Wildflower Spotting as May Rolls in

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Follow along as Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent highlights what wildflowers are blooming in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region.

Sun is shining as rain still falls in the weather-balanced ecosystem of our Willamette Valley. The flowers we’ve been waiting for have arrived and they look fantastic. This week includes a drive out Highway 126 west toward Florence, where one can see Fern Ridge farmland marked with Wild Iris flowers.

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Pansies on the forest floor

Closer to the ocean, you’ll begin to notice the bold pink blooms of Rhododendrons. A short walk through the Carl G. Washburne Campground displays their seasonal loveliness.

From here embark on the China Creek Trail, a half mile loop filled with lush green ferns, rippling waters and the vibrant yellow decoration of swamp cabbage growing in the marsh.

Birds are awake and snakes are too, coming out of winter hiding and catching rays in the wide open spaces of the Fern Ridge Bike Path. Camas blow in the wind as dime-sized violets flank the pathways, a pretty little patchwork of purple and yellow in a sea of tall green grass.

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A Calypso Orchid

Larkspur near the Ruth Bascom Bike Path is particularly lovely on the Southbank stretch between Alton Baker Park and the Autzen Footbridge, with the restored habitat close to the Knickerbocker Bridge also beginning to see new life.

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Trillium

Along the Ridgeline, especially near the Martin Street Trailhead, flowers are growing strong. Even Skinner’s Butte is covered from bottom to top with delicate spring blooms.

My favorite find this week was unexpected. I’ve been waiting for a real, live field of flowers and next to the railroad tracks under the Chamber’s Overpass, I found my first field. Here in this space, California Poppies live harmoniously beside an affluence of Camas.

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Springtime Camping at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

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Spring time in Oregon has officially arrived. Snow caps are melting, sunshine and rain have begun playing peak-a-boo once again and Oregonians are coming out of hibernation with sleepy eyes and pale skin. Read about Tourism Coordinator, Katie McGuigan’s, adventure to Dunes City for her first camping trip of the season. dunes_honeymanstatepark(5)_katiemcguigan

Located just over an hour outside of the Willamette Valley, the Oregon Coast offers the perfect escape for spring camping. Bags packed the night before, we watched the clocks from our desks until 5 p.m., when we headed straight for the Coast for our first camping trip of the season.

Arriving at Honeyman State Park around 6:30 p.m., we quickly set up camp before heading out to the sand dunes. ATV’s and dune buggies hummed in the distance as we climbed the sandy slopes into the sci-fi -esque dunes.

dunes(2)_katiemcguiganWith 500-miles of sand dunes, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, is a vast and unique landscape. Only after climbing to the top of the tallest dune around were we able to fully experience the eerie vastness of the dunes. Tracks left behind by the ATV’s were our only sign of civilization and even though we dunes(4)had only ventured about 10 minutes from our campsite we were able to experience a calming solitude. This solitude lasted only a couple of minutes before the distant echo of the ATV’s grew louder and we were surrounded by a rowdy group of ATV riders speeding across the dunes.

After a warm campfire (regretfully without s ‘mores) we settled into the tent for a comfortable night that didn’t even drop below 50°F (it was 34°F that night in Eugene). The next morning we enjoyed one last campfire before making our way to Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters for a good old fashioned cup of Joe.florence1

Being relatively early, the little old town of Florence appeared to still be asleep. However, once we turned the corner to Siuslaw Coffee Roasters we saw the bustle of walking groups, students and the old beach town regulars. Sipping our coffee we were able to sit out on the riverfront porch and overlook the Siuslaw River Bridge, which we learnedsiuslawcoffeeroasters_florence(2)_katiemcguigan was constructed in 1936 as part of Oregon’s Coast Bridges Project.

After we consumed a suitable amount of caffeine, we powered up and headed north on Highway 101. Enjoying the rocky coastal views and scanning the ocean from Highway 101’s multiple scenic viewpoints for grey whales we enjoyed the next few hours agenda free before heading to Darlingtonia State Natural Area.

