Grants Pass, Jacksonville, and Ashland

posted in: Oregon Road Trip 2013 | 0

The last few nights I blogged right after dinner. Last night we didn’t get out of the theatre until 11:00, and I was just too sleepy to stay up late and blog. The play was Cymbeline, not one of Shakespeare’s best plays (read the synopsis if you can get through it and see if you don’t agree), but a wonderful production.  It started at 8:00 and ran a full three hours.

I left the farm by about 8:30 in the morning. Before I left, Dave showed me his wine cellar and gave me a bottle of his excellent blackberry wine.  He did all the mosaic work himself.

I used my GPS to take me to Grants Pass. The good news was that it took me on a really scenic back road along the meandering Coquille River. The bad news was that about 25 miles of it was unpaved, plus it was pouring rain the entire time, so I didn’t have any chance to enjoy the scenery, and I kept imagining having a breakdown and being stuck on this deserted road miles from anywhere in the pouring rain.  And then I stopped to pee and a car passed by while I was out in the open, so to speak.

Here’s the one picture I took, out the car window, during that stretch of beautiful roadway. How many more times would I have stopped to enjoy the scenery if the sun had only been shining!

Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out. And then the rain started again. Then more sun, more rain. It was like that all day long.  At one point I was driving in pouring rain with blue sky on both sides. Here are some more sceneries, from Myrtle Creek, just off I‑5, where I stopped to walk around and wash the mud off my car.

I’m proud to say I only spent about an hour on I‑5. I followed back roads as much as possible. But the stretch from Myrtle Creek to Grants Pass had no alternative.

Grants Pass is a charming town with a broad main street lined with antique stores and other nice shops.

I had lunch at this pharmacy with its old fashioned lunch counter that reminded me of places I used to go when I was little.

With my turkey sandwich I had the thickest — and possibly the best — chocolate malt ever, served in the classic metal container. It occurred to me afterwards that I should have asked them if they could make me an egg cream.

After Grants Pass I traveled via a back road to Jacksonville. This is a historic town, the first gold rush boomtown in Oregon, dating back to the 1850s. It reminded me of visiting the Tuscan hill towns, which were frozen in time when they were conquered or when trade routes moved to other places, or when the plague decimated the population. Jacksonville got frozen in time in the 1880s, when they decided to build the railroad five miles to the east. I wonder if people will still be visiting towns like this in 500 years

I also took a little walk in a nature preserve, and came across a herd of wild turkeys (at least that’s what they look like to me), and deer were ubiquitous in this town.

And Jacksonville is also the home of the Britt Music Festival, a big summer concert series. I wandered onto the grounds of the festival, which looks like a beautiful venue for music under the stars. Today, only the deer and I were enjoying it.

From Jacksonville it was just twenty miles to Ashland. I got here about 3:15, and my friend Mary, who is joining me for four days of theatre, was already here. We’re staying in a studio apartment with a loft (and speedy internet), and it’s an easy ten-minute walk from here to downtown and another five minutes to the festival grounds.

We had a wonderful dinner and walked around the town before the play.

Salame, wonderful restaurant

My dinner was a fennel bulb stuffed with Italian sausage, served with polenta

Mary had a chicken breast that was heaven most chicken can never aspire to

I took a picture inside the theatre before the play started, and an usher immediately came and told me I wasn’t allowed to. (Which I already knew, because there were signs, but what are they going to do, take away my camera? Make me erase the picture?)

It’s an outdoor theatre, and it got very cold. We were well prepared and bundled up, but still, it was nice to get back here and relax with a glass of Dave’s plum-cherry wine before bed.

Total miles yesterday: 164.

Today we have a matinee performance of My Fair Lady (indoors), and an evening performance of The Heart of Robin Hood (outdoors again).

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