Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hot as Hell in Ashland

We drove up to Ashland, Oregon, last night because we have a bunch of tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This is a particular treat, not only because it's our only family vacation for the summer, but also because Jan and I have been meaning to come up here for years, and only this year managed to arrange it.

So, first a few road trip notes, then we'll talk theater.

The drive up isn't too bad. We made it in 6.5 hours, including a stop for dinner and refueling. The first part is pretty much rote for us, as it's the same route we take to go skiing, but then branches northward through the central valley, and that was territory I've never driven, and only been a passenger on long, long ago. Might have been prettier in the daytime, but it was certainly cooler in the evening.

After an uneventful drive (with a soundtrack of the books-on-CD of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"), we arrived in Ashland just before 1:00 am, greeted enthusiastically by our daughter, who has been off traveling with Grandma for a couple of weeks. She gave us the grand tour of the little house we've swapped for, and eventually we all settled down and headed for bed.

Needless to say (I hope), we all slept in quite late in the morning, and after checking a few recommendations from my Facebook friends, headed out for the short walk to brunch at the Morning Glory Restaurant. That was a great find, especially as it is only about two blocks from the house. On the plus side, great food (marionberry syrup!!!) and nice service. On the minus side, it was flippin' HOT out. I mean, well into the 90s (F). Obnoxiously hot, really. No wonder they call the place Ashland--it's obviously all burned up long ago. Sheesh!

It being hot, some of us thought we ought to go out and find some way to cool off in the afternoon (and perhaps work off some of the big brunch). After checking out the nearby city park that has a small water play area (it looked way too hot, despite the water) we decided to head up to the reservoir outside town. The water level's pretty low, but it was a fun little swim for those (unlike yours truly) who had remembered to pack swim suits. I sat under a shade tree and read a book about avalanches.

All was well until after the swimming, when our daughter ran afoul of a bee or two, and got stung on two toes. Ouch! We managed to get some first-aid help from the park ranger, but decided it was best to head home, where some ice and rest seemed to make things better.

As we headed out to get some dinner before our first play, it became clear that additional first aid was necessary. The nearby Safeway pharmacy had nothing helpful, but we had ten minutes to get to the real pharmacy downtown, and we made it. They had some helpful salve and dressings, and all seemed in order. We got to the festival area, found a quick bite at Martino's (lobster ravioli!) and made it into the play with a few minutes to spare.

Tonight we were seeing "Don Quixote" at the open-air Elizabethan Stage. It's a nice theater, and I'm looking forward to seeing some actual Shakespeare there later in the week (Henry VIII, I think). It would be really hot in there in the daytime, but for an evening show it was great. Never having read or seen Don Quixote or any of its derivatives (I've heard the soundtrack to Man of La Mancha, but never seen it), I wasn't sure what to expect. And the more people told me, the more I questioned bringing an 8-year-old with us.

As it turned out, she didn't like it, and got quite bored early in the first act. She and Jan went out at intermission to explore the neighborhood, so Grandma and I watched the second act without them. They had a grand time checking out places, including the sweet shop, and met us at the end of the play with some cupcakes they'd gotten for free at closing time!

So, about the play. It's quite an interesting presentation. It captures well the difficulty of distinguishing reality from imagination, especially where fiction is involved. Many of the imaginary bits are played with puppets, many of which are clever and cute. The players walk a tight line between the clownish and the sincerely comical, and for the most part it works well. The character I found most interesting in many ways is the one labeled "The Cervantes Avatar," who keeps returning in various incarnations, often making awful puns.

It was fun (in spite of the boredom of the younger generation), and a fine introduction to the festival. Tomorrow we have two plays: Jan and I see "Macbeth" in the afternoon, and the whole family will see "The Music Man" in the evening.


MLE said...

Glad you're having fun (mostly). I've got a ticket for MacBeth on 9.8.09 which I hope to use...unless I have no cat-care in which case I'll pass it off to a friend in Ashland. It's a lovely town. I often stop for a meal driving Southward. Way back when I used to go for plays 'n' white-water rafting ('92, '93, '94, '95, then 2001 w/out the rafting). Hope you all enjoy the rest of your trip!

Chard said...

Really enjoyed Macbeth today. See the review in my next post. We had thought about rafting tomorrow as we have no daytime plans. We think it'll either be the science center or the waterslide, however. A little lower-key and closer to town.