Thursday, October 30, 2014

Eugene, Oregon

If someone ever did a "Where Are They Now?" special on hippies from the 60s, a good chunk of the show could be filmed in Eugene, Oregon, where we vacationed last week. It's about 2 hours from Bend, directly over Mt. Washington, and passes through lots of gorgeous forest. If you have a Subaru, you'll love all the windy mountain roads.

Our Subaru isn't quite ready for winter yet - we haven't bought chains or studded tires - but the snow storm we encountered reminded us to get on that...

We hit the first snowstorm of the season - 4 inches over the pass!

Once we crossed over the mountain, the snow turned to rain, and we came up on Sahalie Falls. We've been meaning to check it out, so despite the heavy rain, we pulled over.

Everything on this side of the Cascades is covered in green.

It was totally worth it - everything was blanketed in moss - lush, soft, and misty. It's like something out of a fairytale. Oregon has so many awesome surprises; we feel lucky to live here!

In our new rain gear

Just like a postcard!

Once we arrived in town, Yelp told us that the Cascades Raptor Center was one of Eugene's major attractions. Not one to doubt Yelp, we headed over there to check it out. It's a non-profit, entirely funded by volunteers and donations, and they have over 60 aviaries with rehabilitated birds. Every bird had its story posted outside its cage, which personalized the whole experience, and made you fall in love with individual birds, which you can then sponsor. So clever, and definitely worth a visit. Also it's pretty much free, but they do suggest a $8.00 donation.

our favorite was the little owl on the lower left, who hides in the ground!

On the drive back to our hotel, we spotted some free ranging wild turkeys! 

wild turkeys strutting around confidently

The main reason we were in Eugene was for the Mushroom Show, which was the 33rd annual show, and the biggest on the West Coast. They had lots of cool mushroom themed stuff, mushroom growing kits, and even mushroom-dyed scarves - which you could do yourself, if so inclined. 

the displays were really nicely done, tri-level, and pretty.

one of the Festival-goers awesome cars.

On our way home, we pulled over in one of the forest areas to search for mushrooms. We had some visitors this week and thought it'd be cool to be able to feed them with something we foraged. We found lots of gorgeous mushrooms, and about 4 pounds of chanterelles, which are selling for $39.99/lb at our local grocer right now!

some random mushroom pics from our little hike

Kristy on the hunt!

processing our haul of chanterelles

We had so many that we gave some to our neighbors, and saved some for later. Normally you can just dehydrate any mushrooms you find, but chanterelles don't dry too well and get sort of chewy. So I chopped them up, threw them in a pot with a little salt, and dry sauteed them, until they released all their moisture. Then I vacuum sealed and froze them. 

Mike's pumpkin tribute to our new home.

We are excited for tomorrow (Halloween), because we haven't had trick or treaters since we lived in Long Beach, and even then, I think we only had a few. Our neighbor said we'd get a couple dozen this year, so we carved a pumpkin and bought some candy. Our life is so different from just a year ago, but we are loving it, and really, what more can you ask for?