Ashland

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Tour without a goal – 6 August 2014

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Elizabethan Theatre in Ashland

Now is the winter of our discontent.
 
-Richard III, William Shakespeare

another day, another play
On my second full day in Ashland I really just spent the day doing the last of my errands and recovering, so there is little to report. However the fine folks who run the Ashland Hostel offered to try and get me rush tickets to
Richard III which was playing this evening in the outdoor Elizebethan Theatre. Well not only did they manage to get me a ticket in a really prime seating location but they gifted it to me as well. They truly have been most kind to me hear but this was unprecedented generosity. So a huge amount of thanks to them for this as well as all they other assistance they’ve rendered me while I was here.

Richard III

Richard the III is one of Shakespeare’s historical dramas and is of course this hugely intertwined complex of characters and histories. See the Wikipedia entry for more info on that as I sure can’t do it justice. The Allen Elizabethan Theater in Ashland is a fantastic theater model on the Globe where Shakespeare put on the bulk of his plays. So just being in such a location adds a lot to the experience. They had very nice stage design with period appropriate props and costumes and the lighting and sound was perfect as well. But it is all about the acting and it was just top notch here. The actor who played Richard was just amazing. Cunning, witty, clever and filled with malice and guile. He could telegraph to the audience when he was deceiving people or being disingenuous for his own gain. All the rest of the cast was excellent as well but he really carried the show. So really an excellent way to cap my time in Ashland. I’m definitely ready to get back on the road, but I’m feeling refreshed in body and mind after my stay here.

what am I doing amidst these throngs of people
when my heart is in the trees?

Tour without a goal – 5 August 2014

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Dragonfly

Prospero
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
 
from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

the path to joy and unity leads to a brewpub
I split this first day in Ashland taking care of needed business and participating in the activities of the town. I had several this I needed to,do,and first and foremost was the bicycle needed some work. Nothing major but my left pedal had been acting up since Crater Lake. It creaked and squeaked and occasionally would seize up. It seemed to recover somewhat but I needed to get it rebuilt, or more likely replaced. So I kept my eyes open for a bicycle shop and as I was walking around town looking for a place for lunch I spotted Piccadilly Cycles which had a clean, sort of Apple Store-ish layout and sold high quality commuter bicycles. So I went in and talked to the wrench there and as is so often the case on tour he was super helpful and immediately able to work on it. So I retrieved my Atlantis and he replaced the pedals with some decent cheap flat ones (I’ll send the Grip Kings back to Seattle where the fine folks at Free Range can rebuild them). He also lubed and adjusted my front derailleur cable which had become really stiff and hard to shift to the large chainring. Riding back to the hostel everything felt really smooth again (though missed the Grip Kings).

We Are Here

The rest of the afternoon was wandering through town and as I encountered needed places – the library, the post office, an outdoor shop – I stopped in and took care of business. It had been overcast and hazy but by late afternoon it had mostly cleared up and and warmed up. I returned to the hostel to relax for a spell before heading into town for the main event: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Tempest.

A scene from OSF's production of the Tempest (not my picture)

OSF has an outdoor Elizabethan Theatre and two more modern indoor theaters. The Tempest was in the larger of the indoor theaters which whole not as impressive as the outdoor space was nice and cool on this hot day. The production design of the Tempest was fantastic, minimal, spare, abstract: right up my alley. The stage was basically a triangle with a raised point toward backstage and two angled ramps at the rear. The floor was surfaced with various coverings and there were two holes on the floor that stuff could be raised and lowered from. The props were minimal and were primary four butoh dancers. The four wore grey pants and the traditional white body paint. They were in “relaxed” poses on stage from before the play started and maintained those, occasionally changing them until it properly began. They would serve as props – for instance as a rock the king leaned on, or a table that the prince and Miranda played chess on – as extras at times, but most often they were the manifestation of Prospero’s magic. He would snap his fingers and someone would fall asleep and a dancer would gently lay them down. They also served in a way as kind of a Greek Chorus or commentary on the proceedings. The lighting and sound effects were used extremely well to reinforce the titular tempest, Prospero’s magic and to enhance the strangeness of the island. The actors as one would expect were all top notch with Prospero and his captive spirit Ariel particularly standing out.

I’m no theatre critic and while I do love the theater have only see so much, but I thought this was a great performance and really am glad I went. I did think though at one point how strange it was to be seated among 800 people at a lavish (and plenty pricey) theatre when the previous day I was alone in the woods.

walking back from town
the moon sails out of the clouds
– a distant chorus of frogs

Tour without a goal – 4 August 2014

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Looking down the valley toward Ashland

Before I arrived
who were the people living here?
Only violets remain
-Issa

riding the open range
I had made reservations for the Ashland Hostel for today and the problem with reservations is you are constrained to make them! From Crater Lake to Ashland it’s a good two day distance but of course the campground isn’t right in middle. This led to today being a long ride, the longest so far of the tour. I got up early and left by 8am which is almost unprecedented for me. The morning ride was really nice, cool and all in the woods. There were two decent climbs up to plateaus and then long sections on the plateaus.

amidst the endless wash of the river,
the piping of a bird

This whole area was “open range” which meant there was cattle roaming around and twice I encountered cows right on the edge of the road. Each time as I rode past they checked me out and started to follow me as if I was the farmer calling them home. Most of the day was in the woods with these larger open pastures but after a nice section along the Rogue River I entered this very arid region where there was this wonderful scent of sage and rosemary. It was dryer and mostly dry grasses and knotty shrubs like rosemary bushes. Reminded me of Winthrop more than anything else.

Rogue River

Under the sun though still in haze from the wildfires the last climb of the day began. As I’d already done the major ascent to is bluff, this last bit wasn’t epic but a pretty continuous 750 foot climb. It’s always a bummer when there is no sign marking a pass or summit, but especially so when you are at Dead Indian Memorial Summit. From that high point of 5200′ the road descended through this crazy canyon, with narrow twisting roads and on this day a viscous sidewind. That and the traffic meant one had to be pretty careful. But at the bottom I left the route and rode 3-4 miles west, over the I-5 and I was I Ashland OR where I’ll spend the next 3 days at the hostel.

following the mountain stream;
getting nowhere