My wife and I, who live in Portland, decided to make a day of Eugene — easy enough to do, since a lot can be compressed into a single day, and especially on a summer Saturday.

The trip paid for itself by selling $30 worth of books to Smith Family Bookstore. We visited both stores, one at 768 East 13th in the University area, the other downtown at 525 Willamette, and easily spent a few hours browsing poetry, art, and history. It took more than 30 years for the bookstore to go from a few boxes of books to the shelves and piles of today. Best thing about the store is you can find some rare tomes, and cheap.

Eugene Saturday Market

Eugene Farmers' Market

Next, I showed my wife around the Eugene Saturday Market on the downtown Park Blocks, browsing the handmade clothing, jewelry, drums, and recycled art. We then skipped across the street to the Farmer’s Market, in their full height of summer harvest selling not only fruits and vegetables, but bread, honey, cheese, and potted plants.

Being a sunny day, we decided to climb 2,054-foot Spencer Butte, the best view this corner of the state offers, clear enough this day to see from the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson to the Coast Range. Though we had to gingerly pick our way through poison oak at times, we got close to a wheeling flock of turkey vultures and a juvenile rattlesnake digesting something.

By mid-afternoon, the heat picking up, we went for the shade in the Hendricks Park Rhododendron Garden, 12-acres of rhodies of all sorts, plus wildflowers and stately trees such as white oak, western maple, and Doug-fir. By July, the rhododendrons are long past flowering—April is the best time—but there’s still plenty of shade and people watching. We drove by nearby Pre Rock, a memorial left for Steve Prefontaine on a small basalt outcrop.

And though my wife says I never try anything different, I can’t leave Eugene without going to the Allann Brothers Beanery on 5th Avenue. Housed in an old brick building once used for chickens, it has character; and anyway, I love their mocha with Mexican chocolate. It keeps me awake for the drive home.

Spencer's Butte

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  1. Nancy Brown says…

    I love Eugene! As a former U of Oregon J school graduate, I have fond memories of the Saturday market. If I close my eyes, I can awaken my taste buds to Lulu’s smoothies and Rita’s burritos.

    Fun walk down memory lane reading your post. I’m a Northern California travel writer who is currently vacationing in SunRiver. We’ve jumped off Harper’s Bridge into the Deschutes, plunged in Paulina and we’ll take on the Big Eddy rapids later this week.

    By the way, I found the Traveloregon blog via Twitter. What a Trip.

    Written on July 22nd, 2008 / Flag this Comment
  2. Shawn Sorensen says…

    Awesome-looking and sounding entry and blog overall, Sean. I have family in Eugene and will have to get them to that Saturday market as I think it would be super-fun for the kids. Uber-fun, and healthy as so much focus is on fresh fruit and vegetables. It would behoove me to have more of that around my house, practically daring me to eat it. Anyway, I really enjoyed your poetry performance at Barnes & Noble Vancouver and think your stuff translates very well to the page. I look forward to your upcoming poetry book. Cheers, Shawn

    Written on July 23rd, 2008 / Flag this Comment
  3. Steve says…

    Great read. Congrats to Sean Patrick Hill on joining the Travel Oregon blogging team – and congrats to Travel Oregon for landing him!

    Written on July 23rd, 2008 / Flag this Comment
  4. M. D. Vaden of Oregon says…

    That area sounds pretty good the way you described it.

    Too often it’s discussed as merely a city or a university town, when it’s really part of a small region with many nice natural accessories for living.


    M. D. Vaden of Oregon

    Written on March 28th, 2009 / Flag this Comment
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