A week before I was scheduled to fly to Sri Lanka, the head of
Redington’s marketing team called and asked if I could help organize a
photo shoot. She was looking for a special location–someplace other
than the typical high desert trout scene. It needed to be authentic,
gorgeous, and accessible. I suggested the McKenzie, and put the
Redington crew in touch with The Caddis Fly. Within a couple of
days, the stage was set: Clay Holloway, Matt Ramsey, and I would be
the guides & oarsmen, and the upper McKenzie would be our location.
The night before the shoot, we all congregated for a planning/drinking
session at the North Bank Pub in Eugene. I dropped my boat in at Alton
Baker and anchored it just off the McMenamin’s patio. Since we were
all staying at the Valley River Inn, I couldn’t resist the chance for
a starlight float. After dinner, we jumped in the boat and lazily
drifted to our hotel.
The next morning, we made a caravan to McKenzie Bridge. The river was
dressed in full summer regalia. The photographers couldn’t believe
their eyes. And in a rare stroke of luck, the hot sunlight was broken
by sporadic cloud cover, allowing for perfect shooting all day long.
It was my first time rowing from McKenzie Bridge to Blue River. I was
excited and mildly nervous. Whitewater is not really my thing, and the
guys made it clear there would be lots of it. They were not
kidding–my arms are still sore!
Clay and Matt were absolute pros, and by lunchtime the Redington crew
had all their product shots. We stopped for lunch on a beautiful
island, caught some nice rainbows, and soaked in the perfection of the
As I drove back to Portland that evening, I thought back on the four
years when I called Eugene home. There were so many special people and
places, so many good times. Tears fell, and I knew, beyond any doubt,
that I’d never again find a place quite like Eugene.