Ashland Arrival

As we have since 1994, we traveled to Ashland, Oregon yesterday for a week of viewing plays and hiking and just knocking around this pretty little town nestled into the Siskiyou Mountains just a few miles up I-5 from the California border.

After years of hearing rumors about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival but never quite getting it on our radar, we were presented the opportunity in ‘94 to tag along with a group from our son’s middle school, and we were completely charmed by the whole experience.  Thereafter, the kids came down every year about this same time, and so did we; their group stayed at a hotel and had their own agenda of discussions, meals, plays and (we heard much later) borderline hooliganism, and we little by little found activities, particularly hikes, that we enjoyed, and we’d rendezvous now & then with the kids for a meal, or just run into them randomly in the streets.

Our first trips involved 2 days driving (1 down, 1 back) and 3 days in Ashland.  This was fine as long as we were just gorging on plays, but once we started enjoying the town and the surrounding area, 3 days seemed way too stingy, and we started adding days to our stay, eventually buying our own membership in the Festival (and with it, better seats than we got purchasing tickets through the school).  Then one year Mrs. Perils had surgery shortly before our trip, and we decided to fly from Seattle to Medford rather than subject her to 8+ hours of not-very-scenic central Oregon I-5.  We haven’t driven down since.

Interestingly, our son and some of his friends continued to make the excursion after graduation, and their two families and we would arrange to be here during the same week in late June/early July. Also, some time in the early 2000s I got the idea that my mom would really enjoy the plays, and we started inviting her (and, for a few years, my dad) along, and it’s been a venerable tradition all these years.

It began to unravel a bit last year when my mom decided that she just didn’t have the stamina to engage the travel from Ohio to Seattle to Medford and back, so she was missing last year.  Then the other two families, whose kids had started to become engaged in their own lives, jobs and residences, decided to schedule their trips at a different time of year.

So, this year seems a little weird.  We’ll still enjoy the plays (My Fair Lady tonight!) and hikes (Grizzly Peak today!), but the place where our friends (and, most of the time, our son as well) used to hole up seems a bit desolate as we walk by and they’re not strewn across the front porch reading, yakking, drinking beer and playing guitars. (Click to enlarge)

And the cottage we shared with my mom when she came with us is right next to the smaller place we’re staying in now, and it’s odd to look over at the porch where she loved to sit and feel the breeze and listen to the creek rush by.


  1. Reading about your pilgrimages to Ashlad contributed to our interest in checking out Oregon as a place to live. When we visit Oregon in the next few months, Ashland is one of the places we’ll check out. My favorite wife has been to Ashland for the Shakespeare festival; I have not, but having read of your experiences there, feel a bit like I’ve been there and that I like it!

  2. There is something so lovely about a journey taken to the same place every summer for nearly 20 years. It really is a compelling way to mark the true passage of time.

  3. Ginger:

    My summers were spent on two farms and one week at GS camp. My favorite was the farm owned by family friends,Paul and Edna Kyne. Their son was older than me, but younger than my brother. Those two could get into more trouble…. LOL Me I loved the pigs and bull that Paul kept for several years. I loved that big bully, he never bothered me, but would sneak up on me as I lay reading beside the creek and, like my brother, scare the crap out of me. Then he would snort as if he were chuckling. However, let anyone see us together and he would chase me all the way to the next fence. I do believe he could have caught me, but never did. Paul and mother were always warning that he had a nasty temper and to stay away from him. The Pigs were my second love and Paul’s bread and butter crop, so to speak. Every summer I would get to raise one of the pigs for the state fair. In the spring, after the piglets had arrived via “fat Mamma” or one of the other sows (and yes I knew they were sows) I got to choose the one that I felt had the best chance at the Fair in August. The last year I raised a male, he followed me around like a little puppy even when he weighed in at well over 200 pounds! Scared the He_ _ out of everyone except me, I knew his little tricks and tweaked his nose a time or two. He never harmed me in anyway and he won that years State Fair as the best of the best. Sigh, I was so carefree and full of life then, what happened?

  4. Phil:

    John, you might experience some sticker shock in regard to property and living expenses. Also, be sure you ask about how the winters are!

    Robin, it’s always fun, each year a little different, and I see no reason not to continue. For one thing, its inevitability ensures that I will actually leave work for a week. The years all kind of run together, which is good in that it’s almost a second life that we’ve led, but alarming in that I have trouble remembering what I saw when ;-)

    Ginger, great story! It’s easy to embellish our youthful summers, but being chased by a bull will always stand on its own!

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