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Ashland: Shakespeare, Lithia Park and Quantum Physics

We left our hearts in Ashland. This charming town is on our short list of “might live places”. It has everything: a beautiful mountain setting with impressive peaks, a vibrant college atmosphere, a historic downtown filled with galleries and restaurants, a beautiful public park, two creeks flowing through town, a Wi-Fi friendly Carnegie library, a world class Shakespeare festival, and a populace dedicated to preserving it all.

Lithia Park is Ashland’s crown jewel and we visited it several times. The park borders the theater complex downtown and extends for more than a half mile along Ashland Creek. We wondered the pathways enjoying the enchanting forest, Japanese garden, landscaped ponds with swans, band shell, stately sculptures, emerald green lawns and secluded picnic areas. The restored 1916 Butler-Perozzi Fountain was especially noteworthy. We weren’t able to sample the famous Lithia water since the drinking fountains were being repaired.

The saying “All the world is a stage” certainly applies to Ashland. Since 1935 the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has been presenting Tony Award winning plays. We got lucky and purchased last minute tickets to see The Comedy of Errors. We couldn’t resist attending when we read that the production had a contemporary twist … it was set in a Las Vegas casino ... we thought of it as Shakespeare meets the Rat Pack. As improbable as it sounds, it worked. We were blown away by the world class performances and talked about it for days. We can understand why people come for a week or two and gorge themselves on multiple productions … next time we will too.

Historic buildings abound in Ashland especially in the downtown area. We wondered along Main Street enjoying the numerous art galleries, cafes and unique shops. Special moments included picnicking at Hyatt lake, drinking Americanos upstairs at Bloomsbury Books, viewing Albert Hirschfeld's art at the Footlights Theatre Gallery, and going to the 1937 Varsity Theatre ... where we sat in the balcony to see What the Bleep Do We Know? (gee, who knew a film on quantum physics could be so interesting?).

Mount McLoughlin — We were amazed to see this 9,495 foot beauty on the way to Hyatt Lake (Highway 140).

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In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

— Aristotle —