Farewell to Bend

Last week I visited Farewell Bend Park. It was the last day of my stay in Bend. The evening was cloudy with some drizzle, and I sat on a wooden bench near the Deschutes river. All was quiet except for the occasional sounds of ducks wading along the river. There were no rapids, and water flowed gently and calmly. As I watched the Deschutes river, I found no significant activity. The river did not babble or ripple, and the water was neither foamy nor bubbly but was transparent. A few ducks were quacking as they glided along the gentle river. I saw a few bluebirds flapping their way, looking for prey. The woodlands on the edges of the river are homes for rare species of birds.
Deschutes river runs around 107 miles before it merges with the Columbia river gorge. It is a very shallow river, and I can wade from one end to the other at specific points. The water must be deeper at some places to allow the timber log to float in earlier days. The snow melting from the mountains flows into the river continuously throughout the year.
The river takes a sharp turn near Bend, a small town. Farewell Bend State Park lies along the Deschutes River near the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge base. The Deschutes River Trail runs the length of the park and connects the park to the Old Mill District to the northeast, to Riverbend Park across the river and to the South Canyon Bridge to the south.
This park is a popular launching location for float trips on the river in the summer and a lovely spot to watch nature, from birds in the sky to animals in the water and the natural marsh areas. I have watched several families floating along the river in colourful floats or kayaks.
Timber production was the unchallenged king in Bend for nearly a century, most of it in the Old Mill District. Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon operations ( popularly called Mill A and Mill B) were two of the largest pine sawmills in the world in 1916, running around the clock and employing more than 2,000 workers each. But both the mills closed in 1950 for lack of timber supply. The old brick powerhouse buildings and three towering smokestacks still stand, silently testifying to the district’s colourful past.
I accomplished several goals in my one-year stay at Bend. I read several new books from Bend library and continued my swimming practice at Juniper fitness centre and Larkspur aquatic centre. I loved watching the snow-capped mountains sitting in the lounge of Juniper. I learnt my driving lessons and helped a few start-ups in Central Oregon to become real. The Cascades provided me with introductory classes on volcano science and the history of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Mt.Bachelor, Broken Top and three Sisters continue to watch many travellers, including me, as silent sentinels come along their way.
I miss Bend. I miss the walk near the Pilot butte and the morning smell of Juniper and oak trees. I am sure I am not coming back.

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