When an Adventure Van Expo is held in a place like Bend, OR it is not hard to find willing volunteers from the Field Van team to make the trip. Bend is a growing city in Central Oregon that boasts a flowing river through town and great vibes with unique breweries and restaurants abound. About a 9 hour drive from Fresno, our team left on Thursday so we would be able to enjoy some time in the area before the expo begins. With set-up Friday evening it would give us most of the day Friday for some activities. We decided to pack it in!
First thing on the agenda was some golf at the beautiful Crosswater golf club in the community of Sunriver just South of Bend. We stayed in a friend’s driveway the night before on our arrival from Fresno. From Sunriver it is only about a 20 minute drive up to Mt. Bachelor where there is amazing skiing and boarding in the winter. However, this was Labor Day weekend so we were looking at high’s in the 90’s and decided on some golf and river time. We teed off at 9AM and had a beautiful round. It is a gorgeous course with Mt. Bachelor staring it down in the background and the Little Deschutes River winding its way through the fairways. I highly recommend a round of golf at one of the courses at Sunriver.
After 3 birdies and winning the money game it was time to send into Bend! The town of Bend sits on the Deschutes river. Once exclusively used for moving lumber through town, the river is now surrounded by parks, an amphitheater and plenty of spots to drop a raft, kayak or SUP in the water and go for a cruise. There is even a water park area half way down the river with some minor rapids to float through and a continuous wave to surf that was created in the river channel. We came prepared with a whitewater raft and some cold beverages. We dropped in above the amphitheater and floated through the water park area all the way down to another park where there is a pull out area and vehicle pick up point. It was so peaceful and the sunset was going off! Our friends from Van Wife Components who joined us couldn’t stop questioning why the entire town wasn’t out on the river. “This is just too damn nice to not be here right now!”
After deflating the raft and loading up the gear back into the van we headed to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond (about 20 minutes from Bend) to set up for the Adventure Van Expo.
The Expo officially starts at 10AM, but campers and vendors are up and at it early making breakfast, drinking coffee and cruising the show while we are getting ready for the day. It is always great seeing people we have met over the years and learning about the new products being introduced to the van world. In between answering questions for prospective buyers and giving van tours we are often greeted with smiles from customers who have owned our vehicles over the years. Since we sell our vans all over the country it gives some of our customers a chance to come say hi if we end up in their hometown. We always enjoy catching up and hearing about some of the amazing adventures they have been on in their Field Van.
As the Expo was winding down, we were scheming up our plans for the night. I mentioned an amphitheater next to the river earlier. It just so happened that Sublime with Rome and Incubus would be performing that night. While some of the vendors bought tickets to the show, we decided to take in the sounds of the show while floating on the river. With a successful scout mission the night before, we knew exactly what to do. We brought along some vendor friends from Van Wife Components, Roam Rest, Canyon Vans, and NIRVC and dropped in above the amphitheater. As we floated downstream and turned the corner, Sublime was starting their opening act. Perfect timing! It was fun to take in the beauty of the Deschutes river while singing along to some of our favorite jams from back in the day. The vibe on the river that night was amazing!
The following morning we were up and at it early again for another day of showing off our vans. It was busy for a Sunday and there was some great live music which almost carried along the energy from last night on the river. The show attendees seemed pleased with the event and we felt the turnout was definitely worth our time. As we were packing up we were invited to stay at a “hip camp” in Bend. Hip camping is where you camp on a person’s property similar to Airbnb but you bring your own camper. Smoke was starting to fan across the sky from a big fire just South. We hit one of bend’s many famous breweries to watch the sunset and then called it a night after some great conversation at camp. It will be time to send off in the morning after packing in an amazing weekend of action.