Although Darlingtonia comes equipped with picnic tables and easily-accessible pathways common in many Oregon state parks, this park is still unusual because it is the only Oregon state park property dedicated to the protection of a single plant species.

darlingtonia(7)_katiemcguiganWhat is so special about this plant? The Darlingtonia californica, commonly known as the Cobra Lily, is the only type of pitcher plant (yes, a carnivorous plant) that can be found in Oregon. Although this park is frequented by science enthusiasts and botanists, the common public often overlooks this hidden gem on the Coast, making Darlingtonia State Natural Area a darlingtoniawayside_katiemcguigan (7)must-see.

Even though we visited the Coast for less than 24 hours the “Coastal Experience” was easily accessible to us. In less than 24 hours we were able to comfortably enjoy multiple state parks and natural scenic areas with coffee in hand.

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Roadside Wildflowers: A Bike Campout to Fall Creek

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Follow Adventure Specialist and wildflower expert Gabrielle Lent through a recent wildflower bike trip to Fall Creek where she spotted Camas Flowers, California Poppies, Lilacs and more. Find more bike rides and hikes on our website, and check back here next Friday for more wildflower updates in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region! 

I love my bicycle. One of the best things in my life is the everyday commute I make from Eugene to Springfield, a route mapped almost entirely on the non-motorized cyclist safe haven of the Ruth Bascom River Path. In total, I clock about 10 miles each trip. With spring in the air and my boyfriend by my side, I set out this last weekend to complete a bigger goal – riding out 40 miles for a bike campout in beautiful Fall Creek, a state recreation site between the small Oregon towns of Jasper and Lowell.

I love camping. Camping is not new to me, but bike camping? It would be my first time. My road bike is not designed for touring so I borrowed my mom’s Trek and outfitted the back rack with two bright yellow panniers and a bungeed down Thermarest mattress. The objective was to pack light yet efficiently. Arming myself with a change of clothes, warm layers for the night, a head lamp and a small towel I headed out the door feeling ready for the world. All we’d need now were groceries.

Together, we hit the store for campfire cook-able goods and left town at our desired time, about noon. Blessed with a stunning April day, nearly 75 degrees with no humidity and a replenishing cool breeze that hit us as we took flight, we cruised the river path to its end at West D Street. Coasting through the inner neighborhoods of Springfield we were soon tackling the steady incline of S 2nd Street before reaching the path at Dorris Ranch.

You can’t fully appreciate a hill until you’ve climbed it by bike. In the midst of my breaking sweat, I glanced over my right shoulder to admire the view.

Camas on the Hillside

Camas Flowers

At the feet of the mighty, mossy oak trees that made up the landscape, thick leaves and tall stems of Camas flowers coated the ground. Just beyond, the Willamette River glistened in the warm light of the sun.

The rush of wind penetrated my skin as I deliciously glided down the hill and noticed for the first time the unmistakable scent of lilac in the air. I breathed deeply.

We journeyed along the river by way of the Clearwater Path and soon found ourselves on Jasper Road. Following its shoulder to 57th Street we reached Bob Straub Road. Though we could have continued along Bob Straub we opted for a longer, secret way through rolling pastures and green hillsides. The smell of lilacs still lingered all around us.

Emerging onto Jasper-Lowell Road, we stopped at the Jasper Market for provisions we still needed. Once back on our bikes, we saw signs for a local produce stand and since fruits and vegetables are always a good idea we pulled over for a snack.

California Poppies

California Poppies

Thinking about food, I noticed the roadsides flanked with California Poppies. Their buttery yellow-orange reminded me of melted cheese. I began to get stoked on the idea of pizza as we had scoped our course by motorcycle previous to embarking and made note of a cute little store that offered just such.

We ate a delightful lunch at the Fall Creek Marketplace, sipping cold beers and taking in the sights and sounds of spring.

By this point the time was 4 p.m. and we were about an hour’s ride from our destination. With renewed energy we mounted our bikes and traversed the last leg of our trip. Crossing the Unity Covered Bridge onto Big Fall Creek Road we passed a ghost town and imagined it once full of life. We came to the North Shore Boat Ramp, checked the printed map and admired a lovely blanket of little pink flower asleep in the grass.

