Quick Note: My trip to the state of Oregon included a fun stop in Portland. In trying to determine the best way to split things up between my two posts, I decided to just do it chronologically. This post will focus on the first half of the trip, including the USC-Oregon game. The next post will focus on the second half of the trip, including the Washington-Oregon State game.
USC (7-3; 5-2 Pac-12) at Oregon (8-1; 5-1 Pac-12)
November 11th, 2023, 7:30 PM PT
Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Weather – Cloudy with mist, 52 degrees
#6 Oregon 36 – USC 27
This was a game that at the beginning of the season was very anticipated. Unfortunately, USC’s struggles coming in led to the prestige being removed at least somewhat. Still, with both teams having very strong offenses the expectation was a lot of points would be scored.
There were fireworks in the first quarter, but mostly from the Oregon side. Duck quarterback Bo Nix’s first two passes in the game were both for touchdowns. One went for 77 yards and the second went for 84 yards. USC did score in between those two passes, so at the end of the first it was 13-7 Oregon.
After scoring another touchdown and field goal in the second quarter, it looked like Oregon was pulling away. But Caleb Williams took the Trojans down the field with less than two minutes in the half to score a touchdown and make the score 22-14 Oregon at the half.
After all the scoring in the first half the third quarter was rather tame. Oregon scored the only points on a long 85-yard drive to take a 29-14 lead into the final quarter.
The Ducks put the game away on the first play of the fourth quarter on a touchdown to take a commanding 36-14 lead. USC would end up scoring two more touchdowns, but the last came with under four minutes remaining and the missed two-point conversion made it all but official.
Final: Oregon 36 – USC 27
In one of the more interesting entrance set-ups I’ve seen, they actually opened the gated areas three hours before kickoff, but left the actual stadium unavailable until 90 minutes before kickoff.
Once you got inside the ticketed area, they had a variety of food trucks as well as access to the pregame FanFest inside the practice facility. It did take a while for me to realize that was open to everyone by going in early, so I wish they could have found a way to publicize that better. The idea was a good one though.
Once in the actual stadium, three-quarters of the stadium was in double-decker format. The other quarter was one section, but it rose up just as high as the other parts of the stadium. Above one end zone was a large video board, while the other end zone had a medium video board. No runner boards were located in the stadium.
This game was a black out. For every game, they choose a different color for fans to wear between black, green, and yellow. Other than the food trucks down below the main stadium area, there were no special concession stands. But they did sell a variety of food at each one to give you a choice of what you wanted to eat.
The crowd showed up for this one, as it was announced it was the fifth largest crowd in stadium history.
Hot dog – $4.00
Large Soda – $6.00
Other Sporting Event –
Men’s Basketball – Montana (1-0) at Oregon (1-0)
This was the first home game of the season for Oregon. This led to having a pretty decent crowd on hand for this one. The arena was probably around fifty percent full.
The first thing that sticks out is the court. It has a tree design all around the edges with “Deep in the Woods” printed across the bottom. It is definitely one of the most unique courts in the country.
The arena itself was nice. It was a double decker arena though they did have some of the upper areas tarped off for this game. There was a large video board at center court along with four medium sized video boards on each corner of the arena. Runner boards also ran between the decks around three-fourths of the arena.
The first half of the game was very competitive. Aanen Moody kept the Grizzles in the game by scoring seventeen points in the first half. They went to the break tied at 37.
The Ducks pulled away in the second half. The defensive pressure stepped up and the scoring for Oregon was extremely balanced. Five different players ended up in double digits and Oregon pulled away to win 75-61.
Oregon 75 – Montana 61
I usually try to visit campuses on Friday mornings. That’s when I usually expect the fewest number of students and less traffic. On this trip though, Friday fell on the observed Veteran’s Day holiday. Thus, there were no classes and most areas were closed. Because of those reasons, I decided to visit on Monday morning instead. I was still able to get there rather early before most students were out for their first class.
The Oregon campus is also a downtown campus, which I usually don’t like. This one wasn’t quite as bad though because Eugene is a much smaller city than a place like Lincoln, Nebraska, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So even though there was still a lot of streets I had to navigate around there wasn’t as much hustle and bustle to worry about.
There really weren’t any super unique buildings on the campus which took away from the walk. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a pretty campus especially in early November with some of the trees changing color. There just wasn’t anything that made it stand out to make me remember much about it down the road.
There is one place I would have liked a better view at and that is Hayward Field. This is one of the most famous track and field venues in the United States. They did have visitor access on Fridays, but since I had to move my visit to Monday, I was only able to walk around the outside of the facility.
