Greetings from balmy Ashland Oregon where the temps today will stretch all the way to the mid 70’s and the cloud cover will, well, cover the sky most of the day.
It’s an interesting change from Sonoma where the temps will hit the hundreds while we’re away. Ah, too bad. Along the drive it was astounding to see the change in topography as we sped north, from the arid brown of the Golden State to the lush green forests of the Beaver State. No jokes please, we’re woke around here.
This is our first stop as we wind our way through the PacNorWest ™. Five hours from home, it’s one of the longer drives we’ll be making. That’s a good thing as the wife (Cruella) was just about done with my bad jokes and choice of music. Apparently Gregorian chanting isn’t her thing. Go figure.
Ashland is of course home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since 1935 the Festival has presented a variety of plays both Shakespearian and modern in their five performance spaces. The most famous of the theaters is the Elizabethan outdoor stage, a model of Will’s own Globe theater. Fortunately the modern audience all get seats, no groundlings allowed. The season runs from early March to early November.
Of course COVID hit the Festival hard, cancelling the entire 2020 season and forcing a drastic cut down of the 2021 season. Usually 10-12 shows are done per season, this year there will only be two, a new musical called FANNIE about the life of civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer which will be presented in the outdoor theater starting July 1 (too late for this trip) and IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL a gender bending take on the Dicken’s classic opening in late November.
Actually the real reason we come to Ashland is to eat at this place:
This is Omar’s Steakhouse and with neon like that you just know it’s going to be good. And it has been for the last 75 years. A dry martini, a fine steak, some Dragonfly Tempranillo wine, what more does a man need? A good story to go with? It’s got that too. Seems the man who started it was named Omer and that’s what the sign was supposed to say, but Noodnick Nate the Neon Man screwed up and old Omer didn’t want to offend so he just went with it.
We on the other hand just go with the mouth watering steaks and coma inducing desserts. This is old school eating. Bring your second stomach and be prepared to fill it.
Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, where “artsy” children are sent by their parents who have compromised in order to at least get them to go to college and not head up to Portland to live out their coffee house and poetry dreams. That and the fact you have a Shakespeare Disney World right next door might lead you to the conclusion the town is just a tad liberal. You would be correct. But it’s a small island of blue in a sea of Southern Oregon red.
The larger city nearby, Medford, for many years has been the home of Harry and David, the gift packaged fruit kings of the world. If you’ve ever opened your door to find a gift from your Aunt Gertrude containing fruits and nuts lovingly arranged in a reusable, if you use those sorts of things, gift basket it was probably from Harry and David. They are a huge company with 8000 employees but most of that is farmed out labor. They were purchased a few years ago by 1-800-Flowers and in the midst of the pandemic closed down all their stores, laid off all the store employees and went completely online. Complaints are up, mostly about the quality of the fruit and the customer service. The company’s response? Teach your Aunt Gertrude how to use a computer.
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