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May 22, 2004: Ashland Trip - All about the plays

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The past few days have been the most wonderfully relaxing days I've had in far, far too long. Switching hotels and moving to Ashland was the best thing we could have done. Everything is within easy walking distance of this hotel, even though it might occasionally be up some extremely steep hills (my calves still have not forgiven me for the hike up to the cabaret on Friday night!). The only time we've used the car since we got here was on Thursday morning, when we headed back to Medford to take the Harry and David factory tour. It being not a holiday weekend coming up, there were only four other people with us on the tour, which was nice (can you tell we don't much like crowds?).

The tour was kind of fun. There was nothing exactly unexpected, since really, how exciting can it be to watch people stuffing boxes full of pears and chocolates, but it was lovely to walk into the building where they make the moose munch and the chocolate and just stand in the door and take deep breaths of those delicious aromas. And afterwards we wandered the Harry and David store and bought many bags of Moose Munch (most of which have since been consumed) and other goodies, and where I drooled over several varieties of roses (since Harry and David are also associated with Jackson & Perkins), even though I have very firm convictions on rose avoidance because plants which requires such constant care and maintenance scare me. But oh, there were some pretty ones corals and dusky purples that I was awfully tempted. We left the store before I weakened too far, but I did grab a few catalogs, just in case I change my mind later. Mm. Pretty flowers.

Over the past few days we've managed to meander all over the little downtown area that surrounds the theaters. It's typically touristy, of course, but all the shops seem to be independently owned, so the only chain store we saw was the Starbucks. Every restaurant we've tried so far has been a delicious experience, and I feel as if I have not stopped eating since we got here. The moose munch back at the hotel room doesn't help matters much either. I found the knitting store on our very first full day here, but so far have managed to buy nothing more than a set of circular needles. There are at least three used bookstores, one with its own large, gray, and extremely lazy cat, plus a marvelous children's bookstore, where I could not help myself and had to buy something for an upcoming nephew's birthday. Richard got to try steak and kidney pie at an English style pub, which also offers free wireless internet. Since we are such nerds we both brought our laptops with us, naturally we had to try this out.

We have also been seeing plays, which is, of course, the main reason we came up here. Thursday night was part one of King Henry the Sixth, done in a tiny theater with the actors on the floor right in front of us and the audience on either side of them. Unfortunately they're not doing the second and third part of this trilogy until later in the summer, but it was so well done we may just have to schedule in another road trip to Ashland just to finish the story off. Friday afternoon we saw The Visit, which was marvelously dark, and followed that with a dinner theater at the Oregon Cabaret. The dinner itself would have been reason enough to go, but the play (They Came From Way Out There) was funny and clever, and I am not quite sure how I will ever get the songs "You Stepped Out of Your Body And Into My Heart" or "Human Antenna" out of my head. And today we finished out our round of plays with an afternoon performance of Comedy of Errors and an evening performance of The Royal Family, both of which were just as wonderful as all the rest. In fact, Comedy of Errors is probably the best one of all the plays we've seen, and more than deserving of the standing ovation we and the rest of the packed house gave it once they were done. They set the play in Las Vegas, and from the very first moments of the play, when the Count and his men show up dressed as gangsters and the first words out of his mouth were thick with a Chicago accent, to the last scene where one of the twins crouches on a chair and does a Lord of the Rings Golum parody ("My preciousssss"), we couldn't stop laughing.

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