It’s very odd to go back to a place where you used to live thirty years before. Or maybe it isn’t for most folks, but it is for me. The three years I lived in Eugene, Oregon, were extremely tumultuous for me personally. Perhaps that’s why I always feel odd when I go back there.
At any rate, this time I wanted to go back to a particular place, Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, which is in the hills east of Eugene and south of its twin city on the other side of the freeway, Springfield (yes, That Springfield for you Simpsons fans, according to Groening himself).
But I digress. Mt. Pisgah isn’t an arboretum in the strictest sense of the term, or at least it’s not what I think of when I think of an arboretum, where lots of different kinds of trees and shrubs are planted and labeled. It’s more just a park. A really nice, wild park, with quite a few wildflowers in late spring.
I strolled the trails for a couple of miles, under the oak trees and through the meadows. I always forget how much this part of Oregon looks like parts of California. And what those big oak trees are like. I love them. I also saw a few critters, and even got photos of a couple of them.
Here’s what it looks like, and a sampling of the flowers.
Columbia columbines at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
I think these are some kind of penstemon. Or perhaps some sort of corydalis.
Meadow and oak trees at Mt. Pisgah.
The Willamette River at Mt. Pisgah.
I don’t know what these are, and I couldn’t find them in my flower ID books. Which is just wrong, but they’re still pretty.
A red squirrel.
I don’t know what kind of bird this is.
After that, I went looking for some of my old stomping grounds in Eugene, mostly the apartment (since converted to condos) I lived in with my first husband, which was way up in the hills on the south end of town with a spectacular view down the valley. I didn’t take any pictures of it this time because I didn’t want anyone accosting me asking me what I was doing that for. I left my first husband in Eugene, and I met my second one there, too, probably way too soon for my own good. I also went looking for the apartment my second husband and I lived in for a brief time before we left the Northwest, which was one of the dumbest things I ever did (leaving the Northwest, that is), and found it, too.
Then, after a fast food lunch, filling the gas tank (I will never get used to not pumping my own gas, but they don’t let you do that in Oregon), and getting some cash, I headed west towards the coast.
It’s only an hour’s drive from Eugene to Florence, which is situated at the mouth of the Siuslaw (sigh’ oo slaw) River just about halfway down the Oregon coast. I visited the Old Town section, right on the harbor, then found the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. After perusing their exhibits, I went to their library, which was staffed by a nice volunteer in her eighties who had recently taken the collection over from her predecessor who’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was still trying to deal with the results. But she helped me find some good things, and make copies, and it was several hours well spent.
I also spent some time in the local history section of the public library, and found more good stuff.
Then I went looking for a campground, and discovered something disgusting. I am normally a fan of forest service campgrounds. They’re usually cheaper, nice, and in quiet locations. Not this time. Most of the forest service campgrounds along the Oregon coast have been leased to private companies for management, and they might as well be privately owned for all their price and ambiance. I was appalled. $22 for a plain site (as opposed to one with hookups) is absolutely ridiculous. Camping in Yellowstone National Park costs less than that.
But I didn’t have a whole lot of choice. The three campgrounds I checked (one private, one state park, and the forest service one) were all the same price and the others were even worse for ambiance. So I paid my money, and I still may write my congresscritters about it. That was just Wrong.
There was a nice trail at the campground with a sign that said “to the beach” at the beginning of it, though. So I decided to walk it. I never did get to the beach — I checked the next morning, and it was several miles one way — but I did have a very nice walk. At one point, the trees arched overhead looking like that scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where the Black Riders are after Frodo. And flowers — mostly false lily of the valley and rhododendrons. Florence has a festival every spring celebrating the rhododendrons, which I’d just missed (which was fine).
Native coastal rhododendrons.
Where are the hobbits? Or the black riders?
After my walk, I fixed supper and settled in for the night. And that was my only night camping on this trip.