44. Tree Climbing

Our first item checked off of our bucket list! While out exploring Elijah Bristow State Park (another for our list, which I’ll share later), Sarah and I stumbled upon these downed trees. Time for some climbing!

Pro Climber

Why did anyone put an age limit on tree climbing?

I remember going up and living in the trees. The huge tree behind our neighborhood was covered in kids like little furry monkeys. We would just spring from limb to limb – man do I wish I had that fearlessness now.

I hope I don't fall. I hope I don't fall.

Happy climbers

Swingin'

Upside down and loving it!

Plate Cleaning at Cafe 440

I eat like a bird, but my first flight into Café 440 I said bye-bye birdie, hello appetite.

A locally owned eatery that has the swank of a big-urban city restaurant but with comfortable space and locally grown products, Café 440 is a fresh, fun and fabulous foodie spot in Eugene. Located on  Coburg Road near Vanilla Jills (an organic frozen yogurt place that is a must-try if you have been for dessert), Café 440 offers a lunch, dinner and gluten-free menu with northwest specialties, fresh produce and locally harvest meats – additionally all the natural “knee Deep” burger are available with a homemade black-bean patty. Beyond the usual, this classy restaurant also pads up their menu with coosh-redos of mommy-made comfort foods such as gourmet Mac N Cheese with a creamy cheese sauce over petite penne and House Meatloaf that is all natural and served with mashed potatoes topped with garlic-basil butter. Plus for you Eugene beer fans out there, Café 440’s Executive Chef Kathryn Reeves also serves up a Ninkasi braised beef short ribs.

For my dinner selection I went with the black bean burger on a grilled ciabatta roll with French fries. As one of my favorite go-to choices when I’m eating out, I have tried many-a-vegetarian burger – but this thick, not-overly seasoned version definitely stood out – so much so that I finished the entire thing! With a soft texture and taste that actually resembled black beans (imagine that) with a light mixing of corn, the burger didn’t cut corners on size and quality – I think it was actually bigger than my sister’s traditional beef burger. The ciabatta roll gave the burger a nice structure and helped to keep this finger food in hand while also offering a nice contrast of texture to the mashed bean. The fries on the side also stood their own (I would go there for just the fries, sad I know, but sometimes you just want some good deep-fried potatoes). With an even crunchiness and a soft seasoning that reminded me of gourmet version of Arby’s or Shari’s seasoned fries, this side dish didn’t need any condiments for dipping because they were tasty enough to savor alone. The only downside of my meal was that I had to pay a dollar more for cheese (most of the add-on cost more unfortunately) but with a fair starting price and my simple burger style, it didn’t break the bank.

Café 440 also has a great drink menu with local wines, beer and a fruity selection of cocktails. Every Wednesday, the bar also offers an evening wine flight to try three small tasters of something new.

Hours:

Monday – Thursday, 11am-9pm; Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, 11am-9pm; Sunday brunch, 9am-2pm

44o Coburg Road, Eugene, OR, (541) 505-8493

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That's A WICKED Thing to Say….it's the truth!

For two weeks, Eugene has gone Wicked over Wicked. Performing at the Hult Center in the downtown, the spoof musical about the Land of Oz before Dorothy drops in has got pointy hats and magical melodies caught in the minds of the locals. And while the ever popular song “Popular” sticks in your head like chewed gum to a shoe – it’s a show I could not pass up to see.

The winner of 35 major awards including three Tony Awards and a Grammy, Wicked transformed the Hult Center. I’m surprised the sidewalks leading into the glass three-tiered pyramid-shaped theater in the heart of Eugene weren’t lined with yellow bricks. Walking into the lobby thirty minutes before the show, the crowd was buzzing with excitement. From formal suites with pink popping ties and gold sparkly dresses fit for the Good Witch Glinda to jeans and sneakers and of course a few black pointed witch hats, the audience rambled the lobby to find their seats like the chaotic and energized munchkins after Dorothy’s house fell in to Munchkinland – and Wicked is a pretty big house to land in Eugene – so you can imagine the excitement.

From my seat in the Mezzanine the metal dragon, which hovers high above the stage, stared me in the eye ready to challenge me to not enjoy the play and before you know it the lights dimmed and the Oz-ful duel was on.

The dragon won. Above the suburb and powerful voices and as my sister described the “cheese-tastic” plot, the set and special effects outshined the story and characters. With smoke machines, tracking gear-like walls, a giant moving bubble, and an Emerald City that shown so bright the actors had to wear sunglasses, the stage at the Hult was surrounded with animation and color.

While, I’m not sure if I’d say Wicked lived up to the standard set for it, the show did successfully wow the crowd into laughter with light moments of silly humor by Glinda and revealed a heartfelt story of the Wicked-Witch-of-the-West’s creation with the song “Defining Gravity” the pinnacle of the show. Raised high above the stage, with her green skin shining in contrast to the black consuming the stage around her, the actress’s voice pierced throughout the performing arts center as she departed into the western skies – as the crowd should have done after this number. The second half of the show, with its twists and turns, was a little out of the ordinary and unexpected – but not necessarily in a good way – where you walk away leaving the theater with a question mark on your face and asking yourself “what just happened?”

Wicked is still and will be I’m sure for years to come a must-see show, pleasing crowds around the nation with its fun, poppy music and one-liners. And even though I left the performance a little underwhelmed, I think Wicked is a great show to introduce new audiences to the excitement and music of theater. And with the variety of attendees and overall general enthusiasm, I believe Eugenians embraced OZ and all its witchy-wonder. – Kelsey Ivey