Ducks, Beer & Trees
This year Eugenians were treated to an unusually dry and especially nice October. The days were marked by sunshine and blue skies and the trees, unlike most years, made a gradual and brilliant turn of color as they ran their course. Lush green leaves that normally turn to a rusty brown and fall to the sodden muddy earth, stuck to their branches as they turned to yellows and golds, spread into vibrant oranges and occasionally approached deep reds at their tips. Nature’s artwork was awe inspiring to the folks in Eugene who trotted around town eyes wide and jaws dropped like kids in a toy store, pointing to the colorful displays and saying, "look at that one!"
With such a spectacular October behind them, Eugenians are left wondering if the mild weather and beautiful foliage was a treat or a trick. If October is the month when the sweaters come out, November is when they go on, and this November is no exception. The temperature in the Willamette Valley has plummeted to record lows at night, sending locals into their homes and around their fireplaces. Cold will not be a deterrent however, there are things to do here in November.
Even in the cold weather and rain outdoor activities remain popular. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks can be seen floating down the rivers, hikers check out the foliage from atop Spencer’s Butte or Mt. Pisgah, and winter enthusiasts’ wax up their skis and boards for the opening days at Hoodoo Ski Area and Willamette Pass.
Many of the activities Eugenians enjoy the most move indoors for the winter. The festive Saturday Market moves from its downtown location to the Lane County Fairgrounds in West Eugene, where it becomes the Holiday Market. Just like its outdoor counterpart, the Holiday Market features food, music and endless crafts and wares made by local merchants and residents. The rock and gem fair also arrives at the fairgrounds in November, bringing beautiful gems from all over the world. The gem show, which is a traveling fair, gives locals a chance to bring home a chunk of their favorite stone, or find something they like to set in a piece of jewelry.
Theaters and venues begin to book entertainment more regularly as the town searches for indoor amusement. The Hult Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Eugene offers a night at the ballet, opera or symphony as well as plays and touring musical acts. Music can be found at a host of other Eugene venues like the McDonald Theater, Wild Duck Music Hall and Sam Bond’s Garage, to name a few.
The most characteristic part of Eugene in November is football. On game day University students and town residents clad in yellow and green gear flood the streets on their way to Autzen Stadium. Cars and RV’s head to the stadium parking lots, adorned with Oregon flags waving from their antennas and grills, and strapped to their trunks. With a recently completed addition, Autzen Stadium looms over Alton Baker Park like an enormous spaceship that has just landed. When the ducks take the field, 54,000 fans â€“ more than one-third of the entire population of Eugene â€“ board the ship for a loud, wild and very often wet ride.
Nearly every Ducks game sells out, as you might be able to tell by the ticketless fans anxiously waiting outside for an extra. There are other great places to catch all the action inside the stadium though. At McMenamins breweries you can get some good grub, a great view and far better beer than they sell at the game. This established northwest favorite has three locations in Eugene, and on game day they all fill with fans who want to chow down, guzzle some brews and stay dry while they anxiously await a Ducks victory. With over 50 establishments in Oregon and Washington including hotels, theaters and wineries, McMenamins knows service and they know beer.
McMenamins North Bank is the newest brewpub and is located on the Willamette River. This location provides a great option for game viewing and an even better place to watch the commercials. Just turn your head away from that new plastic wrap or latest model Chevy and check out the leaves falling on the river as boaters and bikers pass by. This comfy wood-built pub is the perfect place to sip a beer on a crisp fall day.
McMenamins also have restaurants on High Street and 19th Avenue, and each offers a variety of famous brews and seasonal rotations. Their Terminator is a favorite among the University crowd for its great taste and high alcohol content. The Ruby is a lighter fruity beer that tastes great and is easy going down. Can’t decide between the two? Have a Rubinator: Ruby and Terminator in the same glass. In the great tradition of the black and tan, McMenamins gives patrons the option to mix their favorites.
Beer isn’t the only thing to boast about at McMenamins. A variety of wines from their own Edgefield Winery are offered to accompany the variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads on the menu.
Start with a beer at one of the McMenamins locations and at halftime hop over to another for snacks and suds. You can cruise and catch the last of the beautiful gold, red and brown dangling from the trees and sweeping the ground while you decide on a gold, red or brown for the next brew of a fantastic fall Eugene-style day.
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.