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May 19, 2004: Ashland Trip - Crossing state lines

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I feel as if I hit the ground running on Friday and haven't stopped since. After all, it was Friday evening I flew up for a far-too-short visit to my little sister and her family in Seattle. I flew back Sunday, giving myself just enough time to unpack, take a short nap, and toss in my laundry before it was off to the church for several hours of rehearsal before the choir concert. As appears to be usual for this thing (this being the third year we've done it), we were not even remotely prepared by the end of rehearsal on Thursday night, so the time before the concert was spent doing a full run-through of the entire two hours. By the end of the practice my throat wasn't the only one starting to hurt, and we still had the actual concert to go, but luckily there was time to inhale dinner between practice and concert, and drink enough hot liquids to wake the throat up again.

It went well. I think this year was the best so far, which I suppose isn't saying much for only three years of history, but there were no moments that stand out in my head as wince-worthy, and that's a definite improvement on the previous concerts. They'll give us CD's of the concert later and I'll be able to listen to it and see if I was just not hearing the painful bits, but for now I'm pleased. Heck, I'm just happy I managed to do the two oboe pieces as well as I did, considering I never once had the opportunity to warm up, or even, for that matter, to tune to the flute player with whom I was dueting.

Monday was my one day back in the office, which was mainly spent gathering up all the last minute items we'd need to bring with us for Tuesday. And Tuesday I had to get up at 4am in order to catch a 6:30 flight down to the office in Santa Monica, where we spent the entire day going over checklists and spreadsheets, running reports, crunching data. It was productive, and that made it worth it, but we had scheduled ourselves for the late flight and had no luck getting anything earlier, so didn't get home until after 10pm. The one benefit was that I had several hours either on the plane or waiting in airports to do nothing but either twiddle my thumbs or knit.

It was marvelous, therefore, to be able to sleep in late this morning, or rather in my case, to be able to go back to bed after the cats woke me up at their usual early hour to be fed instead of having to get ready and go to work. Richard and I have been looking forward to this day for months now it's the first real vacation he and I have taken together, and I cannot honestly remember when I last took any sort of vacation like this at all, even before he and I ever met.

We packed our bags and cleaned the house. We had my parents come over so I could walk my dad through the house and show him where everything was since he'll be taking care of the cats while we're gone. And then, after some dithering on my part about whether we had everything, we set off for Ashland.

It is not as long a drive as either of us was expecting it to be. I know my perception of distance through northern California has been colored by many trips to Arcata to visit my little sister when she was attending Humboldt State, and while the drive through the redwood forests is lovely, it also takes a good 8 hours to get there. But even with a lengthy stop in Redding, from home to Ashland took just about 5 hours. Not bad at all for our very first road trip.

We had grand plans to make two stops on the way up, but ended up spending far more time at Turtle Bay than expected. It's a cute little place, especially considering we only saw half of it because with the new bridge over the river still under construction, we were not able to go visit more than half the park. But what we saw was lovely, and enough to make us want to stop by again should we ever be headed in that general direction. For one thing, there is a brand new visitor's center, surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers and stone turtles. There was a very tiny exhibit of birds of prey, including this very fierce little critter, who was perhaps about the size of a large grapefruit and seemed very excitable, and also a little put out by the fact that we were not the slightest bit intimidated by him. We meandered through the museum, which is even newer than the Visitor's Center and still seems to be in process of being set up with exhibits, but which was still fun, especially because there was the coolest tree in the middle of the floor, with glass panels all around so that you could see its roots. We had lunch there, including the coolest ever grilled cheese sandwich (it's shaped like a turtle, in case that wasn't obvious). Yes, I am still six. And we found the children's area, where we had fun checking out all the play equipment, and where Richard proved his prowess with a steam shovel.

Driving north on I-5 is pretty darn boring once you are past Sacramento, and it doesn't get even the slightest bit exciting until you pass Redding and start getting into the mountains. At that point it started getting pretty all hills and trees and cool air. We drove past Mount Shasta, although there seemed no good place to pull over and take pictures, and then meandered through a valley full of farms and cows and enough rocks to drive someone insane. And then just about the time both of us were about ready to start the 'Are we there yet?' whine, we crossed over the Oregon border and the end was in sight.

Originally we had booked a room in a hotel in Medford, since prices were much cheaper and we figured we wouldn't be spending much time there anyway. But when we pulled up, the condition of the place made us a little nervous, and by the time we had checked into our room and I had discovered that the room was so run down that they had not even bothered to replace the towel rack (the brackets were still on the wall, however), it had become laughable.

I was all set to just suck it up and stay the night, and then try to find a new place the next morning, but Richard was insistent we get out of there right away. It really was a pretty dingy place. So he dug out his guidebook to Ashland, placed a few phone calls, and this is where the beauty of timing really kicked in. If we'd tried to do this next week, over Memorial Day weekend, I'm sure the place would have been packed and we'd never have had a chance of getting a reservation at such short notice. But we chose this week specifically for the non-crowd factor, and before we knew it we had a room reserved at a hotel in Ashland, within walking distance from the theaters, which is where we'll be spending much of our time anyway.

So we went and ate dinner, then packed up our stuff again, checked out of the hotel, and headed back the way we came down the freeway until we hit Ashland. This new place is much nicer, and next time we decide to do this, if I even think for the briefest of moments about having us stay in Medford instead of right on location, you all have my permission to whack me upside the head until the feeling passes.

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