I fall in love too easily
I fall in love too fast
I fall in love too terribly hard
For love to ever last

My heart should be well-schooled
‘Cause I’ve been fooled in the past
But still I fall in love so easily
I fall in love too fast

— Sammy Cahn

I recently returned to Seattle for one year’s worth of medical care in 10 days, which I’ll tell you about in another post. A bit resentful to leave my frolic behind even for a short time, I thought I would make my return to the rainy Northwest worthwhile by attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon after Seattle. My friend Annmarie joined me for three plays in three nights.

Ashland is in the Rogue Valley, so-named for the Rogue River, in Southern Oregon. The California border and the Siskiyou Mountains are a stone’s throw away. It’s less than 300 miles to Sacramento. The area is green and lush, with rolling hills and valleys and ranches and farmland. It is quite lovely.

Take, for example, my camping spot directly on Emigrant Lake, A 15-minute drive to downtown Ashland. For 30 bucks a night I had an unobstructed view of the lake and full hookups, including sewer. Usually campsites by oceans and lakes and rivers have only a dump station. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed an additional day.

image

I set up camp and drove into town for our first play, “The Yeoman of the Guard,” a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. (Tammy’s Ten-Word Review: In the round/audience participation distracting; no “Pirates of Penzance!”) I was immediately besot with the little town of Ashland. Quaint shops, a turn of the century hotel, restaurants, several theaters (but of course), a 93–acre park in the middle of town – what’s not to love?

Sure, the berg banks pretty heavily on the Shakespeare trade, from businesses with names like “Juliet’s Closet” to “Puck’s Donuts” to “As You Store It.” (By the way, that last one added the word “As” to the name of a national self-storage chain. Too bad. I prefer “As You Lock It.”) But that is to be expected when a cash cow like the Shakespeare Festival brings so much tourism to the town.

Walking to the theater to meet Annmarie, I began daydreaming about moving to Ashland. I could open a bar or restaurant or shop! I could volunteer at theaters! I would have my fill of plays to see anytime I liked! I passed various and sundry types of people, from retired folk to college students to drifters to the multiply-pierced and tattooed, thinking, “How inclusive! I feel right at home here!”

I was infatuated.

The play concluded at 9:30 p.m., and Annmarie and I set out for an apres-performance libation. It was Friday night. Most of the restaurants were already closed. Some were closing as we approached their thresholds. We ended up in a sports bar with karaoke.

Rut Ro. Could I live in a town that rolls up the streets by 9 p.m, even on the weekends?

The following day, we toured the town and the park:

image

image

image

image

and made reservations for a highly-recommended restaurant on the creek that runs through town.

image

Certainly one of the priciest venues in town, the meal was just so-so, with boring white rice and over-cooked broccoli and tiny martinis.

Rut Ro. Could I live in a town where its best restaurant serves mediocre food and drink?

We knew better than to seek out a cocktail after the performance of “The River Bride.” (Tammy’s Ten-Word Review: Minimal sets/pantomime worked only for “Our Town” and “Dogville.”)

The following day we explored other towns in the Rogue Valley, including Medford and Jacksonville. Jacksonville was quite a treat – an 1800s town that is beautifully preserved/restored with shops and restaurants and an extensive outdoor music concert series.

image

imageimageimage

Medford, a 20-minute drive from Ashland, has all the shopping malls and medical care one could possibly need.

We made our foodie pilgrimage from The Jacksonville Mercantile to Gary West Artisan Smoked Meats in Jacksonville, the Rogue Creamery in Central Point (home of Oregon Blue Cheese and Oregonzola),

imageimage

and the flagship Harry and David store in Medford. While at the creamery I bought a Chocolate Stout by the local Rogue Distillery and Brewery. The bloom was returning to the rose of my crush on the Rogue Valley.

On Sunday night, we had a lovely dinner at a bistro, despite the fact that we were its only patrons at 6:30 p.m. Our final play was “Twelfth Night,” the only actual Shakespeare play of the bunch. (Tammy’s Ten-Word Review: Employ two actors when staging a Shakespeare play about twins!)

I am still beguiled by Southern Oregon and the Rogue Valley, but like my experience in Tucumcari, I fall in love too easily. I plan to do a lot more thinking about exactly what I want and need from the next place I live, and when I figure that out I’ll share it with you, dear readers. At a minimum I would like to live in a smaller town near a decent-sized city, with access to competent healthcare and the arts, a good but not exorbitant standard of living, and no ice or snow.

I plan to return to Ashland in the off-season, when rain is falling and no Shakespeare is being staged, to see if I could truly be happy there.