At the risk of completely confusing everyone, I’m going to post a couple more “catch up” blogs from last fall, just before our travels and lives were temporarily derailed by Eric’s surgery. Next month, we’ll be back on the road. But for the sake of completion—and so that I have some hope of remembering what we’ve done before we start adding to our stash of travel memories again—let’s return to early October, and our visit to Eugene.
With abundant biking opportunities, cool neighborhood brewpubs, an epic farmers’ market, tasty local foods, and a liberal vibe, Eugene offers up our idea of fun. At only 178 miles from our hometown of Ashland, Eugene is a convenient stop for us as we travel the I-5 corridor. Even though we’ve visited many times, there’s always something new to discover, as well as “favorites” to return to.
This time, we took a little field trip 20 miles outside of town to bike the Row River Trail, which originates in Cottage Grove, the “Covered Bridge Capitol of the West.” On a pretty fall day, we biked 30 miles of the scenic trail that travels along Dorena Lake, through pastoral farmland, and past several of the historic bridges. Oregon possesses one of the largest collections of covered bridges in the country, and the most extensive collection in the West. Did you know the picturesque structures protect the timber trusses from the damp Oregon climate? (One of these days, all of these little tidbits of information are going to come in handy.)
After a long day of biking, we recovered at the award winning, eco-friendly Ninkasi Brewing Company, named for the Sumerian goddess of fermentation. Their Total Domination IPA is one of Eric’s perennial favorites, but all of their beer is tasty. The neighborhood beer garden with live music and food trucks makes for a good time hanging out with the locals. Another evening, we made our way to Sweet Cheeks Winery, about 20 miles west of town on a winding, beautiful country road. Gorgeous views, decent wine, and a beautiful patio with cozy fire pits—and they don’t mind a bit if you bring a picnic.
The Row River Trail is a good ride, but our favorite biking in Eugene remains the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System. We never tire of biking the scenic 14-miles of trails that meander along both sides of the Willamette River, with a variety of interesting diversions along the way, including the lovely University of Oregon campus, the Owens Rose Garden, and wildlife ponds.
A visit to a salad bar might not be high on your list of attractions, but we never miss stopping at Provisions Market Hall in the Fifth Street Marketplace in downtown Eugene. We often make a detour when we’re biking on the Riverbank Trail. The salad bar offerings are creative and delicious (roast chicken, marinated cauliflower, pickled red onions, French potato salad, kale salad), they have yummy homemade soups and wood fired pizza, and you can enjoy a glass of good wine with your meal at their lovely wine bar.
Although biking and eating and sampling beer and wine consumed most of our time in Eugene, we did manage to feed our minds a bit at the small but excellent University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. It’s a gem of a museum, and worth a visit just to admire the beautiful architecture and the wonderful sculptures of salmon, bear, and other Pacific Northwest critters that adorn the building.
Finally, we plan our visits to Eugene so that we can spend time at the lively Saturday Market—as the country’s longest running outdoors market, it’s been a happening event since 1970. We loaded up our shopping bags with an assortment of organic and locally produced foods, browsed the wonderful crafts (I’m always looking for travel sized treasures), listened to local music, and had fun people watching. There’s a reason Eugene was voted the “hippiest city” in the country. If you enjoy a laidback counter culture atmosphere, you’ll like Eugene. We certainly do.
About the RV Park:
We always stay at Armitage County Park, just a few miles outside of town in Coburg. The sites are spacious and green with full hook-ups, good Verizon coverage, and an excellent laundry. There’s a lovely, although rather short, walk along the river. If you plan to visit in the fall, check the University of Oregon football schedule—the campground is booked far in advance for the Duck’s home games.
Next Up: Ashland In The Fall (and then we’ll be caught up!)