Know Any Literary Animal Lovers?

Hi there PureJeevan readers! We wanted to let you know that Jim's new novel CHROO is available on Amazon. It's a crazy adventure involving a billionaire heiress, her Chihuahua BFF ("Chroo") and a host of human and animal characters. Find out more on Amazon! Here are some links:

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Picking up from the previous installment, Wendi and KDcat absolutely loved beautiful Corvallis, but ultimately felt it had too much of a small-town feel for us. So, they decided to take a road trip to the nearest big city, Eugene. KDcat and Stephanie (one of the lovely daughters of our Corvallis hosts) were enjoying their time together, so Stephanie decided to come along.

The trip from Corvallis to Eugene is but one pleasant hour's drive.The group's first stop was the Buffalo Exchange, a new and secondhand clothing store. Everyone loved the store, which offered a great selection of? fun clothes you can t usually find in other stores or thrift shops. A barely worn pair of red hi-top Converse sneakers was the highlight of this stop for KDcat. She's been wanting a pair of these exact shoes for ... well, forever! She immediately began decorating them when she had the chance (after they were disinfected, that is).

From there, they explored greater Eugene, checking out areas others had suggested. There were a lot of cute shops, but they were geographically spread out. It wasn t like the neighborhoods in Portland, where you can walk blocks and blocks with unique stores, restaurants, etc., all in a row. There was a nice vibe to Eugene, Wendi said, but something about it just didn t feel like home for us. Wendi said there weren t as many people out and about as she'd expected, but that could have been because they visited on a Sunday. Here are some pics from around town -- and then we'll talk food.

As far as the food goes, many of the restaurants serving organic produce were closed early that day (or were not open Sundays). This was a bit of a surprise, as larger cities usually have restaurants open on weekends ? and ones that stay open late, too. They settled on Caf? Yumm, which seems to be a big Oregon chain. Wendi had heard there were many organics to be found, so she figured she d give it a try to see how raw-friendly it was. The only fresh foods that were organic at the restaurant, however, were field greens. So, she ordered a plate of them. However, as typically can happen when a raw foodie orders a salad in a non-raw restaurant, the portion was a disappointment. Perhaps this is because most non-raw people aren't used to treating a healthy salad as a main entree. (The only entree-sized salads most people ever encounter are the dinner salads from the big chains, which are actually major artery cloggers.) So, yeah, small salad. But, Wendi added that the employees were all very nice.

In a related note, one idea that raw foodies can use in the non-raw world is to ask for and carry certain extras from time to time. For example, when presented with a smallish, rather plain salad, Wendi asked for some extras (olive oil and lemon, which most restaurants have on hand), and then ran out to the car to her stash of botija olives she'd received from Natural Zing, our official trip snack sponsor. They'd sent quite a few bags of those olives to keep Wendi happy ? and adding a bunch of those delicious olives to the salad, along with those other extras, really turned a plain, small salad into a nice meal. So, extra thanks to Helen and Jeff Rose of Natural Zing! (Those olives are available here, for anyone interested in trying them. They are the BEST olives EVER! Search for "botija" and try the ones with aji and the ones with herbs!)

KDcat ordered some organic, vegan cooked foods and had a good chuckle when Stephanie s peanut butter and jelly sandwich was served with a pickle. Stephanie said PB&Js are always served with pickles out there. This was very strange to KDcat and Wendi, as pickles normally come only with grilled cheese sandwiches or burgers. (Of course, what do we know -- in Pittsburgh, they serve sandwiches with french fries and cole slaw ON the sandwich!)

KDcat has been rating cities based on the music selection on the radio. So far, Portland is the only place that s ranking in the ?passable? range. I thought for sure that Eugene would rank a bit high, but they weren t able to find any alternative music on the radio (again, it could be because we were there on a Sunday).

