One of the challenges of traveling during a pandemic, which we were full aware of when we started out, is figuring out what you can actually do when you get somewhere. This is a theater town and that industry is completely shut down. So what else is there to do?
“Not much” is the answer to that question. And that was OK with us. The whole point of this trip for me is to get out of the house and away from the responsibilities of my work laptop for a little while. I’d much rather spend time with you in front of this one if I’m going to be in front of a computer.
I was up early as always and got a bunch of stuff done before Ash got up, including posting the blog. Although somehow I’d managed to post it just to “me” in the Facebook settings so only those who subscribe and get the email notifications knew about it. I could tell right away something was wrong but it took longer than it should have to figure out what it was.
We ventured out about 7am to Ash’s favorite coffee place in town. The weather started out beautiful but we knew that wouldn’t last so wanted to take advantage of it while we could. It was about 40 degrees. Above and below are examples of the surrounding hills you experience as you walk through Ashland.
Above: Ashland Creek which you’ll cross several times as you move around. This has a lovely sound to it. Below: random Christmas trees in their natural habitat.
This is Noble Coffee, a popular post-theater destination when the town is in full form.
Empty like everything else, but the workers were super friendly. Probably glad to see us. The town feels pretty empty in general.
Ash got a regular coffee with a ham and cheese croissant. I got a latte and a carrot bran muffin. They are known for their baked goods and these were excellent.
The goal today was Crater Lake, about a 2 hour drive northeast of Ashland. We knew the weather was iffy and there might not be anything to see, but that didn’t stop us even a little bit from trying. We stopped at a Fred Myers in Medford, about 10 miles north, for some allergy stuff (we learned that in Oregon you need an actual prescription for Sudafed!) and went on our way. From Medford you just turn right and follow the signs to Crater Lake.
Above and below: This is the Rogue River and much of this area is referred to as the Rogue Valley. We stopped for a bit to take it in and let Paul out.
This is what the road looked like for about 10 miles. It was 30 degrees outside. Thankfully the snow was fresh so the road wasn’t very icy, just one little slip experienced that was easy to manage.
When we got to the entrance of Crater Lake, the park ranger essentially said: “I don’t want to take your $20 for you to look at nothing. And there’s 5-11 inches of snow starting at any time so best to turn around.” As I said, we’d known that was fully possible but knew it would be a fun drive anyway, and it was. This mimicked my first experience of the Grand Canyon in 1988 when I first moved from Texas to California: get up to the rim, look out, nothing but clouds. Oh well. We turned around.
For those of you who haven’t been to or heard of Crater Lake before, this is what we were hoping to see. The weather just didn’t cooperate.
Prospect, population about 450, is an old logging town about halfway back. Ash had heard the last time he was here that they had a great little pizza place so we looked to see if it was open and sure enough it was. Pizza seems to be the food of the trip so why not. It was also one of very few things open in that neck of the literal woods.
They opened at Noon and we got there at 11:56 so that worked well. Empty again of course, but we were glad to see a decent amount of takeaway traffic come through just in the 15 minutes we sat there waiting for our pizza. With masks of course.
BBQ chicken this time, with bacon and onion. We decided it was better than the one the day before.
We were back before 2pm and pretty much watched Downton Abbey the rest of the afternoon. The rain that had been predicted set in so it was cozy to just relax. We had made plans with Ash’s friend, Jonathan, for dinner. While there are a good number of restaurants open for outside dining, the rain really impacted how many each could accommodate so after 3 strikes we resorted to takeout.
Jonathan followed us back to the Airbnb and we gathered around the small half table. We each got a pasta dish from Pie & Vine, along with calamari and roasted Brussel sprouts to start. All was delish.
Jonathan is originally from Baton Rouge, and has worked as a full-time actor for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the last 4 years or so. Until of course the pandemic. With the theater completely shut down, he’s managed to hang in there teaching musical theater dance and acting. We had a fun visit.
Somehow we were super tired after that day of not much and were in bed by 9pm. No idea what we’re doing today. For me, the unstructured time is a gift. As I say often, “nothing is my favorite thing to do.” As many of you, I keep a ridiculously full calendar so just being able to make it up as I go along is the point.