Ultimate Road Trip

Lucky Number 7

Sisters Coffee left us both buzzing, but not necessarily in a bad way. We departed town around 2:30, having made lunch and strolled a little. The drive to Eugene was very cheerful, as Ryan blasted songs and sang every last lyric, and the pine trees towered over either side of the road. We did drive through some pretty smoky conditions as a result of the Lookout Fire, but thankfully, no roads were closed. We made it to Eugene in two hours, but the time passed in minutes.

I was ecstatic to see Tara, who is one of my best friends from boarding school. I had the opportunity to visit her in Eugene in April of 2022 and vowed I would come back. She welcomed us in and we caught up, her showing us around her new space. Her partner, Colin, just moved to Santa Fe recently for work, so she moved to an apartment to finish up her PhD work for the next year before she also relocates. She’s been working in a chemistry lab at the University of Oregon, currently writing a grant and also assisting an undergrad with her research. Tara is incredibly brilliant and such a paradox — at one time, doing hardcore chemistry, the next, doing various forms of art: drawing and painting, ceramics, poetry, and more. Her apartment is full of plants and whimsical books and she has a closet with all sorts of herbs and spices to brew her own teas. She’s a witch, in the best, most magical way.

Tara showing Ryan her grant work

One thing I knew I wanted to do with her was recreate these insanely good BLTs we made last time I was in Eugene. We had the nice bread from Bend, and I wanted to return to Market of Choice, this bougie supermarket here that has phenomenal goods. Tara introduced me to this bacon alternative (“fake-on”) last year that crisps up really nicely and the heirloom tomatoes at the market are unreal. We gathered up all the ingredients necessary and added several other snacks, including a lot of hemming and hawing over ice cream flavors (we ultimately selected Tillamook Marionberry). Once we were home with our haul, we cooked up the BLTs panini-style and they were just as good as I remembered. I am a slave to the panini press thanks to my grandfather, and will panini virtually any sandwich I can. It warmed my heart to hear Tara say, “When Colin and I moved, I took a lot of the kitchen stuff, but it was still too much for the space I have. We were going to get rid of the panini press, but I thought, ‘No, I’ve got to keep that in case Slaico visits and wants to make paninis.'” She was spot on.

The following morning, I went for a run along one of Eugene’s splendid trails and then made mini cinnamon rolls, showing her and Ryan the technique of putting them in the waffle iron (I will be purchasing the mini waffle iron Tara has, $10 at Target).

A classic Gary Larson that my dad and grandfather shared with me. I am both a slave to the waffle AND panini light.

While Tara worked on her grant, Ryan and I explored Eugene a bit. We barely made it out the house when Ryan stepped in dog poop. He then proceeded to use several minutes trying to clean his shoes. “Who knew we’d get so derailed by this?” I laughed.

“‘Ain’t that some sh*t?’ — that’s what you should name the next post,” Ryan quipped.

Shoes somewhat clean, we checked out a couple rock gyms as well as an outdoor wall full of crack climbs, which was neat to see. There were obligatory stops in REI and Nike to peruse products. After a couple of hours, we returned to Tara’s to pick her up.

No free soloing, we swear!
Eugene exploring

For dinner, she suggested a brewery that has a bunch of food trucks each night, called Coldfire. It was the perfect choice. We got our beverages, then sat at picnic tables and pretty quickly honed in on Yardy’s, a West Indian truck. Ryan had asked a few questions about the menu, and the cashier, all business, told him what cost what and what you got with each entree. She handed him his buzzer, and said, “Here you go honey, lucky number 8.”

I made my order and she handed me my own buzzer, once again saying, “Here you go honey, lucky number 7.”

“Are there any unlucky numbers?” I asked.

“Of course not! Every number is lucky. Think about it — no matter the number, you’re getting food!” She replied, brow furrowed and a little heated. She softened, “I suppose 15 might be unlucky, since we’re missing that buzzer. Sorry, your question really caught me off guard. No one’s asked me something like that!”

I have an equally exasperating and charming way of doing that.

Between the three of us, we got chicken, biscuits, melon, plantains, channa, naan, and donuts, and had a lovely time talking about life and relationships. Following dinner, we also checked out a local Irish pub, The Pint Pot, also entertaining.

Maybe the best BeReal. I have ever gotten

I was being my usual indecisive self, asking about the difference between the two black and tans on tap, and our waiter bellowed, “Would you stop yelling so much? You’re being way too loud!” He was joking around. “You’re in an Irish pub, dammit! What do the hell do you want!”

I chuckled and finally picked a beer (with his help and roasting), to which he said, “Bussin’!”

“I’m not hip enough to know what that means!” I hollered after him.

“Shut up!”

I truly love interacting with strangers like this.

Pooped after stepping in poop

The following morning, Ryan and I ran the same loop of the Amazon River Trail I had done the previous day, a 7-mile loop that is mostly wood chip trail and so pleasant. Once all three of us were done with working on our odds and ends, it was time for lunch. Tara suggested Morning Glory Cafe, and once again, her choice was perfect. Ryan and I split a pesto omelette and “backpacker’s pancakes,” which came with a thick berry compote. We were so full and happy.

Right by the cafe was Tara’s favorite old bookstore, so we walked on down and spent an hour or so visiting all the aisles. Tara found several old chemistry and physics textbooks and Ryan found the prequel to The Hobbit, called The Silmarillion.

To finish our visit, we did mud face masks and drank mocktails made by Tara — a delicious blend of herbs, tart cherry and pomegranate juices, and tonic water. We are so grateful for her hospitality and it is always so wonderful to reconnect with high school friends. Boarding school is not for the faint of heart, and having that shared experience, Tara knows and understands the person I have come to be better than most.

Ryan refuses to take a normal photo

We hit the road for Seattle, where we’d be cat sitting once again. The traffic in Portland was rough, so drove to Tualatin first to go for a walk and wait. We had a nice little stroll along the river.

We drove into Portland, feeling obligated to get some food but also immediately overwhelmed by the city. We never got out of the car. We pushed on.

We arrived in West Seattle late and had dinner at 10:30, but we were still glad to be in a house. We’re overlooking Alki Beach and have quick access to the boardwalk and restaurants. We’re excited to do some climbing and hiking this weekend and visit Ryan’s friends, Jake and Jenna!

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All About Audio

September 14, 2023