Sunday, August 17, 2008

My dinner with Eugene

On Thursday, KJ and I drove the 530 miles from our sleepy Wine Country hamlet to Eugene, Oregon. (Okay, to be excruciatingly accurate, I drove while KJ alternated between navigating and napping.)

The trip was occasioned by the funeral of KJ's paternal grandmother, who passed away on Sunday. Due to lingering aftereffects of her first surgery for breast cancer eight years ago, KJ can't travel by air any longer, so we loaded up her parents' spiffy new Honda CR-V (they flew to Portland earlier in the week, and rode down to Eugene with relatives) and headed off.

I had been to Eugene once before -- a dozen or so years ago, I had a week-long speaking engagement there. On that trip, I had jetted directly to Eugene and back. This week's highway junket provided an opportunity to see several hundred miles of my adopted home state -- and our neighbor to the north -- that I had never visited previously. Which, of course, meant that I did more than a little thinking out loud about the sights I observed along the journey. My mental jottings follow.
  • Mount Shasta looks even more majestic in real life than in silhouette on the label of a soda can.

  • While I'm on the subject, why isn't the city of Mount Shasta -- or Mount Shasta itself, for that matter -- located in Shasta County?

  • KJ, an Oregon native, says she can't recall ever seeing the water level in Lake Shasta as low as it is right now. I'll have to take her word for it, because I've never seen Lake Shasta before.

  • No offense to the fine residents of Drain, Oregon intended, but seriously... Drain is a dreadful name for a town.

  • The taxpayers of the Beaver State are definitely getting their money's worth out of their freeway improvement program. And all this time I thought we were suffering through a boatload of highway renovation here in Sonoma County. I'll never complain again. (We'll see how long that lasts.)

  • Medford, Oregon is a lousy place to spend 40 minutes in stop-and-go traffic on a 100-degree day due to a motor vehicle accident on a construction-impacted freeway. I'm sure Medford's peachy on just about any other day, but dang, that sucked.

  • Just in case you ever decide to stay there, the wireless network at the Campus Inn in downtown Eugene blows swamp water. I had to stand in the parking lot pointing my laptop at the hotel office to access enough of a wi-fi connection to download my e-mail. Inside our room, even with the back of the computer pressed against the window glass, I couldn't get any signal. Lame.

  • Speaking of lame, we waited an ungodly amount of time for KJ's hibachi chicken dinner at the Sizzler near the Gateway Mall in Springfield. We were beginning to think someone in the kitchen was personally incubating eggs into chicks. The waitress was sweetly apologetic, but still... get a move on, people.

  • I'm not really an automotive aficionado, but that Honda CR-V is a sweet ride. If you're in the market for something more substantial than a shoebox but smaller than a traditional minivan, you could do worse.

  • The Willamette River makes a lovely turn through Eugene and the surrounding area. In 100-degree heat, one might be tempted to take a dip.

  • I'm sure that someone had what seemed at the time an excellent reason for building a city on the site of Red Bluff, California, but I'll be doggoned if I can figure out what it might have been. If Red Bluff isn't the armpit of the universe, you can smell it from there.

  • The dilapidated restroom at one gas station where we refueled had a sign on its wall reading, "This restroom is periodically inspected to ensure your comfort and convenience." From the look of the place, the "period" in question must have been the Jurassic.

  • If all the billboards and TV commercials are any indication, Abby's Legendary Pizza is one of the most popular franchise eateries in Oregon. I wasn't even aware that my dog owned a pizzeria chain. I'm going to have to start charging her rent.

  • I hope the chatty waitress at the Chevy's in Redding had a safe trip to Pensacola.

  • Things are alike all over: Just like back home, the Eugene/Springfield area has two shopping malls -- one upscale and apparently thriving (they call theirs Valley River Center, we call ours Santa Rosa Plaza), the other older and downmarket, with numerous empty storefronts (theirs is the Gateway Mall, ours is Coddingtown).

  • Southern Oregon is the tree capital of the known world. If you're shopping for evergreens, they can spare a couple.

  • One-word memo to the Saturday morning desk clerk at the Campus Inn: Decaf.

  • I was disappointed to discover that, despite the name, there are no tributes to the great Eugene Finerman anywhere in Eugene. Pity.

  • Both of the times I've been to Oregon, I've come home with nasty sinus infections. Perhaps I'm allergic to beavers.

Labels: ,

2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Shelli offered these pearls of wisdom...

I have so been there on the wifi thing. I have walked around an entire campground holding my laptop trying to find their so-called free wifi. I sure had to work for it, I don't call that free. I know, I know, why am I worried about wifi when I am camping? Sometimes people I'm camping with want to do things I have no interest in doing. So, instead, I surf blogs.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Eugene Finerman offered these pearls of wisdom...

My mother graduated from the University of Oregon; but she never thought of naming me for the college. Otherwise, she could have just as easily have named me Berkeley, in honor of her Master's degree.

9:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home