Tag Archives: University of Oregon

Northwest Trek – I Wonder If Howard Hughes Liked Pie, Too

14 Aug

Our journey into the Great Northwest began with a pleasant flight. Well, it was pleasant except for the woman two rows in front of us who lives in San Diego, where her husband is based in the Marines. They just finished a two-week vacation visiting family. The first week was with her family in Oklahoma, and the second week was with his family in Kentucky. They like San Diego, but it was better being based in Texas because it was closer to all of those people. Also, they have a six-month old child who never misses a meal.

How do I know all of this? She spent the entire flight craning her neck and talking to the people behind her. I have a message for her. We all appreciate the sacrifice your husband makes for our country. However, there is an issue. When people tell you that you have a cute baby, they are not asking for your life story. There is no reason to broadcast it to the back of the plane.

With that rant behind me, let us get on with the story. We landed in Portland in plenty of time to make it to the hotel. We knew that we wanted to be out of the city and thought 50 miles would be a good distance. I randomly chose McMinnville, Oregon because it fit that distance and was in the direction we wanted to drive. That decision paid off for a couple of reasons.

First, we found out that McMinnville, Oregon is named after McMinnville, Tennessee. Apparently, a man from here traveled on the Oregon Trail and named his new town after his old one. Second, the Evergreen Aviation Museum was across the street from the hotel. One of my nephews said that we should go. The other nephew looked it up on the internet and discovered that it is the home of the Spruce Goose, the gigantic plane build and flown by Howard Hughes. that is something that we had to see.DSC00262

The next morning, we went to the museum and saw the big plane along with a bunch of other cool planes. At one time, it was the largest plane ever flown. It still holds the record for longest wingspan. This was the plane that Hughes built to transport troops and supplies during World War II. It was not finished in time, and he ended up being called in front of Congress to testify. The day he flew the plane is one of the last times Hughes was seen in public.

We got to go into the plane and took turns sitting at the controls.IMG_2132

Now, all I have to do is lock myself in a room; take my clothes off; watch the same movie over and over; and grow out my hair and nails. Then, I will have had the complete Howard Hughes experience.

After the museum, we drove down the coast on Highway 101. Honestly, we were disappointed with this part of the trip. The land between the road and the ocean was developed more than we realized, and the views were not what we had anticipated. Still, we saw some pretty scenery along the way.DSC00280

The highlight was stopping in Newport, Oregon for lunch. My oldest nephew broke out his GPS to find something good and led us to Local Ocean Seafoods, which sits along the harbor.DSC00274

When I picture a seafood restaurant, I think of something made of wood with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling. It may have that fish smell and saltine crackers on the table. This place was different. It had a sleek, modern motif and great food. In my mind, it was the best meal of the entire trip.

We continued along the coast and turned inland toward Eugene, Oregon. My youngest nephew wanted to see the University of Oregon football stadium and buy a shirt. We also took some time to walk around campus. We saw a lot of students, but I was interested in a couple of faculty members. As we passed, they were having a lively debate, the higher education way of saying that they were arguing.

We could have gotten a room in Eugene but decided to drive down the interstate to have a better set up for the next day. That took us to Roseburg, Oregon, which was low on hotels and places to eat. We slept at the Best Western and dined a Shari’s, which is similar to a place around here called Shoney’s. It turns out that they are famous for their pies, and that those pies were free that night.

The pie was awesome. I got a piece of Marionberry Pie. Yep, I some pie that has the same name as a Washington, D.C. mayor who got caught smoking crack in a hotel room.

As we walked out of Shari’s, we had no idea that we would hit that franchise again and again and again.

A Guide to Finding Interesting Places and Meeting Interesting People in Oregon

17 Sep

I went to Oregon to watch a football game, but I am not going to write about it. Sitting through it was enough, and I have no plans to relive it. Instead, I am going to write about the day before the game, back when Tennessee fans still had their innocence.

Friday started out simple enough. We ate at IHOP, and that is always a good way to the day to begin. After that, we drove to the stadium to see what was going on. Turns out, there was a lot going on. The Oregon cheerleaders and dance team were practicing. People were shopping for souvenirs in the bookstore. The Oregon football players were warming up.

As we walk around, a man toting a box came up to welcome us to town, and he introduced himself as the Director of Football Operations. That’s a pretty big job in an athletic department. However, that wasn’t all. In addition, he serves as the director of Peyton Manning’s quarterback camp. Mentioning Peyton’s name is always a good way to endear yourself to Tennessee fans.

Next, we drove over to the basketball arena. You see, Elliot went on the trip, and he is a huge Oregon fan. He really wanted to see the inside of the basketball arena. We went from door to door, and everything was locked. However, I learned a long time ago that there always an unlocked door. We found it, and he got a great picture of the interior of the arena.

After this episode of trespassing, we took a short drive to the coast and the town of Florence. We didn’t really see the ocean, but we had a nice drive over. Florence is a river town and has a history of a fishing-based economy.Oregon 001

Today. Florence has a tourist-based economy with shopping and restaurants. We ate at Mo’s, which sits on the river and has a nice overlook. It was pretty cool to watch seals playing in the water.

