Another Reason to drive to Ashland, Oregon


That’s not snow in the photo. That’s the Rogue River as it races its way through lava tubes into the gorge. The foam so thick, it looks like cream. I had an impulse to dip my hand in and scoop it up. I was warned to stay away from the edge. The rushing waters don’t stop.

Gary and I stood on the rocks mesmerized by the river cascading past us. We weaved in and out amongst the evergreens hugging the edge of the gorge. Some trees stand erect and others lean in to gaze at the river below. I couldn’t help but wonder how they took root and stayed planted in so little soil.

There are dozens of waterfalls in Southern Oregon, and we saw only one. Another reason to go back to Ashland.

When we returned home, I reserved our rooms for next year’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Great Theater in Ashland, Oregon

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2015

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2015

I left the theater crying after “Sweat.” It wasn’t just the tragedy of the story. It was Lynn Nottage’s writing — at once brilliant, on-point, multi-layered, and funny. Her words moved me to tears.

The story takes place in a factory town during what Nottage calls “America’s de-industrialization.” When the characters are shut out of their plant, they lose their jobs. We watch as their lives and relationships change and collapse.

As you sit at your desk in San Francisco or in some other major city, you might be wondering how you could possibly relate to laid-off, lower middle class factory workers. Or, why you would care about two young guys talking back to their parole officer. You do care, because these characters are complicated and endearing. Nottage uses their story to tell us about loss (Haven’t we all experienced loss?) and to remind us about our interconnectedness.

“Sweat” premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Nottage won a Pulitzer for “Ruined,” her drama about the brutalization of women during Africa’s civil wars. I expect as much, if not more, praise and accolades for “Sweat.” The show will travel to other cities, and I hope you see it. Here’s the trailer from OSF.

3 Reasons to drive 7 hours to Ashland, Oregon

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2015

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2015

“When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky…” I woke up to this song going ‘round and ‘round in my head this morning. Yesterday, it was, “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” And the day before, “If I were a bell I’d go ding, dong, ding, dong, ding.” All because Gary and I just returned from Ashland, Oregon and a joyous performance of “Guys and Dolls.” I had to restrain myself from singing along with the actors. At the end of the show, I sang my way out of the theater. I could have imagined it, but I saw other people dancing. There’s nothing complicated about the guys or the dolls or the plot – just one upbeat song after another, strung together with funny one-liners and, of course, the love story. “Love is the thing that has nipped them.” The production we saw had the audience clapping and stomping their feet after each song.

(#1) You might be wondering why anyone would drive seven hours to see a regional theater perform a 65-year old musical. “Guys and Dolls” is part of this year’s playbill for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We always wanted to go but couldn’t leave Ariela. She would have enjoyed the plays but not the long drive. (More about the other two plays we saw in future posts.)

(#2) We stayed in a refurbished Italianate Victorian mansion built in 1883, located just a short walk to the theater. The McCall House spoiled us with gourmet breakfasts and yummy gluten-free (thank you) treats. The innkeeper was a fount of knowledge for all things Ashland and beyond. The inn and the town, with its boutiques, bookstores, galleries, and wine tasting rooms, took us to another time and place, or maybe we just stopped time long enough to appreciate the lush Rogue Valley.


Crater Lake by H. Heydemann

(#3) One day, we drove another two hours to Crater Lake. There’s a reason Olympic Paints, and Pittsburgh Paints, and even Toyota all named a color “Crater Lake Blue.” But their paint boxes are nothing like the glorious hue of the lake, a lake so clear we could see the clouds reflected on the mirrored surface of the water. The stillness hypnotized us. We spoke in whispers so not to break the spell. “I dreamed last night I got on a boat to heaven.”