A Quick Stop in Ashland, Oregon
The alarm blares at 3:45 AM and Jeremy springs out of bed. I startle awake and lay back down, groaning. He quickly gets dressed and starts gathering the last few things we need for our long journey. I start to get up and he tells me to lay back down with Zero for a few minutes. I smile at him, thinking about how considerate he is and lay there petting Zero, who is already restless. He sees the luggage and knows something’s up.
Finally coherent enough to face the morning, I rise and get dressed. All our bags are already in the car, a smart decision made by my hiking expert husband. We finish our last minute chores, scarf down a blueberry muffin, lock up the house, and leave the driveway by 4:30 AM.
We drive through the night, past oil refineries lit up like ethereal castles. We pass small town after small town, everyone still asleep but the few on the road to make the long commute into San Francisco. Before we know it, the light appears and the most beautiful reddish sun peaks over mountains off in the distance. I scramble to get a picture with my phone, knowing it won’t compare to the real thing.
I soak it all in, wishing we could have stopped to take a better photo, but then I remember to be in the present and just be grateful I saw it.
Mt. Shasta rises from blue haze off in the distance
Lunch in Ashland, Oregon
We stop in Ashland, a town my family visited once on our way to a spring vacation in Seattle. I have memories of us walking around a cute little downtown area, eating, exploring old thrift shops, and cracking jokes along the way. It was a rare moment of peace between myself and my brother, and the nostalgia has me wanting to stop there again.
As we drive into town, it isn’t what I remember at all. I don’t recognize anything I had seen 12 years before. We park, stretch our legs, and hastily feed zero. We’re all eager to walk a bit before finding a place to eat lunch.
Zero very much wants to jump into the creek!
On our walk, I spy a store called Flower Tyme and poke my head in while Jeremy graciously waits outside with Zero. Inside, I see all sorts of decor items ranging from decorative ceramic bowls to jewelry and illustrated tea towels. One section catches my eye and I find a beautifully illustrated children’s story book about birds called How the Birds Started an Orchestra written by Andy Mitchell and Illustrated by Anna Wright. I flip through and impulsively decide to buy it. I conceal my purchase, knowing I’ll get an eye roll from Jeremy if I walk out with something and we keep moving.
A few minutes later we walk past a window with brightly colored animal figurines. I stop just long enough for Jeremy to give me the “go inside if you want to” look. I give him a guilty smile and leave him to sit in the heat. Inside, I find native American art on the walls and in the center of the room I spy a large display of those same animals as in the windows. I advance toward it and a friendly voice greets me and offers to show me anything in the store.
I ask her about the figurines and she tells me they are called Alebrijes. They are Mexican folk art hand-made by a group of artists in Oaxaca. I circle the display several times, each time finding a new animal to admire. They range in size starting at about an inch and a half tall to 10 inches. My mind races as I try to decide which animal I want the most.
The purple bear is my first thought, but after considering it, I realize that is something I would choose for Jeremy, not myself. So I look again. The little red unicorn catches my eye but is too similar to my Dala horse from Sweden.
Finally, I spy a green cat that speaks to me and I bring it to the counter.
Feeling completely satisfied with my Ashland purchases, we start exploring our food options. There are a few places with outdoor seating, which is a must with Zero. We wouldn’t leave him in the car blocks away, especially since it was a warm 70 degrees, making the car even hotter.
As we walk up to the first place, a waitress stops me and tells me they only serve people with service animals and that we can try a place called Brothers’ Restaurant down the street. I leave feeling annoyed that a restaurant with bountiful outdoor seating behind their main restaurant can’t accommodate a small dog, but rather than make a big deal out of it, we keep walking. We find the recommendation easy enough and are greeted with big smiles. Zero has that effect on people. When I ask if we can sit out front, they say “sure! Can we give your doggie a biscuit?.” I knew we were in the right place.
Jeremy orders breakfast, an avocado tomato omelet with hash browns and a bagel. Traveling with heavy foods always upsets my stomach, so I generally order some sort of sandwich. It’s usually a safe bet. This time, they had a build-your-own so I ordered a simple ham sandwich with a side salad. We devour our food, pick up a cookie for the road then head back to the car.
I make a mental note to come back to Ashland and spend more time window shopping. And with that, we get into the car and head toward Lagoon Campground, Oregon.