Ordinary people of Bend, Oregon, are much friendlier than Berkeley, California, ones. For example, when sitting in front of the Juniper Municipal Swim and Fitness Center for fifteen minutes about thirty people walked past, including the kids, and almost every one of them, even the three-year olds, said hello, or gave a smile and a nod. In Berkeley people would always walk past and never speak, unless of course they knew you personally and generally even then only if you were on speaking terms, not just facial recognition terms. Perhaps this is because the large number of professional panhandlers who inhabit the streets of Berkeley train people there to be distant toward unknown people.
Another observation is that people of Bend are very direct in their conversations and there is nothing that would pass for humor in an ordinary commercial transaction. Perhaps this is because they are not attuned to innuendo and a dialogue of intellectually challenging conversations. Of course my experience is limited, but it has been consistent. I get the feeling, unverified at this moment, that there has been a brain drain from the Bend area toward the universities and probably a movement of their graduates toward the big city and thus away from Bend. On the other hand there has been and will increase a people drain of successful retirees from the big cities back toward Bend and other beautiful resort communities. If retirement is equivalent to intelligence and success, it will make sense to get involved with the retirement community.
There is a very pleasant and well attended public library in downtown Bend, complete with a large number of on-line computers, and another branch is under construction near Pilot Butte. This is a strange town for historical construction. It appears to have gone through growth spurts with the oldest part of town, near the park like Deschutes river constructed about 1910-20, consisting of randomly placed houses on large irregular properties with park-like settings. A second layer, built mostly in the 1960s, is made up of smaller houses laid out on rectilinear large lots, so there is lots of space and an open feel to the housing. The recently added third layer has large but more tightly compacted tract houses of standard design located on artificially curvy streets.
The commercial zones reflect the same layered history with the cleaned up older brick-and-mortar downtown shops, the 60s-style businesses stretched out along the major streets, but further out and shunted off the highways are the newer style drive-in shopping plazas. There is a target like quality of modern American towns with a tree-ring like growth pattern based on changing historical needs.
The city also reflects its pulsed growth pattern in the layout of the streets with a new strategy for traveling about reflecting different eras of development. This results in a London like confusion of street names which change every few blocks as one drives thru the city on some of the main surface roads. Even the freeways seem to lack consistent orientation of purpose, which is complicated by totally unique off/on ramp connections.
The physical setting of Bend is beautiful, with high snow-capped mountains on one side, and table land with sharp ravines in the area. It is also a transition zone between various types of trees and shrubberies. The people are friendly and noticeably healthy looking, with very few obese people about.