just south of Eugene, Oregon
Saturday, July 28, 1973
From British Columbia to about halfway through Oregon. We drove south through Hope, BC, then crossed the border for the sixth and last time back into the U.S., into Washington state, where we picked up I-5 and simply booked. Through Bellingham, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Salem. 463 miles, according to Google Maps.
We stopped at a KOA campground, our first of the trip, as I noted in my diary. When we visited parts of the continent less remote than Alaska and the Yukon, KOA campgrounds were something we looked for about every third night. They’re sort of the Motel 6s of campgrounds, or they were back then. Dependable but not fancy, with the same hookups and facilities from campground to campground. In the days before we had the trailer with its own bathroom, we always counted on KOAs for showers and that sort of thing, too.
Little did I know when we spent the night near Eugene, that when I was in my twenties I’d end up living there for several years. Not in the campground, of course, but in Eugene. It sits at the head of the Willamette Valley, nestled in the evergreens with mountains ringing it in every direction but north. At the time I lived there, just after the height of the spotted owl controversy in the mid-80s, it was sort of the hippie equivalent of the elephant’s graveyard. Also sort of like the Island of Lost Toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If you didn’t fit in anywhere else, you’d be fine in Eugene. I really loved Eugene. I’d probably still be there if it weren’t for a set of circumstances too convoluted to be described here, although it’s not the same place it was back then.
It was hot when we got there. Fortunately, the campground had a swimming pool, which I enjoyed that evening. Also fortunately, the electric hookup allowed us to run the trailer’s air conditioning. We went to bed early to get an early start the next day and ran it all night long.