From here the ride would be an uphill battle. Lowered gears and steady pedaling would arrive us to Mile Marker 3 where we walked a secluded, difficult path down to the shores of our home for the evening. We parked our bikes, set the tent and laid a blanket on the dirt sand. I gathered firewood that was extra dry, dodging lizards that made their home in the fallen sun bleached logs from which it splintered. My boyfriend made the fire, using his hat as a fan, because he is a cowboy who knows his hat can at any point double as a tool.

We lay peacefully atop our blanket and watched as the sun set on our camp around 7:22 p.m. Across the lake we could see Cascara Campground soaking up the rays until the exact iPhone set time of 7:48 p.m. and felt a fleeting, comical envy of their sun-prime property.

For dinner we chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomato, threw it in a cast iron skillet with butter and a little water then added fresh ravioli. Our meal was outdoor gourmet, as good as cooked in any home kitchen.

In the dark, my boyfriend read out loud to me a story he’d been writing, making our campfire feel classic as we kept the shadows away with the light of its large flames. We fell asleep around 11 p.m. and awoke to birds honking and flapping in the waters of the reservoir. Breakfast would be just as good as dinner. We ate past satisfaction to minimize the weight of our load. Once the dishes were clean we broke down camp, saying thank you and goodbye to the land which housed us.

Wild Iris

Wild Iris

Where we had once pedaled steadily on Big Fall Creek Road we now effortlessly soared, returning quite quickly to Fall Creek Marketplace for more pizza and a brief illustrated history of Western gunslingers. On our trip back to Eugene, I was more aware of the wildflowers growing on the sides of the road. Wild Iris’ were everywhere and in large quantity, more California Poppies and a big patch of Camas flowers freckled the rocks alongside the train tracks.

This time around our game was speed. Instead of the secret scenic route we took the shoulder of Bob Straub straight to Clearwater, rejoining the bike path, entering Springfield city limits and into Eugene. My body felt good, not overworked or too tired. A pair of borrowed padded bike pants had made all the difference in my comfort and contributed to a sweet tan. The streets of Eugene welcomed us home with golden light, a breeze through the leaves of the trees and a promise of sleep in our own beds.

I love my bicycle. I love camping. My first experience with the hybrid of these two things on a perfect weather weekend in an Oregon spring, introduced to me by someone I love, will be something I carry with me for a long time.

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Tour de Mike sets off on Expedition from Eugene to Pendleton

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Kicking off at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center on Sunday April 17th, Travel Lane County will begin a six day, 360-mile bike ride to the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Follow #TourDeMIKE and/or #ORGC to track the ride!

Scenic bikeway proponents, Oregon bicycling enthusiasts and destination marketing Travel Lane County's MIKE the BikeOrganizations from across the state will be joining Travel Lane County on this voyage to Pendleton. Helping to inspire the name of the ride, Tour de Mike, Travel Lane County’s mobile visitor center, MIKE the Bike will be joining in on this expedition. MIKE is the first bike of its kind in the industry, crafted to provide visitors with information while they are out exploring.McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway

Over the six legs of the tour cyclists will be climbing over 22,000 feet in elevation while
traversing parts of five Oregon Scenic Bikeways – McKenzie Pass, Sisters to Smith Rock, Madras Mountain Views, Painted Hills and Blue Mountain Century.  Each day will be concluded with participants and cycling communities along the route connecting to celebrate Oregon’s bicycle tourism over Oregon’s craft beer and wine.

 

Help send off the riders at 8:30 a.m. on April 17th with coffee, breakfast treats and a quick sendoff toast. Following will be a short ride in Springfield to the edge of the McKenzie River Corridor for supporters to help send off the cyclists.

Make sure to follow the journey with the #TourDeMIKE and #ORGC tags on Twitter and Instagram to see firsthand photos of what it look likes to journey across our beautiful state!

