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Bend, Oregon is a city in Oregon, and by far the largest city east of the Cascade Range. The city is located on the Deschutes River, in the eastern foothills of the Cascades. The surrounding terrain is in the Eastern Oregon Desert, consisting of a steppe of shrub and juniper trees. The city is also at a relatively high altitude, over 3000 feet up. The combination of high altitude and rain shadow from the Cascades gives Bend a dramatically different climate than the climate of the Willamette Valley, where most Oregonians live.

The combination of dry, sunny weather and proximity to such natural attractions as the Cascade Mountains and the Deschutes river has turned Bend into a large draw for tourists and those seeking a second home. Only twenty or thirty years ago, Bend existed as a sleepy country town that was mostly a transportation and supply hub for the widely dispersed towns in Central and Eastern Oregon. Then, people discovered the less utilitarian uses of the region, and many people from out of the area and out of state came to ski, canoe or just enjoy the sunshine. From a 1980 population of 17,000, the 2008 population reached 80,000, with the metro area being twice of that. The influx of young, affluent residents has also changed the areas, in ways that might be considered both better and worse. The city is full of trendy restaurants and microbreweries, and is also having problems with sprawl and a high cost of living, especially in real estate prices.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, Bend has fallen on some tough times. Much of the cities economy was based on real estate, with the belief that there would be a never-ending stream of Californians wanting to cash out their houses in that state's hot real estate market, and retire into a much larger house. For obvious reasons, that is no longer the case. Tourism is also something that people stop spending money on during a recession. For these reasons, Bend currently has the highest unemployment rate in Oregon, with some estimates I have read going up to 17%. Whether this is a temporary result of bad economic times, or whether cities, like people, can't coast forever on their good looks alone, remains to be seen.

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