I didn’t have a huge amount of faith in this city to arouse excitement and curiosity. After all, my first impression did start in the parking lot of a Cummins Northwest.
That is in fact, my family playing frisbee in the parking lot of the mechanical geniuses that will fix our cracked exhaust manifold. It was bound to happen after ten years as most Monaco motorhomes need a replacement. Before you think we’ve hit rock bottom, it really was a “making lemonade out of lemons” experience. They had full hookups and we stayed for free. The lobby had a work station for hubby to perch complete with a fireplace. We weren’t roughing it.
So for a small little “its just yearly maintenance” fee, we were off. Here we were in Eugene. What does a small southern Oregon town like this have to offer? A lot it turns out.
We happened to be in the land of the Oregon Ducks. Green and gold were the colors of the day and they were flying high the day we toured around campus. We landed smack dab in the middle of The University of Oregon’s graduation and it was really cool to see caps and gowns and the smiling faces that carried them walking the streets of campus. This campus also borders some absolutely amazing parks. Skinners Butte Park is a 100 acre park along the Williamette River and has unique features like a volcanic columned climbing wall and a community garden to name a few.
Downtown Eugene has uncommon shops for the commoner. Breweries, pizza joints, galleries and junky treasure joints line the streets that are also hangouts for backpackers passing through on their way through to the Pacific Coast Trail. Eugene is so polite and cordial that it is often tough to differentiate between these adventurous souls and the domicile challenged residents that also pepper the corners.
Outside of downtown you don’t have to go far to find green pasture, orchards and mountains, which for me is a perfect combination in a city! We hiked Mount Pisgah through its old growth, moss covered forests and open wide wildflower fields. We were sprinkled on with rain showers periodically throughout our hike but were able to find shelter in the dense foliage canopy above our heads. We barely got wet! After descending, we explored the back roads of the countryside and happened upon an area of orchards and flower gardens. We had our pick of blueberry, huckleberry or cherry orchards to sample. Cherries were perfectly in season, so we stopped at a cherry orchard and picked Bing cherries for $4.00 per pound. Such an unexpected treat that we stumbled on!
The next day was Saturday which is always a coveted day because hubby doesn’t have to work. We took a day trip out Hwy 126 past Christmas tree farms and apple and cherry orchards and along the Mckenzie River into the Willamette National Forest. This region is fraught with cascading cliffs and waterfalls that were created from lava flows 3000 years ago. On an easy half mile hike there were two majestic waterfalls, the Koosah and Sahalie. The color of the water was the most exquisite blue I had ever encountered. The blue against the old growth mossy forest was something out of a storybook. We just couldn’t take our eyes off of it!
The Koosah was the first roaring falls we came to. The spray, cool air and cocophany of pine and moss scents filled the air. Everything was sopping wet but the way it was supposed to be in this alpine jungle.
Only a half mile from here after passing “the grinch” and an amazing completely hollowed out log we came to the Sahalie. It’s roaring waters were captivating as well. The force is so great behind this waterfall that you can actually walk behind it. We did not attempt this but I can only imagine what a frigid thrill it must be!
Back at our campground we had fun skipping rocks on the Mckenzie River, biking and hiking. The campground was situated in the Mckenzie River Valley which is home to dozens of lavender fields which we enjoyed snapping photos of. We were just a few weeks shy of the lavender harvest. Every year throughout the area, there are festivals celebrating this gorgeous purple flower and all of the products and applications it yields. From soap to candy, this flower is ultra versatile. And did I mention GORGEOUS!
Eugene went from a place I was dreading (because who likes to go to the mechanic especially when it’s also your house) to a place that I can’t wait to get back to! We’ll just have to tell Cummins Northwest to “keep the light on for us, the Crazy RV Family is coming into town!”