The vibrant coastal magic of the northwestern region of the United States has been on my travel list for quite some time. Friends, movies (The Goonies in particular), and countless tv shows have all revealed just how beautiful and lush the states above California are. For whatever reason, I just never made it a priority to go, that is, until this Spring. One of my good friends moved to Eugene to complete her MA in Sustainable Business at U of O last year and a group of us flew over to visit.
It was a three day visit packed with fun local things to do, a mini road trip to a tulip festival, a beautiful hike, and tons of catching up. I arrived in the wee hours on a Saturday morning. With a handful of hours to sleep, I woke up refreshed in a living room with a few other girls ready to take on the local farmers market in downtown Eugene. In typical Oregon fashion, it drizzled most of that day but it absolutely added to my experience. The market which occurs rain or shine every Saturday was full of organic goodies. Wild mushrooms and fresh grape juice were some of the standouts that morning.
Conveniently located right by the trendy 5th Street Public Market, we found dry shelter for an hour as we roamed the local stores and boutiques. Of course, I took this time to hand select some postcards for my collection. This building once served as a poultry plant in the 1930s but went through various changes throughout the years. Now it serves as a hip gathering center for the public. It offers its guest a wide rage of things to do, whether it be eat, shop, dance, or people watch. The courtyard, fountain, and balcony vantage points make it that much more inviting.
Well into the afternoon we were ready to grub down on some vegan Vietnamese food. We hopped in the rental and parked at the WildCraft CiderHouse right by Skinner Butte Park. As with much of Eugene, there is nothing too flashy or fancy about many of these institutions. It’s a college town that’s proud of its progressive movements yet lacks diversity but strives to incorporate awareness through the arts, food, and community efforts.
The CiderHouse looked and felt like a large cabin and housed a Vietnamese restaurant on the right side of the building. Two in one if you will. All their cider is produced from local fruits and botanicals and natural yeasts. My friends classmate hooked it up with a number of glasses for us to try so I dabbled with a few different flavors, good but a little harsh for my stomach. As for the food, delightful. I shared a plate of Pad Kee Mao with a friend and wow we couldn’t get enough. It was actually so good that I learned how to make it once I flew home from the trip.
The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting some parks and resting at the apartment before heading out to dinner. We had all decided that we wanted to try our friends favorite vegan pizza joint located in the southern part of the city. A popular joint indeed, we waited about 45 minutes to be seated and thankfully our appetite had built up. In the midst of that chilly evening we snuggled up close together on the outside benches and dusted down the beet salad and yummy slices. Another plus about Eugene is how ridiculously cheap the food is compared to CA. We were eating like kings and queens.
After some good laughs we made our last pit stop at the bakery next door, Sweet Life Petite. I was in the mood for something sweet and citrusy, the lemon bar they had satisfied my craving. I took it home and indulged as we stretched, watched The Great British Baking Show, and planned out our schedule for the following day .
We chose to visit the lovely Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival located in Woodburn, about 40 minutes from Portland and a almost two hour drive for us. My friends boyfriend volunteered to drive us for the day so we could sip and enjoy the wine from the region. That we did, the whole afternoon was spent wine tasting and walking amongst the tulips. We bought a bottle of rosé to carry us through and enjoyed some of the food from the food truck vendors.
Our wine tasting journey didn’t end at the festival. We found a vineyard to stop at 20 minutes from Woodburn. We decided to end our afternoon at St. Josef’s Vineyard, a third generation Hungarian American run vineyard. We got their right before the rain dropped down. We paired up and ordered a fleet of each wine from the house. My favorite was the Gewürztraminer. Guests were entertained by a pianist and conversation filled the sitting room. With only a few minutes to spare before closing we roamed some of the building and outside sitting area before heading back to Eugene.
Our hosts wanted to show us PublicHouse, an old church turned beer and food hall in Springfield, right outside of Eugene. The roomy hall allows for patrons to sit under the church windows and order from the different food vendors or bar. Although I didn’t order anything here it’s always fun to see how different cities revamp unused spaces. Right after we were taken to a vegan bbq joint for dinner, Cornbread. It was okay, nothing I haven’t had before. Our night ended watching some more of The Great British Baking Show and sleeping soon after for our hike the next morning.
A trip to the PNW wouldn’t be complete without some sort of hike. It’s actually one of the things I was looking forward to the most. I have this Goonies, gloomy, pine tree, coastal water vision in my head whenever somewhat tells me they live in the region. Although not all of Oregon is coastal or full of pine trees, it is part of its identity and we thoroughly enjoyed our nearly 4 hour hike at Tamolitch Falls. It drizzled for all of it and we even came across some snowy paths. It was absolutely gorgeous, the highlight of my trip.
After our hike we still had enough energy to walk through some of downtown Eugene and had some scrumptious tofu katsu for dinner. It was our last evening together as a group. We hung out at the Graduate hotel, which houses the first ever Nike shoe, the moon shoe, and 43 other vintage shoes from their collection. The lobby walls were covered with amazing sports shoots from years past. Many of sports greats each had a section on the wall that was worth admiring.
Afterwards we grabbed our final desert from Sweet Life Petite before calling it a night. The following Tuesday morning we woke up around 8am to get our morning started. All we had planned was to get a small breakfast, take a short walk, then say goodbye to the group before they rode over to the airport. I requested that my friend Justine walk me around her campus, University of Oregon, go Ducks!
It was a laid back first half of the day, a lot of walking which I always enjoy. Not to mention we used to both live in NYC so we spent many years adventuring through the city. It was great seeing where and how she spends her days. I always prefer seeing how locals live their day to day life every time I visit somewhere new. I was glad to see that she truly is making the most of her graduate program.
The rest of the day was spent roaming through the eclectic and eccentric neighborhood of Whiteaker. A quirky area full of spirited souls and vibrant murals and homes. This was a great way to end my trip before heading back to the apartment to rest and pack up. The little taste of the PNW was a lovely one. I do and will go back for more in the future.