(Wednesday, October 5)
This morning we visited Portland State University. Once again, Portland did not impress. The center of campus, a bunch of trees and green space, is called the “Park Blocks,” which seem like they could be really pretty, given some sunshine and a smoking ban. I guess everything just looks kind of dodgy when the sun isn’t shining. Of course, it was super cloudy and gloomy this morning, so we never got to experience Portland on a nice weather day.
This afternoon, we drove a few hours south to Eugene. What a beautiful drive! Once again, we were surrounded by mountains, this time with sheep and cow farms at the bottom. It rained off and on during our trip, but the changing weather resulted in 4 or 5 rainbows as we drove through the valley. When we finally arrived in Eugene, there was a huge, full rainbow there to welcome us. We already knew we would love Eugene (the city’s slogan is “a town so friendly it has a first name”), but the rainbow just made it that much better.
It was about dinner time once we arrived, so we headed to a pizza place to eat. The pizza was good, but we didn’t want to fill up too much because of what we knew was coming for dessert: Shari’s. Shari’s is one of the great things I remember about the Northwest from my days at Sambica. It’s basically a diner (similar to Denny’s, I’d say), but they have the best milkshakes (I cannot vouch for the food there, as I’ve only ever had a milkshake). We only went there a few times in the summer of 2008, but it really stuck in my mind as one of my favorite places (Becca and I still talk about it all the time), so I knew we had to give it a try on our vacation. I was a little nervous to take Eric there because of how I had talked this place up over the past few years. When I like something, I talk about it way too much and generally build it up to be something way more awesome than it really is. Luckily, that was not the case with Shari’s. I think Eric may have liked it even more than I did. He ordered a slice of their award-winning apple pie, while I went for a milkshake. They do this new thing now where they take a slice of pie and make it into a milkshake. It sounded a little sketchy to me, but I tried it anyway. Oh my goodness. Delicious. I had a triple berry pie milkshake, which was a delightful shade of purple, with little chunks of pie crust mixed in. Definitely a big win for the night.
Afterwards, we headed over to Fred Meyer, another place I’ve talked up over the years. Fred Meyer is the Northwest’s version of Kroger, but it’s somehow way more awesome than Kroger. I remember walking into the store a few years ago and being overwhelmed by the choices. Granola? PJ pants? Jewelry? All at the same grocery store? What? Once again, I was afraid that I had over hyped Fred Meyer, but Eric loved it. It was hilarious. Clothes? Groceries? Wine? What?
Overall, it was a very successful first night in Eugene, thanks to Shari’s and Fred Meyer, my two favorite Northwestern staples.