This post has no photos, as my phone and laptop have decided they don’t wanna play nice no more. And besides, I wasn’t going to post today anyway, so y’all lucky there’s anything. I’ll be fully back on the GSA blogging horse tomorrow though…
After a night of white wine and company of various colours, today saw a criminally early start in El Paso, Texas for my journey to the Eugene, Oregon. The pre-0500 alarm was lightened by a lift to the airport by Nila, Kate’s indefatigable project administrator and all-round fixer. A smooth ride through El Paso’s pocket-sized airport and a decent layover in DIA (well, as decent as a layover could ever be in DIA’s, seemingly never-ending concourses of beige and shit food) allowed me to catch-up on emails and work, as did the 2.5 hour trans-Rockies flight to Eugene, Oregon. Actually, having chosen a window seat, I was rather hoping to get no work done whatsoever, instead spending my time indulging in some geology-from-the-air. However, heavy cloud cover meant I only got fleeting glimpses of the Rockies, the flat, dusty wilds of Idaho and eastern Oregon. I was however rewarded during the descent into the Willamette Valley. This valley, which houses the major population centres of Oregon such as Eugene, Salem and, of course, Portlandia, is a sea of green and spectacularly located, being pinned between the mighty Cascades to the east and the no-less impressive coastal range to the west. It’s really hard not to like the geographical setting of Eugene.
I was picked-up at Eugene airport by Charlie, the husband of my host Becky Dorsey. On the short drive into town we covered a lot of ground, including the circumstances leading to the occurrence of casinos on Native American land, and the ‘legalisation’ of pot in Oregon. I didn’t know pot was legal in Oregon. In addition to killer scenery, ace booze and lovely food, it seems Oregon has a lot going for it.
After a somewhat chaotic check-in to my swanky hotel, The Excelsior, I headed into downtown Eugene to get my bearings, stretch my legs, and to find an iced coffee. I succeeded, and instantly fell in love with the relaxed and clean air of Eugene. Intending to return to my hotel for a quick catnap before dinner, I stumbled on 16 Tons, a ‘bottle and tap shop’ (i.e. bar-come-off licence) located just up the street from my hotel. Promising 700 bottled and draft beers, it would have been rude and thus incredibly un-British of me not to pop in and sample some of the selection. I sampled hard, mainly the heavy, heavy IPAs, swaying back to the Excelsior to meet Becky and Charlie for dinner, before heading to bed for, I think, a well-deserved early night.