Well it happened. After almost 4 months of blue skies, sunshine, brilliant sunsets and starry nights, the clouds rolled in the rain began to fall.
And apparently when it starts raining out here it doesn’t stop…for like 9 months. Nine months of clouds, drizzle and all out bouts of rain. Based on this fact alone you might wonder why anyone would ever chose to live here. But then you get here and you experience the spectacular beaches, the rugged mountains, the wonderfully progressive cities and charming seaside towns, and you stop wondering. There is something enchanting about Oregon. Something that I can’t quite put my finger on or adequately put into words. Oh sure I can tell you how I’m completely in awe of the coast, or how much I love wandering along the working harbor in Newport, or keeping up with the crowds on the bustling bike path in Eugene. But it’s more than just the places. It’s a feeling that Oregon has, one that invites you to come on over and stay awhile. Which is exactly what we’ve done. We’ve been here a little over three weeks and plan on staying for a few more weeks. Yes, it’s rainy…yes, there’s clouds…yes we know our house is on wheels and we could just roll away if we wanted. But we’re not ready yet. We need just a little more Oregon, just a few more beaches and lighthouse and hikes in the woods. So for now we’re staying put, rainy season and all. (Oh, and also we come from Vermont where it snows in October- so it’s going to take more than a little rain and clouds to scare us away).
So far we’re not minding the rain, but the timing could have been better. Why? Because the start of the rainy season coincided almost to the day with our solar panel project. We picked up the panels on Thursday and it rained on Friday. So far Tim has completed the inside part of the project – connecting all the wires, installing the boxes, meters and other do dads (don’t worry, he’ll be writing a post full of all the correct technical terms when the project is done), but the panels themselves are still in boxes in the back of the truck. There’s two reasons for this. One, the roof of the airstream needs to be dry when the panels go up, and two, did I mention that it’s cloudy and raining? Since there’s zilch solar power for the panels to collect right now, there’s really no hurry to get them up there. Right now the weather forecast is calling for a possible dry day on Thursday so hopefully by the end of the week we’ll be in business.
The main reason for our visit to Eugene was to pick up the solar supplies from a company called AM Solar. They specialize in RV solar and come highly recommended by just about everyone. We (um…I mean Tim) decided to install the panels himself so our experience with AM solar was limited to a few email conversations about what we were looking for and the pick up of the supplies at their shop. They were extremely friendly and helpful throughout the entire process. During the pick up while Tim was going over some technical stuff in the back, Deb wasted no time setting me up with a map of Eugene complete with highlighted routes of places she recommended we visit. She even sent us off with a menu for Cafe Yumm! which we put to good use the next day for lunch. We both had a variety of the Yumm! Bowl which is filled with rice, beans and salsa topped with cheese, avocado, fresh tomato, and olives. It was quite delicious and we’re only disappointed we didn’t learn about it earlier in our visit.
The other advice Deb gave us was to visit the Eugene Saturday Market. We love ourselves a good market, and have found that it’s a great way to really get the feel of a town or city. Lots of locals roaming around and it’s usually located in the central downtown area. The Eugene market had it all. It was a fairly large market set up in a really pretty area of downtown. There was a section of local crafts, an area with food booths complete with communal tables, and of course, tons of stalls loaded with fresh produce. I love how farmer’s markets change with the seasons. Way back in July when we visited the massive market in Minneapolis we were enticed by a medley of fruits, berries, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. Now in mid-October you can still spot baskets overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, fresh cukes and peppers in all shapes and levels of hotness. But mixed in with these summer veggies are piles of squash, beets, kale and bright red apples.
I have kind of a weakness for all things fall, and tend to get weirdly excited by mounds of pumpkins and funky shaped gourds. I had to keep it together though because when you live in a tiny space where all your outside decorations need to be picked up and moved every few days it’s easy to overdo it with the fall decorations. Also, I had already picked up a really cool pumpkin from Trader Joe’s earlier in the week, and some gourds at the Newport Farmer’s Market last Saturday, so this week I limited myself to a small sugar pumpkin (for making pumpkin cinnamon rolls!), a bunch of golden beets, and a few heads of garlic.
We enjoyed wandering through the local craft section and got ourselves some lunch at the food court area.
After leaving the market we walked through some of the downtown streets admiring the pretty city landscaping, funky shops and some intriguing street art.
Before heading back to the campground we drove through some of the neighborhoods checking out tree lined streets filled with modest sized homes, nice fenced in yards, and quiet streets with bike lanes. Eugene is known for being a bike and pedestrian friendly city and it shows. In addition to the parks and bike paths spread around the city, every street has a bike lane plus sidewalks, and the extensive bus system is complete with huge lighted and covered bus stops on just about every corner. After five nights in Eugene we decided that we really like the city. With a population around 160,000 it’s a nice size city with lots of outdoor activities, art and culture plus a really forward thinking mindset around development and lifestyle that we appreciate. If we were thinking of settling down anytime soon Eugene would be at the top of our list of places we could see ourselves living. Right now that’s a really big if and we’re nowhere near wanting to stay in one place for more than a week at a time. However, its nice to know that when the time comes we have found a good option.
Even though I have no pictures to share with you (oops), before I end this post about Eugene I have to at least mention the county park where we stayed for three nights after leaving the mall. Armitage Country Park is a 57 acre plot of land on the edge of town that runs alongside the McKenzie River. It contains a day use area, boat ramp, dog park and small RV park. The RV park is pretty basic with asphalt pads, picnic table, fire ring, full hook ups and lots of space between sites, but not much privacy. Many of the folks staying there seemed to be local to the area. Our neighbors actually lived in Eugene and came for the weekend so the grand-kids could experience “camping”. We really enjoyed the park for its location and large sites. So much so that we extended our stay a third night after originally only planning on staying only two. Phineas enjoyed the off leash dog park, and had a grand time chasing after his ball and trying to keep up with a much younger cute female dog who ran circles around him. The park was in a perfect location to explore the city, and in our opinion the best option for camping in Eugene.
Eugene is a great city and it was nice to spend a few days in a place with tons of eating out and shopping options. It was time to head back to the coast and small town living though, so yesterday we packed it up and drove west. It rained during most of the drive, but after we arrived the sky lightened just long enough for us to take a walk on the beach. More to come about our new location tomorrow…