We buy a bottle of Eagle Rare small distillery single cask sophisticated bourbon at the government liquor store ruled by a sour faced mom and pop clerk team. Rob picks up a proven bottle of screw top french red and a smoked Gouda at the recommend local Whole Foods-lite. We hit the road south in the long northern twilight and hit Eugene late, check in at newly constructed Holiday Inn Express at the freeway exit. Eugene is close to the 45th Parallel, this is as far north as the Hawks go. It’s our first night not in the company and kindness of hosts, and we intend to revert to our crude hotel lifestyle of bourbon, herb, bad TV, and public farting. But the flesh is weak, and this band is beat. Long drives, many gigs, too much social stimulation. A few sips of 51% corn based intoxicant in plastic Inn cups and we’re snoring while Harry Potter pouts and conjures on the flat screen TV.
We awake in an outer (inner) ring of Eugene, rife with ARCO (which by the way is a BP subsidiary, tip for you righteous boycotters) and Denny’s, far from hippie coffee grooviness. What the hell–it’s free, it’s here, and it ends at 9:30 a.m. We succumb to the Holiday Inn Express Complimentary Breakfast: omelettes of suspicious terroir, with even more suspicious provenance cheese-like filling, cinnamon buns warming in their plastic carton on the hot buffet cart, cereals pushing their preservatives to the edge of decency in big plexiglas dispensers. This is where Paul L gets a bit desperate. He knows we’re in a town bursting with hip homey boho breakfast joints. So near and yet so far. The guitarist threatens to revive his 24 hour losing streak with an act of self loathing on the level of a voluntary visit to Quizno’s–here’s a little recipe from a man who needs help: fill smallish paper bowl with generic raisin bran; slice bananas onto cereal; pour hot coffee with half and half and honey onto the cereal; take hot cinnamon bun, crumble and sprinkle over cereal; top off with quarter carton of soy milk. As delicious as it is wrong.
Half a day to explore Eugene. Rob at the wheel of the Yukon, GPS triangulating iPhone in right hand, threaded the kind small town Eugene inner grid to a modest and excellent coffeehouse, with expert young bearded baristas. Cappuccinos and strudel can provide great energy and mental acumen in a delightful package. Try it sometime. We drive westward out of Eugene outskirts and along a winding wooded narrow highway to a trail head in tall trees and trekked a series of trails, tunneled by glowing green vines and shaded above by redwoods, to the top of Spencer Butte. The view was spectacular in a soft and nurturing way, like a County Kerry vista. (Or Calvin Klein jeans.) The town of Eugene is not pretty from above, flat roofs in a grid extending west, but it’s a small annoyance in 360 degrees of rich riverbottom green fields, intriguing still wet (dry) farming plateaus and downslopes to tree lined streams, dense woods crisscrossing fields and covering upper slopes, hills of green turning to blue soft hazy mountains in the far distance, visibility enhanced by the cloud filtered light. This could be the best urban adjacent hike we’ve ever done.
A late afternoon nappy nap (bookie wook) and we’re off to Sam Bond’s Garage, which was indeed a car garage for Model T’s in Eugene’s Age of Robustness — when American men worked on their cars, not on their tans. (Coincidently, that was the never-used title or RW’s PHd dissertation in American Studies before he dropped out of the U of O). We meet an older gentlemen who did in fact know old Sam Bond. Sam Bond is real. The club is right up our alley, kinda honky tonk of the woods with sophisticated and well executed organic food, local beers of esoteric intent on tap. Our friends from Bend and good old friends Nick and Klara from the glory days of Cole’s walk in, to our grateful delight. Nick and Klara are architects, creatures of light in a darkening globe. Despite our long absence from Eugene,* we have an enthusiastic crowd. A good sound man, beer flowing like wine, new tunes, and life is good.
*And a local newspaper writeup that is faint praise epitomized, but does nicely confirm a pattern in our reviews history: when a writer says there are no hawks in L.A., they’re guaranteed to be flummoxed by our music.