In the olden days, the Deschutes River was covered with logs floating down to the Old Mill area on their way to production (in those days it wasn’t called the “Old Mill”, it was just called the “Mill” – the “Old” part is new :). Riding atop and steering those logs were the brave and fearless lumberjacks, who risked life and limb to supply our budding nation with the lumber needed to build our homes and businesses and those little bird houses that you used to make at summer camp.
Many years later, when plastic was invented and the timber boom ended, the river became quiet. Only the occasional duck or goose floated by, mooning bypassers as they fed on the river bottom. Then, a few years ago, something changed. Perhaps the river became lonely for the camaraderie of human beings and softly beckoned us. Perhaps we yearned for a connection to a simpler, more peaceful time and the soothing comfort of the natural world. Whatever. The result is that the river today is covered shore-to-shore with floaters. From the middle of June until the cold winds of August blow in from the icy North, Bendites grab anything that floats (including the inflatable alligator – one of the many benefits of the invention of plastic), gather in an enormous group at the BAT stop by Mirror Pond, shuttle up to Riverbend Park, jump in the river and float. I’ve floated. You’ve floated. We’ve all floated. What’s the attraction? To some, it’s a social scene; much like cruising (if you’re under 30, you may have to Google that). To some it’s akin to a ride at Disneyland. To some it’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of the wild and crazy pace of life in Bend. To some it’s adventure – especially for a parent at the take-out at the Colorado Bridge. To some it’s reliving the past – you can almost see the old Bend lumberjack in the modern paddle boarder, except the lumberjack wasn’t covered in tattoos, wearing a string bikini and sporting a little dog on the end of his log – though I can’t say that for sure. Summer’s here – at least for a few weeks. So grab your floaty thing and hit the river. And when you get out at Mirror Pond, come see us at the Pub for a cold one. We don’t mind if you drip on the floor.