Event schedule is as follows:

TourDeMike Route

  • When: Sunday, April 17 at 8:30 a.m.
    Where: Adventure Center, 3312 Gateway St, Springfield, Oregon
  • When: Sunday, April 17 at 6 – 8 p.m.
    Where: McKenzie Outdoor Center, 54771 McKenzie Hwy, Blue River, Oregon
  • When: Monday, April 18 at 6 – 8 p.m.
    Where: Blazin Saddles Cycle N Style, 413 W Hood Ave, Sisters, Oregon
  • When: Tuesday, April 19 at 6 – 8 p.m.
    Where: Wild Winds Station, 107 NE Cedar St., Madras, Oregon
  • When: Wednesday, April 20 at 6 – 8 p.m.
    Where: OPLI Building, 333 W 4th St, Fossil, Oregon
  • When: Thursday, April 21 at 6 – 8 p.m.
    Where: Gateway Café, 168 N. Main, Heppner, Oregon
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An Introduction to Willamette Valley Wildflowers

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Spring has reached the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region, and so have the wildflowers! Follow along for wildflower updates here every Friday for the coming months of Spring. We’ll be detailing what to look for and where to find them from our wildflower expert and Adventure Specialist, Gabrielle Lent!

These days, early morning sunlight shines gently between the slats of window shades and
birds break into song, waking up the animals that have been slumbering through winter’s cold. Sweet green buds emerge on the tips of tree branches and blossom into robust, flowering delight.

Camas_by August Jackson

Camas Flowers by Gabrielle Lent

Spring has sprung in the Eugene Cascades & Coast region! Its start marked by the subtle bloom of Indian Plum, a native plant which can be found along the Ridgeline Trail Systems as well as the slopes of Mount Pisgah and surrounding areas. Though it has now gone to fruit, Indian Plum is typically the first guest to arrive at the soon-to-be fully packed Willamette Valley wildflower party, followed by blooms of Trillium Flower, Oregon Grape, Camas and Wild Iris, leaving the question – who else is coming to the party, and when can we expect these lovely little flowers to open up and acknowledge their seasonal invitation?

August Jackson, Interpretation Coordinator at Mount Pisgah Arboretum, says that though some of the blooms were a little anemic last year due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall, precipitation this spring has been constant and plants are already looking fantastic.

Wild Iris at Pisgah _ by August Jackson

Wild Iris by Gabrielle Lent

Chief Meteorologist Marisa Woloszyn of KEZI 9 Eugene agrees. With temperatures expected to be slightly above average, wildflowers can’t wait to burst through the soil, their excitement causing them to bloom even earlier than usual. Peak season in the Willamette Valley is predicted throughout April with higher elevations seeing buds in late May and peak by early June.

As you hit the trails, keep an eye out for the Willamette Daisy, Western Buttercup, Oregon Fawn Lily, Wild Strawberries and Oregon Saxifrage. Tall Larkspur, Fork-tooth Ookow, Tolmie’s Cat’s Ear, Oregon Sunshine and Inside-out flowers will also be abundant. Bring your field guides, water bottles and cameras and capture all the beauty this season has in store.

Skunk Cabbage. By: Mt. Pisgah's wildflower expert August Jackson.

Skunk Cabbage by Gabrielle Lent

This blog aims to walk with you through the county, highlighting blooms and key places for exploration. Stay tuned, share outdoor stories and participate in this community effort to discover the magnificence of Oregon in spring. It sure is pretty out there.

Now, where to begin? Follow along here to learn more about Oregon’s wildflowers or visit the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center to plan out where to find the newest blooms!

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A 14 Mile Expedition to Linton Falls

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Follow Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent on her 14 mile expedition into Sisters Wilderness to find Linton Falls. Find out more about the many waterfalls in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region.

Too late for early morning and too early for late night, there is something magical about the hour of 4 a.m. We awoke to this mystic spans of time, gathered our layers, our food for the day and hit the road to arrive at Linton Lake Trailhead before the dawn with the ultimate goal of Linton Falls before noon. Our lengthy drive out of town was an ethereal dream where we ate bananas and drank coffee as the sun stayed sleeping much longer than we did. Darkness welcomed us to the road closure at Highway 242 around 6 a.m. and we parked our car in the lot next to this hefty metal gate, beginning the day with a four mile hike on this paved road currently inaccessible to motor vehicles.

