En route to wine country near Eugene, Oregon, fall foliage colors have started to pop. With glowing browns and golds, the countryside makes for a beautiful sunset drive this time of the year.
This afternoon I ventured through the wild, untamed roads of Eugene to the University of Oregon campus. Dodging skateboarders, helmet-less bikers, rushing hair-frizzed, tardy school goers, and carefree sunglasses wearers – I practically felt like I was in Zanesville, Ohio, and all the game animals had escaped.
“Wow I haven’t been to campus in forever, it’s like another world,” I thought as I walked past the UO Duck Store. But dangers and all I was on an adventure…and art adventure to be exact.
Rounding the corner, I found my partner in crime for the curious quest, Jordan Eddy. Tall and slender with a contagious smile and holding an empty picture frame up to the oncoming crowd, I spotted him right away – though we never had met.
Jordan and I crossed paths – or should I say tweets – last spring. A fellow Eugene area blogger (One Step Big Shot) with a focus in the arts, we connected via twitter and started following each other’s various adventures and photos. With a passion for the visual arts, Jordan is an up & coming art critic with an eye for the unique and a fantastic working knowledge of the art world. So when Jordan or @OneStepBigShot DM’d me (direct messaged, twitter term) to join him on an art adventure, I quickly agreed.
The concept for the afternoon was framing portraits – a play on our shared love of photography. So with a little bit of wire twine and three empty, used picture frames from Goodwill we created our own outdoor photo studio. Twirling in the wind like a metallic wind chime, the frames hung from a large, branchy tree and seemingly levitated outside of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
Using our energy and of course smashing good looks, we gathered random passing students, faculty and visitors for a quick snap shot portrait – and luckily no one bit.
See your photo above? Let me know in the comments.
Want a copy? Send me an email with the description of the photo and I will shoot it your way.
Thanks to everyone who didn’t look at us strange and volunteered for the photos.
Another restless night sleep as if my brain couldn’t stop pedaling through the night and then we attacked the third and final day of our Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway adventure. After two days of 40+ mile rides, my legs were no longer tired, my arms no longer sore, and my brain on overdrive – yet still excited to get in the saddle.
The morning started with the continental breakfast at The Grand Hotel in Salem, complimented by a gluten free P&J sandwich that I had pre-packed just in case earlier in the week and two cups of coffee. Caffeinated, we kicked off the day with a visit to the Travel Salem offices and the Salem Capitol building.
Then we put on feet back on the pedals.
The most difficult section of the bikeway for traffic and direction, we maneuvered our way through the busy mid-morning traffic in downtown Salem as we eased out into the suburbs and finally to the countryside.
Greeting us with fresh air and wide open fields, the roads weaved north through scattered beautiful flowering fields. From acres of acres of cauliflower and trimmed hop fields, this section of the scenic bikeway was by far my favorite. Taking the trail at a relaxed pace, we glided through the remaining valley and enjoyed the end of fall sun on our backs. Only missing one turn along the way, the day flew by.
Passing through Willamette Mission State Park, we goofed around in the park fields and wandered the hazelnut orchards. Here I also decided to take a bite out of the pavement with the only crash of the trip. In true Kelsey fashion, I tripped over my own pedal in slow-mo while trying to turn around from a dead stop. Luckily I came away with just a few skinned knees and a small break on my camera.
After dusting off my knees we checked out the biker and hiker camp at the park and test road the ferry crossing the Willamette River before embarking on the last ten miles of the ride.
With some flat fields and big sweeping curves, I road a good portion of the last leg alone. Thinking through each pedal… each mile, I kept just pushing myself further and further – another moment beyond what I imagined I could do and another moment setting expectations for what I could do in the future. So riding into Champoeg State Park was liking flying through the finish line ribbon for me. Only 7 months since having surgery for my Crohn’s disease and I finally felt like myself again – healthy, active, and alive.
More photos from Day three:
Albany to Salem – Miles 60-99
For some odd reason I left for day two of biking with the number 24 in my head – 24 miles that is – but oh how I was wrong. Pedaling from Albany to Salem as the second part of our Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway adventure, I should have know by pure driving distance on the indirect roads that it would be more, but my legs would never have anticipated that the length was to be nearly double.
Leaving around 11 a.m. we hopped on our bikes –everyone a little more softly on the seat then the day before and my legs tight even after stretching and walking that morning. But once we got moving, muscel memory set in and the legs just kept pumping.
The first section took us through the main roads of Albany then out to the farm fields, freshly plowed signifying the end of summer – though the warm round sun, heating up the road begged to differ.
At the top Scravel Hill just outside of Albany, we received some beautiful benefits from this scenic bikeway. Stretching out flat across the fertile valley floor, brown and green patchwork of countryside spotted with trees and homes decorated the horizon. A white barn from the farm just down the road waited for us as we stopped at the quiet graveyard at the top of the hill to take in the view, stretch out our legs and snatch a few photos.
Along the route, we also enjoy some vineyard views.
Biking through empty field, nowhere near Salem, we hit 24 miles with my legs already aching. The previous day’s ride had really taken it out of me and a rough night’s sleep didn’t aid in the re-coup process, but I powered on.
Luckily when we reached Independence, we took a quick break for ice cream – the ultimate energy boosting snack. And we definitely needed that energy when we realized the time. With another ten miles ahead of us before Salem, we only had an hour until we were supposed to be at an event. We really needed to book it into town.
Working against us though were the rolling hills. Mound after mound along the two lane road grinded at my legs. Beads of sweat rolling down my back made me swat at my jersey like pesky flies landing on an elephant. Yet finally at 5:30 p.m. (when we were supposed to be arriving at the event) we rolled into Salem with rush hour traffic.
Strolling through the lobby of The Grand Hotel in downtown Salem in our shorts and helmets, we hastily shoved our bikes on the elevators and high tailed it to our rooms to shower.
At least there was prospect of wine to wash down the roughness of the day and relax the legs, I thought as I dropped my bags in my hotel room for the night – lots of wine.
More Photos from Day 2:
If you go:
Lush pillow top beds and spacious rooms greeted us at The Grand Hotel in downtown Salem. One of the only accommodation options in the downtown area, the Grand is in walking distance from the capitol building, shops, and food. Additionally the offer a continental breakfast in a large dining facility in the morning that gives your elbows room to dive into their various food choices.
Wonderful wine, beautiful views and a fabulous celebration for the new Oregon wine licenses plate awaited us this evening at Willamette Valley Vineyards. Meeting up with a few of our good Eugene friends, we felt right at home and enjoy some delicious finger foods and fabulous wine from all over the state. Both Eola Hills and Willamette Valley Vineyard’s Pinot Noirs wowed my taste buds and rejuvenated my legs. Plus Jim Bernau, the winery’s founder, graciously sent us loose for the night with a bottle of his wine in hand.
This is a great little place in the heart of downtown for late night appetizers on a budget. We strolled in around 9 p.m. and they were still serving a long list of food options from their “mini bits” menu. Plus check in on Foursquare and get a free mini bit with the purchase of a drink.