There’s something that puts my mind at ease about being on the open road. I will fly when I need to, but I find that security checks, long lines and baggage claim get in the way of enjoying the experience of the journey. I had been looking forward to my latest trip since we started planning it a few months ago. My favorite road buddy Tim Pershing and I set out on a Saturday morning for an adventure that would take us to Reno, Ashland, Napa and points in between.
The drive to Reno meant trekking up the 395 and through Bishop, CA. Tim wrote about a recent drive on this highway last month in the Reno Gazette-Journal. We had lunch at Jack’s (as we have on previous trips through Bishop) and then visited Spellbinder Books, a gem at the foot of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Be sure to check out their local section for some interesting books on the region. I picked up No Rooms of Their Own: Women Writers of Early California, 1849-1869 edited by Ida Rae Egli.
After a visit with some friends in the Reno, NV area, we hit the road for Ashland, OR. Even though small, independent bookstores seem to be disappearing, several have managed to survive in Ashland. Our first stop was Bloomsbury Books—a good place to pick up Shakespeare related books and items.
Shakespeare Books & Antiques had a whole bookcase dedicated to banned books, which included quite a few of my favorites. It is just a reminder that I need to be reading more banned books. Where there is controversy, there is often a good story.
We also visited Antiquarium Books & Antiques, where every shelf, nook and wall was filled with bits of the past. This is the kind of place where a mannequin hand could be at peace resting on an old copy of The Paris Review and a typewriter. To walk through the tight pathways of books, rusty tins, knick-knacks, faded furniture and dusty magazines was truly like travelling back in time.
Our main reason for visiting Ashland was seeing a stage adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which was part of the 2014 season of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). The OSF staging of this book seemed to be for people like me who fell in love with the story as a child. The experience of reading the book is as much a character in the play as Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin are. Throughout the production, characters are on stage reading from copies of the text. One of the most present readers is a girl who at times works on a science experiment on stage right. She and the other readers serve as our gateway into this story in that they take us into the action at the place we first entered it when reading the book. It is a place where the words on the page meet our imagination and where bed sheets can form the wings of a centaur-like creature. It also allows us, for a brief moment, to believe that the concept of traveling through space and time by tessering seems like a real possibility.
The set was minimal, making the play somewhat conceptual in that it asked the audience to supply their imagination to fill in gaps. The effect meant that at times I felt like I was reading instead of seeing a play. The OSF interpretation of the story was a reminder of why I love L’Engle’s book so much, and I highly recommend it to anyone who feels the same way about the original text.
While you are in Ashland for the theatre scene and bookstores, make the drive north to Central Point to visit Rogue Creamery. We bought some Echo Mountain Blue Cheese. All other blues pale in comparison to this amazing cheese, and it went quite nicely with the wine we bought next door at Ledger David Cellars. The two businesses share a parking lot with Lillie Belle Farms Chocolate Shop. I find the idea of eating chocolate to be as appetizing as devouring a bowl of dirt, so this obviously is not my kind of store (I’ll give you a moment to get over your shock of someone hating chocolate), but I know many of my chocophile friends would think this place was heaven with its cases of beautiful handmade chocolates and friendly staff. They even have Smokey Blue Cheese Truffles made with cheese from Rogue Creamery.
Our trip finished with a stop in Napa for a few days before we made the drive back to Los Angeles. The highlight of our stay in Napa was a visit to Kasten Family Wines, which is owned by some fellow California Lutheran University alumni. This winery grew out of their love for winemaking, and that shows in the quality and richness of their wines.
It was hard to return, knowing that meetings, blog posts and presentation preparation were waiting for us when we got back to LA. But we are back at work, so we can earn the money to feed the travel addiction. I have already picked out the plays I want to see during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 season, so perhaps another trip to Ashland isn’t too far off.