On this initial walk we gained 1,100 feet in elevation. Gradual changes in scenery included roadside banks of snow that built themselves from zero to two feet; visible walls that promised snowpack on the inner trails of the forest that lay ahead. We were counting on this snowpack to access our prized waterfall, the white blanket providing stiff footing over rushing streams and rough terrain that make the trail more difficult to forge during other seasons.

It was 7:30 a.m. when we reached the trailhead and by this time the day’s brightness had effortlessly spread itself across the land. Signs at Linton Lake promoted the trail as a place for self-discovery and primitive recreation, encouraging travelers to “power-down” and leave behind the distracting buzz of modern convenience. After texting a copy of our mapped destination to friends and family, I put my phone in airplane mode. From this point on I’d be accessing it for camera use only.

The weather was cold, a true February morning and the night had been much colder. I ate one more banana as we speculated about the lone tent in the Alder Springs Campground directly across from our starting point, wondering if we would encounter its inhabitants on our trek.

Lower Linton Falls

Photography by Wyatt Pace

Volcanic, moss-covered rock flanked our sides as we tread upon soft dirt, the obvious path occasionally washed out by sneaky pockets of snow. Keeping our heads up would prove to be an integral part of maneuvering the trail as these pockets made it easy to lose sight of defined parameters. After a mile and a half, the path diverged and disappeared. We reached the lake, strapped on the snowshoes we’d been carrying on our backs and conquered the fog-strewn, snowy shores of the frozen Linton Lake.

Trudging through marsh and over large fallen trees, we soon reached Linton Creek. Channeling the spirit of true Oregon adventurers (we were like Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea) we removed our snowshoes and followed this creek up the side of the mountain using only maps and our sheer human strength; digging in boot toes and planting poles, shimmying up the natural wall in the way that a goat might. Just before noon we reached Linton Falls and stopped for a lovely picnic lunch. A clear view of the falls was not available unless situated on the edge of the cliff so we all took turns in this position, making an effort to snag the perfect photograph.

Photography by Wyatt Pace

Photography by Wyatt Pace

It was early still and we hungered for a greater challenge. We continued up the mountain, following the gentle wear of paths made by animals and the bold sounds of wild water. We soon turned a corner to see a bountiful falls, one that dwarfed Linton in size. This falls was Upper Linton; a truly marvelous gem of a water feature, waiting in serenity for all eternity to be praised in picture and illuminated by good company.

After properly hydrating (and after the failed rescue mission of a water bottle lost) we left the scene and made our way back down the creek in a hot sweat with cold feet. We crossed over marsh to the snowy shoreline and returned to the defined parameters of the Linton Lake trail. Our descent proved much faster than the climb – a distance that had taken us six hours to achieve was wrapped up in under three. By 4 p.m. we were traveling again by foot down Highway 242, the first and last leg of our 14 mile day. It was here that we would encounter the lone camper from the tent at Alder Springs, a resident of Rainbow who advised us to enjoy the area, “but don’t tell anyone about it.” We smiled and nodded as he giddily skipped away.

Back at the car, we changed into fresh clothing and just kind of melted into our seats, reviewing pictures, enjoying the last of our snacks. From the back seat I reflected on our experience and watched the sun slowly set over the small stretch of Cedar Flats, its blinding light silhouette reflected on itself in the cloud horizon like a glowing hourglass. There was something magical, something ethereal about this image in the sky that made me think back to the 4 a.m. start of our day which now seemed so far away. When we awoke, the sun was still sleeping. Now here we were at the end of our journey, putting it softly back to rest.

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Ant Farm Collective’s Feast of Three Sisters

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Follow Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent as she explores this winter feast. Find out more about our local food here.

The fertile grounds of the Pacific Northwest bare a divinity of crops each harvest season. Though I am not a farmer, I have for the past year had the privilege of living among several in an intentional community bound together by a focus on sustainable living and a love of soil. My knowledge, tastes and appreciation of agriculture have flourished in this environment where the bounties of our land are humbly celebrated every day through a farm-to-table lifestyle and homegrown kitchen endeavors.

