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Hard Day’s Night in Eugene

Eugene, Oregon: A day of trying to keep/look busy while our RV was having a lube-oil-filter, generator and Aqua-Hot service, by running errands... until it was time to get over to the track for the first day of the Western Regional NCCA qualifying track meet.

Cummins Northwest took our bus into the service bay just after 7 o'clock and thought we could get it back around 3 o'clock this afternoon. The races started around 4 o'clock, so we would be cutting it pretty close.

If you have spent any time in Coburg, Oregon (which I know far too many of you have as it is the western hub of all things RV - home to Marathon, Monaco and Country Coach and Guaranty RV Sales), you know the cute little town of Coburg has a great little spot for a leisurely breakfast while you try to kill time until you can get your RV back from the shop after a repair or routine maintenance. I am here to say the Coburg Cafe is no longer the Coburg Cafe. It is now Chief's Wings. We think the "Chief" refers to the mascot of the local high school. Not sure. The newly-spruced-up cafe no longer has table service. Counter service only, but they are now open for more than just breakfast - all day, in fact, with chickens wings featured on the menu. I am not going to say this is a good thing or a bad thing. I am just reporting the facts. Chief's now has beer and wine on the menu, which is always a good thing.

Though the breakfast menu choices have been reduced to only about 10 items, the portions are still ridiculously humongous. Nearly sinful. I ordered a veggie two egg omelet (evidently my omelet was made with two ostrich-sized eggs), and it came with about an acre of hash browns. I could not eat but a quarter of my breakfast.

Don't even begin to think My Big Runner could finish his pancakes. Crazy Way Too Much Food. With coffees, our breakfasts were $14. Total. Delicious, but such a waste. Why do restaurants serve so much food? More and more, DT and I are ordering one meal and sharing. Maybe restaurants will catch-on and reduce portion-sizes? Maybe if restaurants reduced portion size, Americans would reduce their waist size?

Okay. I will get off my soap box... but only because it is nearly collapsing due to my weight.

After breakfast, we went to the new Travel Lane County Visitor Center in Gateway. Lane County is one of Oregon's most diverse areas. The county stretches all the way from the Pacific Ocean, through the lush, fertile and famed Willamette Valley in Eugene, and continues into the Cascade mountain ski slopes. It has long been the epicenter of all things green and all things liberal. The new Visitor Center is nestled in the Gateway area I wrote about yesterday - with all the hotels, restaurants, big-box stores and the new Cabela's. Travel Lane County is loaded with brochures and information about what to see and do in Lane County and the Eugene/Springfield area. The Visitor Center is decorated with all-things Lane County - from a ski lift chair to a drift boat (used for fly-fishing) suspended from the ceiling. The friendly guides can help plan your Oregon adventure and will make any reservations you require. The shop also has a great selection of local wines (and adorable U of O-themed rubber duckies for a certain future grandson!). Highly recommended by DT and Terry... as we are unashamed to promote nearly everything promoting Oregon.

Next on our agenda was a visit to the just-opened Cabela's.

DT heads into the new Cabela's in Springfield, Oregon

This store is one of the smallest in their arsenal, but the Oregon Cabela's is still packed with everything you could possibly need to find, hunt, kill, process, cure, preserve or eat any animal you choose to find, hunt, kill, process, cure, preserve or eat.

And you can shop with mule deer and black bear.

DT looked at the rifles in the "Gun Library" at Cabela's. A few of the antique guns (circa 1967 is an antique, by the way) were selling for around $10,000.

It seemed to me... about 10% of the store was devoted to selling camouflaged clothing. Not sure, of course, because it was camouflaged. What does it say about a man who wears camouflaged underwear? What is he trying to hide?

We spent about 90 minutes in the store and in the end we bought socks. Socks. Non-camouflaged socks. Seriously? Who would buy camo-socks? We lose enough socks in the dryer already.

The Lovely Lisa asked us for a few items of "official merchandise" from the University of Oregon Duck Store for the baby, so we made a stop to the Duck Shop at Autzen Stadium. Who am I to refuse something for our future grandbaby? Bubbe on the job! We found a few cute "onsies" and what baby doesn't need a University of Oregon sock monkey?

The most important event of the day was Operation Cookie Drop. Our friend Stacy was driving from Portland to Sacramento and agreed to drop-off THE COOKIES! We met her at a gas station at Exit 199. It looked like a drug deal.Yowzer. That's a lot of cookies! The cookies are now in our RV freezer, awaiting delivery to Matt on Sunday - after his races.

We went back to Cummins Northwest and only had to wait a little while before our RV was finished with the annual servicing. Everything checked-out well. The techs didn't find anything unusual. Our brakes looked good. They upgraded some software, tweaked a few things and sent us on our way. We drove the Magna Peregrinus to the other side of I-5, set up camp at Premier RV Resorts and drove over to the track.

It was pouring and 50 degrees. Miserable for fans in the (covered!) grandstands, so really miserable for the athletes.

Matt Centrowitz (1280) raced in one of the 1500m heats with AJ Acosta. Matt and AJ drew a tough group in their heat.

Coming through the final turn, Young Matt was in control and AJ was coming along right behind him.

Centrowitz kicked it in and won the race. AJ Acosta also made it to the final round! Matt saw us after his race. He was happier for AJ than for himself and is looking forward to the cookies on Sunday.

This lovely young woman is one of Oregon's most talented sprinters and has the most wonderful name - English Gardner. Read more about this extraordinary athlete in today's Oregonian

The meet continued on with nearly 8,000 fans sitting in the cold cheering on the athletes. The races consists of heat after heat after heat of the same race - six of nearly every race, for men and women athletes. The NCAA Regional meets are ridiculous and unnecessary. I feel for the athletes. They are tired from a season of competition and need to be concentrating on final exams before the national championships. This meet needs to go away. (Please, NCAA, listen to me!)

The temperature had dropped into the 40's and the crowds diminished when it came time for the last two races of the night - women's and men's 10000 meter (6.2 miles). That's right, 25 laps around the metric oval. 48 racers start and only the first 12 finishers get to advance to the national championship in Des Moines in a few weeks. It's a madhouse. Runners get jostled. Pushed. Tripped. Racers fall. Some get up and continue. Some get up and walk off the track. Some get up, and walk off the track directly into the medical tent to be stitched-up. It's dangerous to have so many racers on the track.

But very exciting. DT, who raced this distance in college, just loves the strategic maneuvering of the 10000 meter. I love the 10000 meter race as well, but I was frozen. I have been sick for three weeks and today was basically my first day out and our day began at 6a. I was coughing quite a bit and was happy when the race was over and one Duck woman and two Duck men advanced to the championship.

I was happier when DT took me down the street to dinner at a great little Italian restaurant. We walked into Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria at 9:30 and they said they would still seat us. Lucky Ducks! A very warm dining room, with a cozy fire and wine. That wine warmed me right up and the pasta made my belly happy. It had been a very long day. Tomorrow, we do it all again... with the possibility of a baseball game thrown in!

Until my next update, I remain, your GO DUCKS correspondent.