Eugene Weekly : Cover Story : 10.07.2010


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21 is Just a Number Things to do in Lane County while you’re still young

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21 is Just a Number
Things to do in Lane County while you’re still young
By Andy Valentine

The party was definitely not in the bar at last year’s Girl Talk show at McDonald Theatre. Photo by Todd Cooper

Sure, 21 means you can go and buy some cheap beer and make an ass of yourself a little more easily, and yes, it means that you can get into clubs and venues that don’t allow minors. But beyond that, 21 really doesn’t have that much going for it. So for all you freshmen sitting there in your cramped little dorm room filled with anxiety over your minor status and first year away from home, let the troubles wash away. There’s plenty to be done!

As the Oregon sky tries to crap out those last rays of sunshine this year, the last thing that anybody wants to do is waste them. Disc golf can be found all over the place, and the community that plays it is incredibly welcoming and fun. Then consider all of the other activities that a new place has to offer — hiking, malls, movies, bowling — the list is, as with any city, almost endless.

But I’ll be honest with you: The real anxiety will most likely hit you at night. Again, goosfraba, it will probably go a little something like this: The sun sets, you’re thinking “Oh shit!” because around you the city is crawling into bars and night clubs, McMenamins isn’t allowing minors anymore, and 7-Eleven is packed with people buying booze, which you can’t do without standing outside handing money to strangers in hopes they’ll score you a six-pack.

Chill out, man, there’s plenty to do after the sun has absconded with Eugene’s sobriety. The McDonald Theatre often has great gigs, and the WOW Hall and Wandering Goat also have all-ages shows for low prices. 

Oh yeah, and just because you can’t get into clubs doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their atmosphere: Some of the most intriguing conversations to be had come from buying a pack of smokes and sitting outside John Henry’s on ’80s night. Side note: Even if you don’t smoke, cigarettes are useful, as they become a catalyst for conversation.

Campus has a whole load of nighttime events that should be kept in mind also. Movie nights, Hamilton basement shows, root-beer pong tournaments, Karaoke, ultimate Frisbee games and more are all right past your doorstep over there, so don’t go complaining that campus is boring. Walk outside and see what’s up.

Now I think it’s time we address the thing that you’ve been keeping in the back of your mind while you read. Not that we’re encouraging this, but finding alcohol before you turn 21 really isn’t the feat of the century. If you feel like drinking will liven your night up (which, let’s face it, you probably do), then go do it somewhere safe. Or at least somewhere that won’t end up with you falling in the river. I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t drink at the river. MIPs all round? 

No thanks. There are plenty of parties to be hopped and plenty of people with houses. Chances are that if you know somebody willing to buy you alcohol, then you know someone with a house. Please, I reiterate, be safe. With that September riot still fresh in our minds (and the minds of the police), it’s probably better for everyone that the drinking be conducted indoors. Besides, welcome to Oregon; it’s going to be raining anyway.

Phew, lecture over. Feel free to take a break from reading and get a glass of milk.

If you’re not really a fan of city nightlife, a good option is checking out the local hot springs like McCredie and Wall Creek. They’re about 45 minutes down Hwy. 58, but well worth the night drive. You’ll find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with only nature around you. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining because the water keeps you plenty warm. And if you go in the daytime, Oakridge has awesome mountain bike trails. 

So you see, there is endless fun to be had in the wonderful world of Lane County. Don’t be put off by the fact that you haven’t been around for 21 years yet, or that you are stuck living in a small, shared space; these are the things that give you no excuse to avoid all of those awesome activities. How do those old Disney Channel commercials go? “Get up and get out there.” Something like that?   






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