Centerpiece - Feast of Three SistersLast night in the dining room of Mac’s at the Vets Club, a winter season’s feast showcasing corn, beans and squash was organized by farm collectives and local individuals, some of whom I call my roommates.

For a sliding scale admission of $10 to $20, all were invited to enjoy live music and experience tastings, food demonstrations and a dinner starring these three dietary staples that together are affectionately known as Three Sisters.

The Feast of Three Sisters kicked off with a tasting of 20 squash varietals, each labeled with an identifying nametag and housed in bowls on a large, round table.

The table’s middle boasted a three-tiered centerpiece comprised of various whole squashes, dried corn cobs and labeled jars of bean varietals.Centerpiece 2 - Feast of Three Sisters

Flavor wheels and sheets of paper were provided for those wanting to take tasting notes on the different kinds of squash, an interactive opportunity I found quite exciting.

After much sampling, my favorites were the grassy, cantaloupe-like Winter Sweet and the creamy, brown sugar boldness of the Uncle David Dakota Dessert.

Yellow, red, white and blue corn tortillas were offered to guests on serving trays and proved an excellent palate cleanser between bites of squash.

Squash Tasting 2 - Feast of Three SistersA surprisingly green tortilla made of spinach and corn did not capture my interest as much as the experimental black chanterelle tortilla with its light but distinct notes of earthy flavor.

While waiting to order drinks at the bar we snacked on Trinity Nibbles, a delightful mixture of all three sisters. Whipple beans, mixed squash seed and corn kernels were deep fried in oil creating a rich treat. The little beans were mouthcoating pillow puffs; very fun to eat.

With beers in hand we took our seats at a shared table just in time to miss the first course of the feast, refried Arikara bean empanadas with corn relish and hot sauce, garnished with chimichurri and red guajillo pepper. They looked delicious. Many confirmed that they were.

Next came a broiled square of polenta, Candystick delicate squash and roasted red peppers drizzled again with chimichirri. The course was at once savory and satisfying, served hot and in abundance though we did have to fight for our share. There were limited seats in contrast with the number of people in attendance and servers were met by hungry, standing-room-only guests before making it to tables with trays of food.

Fava Falafel and Hummus - Feast of Three SistersA third course was presented to our end of the table on a triumphant, boat-sized plate harboring tortillas, fava falafel, a yummy tzatziki dipping sauce and three types of hummus. Each hummus was made from a different bean, including pureed Sweet Lorane small fava, black Beefy Grex and Kenearly Yellow Eye. The Beefy Grex was slightly transparent in flavor though I very much cared for the creamy accompaniment of the Kenearly Yellow Eye hummus with the blue corn tortillas.

The final course of the feast took a dramatic turn in content and presentation. Diners were encouraged to stand and be served as volunteers ladled healthy portions of pozole rojo soup into bowls. Adornments of fresh chopped cabbage, radishes, onion and tortilla strips were available as toppings for the mild red guajillo chile broth filled with hominy, chicken and pork. A hot liquid, the soup acted as a lovely aperitif to the dense fulfillment of corn, squash and beans; a pleasant, rounding night cap to a well crafted meal. A vegetarian option was also available.

Centerpiece - Feast of Three SistersAfter the announcement of the evening’s raffle winners, the consumption of a few more pieces of squash and the closing of our bar tabs, we bid adieu to this roomful of friends just before the commencement of dancing and dessert (green mole squash ice cream and gingersnaps).

The event ran longer than expected and though I had to cut my time short, I did not feel shorted.

In the end, a great time was had by all. There were a few hiccups in the event’s execution but the inaugural Feast of Three Sisters was an inspired showcase of the versatility of Pacific Northwest crops, a humble celebration of farm-to-table lifestyle and homegrown kitchen endeavors, and a privilege to attend.

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Get Ready for the Slopes – Snow is Here!

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Follow Adventure Specialist and photographer Thomas Moser as he tackles Lane County’s snowfall! Find more winter adventures on our Sno-Parks and snow adventures page.

6 a.m., coffee is brewing, pancakes are sizzling, snacks are prepared. Time to get dressed in as many layers as you can find – it’s a ski day!

