Ashland Trip Part I: The Setting

Tuesday July 08, 2003 @ 02:21 PM (UTC)

Going on vacation is lovely. Not only is it relaxing, fun, an excuse for spending money, and having to do with smoochies, as Willow might say, but if you’re REALLY careful you can parlay it into multiple blog entries, thus fulfilling your entertainment duties for many days with a minimum of the demon Effort. I mean look at this – telling you I’m going, that’s one; road rage haiku, that’s another…heaven knows how many blog entries I’ll get out of this trip before I’m done ranting!

So, for those of you (I like to pretend I have a wide and varied audience) who may not have been to Southern Oregon, Ashland is a small town about 15 miles from the California border. On one end of town is Southern Oregon University, a school with a good arty reputation and, unless I misremember, a good party reputation as well. It used to be “Southern Oregon Normal School”, and in the 30’s, one of its young teacher looked at the ruins of a rural-enrichment theatre and was inspired to build an Elizabethan theatre. The theatre, and the Shakespeare Festival, opened in 1935, boasting the first Elizabethan theatre in North America. The theatre has been rebuilt twice – once due to fire and once due to fire code – but the festival has grown steadily. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival now boasts not only the Wooden O, but a large indoor amphitheatre-style stage and a new, very versatile smaller indoor stage.

This has made Ashland an odd sort of town. The university is one pole, the theatres the other, and an axis of quaint shops, excellent restaurants, ice cream parlors, and organic juice bars, lies betwixt. Be-dreaded barefoot wanderers squat in front of the Chamber of Commerce with their dogs, as if daring you to question their right to be there; while high school trips of Drama or English students lick snow-cones on the corner, intellectuals trickle in and out of Bloomsbury Books, and families save seats to watch the dancers in the Green Show before the performance. It is a bewitching place – while the festival has spawned an industry, it is a sort of charming cottage industry – you get a sort of “isn’t it fun?” vibe off of the locals, rather than a tired “How-can-I-help-thee” feeling. The town is about theatre and intellectual play more than about Elizabethan kitsch. And believe me, I know Elizabethan kitsch—I’ve been to Stratford-upon-Avon.

And at the same time, Ashland is Southern Oregon. Whitewater rafting and snowboarding are other local industries, summers are hot, the green forest rises from sere yellow grass. And Ashland is small. Apparently if you rise early, you may catch a glimpse of a mountain lion padding down the street, seeming to study the wooden dragon puzzles in the window of Ashland Hardwood or chuckle over the horrible taste of the “healthful” Lithia Spring Water.


I read an article a few years ago about the city of Ashland pondering the feasability of running fiber optic lines to every house/apartment in the city and offering broadband services for all. I haven’t heard anything about this recently, but if they went through with it, that would make Ashland my favorite place EVAR. Not that I didn’t like it already.

Also, Ashland has more free wi-fi hotspots than GOD. That town rocks.

Dear me, it looks like they went through with the fiber thing after all. We all need to move to Ashland. Right now.

Also, tho’ they are a small town, they have a clean, bright, and attractive comic book shop.

Okay, answer this question for me: why don’t we all live in Ashland already? It’s like the perfect city. Small and friendly, but not full of hicks. Technologically advanced, and yet with a Shakespeare festival that lasts all summer long. Plus a comic book shop, many excellent sources for delicious pie, and one of the most beautiful locations in the entire state.

Now I’m being serious. I really do want to move to Ashland. Will you all come with me?

I think “jobs” are probably the big problem.

Bah. You’re just not thinking four-dimensionally.

What does that make the fourth dimension, “the job dimension”? It’s a small town, that means few jobs. Especially in the tech sector.

Yes. Understanding of the Timecube is all.

Be not cubeless.

Dear god. I had forgotten that site and that site’s woe so thoroughly that the name was meaningless to me. Don’t link to him! Don’t encourage the madman!

But “Ignorance of the Time Cube is evil.”

Besides, it’s on the Intarweb. It must be true.

What must be true, honey? Most of his rant is about how people are evil not to believe him. Unless “There are four days” constitutes a unified theory, I’m at a loss to say what he’s babbling about.

Oh, honey, it’s a small town in southern Oregon, I guarantee you Ashland has hicks! It may take a while for them to surface, but stay long enough and you’ll see them. Perhaps they only come out at night to congregate furtively, chew tobacco, and inspect each other’s jacked up trucks, complete with gun racks.

I think he still has a point. I don’t know how it is in the brief off-season, but most of the time it’s diluted with non-hicks, so it’s still not “lots” of hicks.

Even in winter, it’s a college town. That’s something.

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