Words fall short when trying to describe the depth of beauty of southern Oregon. Sharp topographic escalations through ancient forests. Herds of elk and flocks of sheep grazing in open pasture. Fantastic river inlets.
So, as Biscuit and I hopped off the freeway and wound our way through south-central Oregon, we landed in Medford and, better still, Ashland. Easy to grab a hotel in Medford… not so much in Ashland. The difference in demand became clear pretty quickly.
Ashland is nestled in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade ranges at the south end of the Rogue Valley only a few miles north of the California border. I was told it was named after Ashland Co, Ohio, and secondarily, after Ashland, Kentucky. I smiled.
Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the theme of which is evidenced everywhere in town on flags, banners and in retail store names. Also infused in city street names and businesses is the word “lithia”, translated as lithium oxide in mineral water. Another line of Ashland’s history.
Ashland oozes charm and life. Public water fountains are structured for people and dogs. Minstrels with fiddles play in the city park. Strangers offered to walk me to the local ice cream shop. I did find the ice cream shop with their advice, and it reminded me of a Rexall Drug Store of old… with one notable exception. Water pipes.
Biscuit and I enjoyed walking through Ashland, and others enjoyed us with an ease reminiscent of the age I grew up in. It’s a bit of a place time forgot with a strong sense of its own identity.