Eclipsetrip Day 2: Ashland

When we woke up Sunday morning on the second day of our trip, we had to pack the Highlander right back up, because we had tickets to King Henry IV Part 2 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at 1:30 p.m. Ashland is a 2.5-hour drive from Burney, just across the Oregon border.

We enjoyed views of Mt. Shasta from the road, although the closer we got to the Oregon border, the more hazy the view got due to smoke from a number of forest fires in the area. We began to worry that we were driving into a smoky mess and that the solar eclipse the next week would be hidden from view.

It hasta be Shasta.
Smokescreen Shasta.

On our way into Ashland, we saw a doe with a spotted fawn, grazing on a median. We didn’t realize yet that deer everywhere is kind of a thing in Ashland. We got to town at about 12:45,  with just enough time to grab a quick lunch before curtain. We even snagged parking right outside the theater in a spot that is 2-hour parking only every day but Sunday. Score!

We walked around downtown Ashland a bit. It’s just full of cute shops and restaurants, but we were not sure what to grab for lunch that would be quick and good. Eventually we came to an ice cream and coffee place called Zoey’s. I asked the kids if they’d rather just have ice cream instead of real food for lunch. What a surprise! They did. Erik and I got coffee, and we all entered the theater fortified well enough.

We have plenty of Shakespeare in the Bay Area; in fact Nutmeg and I have a season subscription to Cal Shakes, which does two plays by the Bard and two non-Shakespeare plays in a verdant outdoor setting each year. But Oregon Shakespeare Theater is some of the best we’ve ever seen. Last year we saw Much Ado About Nothing and it was so snappy and fun. If you know anyone who thinks they don’t like Shakespeare, I recommend a trip to Oregon to see it done really well. And Henry II was no exception. They were doing both Part I and Part II this year, with the same cast, but Part I wasn’t playing Sunday, and besides Nutmeg had played the king last year in a camp production of Part I so we were up to speed on what happens in Part I.

Well. This play was so damn entertaining. The theater was small and in the round, the king’s throne was right among the seats, and the acting. My god. It was so alive. Everyone but Pebbles — who hadn’t wanted to come but we forced her to — was rapt. The Falstaff we saw was the understudy, and we heard that the regular Falstaff does a better job, but that was hard for us to believe because this guy was so much fun. They don’t let you miss a single joke in the text, which so many productions sadly do. The young man playing prince Hal was also excellent.

At intermission we were able to stroll right over to our car for a snack. Afterwards, Ho wanted ice cream, so we happily led him over to “our” ice cream place. Then we drove a mile and a half to our home exchange, which would be our pad for the next two nights.

Our HomeExchange.com membership became a lot more valuable to us since they introduced their point system. For this stay, we were using a point we earned by hosting a French family at our house for two weeks. It’s unfortunate, for us, that all stays are worth the same, so our two weeks hosting got us only two nights lodging, but no matter. The three-bedroom house we stayed in would have cost us $200 or more per night on Airbnb — and it came with a cat!

 

I had chatted with the owners a couple of times by phone, and they had emailed us instructions including the front door lockbox code, so we pulled right into the driveway and let ourselves in no problem. The house had a beautiful deck looking out over a grassy valley, two levels, a decent kitchen, and comfortable beds. Erik and I took the master bathroom, with an ensuite bath, the girls shared a queen bed downstairs, and Toth slept on a couch in the office.

One of the great things about home exchanging is that it’s totally acceptable to ask swappers to care for your pets. The kids were thrilled to meet Kiki, a tortoiseshell a lot like the one we have at home.

We unloaded our stuff, Erik and I relaxed on the deck with a glass of wine from home, and then we walked about a mile and a half to get downtown. It was warm out but not too hot as the day turned to dusk. On the way, we saw a couple of bucks casually grazing at the cemetery, and a pair of does grazing on someone’s front lawn.

 

For dinner, we chose Standing Stone Brewing Company, which I highly recommend. We ate on the patio. I started with a beer sampler that included eight different beers, all for $5. There are a lot of beers I don’t care for, like IPAs and sours, so many of those samples ended up mostly being consumed by Erik, but it was a good educational experience for me.

We all shared some dirty fries and dry fried Brussels sprouts; the sprouts were exquisite. For an entree I had chili-cumin lamb meatballs which was also delish.

As soon as we got back to the house, Erik and I returned to the deck, where we were able to catch the tail end of the Perseids. As we tend to do when we stay in a different town, we daydreamed about what it would be like to live in Ashland, with its artsy downtown and rural-feeling neighborhoods.