We’ve lived in Eugene for 9 months, and somehow no one ever told us about Hendricks Park. I consider this a travesty, and I hope to remedy this by proclaiming Hendricks Park my favorite place in Eugene. Why is this not the first thing people tell you about when you move here?
Let me back up a bit. We had a party on Saturday to celebrate the Kentucky Derby (as we are Kentuckians, born and raised). It was super fun to introduce a bunch of Oregonians (well, at least as many as we could fit in our tiny apartment, very few of whom were actually from Oregon) to one of Kentucky’s finest events. And this meant lots of Kentucky foods (BBQ, beer cheese, mini hot browns, mint juleps, Derby pie, sugar cookies in the shape of horses and Kentucky, etc.), which meant we spent most of the day eating (and remembering how much we love Kentucky, of course). Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of this event, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was fun (we had a jockey silk coloring contest and played pin the sticker on Louisville) and tasty.
Anywho, after the festivities ended, I felt like we needed to get a little bit of exercise. So we headed up the street to a park I had driven by the day before. And suddenly we were in another world. It was like we left Eugene and entered some magical fairy tale land. We were literally a mile and a half from our apartment, but Hendricks Park is up on a hill overlooking the valley, and it just looks so different! Driving up the hill was like entering a resort. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to take a camera with us, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of awesome golden hour photos from our first evening visit to the park.
But we loved the park enough to come back the next day for a post church picnic (albeit, we were literally eating lunch at 10:30 am, as our church just bumped the first service up to 8:30 am, leaving us ready for lunch by 9:45). The only other people picnicking there were eating breakfast. But we got to chow down on some Derby party leftovers, which made for a pretty stellar picnic.
We found a nice sunny spot in the middle of the Rhododendron Garden, which made for a perfect picnic. I took a walk through the gardens to enjoy the flowers, which smelled like sweet heaven, in case you were wondering. I guess we had perfect timing in discovering the park, as early May seems to be prime Rhododendron time. I have no idea what this place looks like during the rest of the year, but you should definitely visit during the spring. It’s breathtaking.
So please prepare yourself for way too many photos of flowers.
As if we weren’t having a hard enough time believing that this paradise was real (and only minutes from our apartment), a group of reenactors of some sort appeared and had a picnic across the lawn. There were tons of people taking photos of them, and I was trying to be a little less obvious by pretending to take photos of trees and such. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, but I’d like to think I fooled them.
And as we continued to enjoy the sweet, sweet sunshine, a cat wandered over and plopped down on our blanket, shoving me out of the way. I’m not an animal person, but animals seem drawn to me (I’ve heard that cats seek out the least interested person in the room). This cat just made himself comfortable. And two tween girls were so fascinated by this little guy that they just plopped down right next to us to pet the cat for a while. They named him Bagel.
Like I said, this was like a different world.
It has taken a lot of self-control not to return to this park during every free moment of my week. We’ve found paradise in Eugene. And it feels pretty good.