ducks, a deer or two and the river while the town is waking to its bustling scene.
Enjoy your Thursday,
Bend Kayak School