Cascades Raptor Center
The Cascades Raptor Center is a bird rehabilitation location on the South side of Eugene. They have approximately 35 birds on display throughout the facility.
The main thing I appreciated is the history of each bird that they had listed. You could see where each bird came in from and why they had to rehabilitate it as opposed to releasing it back in the wild.
Some of the birds located at the center includes bald eagles, hawks, and various owls. Aside from the paths where you could view the various birds, there were areas where the staff could display the birds for teaching moments.
Multnomah Falls – Portland
When people think of the most photographic place in Oregon, most would say Multnomah Falls. It is located about 30 minutes east of the Portland airport so a great first place to visit when you land.
I have visited Multnomah Falls before, but last time it was near freezing outside so a lot of the paths around the falls for frozen over with the mist from the falls. This time it was much nicer outside and I was able to take a lot more in.
Multnomah Falls rise up approximately 620 feet and is the tallest falls in the Columbia River Gorge. There is a hiking trail that takes you up to a bridge about a third of the way up so you can see the upper part of the falls with a better view.
The views on this visit were beautiful. On top of the falls themselves, a majority of the trees were changing colors. There were a ton of yellow leaves abound which just added to the stunning views.
This is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list if you ever visit the Portland area.
Heceta Head Lighthouse/Thor’s Well – Florence
There were so many places to choose to visit the ocean from along the Oregon coast. The ones I chose were stunning. In most areas the coast was lined with cliffs as opposed to sand beaches that you usually think of.
The first stop I made along the coast was to Thor’s Well. This was an area where the tide came in especially hard and caused large crashes along the rocks. Right next to it was the Spouting Horn. Here water would come in and then spout into the sky almost like a whale’s blowhole. It was one of the most stunning views I’ve ever had along the ocean.
For my second stop, I visited the Heceta Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse was originally built in 1894 and is still functional today. It was a small climb to the top, but you were able to walk inside and see at least the lower level. You could not climb up into the upper area however since it was closed to the public.
The lighthouse was nothing special, but again the views from the top of the hill were spectacular. Near the bottom of the hill around the parking lot there were also good views of the waves crashing into the various rocks nearby. This area was a little more walkable.
Overall, the entire Oregon coast line was a great site. Being able to drive along Highway 101 is a cool thing to say that I have done.
Sea Lion Caves – Florence
The Sea Lion Caves is a large, natural sea cave along the Oregon coast line. It is known as a place where sea lions come during the winter.
Unfortunately, since I visited in November there were no sea lions down in the cave. They did let you know ahead of time that they were not present in case you decided you didn’t want to go down. If you did decide to proceed, they ended up taking $2 off the ticket and gave you a raincheck to come back anytime in the next year.
As you walked along the path to the cave elevator you got a good view of the coast line. If you looked carefully, you could see a couple sea lions out in the ocean along the waves.
Once you went down into the caves, they had a few displays in place as well as a movie so you could learn more about the facility.
I think this would be a very cool place to visit when the sea lions were in the cave. According to the staff, the best time to visit is late December to early June.
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum – McMinnville
The Evergreen Museum is a large museum located in McMinnville. It is broken up into two large facilities. One focuses on the aviation side and the second focuses solely on the space side.
On the aviation side, the museum did a good job of breaking things down into different sections. There was one area focusing on the early days of aviation. Several areas focused on various wars and how aviation evolved over them. Finally, there were some areas that focused on modern day travel as well as trick plane aviation.
The highlight on the aviation side of the museum was the Spruce Goose. This plane was created during World War II as a way to increase the amount that could be transported from the United States. It was six times larger than any other plane that had been created by that point in history.
My favorite part of this museum was definitely the space museum side. They did a great job focusing on the competition between the United States and Russia to try to be the first country to put a man on the moon. They had a breakdown by year of what each country did so you can see how close things were and where each country eventually succeeded and failed.
Of course, they also had a great deal of space craft on display as well. Unfortunately, most of the items in this area were replicas but they were still cool to see in the building. I think if they could get some more real items it would add, but I think getting them to rural Oregon would be a little difficult.
Bao Bao House
The Bao Bao House is a Chinese dumpling restaurant. They had two locations. The main one is downtown, but I went to a second newly opened location located near my hotel.
Of course, the majority of the menu was full of different types of dumplings. I ordered the cheese and chicken pan-fried bao. They came as a group of six. The wait for the meal was a little long, but then I realized that they were making all of the dumplings by hand to order.
