2009 Ford Flex Road Trip Rest Day: A Day in Bend
August 18, 2009
As Ferris Bueller once proclaimed, 'If you have the means, I highly recommend that you...' visit Bend, Oregon.
OK, I changed the ending around a wee bit. But today's rest day gave us a chance to sample a couple of the things Bend has to offer, and not all of them required the services of our 2009 Ford Flex.
Above, we're crossing Tumalo Creek after visiting Tumalo Falls. The trip up the unpaved national forest road has a pronounced washboard surface, but a few extra mph smooths things out for the Flex and its passengers quite nicely. Get there early if you want to have time to hike up the trail to the top -- and to avoid the evening onslaught of mosquitoes.
A lot of Bend has been built recently, and it seems that the city fathers have been sold on the merits of roundabouts. They're quite commonplace, and wherever they are traffic moves quite smoothly. It's about time, frankly, and I only wish we had more of these back home because I hate needless stops at deserted 4-way stops and signals.
We were in Bend last December with this very Flex. At the time a debate was raging in the local paper about studded tires. A disproportionate number of locals (mostly new arrivals, I'm told) had them, and they seemed caught up in an almost religious belief in the spikey treads while carrying a deep mistrust of 'mere' snow tires. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, transplants from Minnesota were wondering why everyone was overreacting, already. 'Holy smokes, dontcha know? It's just a little snow. Garsh.'
I tend to side with the Minnesota contingent. Our FWD Flex on all-season tires did just fine during our wintertime visit, and we drove on a variety of snow and ice conditions without incident. A year-'round local with dedicated studless snow tires and an AWD Flex would have been totally covered. As it was, I saw a lot of sparks flying from lots of studs around the roundabouts in town, where the snow gets cleared frequently.
Besides, look what the studs and chains have done to the road. OK, there are visitors coming to ski at Mt. Bachelor from warmer climes, and they have no choice but to use chains on the run up to the slopes. But the locals need to be weaned off the studded tires. This isn't Finland.
My wife's sister and husband are locals, and they jumped in to be our tour guides. Everyone had plenty of space and a good view out. Of course the kids had to show them how it's possible to go bowling in a Flex while rolling down the road, courtesy their Wii.
The Flex can't do everything, however. It stayed parked at our hotel at Seventh Mountain while we went for a little float trip.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 30,683 smiles