For parents and children starting to get a little stir crazy just a few days into holiday vacation, a new book from local editor and travel writer Kim Cooper Findling might be a lifeline.
Released this fall, “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families” suggests 19 fun, affordable day trips from Bend (plus several additional side trips) that generally involve nature, views, food and beer.
As Findling puts it in the book’s introduction, “It’s not for you hardcore outdoor adventurers, unless you’re looking for something to do on your day off from being a badass.”
She has designed her itineraries for those times when you’re looking for some new spots to explore outside the city limits, entertaining visiting friends and relatives, or you want to spend a mellow day with the kids that’s also interesting for the adults (hence the beer).
“Daycations” is Findling’s third book and one she said she had been writing in her head for a long time. She quit a few of her freelance jobs and dove into writing earlier in 2016 to share her love and affection for the place she has lived for the past 20 years.
“I had done so much writing and exploring in this area, I thought this was the book I had to write — it just poured out of me,” she said. She describes “Daycations” as her invitation to others to explore and learn about this area, in a way that doesn’t have to involve gear, fear, adventure or extreme skill.
Divided into four sections — north, south, east and west — each of the 19 chapters includes basic distance and navigation information and describes a suggested itinerary for the day, complete with recommended stops for meals and beverages.
Findling strikes a conversational and humorous tone in her narratives, complete with confessions about her fear of heights (Crater Lake is not her personal favorite outing) and how to immediately alienate a campsite host (hint: lighting a campfire outside the permitted fire season will not endear you to the aforementioned host).
The author freely admits to being a sun lover, and many of the outings in the book are oriented towards warmer weather. However, there are still several that would be good options for anyone casting about for entertainment over the holidays or the coming winter weekends. Of course, adventurers should check the road and trail conditions and the weather forecast before venturing out on any of these mini-expeditions. Here are just a few options:
Summer Lake: Known as ‘Oregon’s Outback,’ the Summer Lake hot springs are 124 miles south and east of Bend. Findling recommends stopping along the way to look at ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks before continuing on to the hot springs at the lake’s south end. Don’t forget your swimsuit (even in winter).
Prineville: Only 36 miles northeast of Bend, Findling recommends Central Oregon’s oldest city for its good people, western history, interesting architecture and beautiful landscape. Even when the weather’s chilly you can explore the downtown square, the historic courthouse building and the A.R. Bowman Museum (check its website for winter hours of operation) before heading to Ochoco Brewing for some lunch and a pint.
The Painted Hills: This remote region 82 miles northwest of Bend was designated one of Travel Oregon’s ‘7 Wonders of Oregon’ and features geological formations of gentle mounds of red, pink, bronze, tan and black ash and clay layered in uneven stripes that create a beautiful and surreal landscape. Snow just makes it more dramatic.
While her first two books were released by traditional publishing houses, Findling opted to self publish “Daycations” using Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, so she could keep editorial control, use her own voice and release the book much faster.
This route wasn’t without its challenges — from researching and selecting the most suitable self-publishing option, to hiring designers for the cover and interior layouts and figuring out distribution. Even with an on-demand printing platform like CreateSpace, Findling was still responsible for various up-front costs.
Still, she says it’s been a worthwhile experience. “If you go with a traditional publisher, someone else makes all those decisions for better or worse,” she said. “Sometimes you end up with things you don’t like.”
Findling is already thinking of a second edition of “Daycations,” with around 10 more Central Oregon jaunts in mind.
“I’m not going to do that right away though,” she said. “I’ll take the next year or so to revisit all those places.”