Hey there readers,
I’ve been meaning to share with you “The Perfect Day in Eugene.” For months now it’s been slated as my last post and I’ve banged out draft after draft, but none seemed to do this blog, or you, justice. I couldn’t finish them–perfect them–because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I was secretly hoping something would bring me back to Eugene. I’m a dreamer; a romantic; and I’m in a love with your city–a city that is no longer mine. Recently I accepted a job as an editorial assistant at Cooking Light. I’m nestling into my adorable little neighborhood in Homewood, hiking the beautiful hills that surround our city (or as the natives call them, “mountains.”) and enjoying my new, “real-person” job. It’s time for you and I, and Eugene and I, to shake hands and part friends as a professor of mine used to say.
Let us get on to it: what makes a perfect trip to Eugene? For you–newcomers, travelers, Oregon fans–I would say “Don’t miss comedy night at Cornucopia, or pastries at Hideaway Bakery (and they’re not kidding, it’s pretty hard to find). Take a moment to climb the 10-foot long trail to the top of Skinner’s Butte (seriously, it’s not that long. DO IT (see what I did there? Ehhh?)). Stay at one of our many Bed and Breakfasts. I lived next to one in Eugene and was always curious about it. It stood there quietly beckoning, veiled in flowers and what seemed to be hospitality. I can’t actually vouch for these places, but I imagine they are quite wonderful and they’re what Eugene is all about: consuming locally. But most importantly, don’t miss a Ducks game in Autzen Stadium!
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what would make a perfect trip for me, and here’s how it would go down:
Caution to any parental units reading this blog–drinking is involved. And rare nudity. Well, all of that, minus the nudity. There will be no nudity. Except in the shower. There might be nudity there.
Anyways, back to the story. I would start my perfect weekend in Eugene by checking into the small, but adorable Campus Inn, which sits next to the University of Oregon. It’s adorned with white Christmas lights and a friendly staff all year long, and it’s dirty, dirty cheap. I’m really not sure how it’s so cute and clean while also being cheap, but I’m not going to ask questions. I would make my way to Max’s Tavern where I would sip on cider and trade my love for bowls of popcorn. I’d stay late into the night and sing Sweet Caroline at closing, one last time.
In the morning, I’d roll out of bed, tummy in a rumble from an overspent evening and the 3 a.m. Burrito Boy I probably indulged in–no matter what time of day, it’s ALWAYS a bad choice. Even if you think it taste like sweet, sweet happiness. But that’s what makes it good I suppose. That’s what makes all of those things good.
I’d make my way out to Springfield to pick myself up over breakfast and lots of coffee at Pump Cafe and then grab a friend and drive out to Spencer’s Butte, where we’d hike not for the view but for the upward trek. We won’t go at dusk, like we did years ago, scaling a mountain in the dark with nothing but flip phones and each other.
Upon returning, we’d take our sweaty selves to King Estate Winery to enjoy an afternoon glass of wine, because true winemaking is messy and dirty and beautiful and I don’t care how hoity-toity they are, a glass of cold white wine is distinctly satisfying after a long, sweaty hike. Afterwards, we’d bid each other farewell and on my way I would go.
In the evening I’d meet friends for a phenomenal dinner at Belly, and drinks at Soriah. Then, we’d explore all that’s new about Eugene, at least all that you can explore in one evening. We’d top it off with a slightly illegal, but innocent late-night hike to Skinner’s Butte–the best view in town.
The morning would be filled with brunch at the Vintage and wandering campus, taking special time at the Jordan Schnitzer, which has had at least one piece of art that I could spend hours looking at each time I’ve visited. As a giggly, type-A person, it’s one of the few places I can just be. The art isn’t asking anything of me. No need to talk or tell a joke. We can just sit together and wonder.
Pineapple fried rice at Tasty Thai would be the highlight of the day, with its wonderful pineapple and cashews and odd assortment of assuredly not fresh seafood. The evening would be filled with beer and Cornucopia burgers at the David Minor. It wouldn’t matter what was playing, all that would matter is that I’d be there, one of my favorite spots in Eugene, snuggled into a couch, watching a movie with good food.
And thus, after two fun-filled days, my journey would end. A few things would be left out: Off the Waffle, the Christmas Tree farm (I’m making the assumption this trip is in summer and for some reason people don’t bumble around in Santa Outfits at Christmas Tree farms in August), sitting on picnic benches around the fire at McMenamins on High Street and a bike ride out Fern Ridge. Everything left out is a reason to come back.
On the way out of town I’d fill my car with Eugene goodies, ice cream from Red Wagon, garlic kale rolls from New Day Bakery (the only kale I’ll ever eat), bags of buttery, sin-filled pastries from Hideaway, a shirt and a six-pack of rare ciders from Bier Stein, and as much Oregon wine as I could fit in my trunk. Hopefully a few bottles from Montinore, whose late harvest Riesling is expressly hard to find in Alabama. We won’t talk about how they’re getting on the plane (Think 800 shampoo containers).
Driving out of town, I would long for the coast–the winding road, the towering cliffs, the brisk, salty wind and that valley we found somewhere off 101 years ago, where the road dropped into the green fields and the lush mountains engulfed us, and I thought for a moment we were in Ireland and I naively thought I loved you. But I didn’t. I wanted to, but dear, we can’t force ourselves to love. Oregon though, Oregon I love.