This is the first travel blog I’ve started since my trip to Sedona leading up to Christmas of 2019. Or at least the first one that will be more than one day. Since the pandemic there’s been little to write about short of a couple of day trips, one weekend that was really an extended day trip, and local Sacramento stuff. All of those are included in the Life in Northern California segment of the Travel portion of my website.
And that’s where I’m putting this one, despite the fact that it’s starting in Ashland, OR. We had to drive all the way through very Northern California to get here so that’s close enough in my book. From here we will return to Sacramento for a couple of nights, and then on to Santa Cruz and Sonoma.
And who is “we” you might be wondering? Those of you on Facebook may have noticed my relationship status changed this past Sunday and that’s how you learned about Ash. Only a handful of people knew about him before that because I wanted to make sure there was something worth talking about. And there is, very much.
This is our first road trip together so you’ll get to know him throughout the trip but we’ll start with a little introduction. We met online the week before Thanksgiving. He lives in San Francisco. Our first date was an outdoors AA meeting in Golden Gate Park on 11/22/20. And we’ve spent every weekend together ever since.
This is Ash with his beloved Labrador, Paul, on the front porch of their house on Castro Street in “The City”, as San Francisco is referred to in Northern California. Ash essentially makes his living off this property, renting two bedrooms in the main portion of the house, 2 apartments downstairs, and 2 apartments in the guesthouse in the back. Pre-pandemic, some of that was Airbnb, but early last year he converted most to long-term rentals for practical and safety reasons. We rarely have a meal alone in that house, but he’s collected a wonderful group of people to share space with so that’s OK by me.
We’ve been essentially going back and forth between Sacramento and SF since Thanksgiving, although he’s been to Sac more because my schedule is more complicated than his, which I deeply appreciate. This past weekend I was there. We had lovely weather so went out for a couple of nice walks.
I’ve driven by Chrissy Field countless times in 30+ years but never stopped there. All I ever saw was the green grass and people flying kites, I never knew there was a beach associated with it. But this was our walk last Saturday afternoon. We drove there to start, pretty much a straight shot up Divisadero from Ash’s house, about 4 miles.
Essentially across the street from Chrissy Field is the Palace of Fine Arts, something you probably recognize as it’s one of the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco. We walked around here for a bit then headed home to play canasta with friends.
On Sunday morning we went for a walk on the far west end of Golden Gate Park, where it butts up against the Great Highway and the Pacific Ocean beyond that.
There are two old-style Dutch windmills in the park, one pretty well known because you can see it from the Great Highway. This is the other one, a little further deeper into the park.
And there’s the Great Highway and the Pacific in the background.
If you’re somewhat local you’ve probably driven past this at some point in your life. I’ve never been in this part of the park before so it was nice to get up close to it.
This is what it looks like from the back, and I was surprised to see there’s a lovely garden back there, too…
…with flowers spelling HOPE in the center.
We didn’t know what kind of tree this was but the blooms were beautiful. Ash said to say something about him getting ready for the filming of an Herbal Essence commercial. So there, I said it 🙂
This week, for you long-time followers, would normally be the week I would be heading to Puerto Vallarta. Not a good idea since we’re still in pandemic state. But I needed to take the time off because it’s a good time of year for me to do that and I needed to burn some time since I’d capped my vacation hours. I’m off from yesterday, Thursday 2/11, returning to work 2/22. So a decent road trip seemed like just the thing.
I had never been Ashland, OR, before. The only thing I knew about it was it’s the home of a well known and popular Shakespeare festival that lives here and runs many months of the year, pre-pandemic of course. Ash comes to that twice a year typically and has friends here. While the festival isn’t on, that was good enough reason to make it a “get out of town” destination. It’s a straight shot up I-5 from Sacramento, about 5 hours – the first 4.5 of which are still California.
On the way we passed Shasta Lake and Lake Shasta. Allegedly beautiful, but it rained most of the way and everything was very gray so no photos to prove it. At one point traffic slowed to a crawl and it got very foggy. Of course we finally realized we were in the mountains; that wasn’t fog, it was clouds. So no good photo opportunities with all that gray. Hopefully on the way back.
We made a couple of stops along the way, including a pizza break for lunch in the great metropolis of Dunsmuir, population 1650, which we ate in the car parked on the street. We got to the place we’re staying at about 2:30pm.
Ash found this on Airbnb. Helman Street intersects with the main drag just where the city center ends, and this is a couple of blocks from that intersection. Perfectly situated to be a little out of the way with easy access to everything at the same time.
There’s a separate building behind the house that has two units for rent; we’re in the one on the end.
A lovely space that will be more than comfortable for the 3 nights we’re here.
We settled in then quickly left to take Paul for a walk and walk off the 5 hour drive ourselves. Above – some old buildings in the town center, a very charming place, population about 21,000.
The 3 theaters where the Shakespeare Festival happens are all arranged next to each other in the city center.
This is the 9 story Ashland Springs Hotel, the tallest building in the city. There are also stories about it being haunted. Maybe on a future stay we can see for ourselves!
Unlike other travel blogs, there probably won’t be a lot of fun food pictures. We ate dinner in the room from groceries we’d brought with us. Nothing exciting about that.
All that driving tuckered Paul out! Us, too. Having turned Ash on to Downton Abbey, we started Season 3 of that last night (his first time through, my 4th…) and went to bed around 10pm.
Today we’re going to Crater Lake. It is possible-to-likely that much of it will be in clouds and not much to see. We’re doing it anyway, so you can see how that goes tomorrow.