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass1 12262015

Snow fans ride to the top of the Willamette Pass.

Whether you are a skilled winter sport enthusiast or just braving up to hit the slopes for the first time, Willamette Pass Resort has enough snow this year to make an Austrian giddy (and that doesn’t come easy).

With 70 inches of snow at the beautiful lodge and 118 inches at the second peak, this short and beautiful drive up to Willamette Pass is well worth the effort.

Driving along Highway 58 and the frozen winter wonderland is like seeing something out of a fairy-tale. Stunning views of the Willamette River and sneak peeks of snowy Diamond Peak enchant and dazzle.

Road crews are clearing the way, but make sure you are equipped with traction tires or carrying chains. It can be icy!

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass3 12262015

Carving the slopes with Waldo Lake in the distance.

Once you get to the ski area if you don’t have your own gear don’t worry! You can rent it all on-site.

They even offer a variety of lessons from private lessons to group to first timers.

If you’re looking for some crowd favorite trails, make sure to ski over to the Twilight Lift and take some runs down “Peekaboo,” Duck Soup,” and “Swoosh.”

 

For the more advanced skiers, take the Eagle Peak Accelerator to Eagle Peak and use “Boundary Pass” to get to some of the more difficult Black Diamond trails.

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass5 12262015If you ski your self into a hunger frenzy, leave your skis or snowboard out on the backside of the lodge and head up to the second floor.

Whether you packed a lunch or are purchasing food there, there is plenty of seating for even the largest of groups.

Heading up one more floor to the lounge for the best views. With a hot drink in hand, it is easy to let the minutes tick away in contentment as you watch people ski down the face on “By George.”

After lunch, it’s time to ski some more!

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass4 12262015

Stop in at Oakridge’s Brewer’s Union for a tasty beverage after a day on the slopes.

When you finally head back to Eugene, make sure to stop in Oakridge for a world class microbrew. Nothing finishes up a perfect ski day like the family friendly, and local favorite, Brewer’s Union Local 180. Enjoy from their personal line up of gravity feed cask beers, or sample one of their guest taps. What you pick is sure to be perfect with their menu of British style pub food.

With a session as good as the one we are getting this year,I’m excited to get back soon!

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Take a Family Trip this Holiday Season

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Spend the holidays with family at fun events! Find even more on our Holiday Events page.

The rains are here and it is once again that cozy time of year in Oregon! However Oregonians don’t let the rain or cold keep them indoors. To help you make the most of the season Eugene, Cascades & Coast has put together a list of family friendly activities and events to watch out for this season:

Sahalie Falls in Winter by Greg Yamada

A Classic Holiday in the Cascades

Pick up a Christmas Tree Permit or Snow Park Pass at Eugene, Cascades & Coast’s Adventure Center and head to the mountains for a fun day in the snow that the whole family will enjoy!

Holiday Science Adventures at the Science Factory

During half-day workshops your child can explore fun science topics, including; candy makers, toy engineers and how to have a green holiday. 12/21/2015 – 12/23/2015

Northern Lights – a winter Solstice Celebration at the Museum of Natural University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History logoHistory

Celebrate the winter solstice at University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History with crafts, face paint, live music and performances.12/18/2015

Santa Visits and Let it Snow at Fifth Street Market

Enjoy the magic of a snowfall over Fifth Street Market 6-6:30 on Friday and Saturday Evenings. 11/28/2015 – 12/19/2015

Or bring your kids to get their picture taken with Santa on Saturday afternoons.  11/28/2015 – 12/19/2015

Holiday lights at the Village Green’s annual display

Christmas at the Village Green Resort & Gardens

See a dazzling display of Christmas lights in the Wedding Garden, and make s’mores while cozying up next to the fire with a warm mug of gluhwein or hot cocoa. 11/27/2015 to 12/25/2015

Oregon Coast Military Museum

Take an educational trip to the Coast with your family and see the life size displays of WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Make sure to call ahead to check on hours because the museum is only open three days a week.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Cottage TheatreJesus Christ Superstar courtesy of Cottage Theatre

Cottage Theatre presents The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an enchanting tale of four children who wander into the magical land of Narnia.  12/4/2015-12/20/2015

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Winter Seasonals from Eugene’s Local Brewers & Fermenters

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Get ready for seasonal brews in the Eugene Ale Trail! See a full list of Eugene Ale Trail breweries here and some special seasonals below.

