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.
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.