Worst plague around town
It seemed to happen out of nowhere. Boom! John Henry’s was gone. We whined and grieved and had finally gotten back up on our dancing feet when SLAM! Diablo’s announced they would be closing down soon too. What is this with big local bars closing?! I’ll tell ’ya, if they even think about touching Cowfish, I’ll lose all hope for this one-horse town.
Best barf in Eugene
No, it’s not the spectacle that is UO freshmen stumbling around the campus neighborhood nor your toilet bowl after that fourth meal run to Taco Bell, but instead the fascinating winged creatures at Cascade Raptor Center, some of which use vomit as a defense mechanism. This destination is tucked into the hills of South Eugene and Tuesday through Friday at noon you can learn the ins and outs of different species during the handler talks. Hopefully you won’t actually witness any bird vomiting, but you just might get to see a bird of prey eat an entire dead baby chick — bones and all.
Best place to do it dirty in the dark
Just admit it! As weird and twisted as it is, we’ve all had thoughts of sneaking a quickie atop a tombstone in the middle of a cemetery. And while Eugene’s Pioneer Cemetery is often the first one that pops into mind around town, its foliage is sparse and if you’re going to have an audience at all, you sure don’t want it to be the frat boys wandering down 18th. So grab your sweetie (or maybe just the closest stranger in the bar) and head south to Masonic Cemetery for a little rule-breaking. It’s remote, secluded and, most importantly, creepy as all get out.
Best new bike path in the area
A new four-mile paved path opened in October along the Willamette from Dorris Ranch to Clearwater Park. The Middle Fork Path connects to the Eugene-Springfield riverfront bike path system by a bike lane on South Second Street in Springfield. Eventually we might see a bike bridge over the Willamette to connect the new path with Buford and Mount Pisgah. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride, or walk through an area that was previously inaccessible except by boat.
Best way to improve South Willamette Street
Get rid of all those dangerous, redundant driveways that cause accidents and throw in some bike lanes and a center turn lane. This street could be much safer, easier to navigate by car and more fun to bike on with a few little changes.
Best street to get run over on your bike
We love biking, but seriously, we could do without the near-death experiences. On 18th, the collision of turn lanes, parking lots and coffee-guzzling drivers in the morning makes things a bit tense for bikers. To the lady in the SUV turning in to the Safeway parking lot who slammed on her brakes within inches of flattening a biker — please put down the cell phone and give a quick glance to the bike lane before turning. We’d appreciate it.
Best locally made whole wheat bread with figs and filberts in it
Try the Metropol Bakery and coffee shop on South Willamette. The little loaf is so tasty.
Best fresh scones on a ridiculously early morning
In the winter, the prospect of waking up for an early morning ski on the weekend seems great, until it’s 5 am and the outside world seems cold and cruel compared to the coziness of the bed. Sometimes the littlest things can make the trip worth it, like Eugene City Bakery’s scones. Nothing else really matters when you’ve got fluffy scones with gooey marionberries to devour. Thanks, Eugene City Bakery, for motivating us to get out there and brave the cold weather.
Best reason to allow oil trains through Eugene
The oil spills will keep the coal dust down.
Best place for pizza after a hike
Tucked away out Jasper Lowell Road in Fall Creek is the Fall Creek Market and Pizza, where you can get simply amazing pizza from the “chicken bacon artichoke” to the gourmet vegetarian featuring cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, black olives, red onions, red and yellow peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. The market is kind of a trek from Eugene — almost 20 minutes from downtown — but the rich, cheesy goodness is a perfect reward after a day hiking the old-growth forests around Fall Creek in the Willamette National Forest. Fall Creek Market and Pizza has been around since the 1900s; we don’t know when the folks there started selling pizza, but they have perfected the art. For the menu, go to fallcreekmarket.com or just drive out to 39074 Jasper Lowell Rd., Fall Creek, 746-3068.
Best kimchi on Highway 58
For all we know it’s the only kimchi on Hwy. 58, but if you get off I-5 at the Goshen exit and drive about a mile down 58, you’ll see Lee’s Highway 58 Market on your right. You can get all the usual Oregon convenience fare — wine, beer, fishing bait and microwave food, but you can also get the Lee family’s fantastic spicy homemade kimchi in small or large jars. Homemade teriyaki chicken over rice or yakisoba noodles is also on the menu — made to order. Fermented food lovers: The kimchi is worth a stop.
Best time to shop Goodwill, St. Vinny’s and Salvation Army
Donors unload mountains of good stuff at the end of the year to take advantage of tax write-offs. December through February are prime shopping months.
Best place to go to feel better about the economy
The Costco parking lot on any Saturday.
Best place to prepare mentally for an earthquake
Any of the Eugene businesses along the railroad tracks.
Best place to be when the dams fail in The Big One
Fifth floor or above at Riverbend.
Most improved scenic drive
Hallelujah! The asphalt gods have heard our pleas because Lorane Highway (between Washington Street and Paige Avenue) went from being the worst pretty drive in town to one of the best. A year ago, driving your car or riding your bike down its sinuous path was almost certain death, for shocks and tires anyway. Now, instead of white-knuckling it, drivers can enjoy the leafy scenery speckled with chicken coops, gardens and beautiful homes. Don’t get too cocky though, be mindful of cyclists and wandering souls.
Best way to rebuild public confidence in city government
Create an independent performance auditor office that reports directly to the City Council.