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Have you seen Eugene?

March 20, 2013

We left Portland Friday afternoon, heading south through the Oregon countryside to Eugene. As we drove south, the city gave way to lush farmland and I was amazed once again at how green everything was.

Oregon Countryside

We headed to Eugene to see Umphrey’s McGee in concert Friday night.  I’d never really listened to the band before, but I didn’t let that dampen my enthusiasm for a show my friends promised would be amazing.

We hit Eugene right around dinner time and checked into the Timbers Motel for the evening.  The Timbers was perfectly located about two blocks from the concert venue and maybe five blocks from the downtown restaurants.  It was clean and surprisingly nice for a doors-on-the-outside establishment, and it was priced right.

On the recommendation of a Eugene local, we walked over to Cornucopia for dinner.  I neglected to take any photos, but the atmosphere of the restaurant reminded me of an independently owned TGI Fridays.  The food was good but not great, and we all enjoyed their wide selection of local beers.  After dinner and a few more beers, we walked over to the McDonald Theater for our concert.

Umphrey’s McGee put on a killer show – It sounds like an oxymoron, but they are a hard rocking jam band.  Each song turned into a 20-minute riff with the band members improvising, playing off of each other and basically demonstrating that they are amazingly talented musicians.  The music was perfect for dancing. The crowd was way into it and there was some pretty stellar people watching to be had between songs, plus quite a light show.

Umphrey's McGee

Umphrey's Concert

I had figured I would enjoy the concert despite never listening to the band before and I was right.  There’s not much that can beat great live music.

Umphrey's McGee

Umphrey's McGee

The show was as long as it was good – around four hours of music – and we were totally beat by the time it was over.  We briefly considered going out for drinks before deciding that collapsing at the hotel was a much more appealing option.

The next morning we woke up at a decent hour (five people sharing a hotel room doesn’t usually lead to sleeping in, in my experience) and went out for coffee followed by breakfast.  Breakfast at the Keystone Cafe was one of the highlights of our short time in Eugene.

We were seated on the heated outdoor porch right away and all really enjoyed the cozy atmosphere.  Keystone has an awesome menu with lots of vegan and vegetarian options, along with plenty to tempt us meat-eaters.  Plus, most of the items on their menu were organic and made from scratch.  I really appreciated the focus on organic food, and found everywhere we ate in Oregon pretty vegetarian-friendly and open to those with dietary restrictions. It was feel good food you could actually feel good about!

Keystone Cafe Breakfast

I chose the pan-fried polenta cakes topped with eggs, and enjoyed every bite without feeling stuffed.  Upon finding out that they also serve fresh-squeezed juice, I ordered a small grapefruit juice that came in the most adorable baby glass.  It was delicious – for some reason I love fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice but can’t stand the bottled stuff.

Baby Grapefruit Juice

I was glad I saved room for the massive and amazing pancake that we impulse-ordered upon seeing one delivered to a table next to us.  This Oatmeal Sesame Pancake with Blueberries and Bananas stole the show.  The sesame seeds in the batter gave it a nice savory flavor that the fruit balanced out perfectly, with a substantial texture that I loved.  Plus it was big enough for all five of us to share and still have some to get boxed up to go.

Keystone Cafe Pancake

If you ever find yourself in Eugene, please do yourself a favor and stop by the Keystone Cafe for pancakes.  I promise you won’t regret it.

After breakfast we piled into the car to head back up toward Portland, with plans to stop on the way for some wine tasting (!) in the Willamette Valley.  Wine tasting was one of the highlights of my trip and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

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