It’s that bittersweet time of year again. Trees are shedding their final leaves, while stores have started to stock their shelves with holiday decorations.

But grocery stores aren’t the only ones with the winter season on their minds. Near the end of October our local brewers started releasing their Winter Seasonal Ales. So why not  get festive and kick off the holiday season with one of these festive brews?

To help you out we’ve made this list of what seasonal ales to look out for and get you in the holiday spirit:

Ninkasi

A close look at this double alt seasonal favorite from Ninkasi

Ninkasi Brewing Company – Sleigh’r

Sleigh’r became a seasonal favorite for Ninkasi fans in 2009, mixing traditional winter
flavors with a Ninkasi flavor punch. A dark double alt ale gives this brew a “deep, toasted malt flavor.”

This beer gets bonus points for being available on tap at Ninkasi’s tasting room, as well as, bottled. So there is no excuse not to try it!

Oakshire Brewing Ill-Tempered Gnome & Barleywine

12240385_10153311398366733_9100887531930183395_oOakshire Brewing has two seasonal favorites to watch out for this winter. The first is their widely recognized Ill-Tempered Gnome. An American Brown Style (hoppy brown) is brewed with six different specialty malts, resulting in a more complex flavor.

Around mid-November Oakshire also releases their barley wine.

After brewing and fermenting, it’s sent to brandy barrels to age for a year, making it a creation quite worth the wait.

Both of these brews will be on tap at the Oakshire Taphouse throughout the season, as well as, located in stores in 22oz. bottles.

Viking Braggot Company – Winter Squash Porter

VikingFor a new twist on a classic, beer enthusiasts should check out Viking Braggot’s Winter Squash Porter.

This imperial porter is made unique with pounds of Delecata winter squash and turnip honey.

Top off a hearty winter meal with this rich, velvety brew and enjoy the many flavors of the season in one glass.

WildCraft Cider Works – Elderberry Perry

WildCraft-Bottles-Elderberry PerryFor the cider lovers there is WildCraft Cider Work’s Perry collection. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Elderberry Perry.

This cider is crafted with elderberries found in the mountains of Cottage Grove, hand destemmed and fermented whole. But the final product is worth the effort, because these berries help add a hint of fruitiness to the rich bodied pear flavor of the cider.

Can’t choose just one? Make sure to bring along the Eugene Ale Trail Passport and get stamps from the breweries you visit. Get eight stamps and you can pick up your own 32 oz. “Eugene Ale Trail” growler from our Adventure Center in Springfield!

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And while you’re touring, knock a these winter favorites off your list:

Agrarian Ales Brewing Company

  • Poblamo! Amber – Chile Beer
  • Yuletide – Belgian style, holiday strong ale

Plank Town Brewing Company

  • Hobbit’s Little Helper – Rich, deep mahogany ale
  • UnObtainium – Double IPA

Falling Sky Brewing

  • Falling Sky is all about seasonal ales. Visit their Brewery or Deli to see what’s on tap this week!

Hop Valley Brewing Company (Available at both Eugene & Springfield Locations)

  • Festeroo Winter Ale

Elk Horn Brewery

  • Smoked Pecan Brown Ale
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Stag Moose: 2014 Russian Imperial, barrel aged
  • Barrel Aged Belgian Quadruple

Brewers Union Local 180

  • Frost on the Bumpkin- Winter stout (available now)
  • Tanninbomb- Oak aged English old ale

McMenamins (Available at all three locations in Eugene)

  • Black Widow Porter
  • Kris Kringle – Traditional Yuletide Ale

Sam Bond’s Brewing Company

  • Holiday Cream Ale

Steelhead Brewing Company

  • Heatmeiser- Hoppy amber beer

Claim 52 Brewing & The Abbey

  • Sugar Plum Fairy – Belgian Dark Strong style beer
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