Meet Our Staff!
Wanderlust Tours offers half-day guided tours and trips in Bend, Sunriver and Sisters Oregon. Wanderlust Tours has specialized in outdoor tours, outdoor activities and things to do while on vacation in Bend and Sunriver, Oregon since 1993.
Our Mission: Wanderlust Tours exists to vibrantly share the natural and cultural history of the Central Oregon region to small groups of interested guests while touring via canoeing, kayaking, caving, volcano tours, snowshoeing, hiking and nature-based sightseeing.
Nick - Naturalist Guide
Courtney - Naturalist Guide/Sales Manager
Nick is a Pennsylvania native naturalist committed to environmental education. Nick attended college at Penn State University, where he received degrees in Environmental Studies, Biology, and English Literature. After college Nick traveled the country seeking a destination that matched his passion for the outdoors. Once he arrived in Bend he knew he had found his paradise. He has an insatiable love for backpacking, kayaking, snowboarding, and any activity that permits him to be in the natural world. Nick’s excitement and genuine compassion for Central Oregon and all its wonder will surely provide you with an experience to remember.
Originally from Upstate New York she graduated from the University at Buffalo and spent her free time hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. She left NY for a 145 day thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail where she fell in love with Central Oregon and it's High Desert! In her free time you can find her exploring the great outdoors by way of trail running, rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing and skiing. Her dog Spoons followed her to Bend and now enjoys frolicking in the outdoors almost as much as she does. Courtney is excited to share the knowledge, passion and excitement she has for the outdoors with others!
Pat - Naturalist Guide
Growing up in Central Pennsylvania, Pat spent a great bit of time exploring and playing in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. He attended college at Penn State University, where he received a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, focusing on Adventure Programming, Environmental Education and Interpretation. When Pat moved to Bend, he fell in love with all it had to offer. He spends his free time snowboarding, hiking, biking, boating and fly-fishing with his dog. Pat shares his connection to the outdoor world with every guest!
Jared - Naturalist Guide
While attending the University of Maine, Jared spent time working in Acadia National Park as a Ridge Runner teaching Leave No Trace. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and a minor in Outdoor Education he relocated to Bend. He is an avid rock climber, but also dabbles in whitewater kayaking, yoga, and backpacking. Jared’s passion and excitement for the outdoors inspires everyone he meets.
Travis - Naturalist Guide
Jack Newkirk - Naturalist Guide
Originally from California, Travis grew up in Bend and considers himself an Oregonian at heart. His extensive guiding career has taken him around the world to lead sled dog trips through Alaska and Oregon's wilderness and to the Caribbean where he led interpretive kayaking and snorkeling tours in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His career in the outdoors has shown him some of the world's most beautiful places, yet for Travis, nothing beats Central Oregon. He enjoys sharing his knowledge so that other people can connect with the natural world and he can't wait to help you discover what's around this Bend!
A third-generation Oregonian, Jack Newkirk began his guiding career in the subtropical rainforest of eastern Australia, where he specialized in rare tropical bird guiding and herpetology. After determining that there wasn't enough good beer in Australia, Jack returned home and began guiding at Wanderlust Tours in January of 2008. Jack is known for his caring, playful guiding style and his unbridled enthusiasm for sharing the wonders of nature with everyone he meets. Jack is uniquely talented in his ability to connect with children, mostly because he's just a kid at heart (that, and the bribery). When he's not guiding, you can usually find Jack in his shop, where he does carpentry and generally makes a mess.
Casey - Marketing Manager
Casey graduated from Biola University with a degree in Communication Studies and later went to work at a camp outside Yosemite where she gained an appreciation for the outdoors. After a month long bicycle tour of the Northwest, she and her husband decided to pack up and move to Bend where they adopted their dog, Zia, and have fallen in love with the culture and people. When Casey’s not booking your Wanderlust adventure, she is usually traveling, snowboarding, hanging out at the lake, or creating pieces for her calligraphy company My Fair Letters.
Jeff - Chief Operations Officer
Jeff has over a decade of experience as a naturalist and still relishes working with the sun on his back. Jeff attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a degree in geology where he focused strongly on speleology and hydrology. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a Watershed Technician and Wilderness Conservationist, as a Midwest Cave Guide, and as a Bear Naturalist and fishing guide in Alaska. With an easy going, yet intelligent guiding style, you will find Jeff’s passion and admiration of our natural world quite contagious.
Schnitzel - Dachshund, Mascot
Schnitzel the dachshund is our company mascot. The name "dachshund" is of German origin and literally means "badger dog", from Dachs ("badger") and Hund ("dog"). Schnitzel actually loves badgers, especially Jeff Gartzke. Along with his family, the Nissens, Schnitzel is an avid hiker. Schnitzel’s longest hike was a full 11 miles (which translates to 77 dog miles, which subsequently translates to 308 dachshund miles.) Schnitzel’s most notable elevation accomplishment was a full 8,400’ on Broken Top Mountain. Schnitzel loves to be gently pet, though if you have food in your pocket it will likely disappear when you aren’t looking.
Dave - Owner, President
Dave founded Wanderlust Tours in 1993. Dave’s passion is to help people understand the intricate links between nature and us; after all, we rely on everything she provides for us. Dave and his wife, Aleta, received the 2000 Governor’s Tourism Award. Governor Kitzhaber gave this award to Wanderlust Tours in recognition of their leadership, cooperation and support for building sustainable tourism in Oregon. In 2005 Wanderlust Tours received the Gene Leo award for their outstanding contributions and efforts in outdoor recreation and for its focus on Oregon’s natural beauty. In 2007 Dave and Aleta were awarded the Excellence in Family Business Award from the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University for promoting the understanding of natural, cultural and environmental issues in Oregon. Outside of business, life is active with his family pursuing outdoor recreation in Bend’s nearby forest, traveling and volunteering in various capacities.
Aleta - Owner
Aleta co-founded Wanderlust Tours with Dave in 1993. Aleta's role and passion for Wanderlust is the marketing, public relations and company image. She has a degree in communications and has marketing experience ranging from Chicago PR firms to the High Desert Museum. Aleta met Dave while guiding in the Canadian Rockies and they created Wanderlust Tours together before they married. Aleta's other full-time job has the title of "Mom" to daughter Annika. Aleta loves trail running, fitness, reading, theater, independent films and rock climbing with her daughter. Annika is a Wanderlust guide-in-training, born and raised in Bend. She loves to run, snowshoe, sing, rock climb and swim. She especially loves reading chapter books.