You have friends all over the world. You just haven’t met them yet.
I’ve seen these words echoed all over the Couchsurfing website and even used them myself when describing Couchsurfing to other people. However, I did not realize how true it was until we got to Bend. Within 12 hours, I felt as if I had known all 25 or so members of the Bend Couch Crash for years. I wasn’t quite sure what my first Couch Crash would be like, so I thought I’d share my experience so you know what to expect when you make it to your first Couch Crash!
For those of you who may not know, a Couch Crash is a multi-day event organized by a group of locals, showcasing the best of their city. Travelers from California, Canada, Connecticut, Boston, and even northern England all came to Bend to appreciate the Bend breweries, lava caves, and the total solar eclipse visible from nearby Redmond.
We (myself, my coworker Josh, his roommate Zach, and my boyfriend Spencer) drove up from San Francisco and arrived in Oregon early Friday morning. We met up with Connecticut Ambassador Jason and his partner, Lee, at Crater Lake for a beautiful hike and to catch up before the Couch Crash kickoff party. There, we found a patch of snow (in August!) and couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a silly picture with Couchsurfing beach balls and sunglasses from the Couchsurfing store.
Lava Tunnels, Deschutes Brewery, and Arcade Games
On Saturday, we all met up in the morning to break into our organized groups. There was a choice of 4 different activities, but most of us chose the same one – to check out Boyd Cave! A few people had been to the Bend Couch Crash three years ago, and had seen the caves then – they opted to walk around the Farmer’s Market instead.
Boyd Cave is a lava tunnel slightly outside of Bend. From the outside, it looked like just a hole in the ground with a ladder – but once we descended the ladder, it was like we were in another world! We walked along the network of tunnels with our headlamps, climbing over walks and exploring variations along the wall. At times, the tunnel narrowed and we had to climb through on our hands and knees – at one point, the tunnel was too small even for that and we slithered through like a snake.
Once back out of the cave, we all realized we were starving – climbing through pitch black tunnels is no walk in the park! We met up with the rest of the crew and some Bend locals who hadn’t joined us for the cave tour at the Lot, a food truck park in Bend, where we gorged on delicious food and swapped stories about travel, Couchsurfing, and our day-to-day lives.
In the afternoon, the group split up once again, with half touring Deschutes Brewery and the other half walking around Downtown Bend, checking out art galleries and shops. We met back up in the late afternoon
As always when you’re Couchsurfing, it’s important to take time out to get to know your host – so Saturday evening was reserved for just that! We all split up to share dinner with our hosts. Spencer and I were staying with Liana, one of the Couch Crash organizers, so we joined Liana, her husband Peter, her other two surfers for a wonderful dinner near their house, before heading back out with the whole crew to enjoy beer and arcade games at a local bar.
Liana opened her home and kitchen to the entire Couch Crash for a scrumptious pancake and mimosa breakfast. We had a whole crew of helpers flipping pancakes, serving up bacon and eggs, and making mimosas. Liana even accepted Jason’s challenge from the night before: Peanut Butter & Jelly pancakes!
Bend is a lovely, picturesque town made all the more beautiful by a lazy river winding it’s way through the river. On the weekends, it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of people on floats of all shapes and sizes, making their way down the river. Our trip to Bend wouldn’t be complete without a float in the river – so after we’d eaten hundreds (it seemed) of pancakes, we packed up our stuff and floated down the river.
After a leisurely dinner at the Lot again, we concluded the Couch Crash – but most of us didn’t say goodbye yet! Just north of Bend, in Redmond, Oregon, was the line of totality for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – and we couldn’t miss it.
Redmond, Oregon was set to experience 47 seconds of totality at 10:21 am, and was just a few miles north of Bend. However, with scary news reports predicting “The Worst Traffic Jam of All Time”, we wanted to make sure we left with plenty of time to spare. So we headed up at 6am, and enjoyed a traffic-free drive towards Centennial Park in Redmond, Oregon. Of course, we had over-prepared – but we were still able to enjoy coffee, breakfast, and time together while we waited for the eclipse. And, we had plenty of time to take some goofy pictures in our eclipse glasses!
It was with heavy hearts that we filed into our cars and headed home . . . but I know we’ll all meet again somewhere – maybe at the next Bend Couch Crash, but hopefully before then at another Couch Crash in a new city!
Zareen lives in San Francisco and is the Couchsurfing community manager. For a list of upcoming Couch Crashes, check out the calendar.