The official slogan for Eugene, Oregon is "A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors". It's also known as "Track Town USA" because Eugene is home to the University of Oregon and it's dominant track & field program. Eugene was the birthplace of Nike for cripes sake. The classic frat comedy Animal House was filmed in Eugene. The Mayor once called Eugene "the anarchist capital of the United States".
I'm calling it Hippie Town USA There's a preponderance of folks who are leading "alternative lifestyles". These are real hippies...living in the woods, growing their own food, random showers. Click the pix...you'll see what I mean.
Carmelo and I hit Eugene at the perfect time. It was unusually sunny and hot the whole time we were there. Eugene is as green as it gets, visually as well as emotionally. Green for the environment and green for the crops. For many in Eugene...time has stood still...they're living in the sixties...and they're now in their sixties...or seventies...or eighties. Younger hippies abound... a younger generation of street kids and homeless.
Eugene has a nuanced vibe. The campus is beautiful, the town is easy to navigate by bike and Mother Nature is a huge part of everything. The McKenzie and Willamette Rivers dominate the area. Along with the neighboring town, Springfield, about 350,000 live in the MSA. That's not counting the people living in the woods...and on the streets... and down by the river.
When we heard about Cougar Reservoir and the hot springs up there, Carmelo and I got an early start. Cougar is an hour east of Eugene in the Cascades. We got to the trail head by 8 a.m. The place looked deserted... except for the greeter. I didn't catch his name...but the guy sleeping in his "out of gas" car. He seemed odd. He was talkin' a mile a minute...asking questions and talking sh*t all at the same time. "Do you feel uncomfortable, man?" He asked as Carmelo and I prepared for the short hike to the hot springs. My answer was quick and honest, "a little". My car was filled with my stuff and I was a little uncomfortable leaving it under the supervision of an obvious tweeker. "I'll walk with you guys" he gave the dog a pet and kept talking the whole way. I thought...WTF?...its only my wallet and clothing & shoes.
After a short, but beautiful walk we got to the pools...lo and behold... sitting in the largest pool was a group of 6 naked lesbians drinking champagne. One of 'em was cute...but the others...not so much. Not to be offensive...but there was a lot of hairy bushes and arm pits in that pool. Then another tweeker showed up... out of the woods. It was obvious this skin and bones character had been through a rough night. I kept Carmelo close...despite the "no dogs allowed" sign. Again...I thought WTF... so I nude-ed up and jumped in the hottest pool for a good soak. Having the lesbo's and the tweekers around sort of detracted from my experience, they kept me on edge. It all turned out to be harmless...and it made me realize that the only possetion I really care about...has 4 legs and loves to play ball.
We finished the day at the legendary Eugene Saturday Market. The Market was heavilly hyped...and I must say it far exceeded my expectations. The arts & crafts, the music, the tie-dye, the local foods and the "unofficial market" (read hash bash /drum circle) on the courthouse steps confirmed that Eugene is HIPPIE TOWN USA.