First off, it might be weird to say this about a food dish, but the dumplings were beautiful. You can tell that the cooks took pride in their dishes and that means something.
As for the actual dumplings, they were really good. I do think there was a little too much cheese that overpowered the chicken. It would be interesting to try a couple other types to see if they had a more balanced flavor to it. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed this place.
Voodoo Doughnuts is one of the most popular doughnut places in the country. They are most associated with Portland, but they also have a location in downtown Eugene that I visited.
They are most popular for having a huge variety of doughnuts you wouldn’t usually find in normal shops. The most popular one is probably the bacon maple bar. I went with two different doughnuts.
The first I bought was the Portland Cream. This was their version of a Boston Cream, which is my favorite type. The Voodoo version probably had more cream inside then most other doughnuts of this type I had. The doughnuts are also larger in general, which made them very filling.
For the second doughnut, I decided to go a little different and went with the Grape Ape. This one was a regular ring doughnut, but it was topped with vanilla frosting, grape dust, and purple sprinkles. If you ever tried grape bubble gum, this doughnut had that same flavor. It was different, but I really enjoyed it.
It is probably a good thing I don’t live nearby, because there are a lot of other ones I would probably try if I had the ability to.
Bangers & Brews
My original plan for this day was to eat at a downtown restaurant, but after struggling with parking I decided to take a different path. I stumbled across Bangers & Brews a couple miles from my hotel. It was a place that had a large variety of different sausages to choose from. This included some normal ones, along with some exotic animals like reindeer and alligator.
The way the ordering process work is you chose a sausage that came on a bun. You could then pick two toppings and a sauce to go along with it. I went with a regular bratwurst with grilled onions and spicy mustard along with a side of sweet potato fries.
You could tell this place is a neighborhood favorite. There were several people sitting at the beer chatting away with the staff about their days. While I was there, several other people also walked in that the staff knew by name.
As for the bratwurst, it was very good. The onions and mustard were good choices to contrast with the sausage. This is another place that I would visit frequently if I lived nearby just to try some of the various types of sausages they had available.
Coburg Pizza Company – Coburg
Apparently, there are a lot of popular pizza places around Eugene. The one I chose to try was the Coburg Pizza Company. Coburg is located just a few miles north of Eugene.
The first thing I noticed is how cute this restaurant is. From the outside it looks a barn. Once you walk inside the décor reminds you of an old country restaurant. They even had a fireplace going.
This place has a gigantic menu of all different types of pizza. I had a really tough deciding which type I should try. Luckily, they also offered a small variety of individual slices. The two I decided to try was one with sausage and one with steak and gorgonzola.
The sausage pizza was not the best. It did not have many sausage pieces and there was definitely too little sauce. The steak and gorgonzola slice was great though. The bite the gorgonzola gave was perfect on a pizza and there was enough steak on the slice as well. This is another place that would be fun to visit multiple times just to take in the variety of pizzas they have available.
Mo’s – Florence
Mo’s is a small seafood chain with restaurants mainly along the Oregon coast cities. The one I visited was in Florence, and was right along a local pier with a small-town feel.
Mo’s is known for their clam chowder. I considered getting the Cannonball, which was a large sourdough bread bowl fill with chowder. I decided that is would be better to try a little more variety. Since their combos came with a small chowder with the meal, that is the direction I chose.
I ended up going with the classic fish and chips. The fish was a panko-breaded cod. The chowder came out first and was very good. There was a good ratio of clam and vegetables and the chowder base was thick and tasty as well.
The fish was cooked perfectly and had a good portion for the price. You could cut right through it with a fork and the flavor, especially with tarter sauce and malt vinegar added was very good. One of the better fish plates I have had in a while.
The Horse Radish – Carlton
Carlton is a very small town of about 2,000 people just north of McMinnville. Looking for a place to eat after visiting the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum before heading to Portland, The Horse Radish had some very good reviews and I decided to check it out.
The restaurant did seem like a popular place in town as there were several large groups eating there when I arrived. They mainly served salads and sandwiches, but were also known as having a large variety of wine as well that seemed a popular choice with most diners.
I went with the Carlton sandwich, obviously named after the town. It comes with turkey, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, and a horseradish honey mustard. They did inform me they were out of ham, but they would double up on either the turkey or bacon to make up for it. The sandwich was served with homemade potato chips.
The sandwich was good, though it did have a bit of turkey overload with the lack of ham. It was also a little too light on the honey mustard. That could just be a personal taste thing though. The chips had good flavor and was a good side to have with the sandwich.