All in all, Wendi and KDcat liked Eugene -- especially the hip and friendly people. However, it didn t feel like home and it didn t feel like a big enough city to satisfy our desire for a large, diverse place to enjoy on a regular basis. So, they headed back to Corvallis to talk about everywhere they'd visited so far. They called me on Skype to video chat about it and to make a group decision about what we d like to do with all that we ve learned so far. We decided they needed to head to the ocean immediately to ponder the situation. So, stay tuned for that!

Once again, we'd love to thank our generous trip snack sponsor, Natural Zing, for helping us to make this possible on our budget!

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On March 6, 2010, Patricia_Robinett wrote:

yes, we have no raw food restaurants here. :( if i want a really good salad, i go to one of our finest restaurants, 'cafe soriah' which is a mediterranean spot always voted the best of everything - best food, drink, atmosphere, romantic, etc... because i know that the owner buys from local organic farmers and he makes beautiful salads... very beautiful. yumm is a disappointment. so sorry you went there. it's good if you like rice & beans. their servings are starvation fare for raw food people. and yes, sunday -- especially a winter day -- is not usually usually an outdoor day for most people... until it gets warm... then they are out in droves. the first saturday in april, our saturday market starts and everyone hits the streets. there are raw dishes at sundance market, but i think most raw food happens in homes here. when you become very picky about ingredients and combinations, you don't much trust restaurants... unless they are the very highest integrity places. i guess you were through here last weekend. sorry i am such a hermit. i write and do not come up for air often. :) am not much of a shopper or socializer these days. i hope you find your 'home' on your trip... and if not, then perhaps pittsburgh is your spot. ? i have a friend who loves it there... and she is surprised that she does.

On March 6, 2010, bitt wrote:

I am surprised you didn't like eugene because i've heard really good things about it and people who have lived there really liked it. there is a difference between being a good city to visit and good city to live in. a friend of mine who is vegan and eats a lot of raw foods is moving there and has said the raw community is pretty big and active.

when i first visited seattle i didn't see any of the things that i now rely on day-to-day. i don't find that seattle is the best visiting city necessarily but it's a good city to live in. plus think about the things that are important for daily life--friends, neighborhoods, etc. those things are hard to size up in a day.

On March 6, 2010, debbiedoesraw wrote:

Hey gang, Hoping that all goes well at the ocean! and we will see you in a week! LA may be TOO big and trust me, there are tons of people here!
stay tuned for that episode!
love deb

On March 6, 2010, pwyll wrote:

This is a tough time of year to visit anything in the PNW--when produce is low, weather is marginal and activities are few. Eugene has several wonderful organically oriented markets including a great Asian store with an amazing array of food and utensils. The Saturday market in Eugene is a highlight during the warmer months offering vendors and organic produce. Sunday is a poor time to assess anything, except churches! The weather in Eugene is the biggest is worse than nearly anywhere else in the valley...plagued with fog and clouds due to its geographical peculiarities.

On March 6, 2010, Jim Dee wrote:

I think the situation -- this search for home -- will resolve itself during the trip! It's not Pittsburgh, though. Definitely not (even though it's a great town and we love it). I'll pass that Cafe Soriah recommendation along to Wendi, in case she's passing through there again!

On March 6, 2010, Jim Dee wrote:

Thanks, Deb! I know they're looking forward to it. They begin their southern trek TODAY! :-)

On March 6, 2010, Jim Dee wrote:

True... all great points! And, for the record, it's definitely not that they didn't *like* Eugene (or Salem or Corvallis). In fact, they *loved* all of those awesome towns! We're going for something beyond that, though -- an intuitive feeling that the city is "home" for us. This is in no way meant as a judgment of a town in general (in the sense of it being a "good" or "bad" town) or even a recommendation for others. It's truly a personal kind of reflection: "Do we belong *here*? Is *this* town home " But, with that said, you're absolutely right that it's tough to size up a city in one visit. Fortunately, a lot of the decision came out of several days in the smaller towns, after which W&K simply realized on a deep level that we're more at home in larger cities (even if we've often publicly praised the many positive qualities offered by smaller towns -- e.g., cleaner air, more land, etc.). I suspect, where ever we end up, we'll likely find a way to get more space somehow, as we *really* want to grow our own food. But, that may be a future focus for us.

