My favorite way to explore a city is by walking. On foot, I can experience my environment in a way that I can’t from my car, on a bus or even on my bike. I can move at my own pace, stop and smell a flower, pause to chat with a stranger and make decisions on a whim.
When I moved to Eugene in July, I bought the book “Eugene, Oregon Walks” by local author Tyler Burgess. The book contains more than 30 walking routes in Eugene. I immediately hit the streets, going on walks that took me all over the city, covering Skinner’s Butte, Alton Baker Park, the trails of Lane Community College and more.
During the winter months, I could have allowed the rain and cold to keep me indoors, but I didn’t. As a Pacific Northwesterner, I always say that if I let the weather determine my day, then I’d never leave my house.
One of my favorite Eugene walks is what Burgess calls the “Sweet Life Loop.” It’s divided into increments of 1.5 miles, 2.5 miles or 4 miles on flat terrain. With only an hour on hand, I opted for the 2.5-mile walk. What followed was a colorful tour of Monroe Park and the surrounding Jefferson Westside Neighbors area.
The route begins at Monroe Park on West Broadway and 10th Avenue, but as I was inspired by the loop’s namesake, I first stopped at the Sweet Life Patisserie to fuel up. The Patisserie has an array of delicious baked goods, including egg-free and dairy-free cakes and pastries. I chose a pain au chocolat croissant, which was just the right balance of flaky pastry and chocolate. Then I made my way, on foot of course, toward Monroe Park.
There was a fair amount of activity at the park. Families swarmed the playground, while others communed on the grass field. Two people sat strumming their guitars. A man juggled with clubs that looked like giant lollipops. From the big sculpture, I turned right down West Broadway.
I turned left on Almaden. I passed by a few people who were working outside, taking advantage of the beautiful weather: a woman with a leaf blower, a man hacking weeds with his weed eater. I turned another left on 10th Avenue. A woman and a little boy were raking leaves together, and as I walked by the boy proudly held up his miniature rake for me to see.
On the corner of Taylor and 10th is C’est La Vie Inn, an impressive Queen Anne style house. With ornate details, including seven colors and three types of shingles, the inn is hard to miss. A few blocks away, around Jackson and 10th, I spotted a wooden box on the sidewalk filled with little trinkets: a rolled up magazine, a mug, a colorful pencil, a LEGO man. The box was labeled “Treasure Tree: take a treasure, leave a treasure.” I didn’t have a treasure to offer, so I didn’t take one. I simply marveled at the sweet creation and continued onward.
At the 1.5-mile marker, I would have turned left at Monroe and go back to the park, but I kept on. I went all the way to the library on Olive Street, which was teeming with people, per usual. In front of the library is the famous Eugene Skinner Statue, where I snapped a photo when I first arrived in Eugene. I swung a left on Olive Street for one block, passing panhandlers and people munching on food, and then made a left on West Broadway, heading back the same direction from which I came.
To cover the loop’s full four miles, I would have to turn right on Madison Street and walk all the way to the Rose Garden, which is one of my favorite places in Eugene. Another day, I promised to myself. I continued walking down West Broadway until reaching the park, where the juggler was still tossing his clubs. Then, I found my car, thus concluding my urban trek.
All in all, I spent about an hour on my walk. It was a great way to get exercise, absorb the season and take in different elements of residential and downtown Eugene life. I hope it inspires someone to throw on their shoes (or sandals) and go on a walk!