Cascadia to Aztlan - Fewer Degrees of Separation in EugenesteemCreated with Sketch.

in cyclefeed •  9 months ago  (edited)

Portland was all I had hoped it would be. Eugene was so much more...! Both of us got to meet up with old friends, whom we hadn't seen in many years. At the same time we got to know new friends, people we had more than one thing in common. So the few days we spent in this lovely little town was marked by interpersonal connections. As it turned out, many of our friends knew each other too! It seems like there are fewer degrees of separation in Eugene.

Hospitality on Peacock Farm

Our first stop was the Peacock Farm on a hill just outside of town, where a friend of my traveling companion was expecting us. He offered to give us a ride in his van, but we missed his message and ended up pushing our bikes up the unridable gravel driveway. While waiting for him, we got to meet some of his land-mates, all of whom very warm and welcoming people. Needless to say, the farm's residents also included the iconic peacocks, who were checking us out curiously.

Finally our host arrived and my friend and him had a hearty reunion.  They had worked on natural builds together, and he was proudly showing us around the place. Not only the buildings, but the recently designed food-forest, which also became my camping site for the next couple of nights. He was also excited to take us to the farmers market the next day, and introduce us to some other interesting people.

Bikes, Cider, and Mexican Cob Builders

The next day was pretty busy, though we decided to set the bar low. After a relaxed breakfast we took the van to the farmers' market in town. The Lane County Farmers' Market is a serious business. Spread out over four blocks in downtown Eugene, it features produce as much as art, music, and general weirdness. While our host did his weekly grocery shopping, I bought a little basil plant for my friend I was going to visit the next day.

From the market we went on to the alternative bike shop with the impressive name Center for Appropriate Transport. Other than looking for a second hand bike-pump, I wanted to find another DIY / community / recycling based bike shop, similar to Recyclistas in Victoria or The Bike Farm in Portland. As expected, Eugene had an amazing example of these (MY) kind of bicycle places. Though apparently understaffed, the shop had lots of interesting examples of pedal-powered contraptions, mostly transport bikes, designed and built on site. 

Finally, we went to a Mexican cafe where they sold big tamales for a reasonable price. We bought a whole dozen, and took them to meet the people our host wanted to introduce us to. They were two families, one Mexican one American, on a property outside of town towards Junction City, where we just rode through the day before. As we arrived, they were all happily running apples through a press, making fresh apple-juice, or cider, as they called it. The drinks were all super delicious, some pure apple, others mixed with pear and plum, as all these fruit trees were laden with fruit around this time. We drank to our heart's desire... and then some more.

The best thing about this visit, however, turned out to be the many points of connection we discovered. Firstly, they avid natural builders, as they showed us the cob houses they improved on the property, enlarging the windows, and building a roof using round-wood beams. The house, as well as the various other projects they had been involved in this year, inspired lots of excited tales. 

What's more, they are also passionate touring cyclists, who have gone on many adventurous trips. The one I found most impressive was from Ensenada, Baja California to Tlaxcala, past Mexico City, which they completed with their children! That's it, I thought, full of respect and admiration for such an undertaking. This is what I have to recall whenever someone tries to tell me it's impossible to do such a thing in Mexico. With so many points of connection, speaking Spanish was merely a cherry on top.

The Paisley Continues

After a couple of days at the Peacock Farm we accept my friend's invitation to stay with her in a suburban part of Eugene for a night. I met her about 17 years ago in Tucson, Arizona, at the same as my friends from Recyclistas, and my friends in L.A. who I'm riding down to visit for Thanksgiving. It was with them that I ran a food-not-bombs house, we called Paisley, House of Interconnectedness. Interestingly, it is this year that I get to reunite with many of them, adding to my friends' observation that this temporal entity is experiencing a type of renaissance. What's most interesting, however, is the fact that up until recently my friend in Eugene had been a neighbor of the Peacock Farm, where she is held in high regard. 

As it seems, Eugene is full of inter-human connections, both spacial and temporal, and we happened to be right in the epicenter of it.

If you'd like to read my bike trip in its entirety, check out the rest of my posts in the Cascadia to Aztlan series:

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