On March 6, 2010, Jim Dee wrote:

Yeah, it can be tough to assess anything on a Sunday, almost anywhere. Sometimes you have to use a little guesswork. But, again, it was just too small of a place in the end, for us. This was a surprise development, actually, as we always envisioned that a smaller town would be fine for us. But, I guess that issue just cleared up for W&K during the trip so far. Wouldn't it be ironic if they came home and said, "WOW, We need to live in Los Angeles!!" ?

On March 6, 2010, pwyll wrote:

Going anywhere on a Sunday is not a good place to start an evaluation--except for churces! The PNW this time of year has poor weather, low produce(local) and few activites. Eugene has more spiritually aware and organically oriented markets and herb stores than nearly anywhere in the state-except possibly Portland or Ashland. World class entertainment at the Hult Center plus cultural diversity through the U of O. The Saturday Market in warmer weather is like a festival of the senses once a week from vendors and organic growers. IF it is a city that is needed--Oregon's only city is the Portland metro area. Everything else is small by comparison. Eugene's weather is poor due to geography and air circulation.

On March 6, 2010, The Pearl wrote:

Dear Jim & Wendi,

I must admit to a certain dissappointment in your rather brief & uninformed assessment of Eugene recently after only a one day visit, and on a Sunday no less.. A day when many businesses (aside from churches) in a lot of communities in Oregon are closed, even in Portland, & then infer you've seen enough & that it's not really the type of home you're really looking for because you were unable to find a raw food resturant or..... Raw foodists are probably less than 1% of the population in Oregon & you can't expect food establishments to try and survive on that.!! It's just a bit myopic of a perspective of a community that has so much to offer.. Please consider... Eugene the "Emerald City" is the most "Green" city in Oregon & probably has more organically oriented markets and herb stores than any other town in Oregon (except possibly Portland). There is world class entertainment @ the Hult Center, & there are numerous Musical & Cultural events that are sponsored through the community & the University of Oregon. The community of Eugene is Spiritually adept and aware... and Eugene's Saturday Market has dozens of vendors with organic produce in season and is a huge draw. Anywhere in the PNW this time of year is going to yield poor weather, low produce yield and few activities going on. Anywhere on a Sunday will yield only a few places & churches that are open & therefore is not really a very valid way to evaluate a town. Sincerely, Gary - Salem

On March 6, 2010, Jim Dee wrote:

lol, you guys are killing me today! We're not trying to publish any kind of official or comprehensive review of the cities on this tour, nor are we offering judgments about the quality or merits of the cities, and nor are we basing our decsion to move to one of them on whether or not an area features raw restaurants (always nice, but not a dealbreaker -- even Pittsburgh has none to speak of). This is a highly dynamic project for us, with many, many factors, all of which are working together to help us decide -- but among all of these very rational things that can be judged and rated and quantified is the undeniable "vibe" factor -- that gut feeling you have when you just know something intuitively, that mysterious pull to follow your heart. I absolutely beleive that you can go into a town with this intention in mind (asking yourself, "Is this home ") and really tune into that knowledge. If you're jumping up and down with excitement, that's a good thing. If you're not, well, maybe you have to look harder or maybe it's a no. Some of these visits were and will be brief (out of necessity), but they're not really just fly-by judgments. We're actually pretty well informed on a lot of these towns and areas, having done a ton of research over the past year or so. In the end, though, everything we say or write here is absolutely subjective, tailored to that entire aforementioned dynamic equation. And, we haven't even discussed all of those factors here... For example, there is this new area of research we've been hinting at for a while but haven't yet discussed here. After really getting a first-hand feel for the size of some of the smaller cities and towns (something that I would assert can be done on any day of the week), we simply feel something more populated will benefit that aspect of our lives more. (More on that later on.) So, please don't read our commentary as negative toward any particular metropolitan area.