However, that wasn’t as cool as who we met while in Florence. Larry started talking to a man who introduced himself as Don Essig. That didn’t mean anything to a Tennessee fan, so he explained that he was the public address announcer at the Oregon football games. Apparently, he invented the phrase, “It never rains in Autzen Stadium!” The next day, we learned that the entire crowd says it with him. Anyway, Larry replied that he is the public address announcer for the Lebanon Blue Devils, our high school team. Don was impressed an informed Larry that there is a national organization of announcers.

The Voice of the Oregon Ducks and the Voice of the Lebanon Blue Devils

The Voice of the Oregon Ducks and the Voice of the Lebanon Blue Devils

We figured that we had topped out in Florence and headed back to town. We drove around for a while and made our way to the downtown area. Elliot and I walked around. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but when you hear a homeless man yelling up ahead things get exciting. It got even more exciting when he told a woman to do something anatomical with a goat. Oh, I also saw a sign for an upcoming concert by Five Finger Death Punch.

Yeah, that was probably enough for downtown, so we went back to the stadium. Remember when I said that there is always an unlocked door. Well, a door opened up for us. A worker was going into the stadium, and Elliot asked if he could go in. Larry and I quickly followed, and we all found ourselves standing in the middle of the field. I was in the end zone more than the Tennessee football team.

That’s about it for our day. Well, there was one other thing. We went to dinner at a local brewery, and our waitress was a professional bodybuilder. She looked like she could have kicked everybody’s asses. It’s a good thing she didn’t because we were going to have enough of that the next day.

Oregon or Bust!

11 Sep

In and around the 1840s, thousands of people packed up their lives and their belongings to seek the Promised Land. That Promised Land was Oregon, and the Oregon Trail was the method for getting there. This involved hooking on to a wagon train in Missouri and following guides across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains. It was a perilous journey, but one that they felt would lead to great reward.Oregon Trail

Along the way, they suffered from dysentery. They lost people and possessions while fording rivers. They watched as oxen died of exhaustion. They had wagon wheels break on mountain passes. They dumped valued items to lessen the weight of their load.

Many people made it to Oregon to establish new lives. However, many are also buried along the trail, left behind with pianos, chests and other pieces of furniture. It was truly a difficult and amazing migration.

Tomorrow, I leave for Oregon. However, I will not be taking the route the Marcus and Narcissa Whitman followed. I will be flying in a plane and will get there in a few hours. This is not my first trip to Oregon, but it will be the first time that I have had time to look around. It will be interesting to see the land that so many felt was important enough to risk their lives for.

I will also be going to a football game between the University of Oregon and the University of Tennessee. It will be a short trip but an interesting one. That means my next post will be about my migration to Oregon. I can’t speak for my cohorts, but, hopefully, I won’t get dysentery.

Hey, Duck! You Should Have Ducked!

30 Aug

A student dropped by my office, and I told him this story. I may as well put in on here, too.

The first rounds of the NCAA Tournament are played in Nashville on a regular basis. We try to get tickets because it is a fun event to attend. You see some great basketball games, and you get to interact with different fan bases. We have seen great upsets and a lot of blowouts. However, one event sticks out that didn’t involve the players.

Several years ago, the University of Oregon played the University of Utah in a first round game. I can’t tell you anything about the game. I don’t know who won, and I have no idea if it was close. I can tell you what happened during one of the breaks in play.

The Oregon cheerleaders were performing a routine in the middle of the floor. Before I go any further, I must say that Oregon has the best cheerleading squad that I have ever seen. I have been to countless sporting events, and no one is better than them.Oregon

That’s also what my buddy was saying as they performed. “Oh!” But, it was followed by a “my!”

Anyway, they were going through their performance when the Utah mascot, some kind of bird, starting walking around on stilts. Apparently, the Oregon mascot, a duck, thought he was getting too close to the cheerleaders. That’s when the duck confronted the bird and motioned for him to get off the court. The bird didn’t budge, so the duck did what any good mascot would do. He grabbed the stilts and started shaking them.

That’s when the Utah bird came off the stilts and decked the duck. The duck retaliated, and, before we knew it, they had each knocked off the other one’s head. The fight was on. A duck with a human head and a bird with a human head were duking it out. This wasn’t some tiddlywinks fight, either. There were some good punches thrown before they started wrestling on the floor.

In the meantime, the male cheerleaders from both squads were bumping chests and about to brawl. (Editorial comment: Male cheerleaders get a bad rap. It looks like a pretty good job to me. On top of that, they have to be pretty strong.)

Before things got too out of hand, security came over and broke up the mascots and the male cheerleaders. But, here’s the thing. The cheerleaders who were performing never broke their routine. It was just like nothing was happening. Maybe, they see this kind of thing all of the time.

In a couple of weeks, I am traveling to Oregon to watch my team, Tennessee, play football against them. I am not sure how good the game will be, so I hope there will be another mascot fight. I think Smokey can take him.