This week’s Silversides Bus and Tempest CCs were high on my wish list, and finding them motivated me to put in some serious overtime. So today I need a breather, say an urban hike from our house to Skinner Butte, the geographic focal point of Eugene. Now some of you have asked if you could join me sometime on a CC hunt in Eugene; of course you all have a standing invitation; just show up. In the meantime you can join me on a virtual tour/hunt of the Skinner Butte District. I’ll just point out the highlights of the neighborhood, and you just give a shout out when you see something that interests you.
To get oriented, we’ll start at the viewpoint on top: we’re facing south, towards downtown Eugene and Spencer Butte, and our house is a couple of miles off in the distance. A quick note on these two cars: they both passed me as I was heading up, and the two drivers are now both in the black car; that’s a very big dog in the back seat of the red one. The top of the Butte has a long tradition of being favorite meeting (or finding) spot, and Stephanie and I have witnessed some ah…free porn here, once right up against the front of a car. Well, the view is rather romantic…
This is the Butte looking up from where downtown runs into it. That’s the old package depot next to the train station. The Amtrak Coast Starlight stops in Eugene, and we have cool Spanish-built Talgo trains that run up to Portland and Seattle twice daily. But lets head on over the west side of the Butte, which is a lot more colorful.
It’s a little hard to make out, but right above the blue garage are the exposed basalt columns. Here’s a closeup:
No old cars in the parking lot here on this winter day. But if you want to do something active on your lunch break, this is just a few blocks from downtown and five minutes from the university. And there a number of hiking trails on both sides of the butte. Eugene got its start at the base of Skinner Butte with pioneer settler Eugene Skinner, who so generously lent is first name to the town he founded here in 1851.
This mixed-use neighborhood is a jumble of a few old houses, some businesses that were converted from old mills, like the popular REI store,
and other small commercial and industrial properties.
Just west of the REI store is the seedy Jefferson-Washington “bridge”, actually the very end of the connector freeway (105) that drops one into Eugene, and separates Skinner Butte District from the Whitaker District, the most colorful and CC fertile neighborhood of all. We’ll save that for another “day off”.
Let’s check in on the Caddy’s vinyl roof “garden” and see how it’s coming along. Nice.
Before we leave them to age some more, let’s take a quick look at the faded bread van’s exhortation. Was that Sunbeam bread?
One block south, we can see the back of the old bread van and Tactics, the board sports shop that used to be a popular destination for my younger son (and my wallet).
This neighborhood does attract a higher than average share of eccentrics, or he’s just ready for all contingencies, including cross-country skis on top.
There’s even a small steel fabricating operation around the next corner here. Looks like some of it originated at the Rouge.
Since it’s a bit of a rough neighborhood, some folks feel the need to protect their precious valuables with security fences. Can’t totally blame them, although I doubt they’d have much luck getting this started. But it might make a nice human-powered RV for a transient; beats a shopping cart.
Let’s head north, towards the Willamette River, which runs right through the middle of Eugene. The river runs cool and clean, and is a great place to swim, kayak or drift down on a hot summer day. Here we see the butte from the northwest.
There’s a number of modest cottages here;
Some newer infill houses;
And an apartment building or two.
This bus has been here for a while. I already shot it for a future CC, because it’s surprisingly unusual, likely the only one of its particular make and year still on the road. Patience! But it’s sporting a brand new paint job today, so maybe I better re-shoot it. Zingy! After you’ve spent a few gray winters in the northwest, you learn to appreciate strong bright colors. You should see our kitchen.
Across the street from the bus is a fellow who operates a vegetarian food cart.
This is the last block before we hit the park, which encompasses the whole north side, from the butte to the river.
There’s a re-creation of Eugene Skinner’s log cabin. Before the town was named Eugene, it was commonly referred to as Skinner’s Mudhole. Now that’s a bit more colorful than Eugene, no?
The gentleman here is giving me the finger for photographing his rig. I did point out to him that I feel I have the right to shoot vehicles parked on the public streets whose existence and maintenance, as well as his ability to park there for free, has benefited substantially from my recent $17k annual property tax payment. He obviously didn’t buy my argument.
He’s not the only benefiting from my largess. Cheese!
On this blustery winter day, there aren’t any families bringing their kids to the big new playground. But there’s something very toy-like about this red, white and blue display in the parking lot.
I want to show a glimpse of the river but there’s no old cars here. Actually, there are some ancient relics of dumped cars embedded in the bank in one place, but the river’s running too high for me to swim out and show you them. Sorry!
As we head east, we emerge at the Campbell Senior Center parking lot. The river is just beyond the green bank.
We’re on the east side of the butte now, which is the most historic neighborhood in Eugene. Lots of charming Victorian houses, but this view shows the effects of no zoning: in the sixties this huge building, Yo Po Ah Terrace, was built right in the middle of it and smack in front of the butte, ruining the view from downtown. That woke up the city fathers and a severe height restriction was quickly enacted.
This house is representative of the scenery here.
The Parkview Apartments is a low-income senior housing project; one is likely to meet seniors in the parking lot too.
Sure enough. Let’s take a closer look at this trendy “green roof”.
Yikes! That’s really come along since the last time I saw it. Time to wrap up and head back to the top of the Butte to catch the sunset.
The west side has a bench which is a great place to catch the day’s last rays when the clouds cooperate.
Looking to the east, we see the pulp mills of sister-city Springfield adding to the clouds, as if they needed the help. The big yellow O is Autzen Stadium, home of the top rated Oregon University Ducks, headed to the BCS National Championship.
One final shot of downtown Eugene in the last light of day before we trot home again (a five mile round trip) for wine and dinner. Oh wait; you wanted to see cars, not scenery. Ok, I’ll dig up one from here that I shot last summer:
The folks in this ‘risienne were straight out of the Big Lebowski; the smoke wafting out the window is lost in the summer haze. Well, if you can’t get laid on top of Skinner Butte, you might as well get high.
For those that made it to the end, I hope that wasn’t too long or tiring. Care to join me on a different urban hike sometime?
[Note: place your cursor over the pics in the unlikely event you need help identifying them]