Coming over Santiam Pass, from Bend to Eugene and following the course of the McKenzie River back home was a thoughtful ride…it was indeed full of joy and melancholy. I had ridden over to Bend the day before to spend time with an old (not that he’s old) friend. Nick worked with me, first as an apprentice through the University of Oregon apprenticeship program that I had going at the time, and then as an employee. That era, his era, was unquestionably part of the heyday of my former business in downtown Eugene, OR. Rafael, Nick, Donovan, me…we were a crew. We shared pastries from the bakery around the corner, fish and chips from down the street, competed to buy the pack-up beers (I usually won!), and we shared details of our lives that only guys that work daily side-by-side can even begin to guess.
When I accepted Nick’s invitation to meet him in Bend I didn’t realize it was to be his “farewell to the PacNW tour”, as he stated it. In another 7 days, he would officially be a D.O. and would now be moving to W Virginia to complete his internship. It had been maybe 10 years since I’d seen him, now it will likely be another substantial period of time before our paths cross again. I have this dream of the 4 of us hooking up sometime, it would/will be fun!
After some initial beers…
and meeting Pat, Nick’s medical school mate at Bend Brewing Company, we settled in to our weekend…good food goes with good friends and good times. First stop…
From the “about” page of their website…
“Spork started in 2009 as a globally-inspired green-conscious mobile streetfood kitchen housed in a 1962 Airstream Tradewind that sailed the streets and events of Central Oregon serving creative delicious global cuisine and was voted Best Chow Cart in Bend every year in the Source Reader Poll.”
I can see why they won! We had Spicy Fried Chicken (me), Green Curry, (Pat) and Tacos (Nick) and in the tradition of food aficionados everywhere, shared bites. (I’m beginning to eschew the word “foodie”, as it has grown way too hipster.) Of course, being from Eugene, I really don’t have the Bend resident perspective, but I bet Spork provides one of the best overall food values in Bend. We all ate and two of us had some very tasty mixed drinks for under US$45.00…really great value.
From there we segued to some action-packed barroom pool at “The Summit”. We had their solitary old Brunswick (which is free to play) all to ourselves as the rest of Bend was engaged in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, something we opted-out on with a $25 cover down the street.
Cigars and whisky followed at McMenamins, Old Francis School O’Kanes fire pit venue with talk of old times and future hopes.
Sleeping in was easy but Nick and I were up at a reasonable hour and off to…
…Revisiting Chow, Bend, OR.
I posted a detailed review of Chow as part of this blog on July 3rd, 2012…
… and I’m happy to say that, other than the crowd that now pretty much always dictates a wait for all but the earliest arrivals, the quality of both food and experience at this admirable purveyor of delectable comestibles has been preserved. About the wait, I usually don’t do them. But it appears that Chow regulates seating by kitchen capacity, not seating capacity, I appreciate that, and the coffee is free out front!
I was all set to repeat the chicken-fried steak experience mentioned in that prior blog post when I noticed the oyster po’boy on the daily special menu. I have a policy of not typically eating seafood anywhere over 100 miles from a coastline but for this one time I made another exception and I’m really glad that I did.
A balance of flavor between the spicy tartar, homemade pickle and lightly fried oyster on this sandwich was really, really nice. It was as though without any one of those ingredients, it may have failed, which makes the medley of flavors, in my mind, perfect. Nick had a pulled-pork Benedict and seemed equally satisfied with his meal. It is fantastic to see this small restaurant thrive while apparently sticking to its original goal of local and sustainable in its offerings as much as possible!
After Chow, Nick and I rode our bikes out to Smith Rock State Park
to meet Pat, who had eaten at our hotel and arrived earlier to Smith. After hiking down to the river with Nick, I had to part company to begin my journey home, a thoughtful journey of memories and forward thinking.
On the ride home, my vision clouded momentarily as my emotions mixed with the wind in my ears. Feelings of real joy and happiness for the reunion, goodwill for Nick and Pat as they pursue their medical careers, and the realization that an era had passed, rose, faded, and rose again as shadows flickered on my helmet visor. And so it goes…new eras arise as eras end. Yet more juxtapositions… For some reason it made me think of something I made some time prior to that bygone heyday,
Black Rock Ruby: Beach-worn Oregon Granite with Ruby, set in 22K, 24K gold and Platinum. This piece embodies optimistic melancholy.
a piece that for me, embodies both melancholy derived from its symmetry with sublime, forward-looking optimism in its use of rarely combined materials. This is one of my favorite pieces from long ago. For a look at contemporary cool stuff check out Gary Dawson Jewelry Design we are having yet another heyday right now!
Happy Trails Amigo!