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
Nick first fell in love with the outdoors while walking through Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, California as a 3 year old searching for guppies in Lake Anza. As he aged, he learned important outdoors skills at summer camp, like how to catch a crawdad with some lunch meat, a string, and a paperclip. After mastering the arts of summer camp and working as a camp counselor, Nick attended UC Santa Cruz, where he studied History and fell in love with backpacking in the Redwoods. This love of the outdoors and backpacking took him to Portland, Oregon, where he worked with organic food, farmers, and regenerative landscapers for five years. Nick hopes to share his loves of history, ecology, and storytelling with all of his clients and is very excited to call Bend home.
Erika - Naturalist Guide / Office Assistant
Erika’s passions lie in the outdoors – both the exploration and preservation of our natural environments. Growing up in Southern California, she spent much of her time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Angeles National Forest, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with an emphasis in Environmental Design. After a 3-month backpacking trip along the West Coast, hopping on and off of the Pacific Crest Trail, she began her tenure with Habitat Works as a Public Lands Steward, working on conservation projects across California. At the same time, her love of craft beer was satisfied in her role as Project Manager with a craft brewery contractor and consultant. When the Cascade Mountains were calling, Erika and her adventure pup Zephyr made the move to Central Oregon. Nowadays, she calls Bend home and Wanderlust family. Erika enjoys learning about the world we live in and is committed to making it a better place, and hopes to share that spirit with others!
Jeremy - Naturalist Guide
Jeremy is a bit of a migratory naturalist, spending time in Bend during summer and winter, and California in spring and fall. With a degree in Environmental Education from Western Washington University, his quest for experience has led him to employment in many fields: wildland firefighting, outdoor education, organic farming, desert trail surveying, outdoor catering, canoe expedition guiding, adaptive ski instructing, and dishwashing (which is his meditative activity). With endless places to explore and activities to try, Jeremy is banking on retirement at about 90 years old. He enjoys continually seeing Wanderlust Tour's offerings through the guest's eyes.
Lexi - Naturalist Guide
Lexi is fascinated by space, place, environment, community, identity, and the stories we weave through language and movement to create our own realities. She graduated from Penn State having studied geology, human dimensions of natural resources & the environment, and adventure literature. She is grateful to have known many places intimately; she has spent time teaching, leading, and learning in the outdoors of Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Arkansas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. The Pacific Northwest makes her soul shine, and she could not be happier to be here facilitating your exploration, understanding, and discovery of the magic this wondrous area exudes. She is fond of nature, long walks (up mountains), (kayaking over) waterfalls, exploring through literature, personal adventure, creative endeavors, engaging in deep conversations, winking at strangers in elevators, writing poetry in pubs, and daring greatly.
Chaney - Naturalist Guide
Chaney grew up in Tennessee, exploring Great Smoky Mountains NP while earning a degree in Geography from the University of Tennessee. Inspired by a trip to Australia’s Border Ranges, he moved to Oregon in 2014 for an M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University (and, of course, to hike in the Cascades and Siskiyous). After finishing at SOU, and marrying lovely and patient Kathryn, he moved to Bend, ready to explore and photograph from another new home base. Chaney spends a lot of time looking at maps (and making them, after stints with National Geographic and the NPS), planning adventures to national parks with his camera at the ready. He hopes his enthusiasm and sense of wonder in nature will help others find their own as they explore the geographies of Central Oregon together.
Danny - Naturalist Guide
Danny grew up playing traditional sports, but after his first foray into the north Georgia mountains as a young Boy Scout, he was hooked on the outdoors. He studied Biology and Chemistry at the University of Georgia, graduating in 2012 and venturing west to teach the young ones of Los Angeles about foreign things like trees and water. Then, hoping to expand his worldview and have some awesome adventures, Danny flew to Alaska with his bicycle and pointed his wheels south. Almost two years later, he ran out of road on the southern coast of Tierra del Fuego. Now that he’s settled down in Bend, he runs, cycles, geeks out about science, and aims to share the beauty and wonder of the natural world as much as he can.
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!
Bethany - Office Administrator
Being in the great outdoors is just one of Bethany's many passions. A native Portlander, she grew up exploring trails around Oregon with her dad. She still loves to get out hiking as often as possible but can also be found painting, reading, or trying to convince her niece and nephews to climb all the trees in their backyard. After receiving a degree in English, Bethany spent several years experiencing different adventures: coaching basketball, painting sets for theater companies, and teaching in Japan to name a few. She decided to make Central Oregon her home and she is excited to share all of its wonder with everyone she can!
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.
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.
Courtney - Naturalist Guide / Sales Manager
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 its 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 Clementine found her in 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!
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.