Oregon Observations

by brendan on 04/5/2008

She Flies With Her Own Wings
I’ve been in Eugene, Oregon for about two and half weeks now. My time has been split between working, slowly unpacking our apartment, and trying to figure out where things are (grocery, pharmacy, cleaners, etc). I haven’t really done any recreational exploring yet, but it looks like there will plenty to see and do once we get to that. A few initial observations:

Yes, it rains most days. Usually just a mist or light drizzle; I think I’ve only seen a really hard downpour once. On the upside, the temperature is a bit warmer than I’m used to for March. Still chilly, but snow and ice are pretty rare occurrences in these parts.

I was told ahead of time that Eugene is a very bike friendly city. And as expected, more businesses here have bike racks than back in the Midwest. Even PF Changs has a bike corral. But I haven’t really seen as many bike commuters as I expected, and those I have seen look more like they probably couldn’t afford a car if they wanted to. Maybe there will be more when the weather warms up? I did see one guy riding down the street with a 70 lb rottweiler (on a leash) sprinting along side him. And yesterday I saw a 50 year old woman gliding down the sidewalk on one of these. Not a bike, I know, but still notable to me.

There are people walking or running all over, especially down by where I work. Not everybody looks like they’re necessarily going anywhere specific, though. I’ve seen more people with butt length dreadlocks, or guitars/backpacks/bongo drums on their backs than anywhere I’ve ever been (including San Francisco). And while many of these pedestrians don’t seem like they have anywhere to be, they do still walk aggressively. I’ve watched two hippies embrace and start to chat in the middle of an intersection (light had just turned green), a group of HS kids walk in front of a city bus, and two different walkers step off of the sidewalk in front of me. I feel like I need to blow up my front plates so that peds will know that I’m not local, and I’m not used to this “cars will always stop at any time anwhere” attitude that drivers are expected to have.

I worked at the same place in St. Louis for five and a half years, and I think I might have been stopped for directions once. In less than three weeks I’ve been stopped for cash three times at my new office. Two times by teenagers who didn’t appear to need any change (if the money they spent on trendy clothes and hair products was any indication), and once by a guy on a bike with a hand as big as a canteloupe. Giant hand man waved his engorged digits at me and asked that I give him a donation so he could afford his antibiotic prescription for said hand. Actually he offered to sell me his bike, which I declined. He is the only one of all the beggars that I gave a dollar to. I figure that whether he was going to use the cash for antibiotics, or for meth, or for malt liquor, I didn’t really care. His gimmick was good enough for me, and he needed something to take his mind off that enormous hand.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, two kids rang my doorbell and offered to pull weeds from the yard if I would give them a donation. I said I didn’t need the weeds pulled, so they asked if I would give them a donation anyway. Apparently they needed it for a trip to Tijuana next summer (not kidding). I told them no.

Gasoline is a little more expensive here, maybe 10 or 15 cents more on average. That’s not really a big deal, since it’s a small place and everything is close. I’m only 5 minutes from work or anything else in this town, so I’ve only had to fill up twice (and that rate will slow down once we get settled into more of a rhythm). And along with New Jersey, Oregon is a “you can’t pump your own gas” state. That means that every station is basically full-service. Which I’m sure will be nice eventually, but now it’s still kind of weird that I can’t even touch the pump.

That’s all I have for now. In the next couple of week we hope to get everything unpacked at our new place, and at that point I’ll post some more pictures of the house’s interior.

There are 3 comments in this article:

  1. 04/14/2008Ben says:

    Glad to hear there are other ‘dog bikers’ out there. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in Kansas City.

  2. 04/28/2008jimbarnard says:

    i hope you brought your alien green bike helmet!
    i just started blogging (jimbarnard.wordpress.com) since i had a few days off and a hospital wi-fi, it seemed like the right time to start. i added a link to your page, so you can start expecting your hits to go up at least once in the next three months.
    i hope that you and lady friend are doing well.

  3. 05/5/2008Mike says:

    Don’t give the Panhandlers anything! It just encourages them.

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