Category: Ashland


A very busy week

Posted by admin on 12/17/11  ~  Posted in: Galleries, Ethan's Thoughts, 199, Ashland

Well a lot has happened over the last week.  An epic mountain bike ride with some hardcore ?old? guys.  A wonderful Thanksgiving with 20 great folks and a massive feast.  A fuel line and fuel pump replacement project on the van.  A trip to the vet for a busted cat.  I?ll back up a bit?

Prior to coming up the 199 we had been parked at Smith River, just outside Crescent City, CA.  This was a great day gone bad.  Basically I made a critical mistake and it?s probably going to end up costing us a few hundred bucks and a bit of me feeling stupid.  Coming down through Oregon we had looked into fishing licenses and found that they were around $110 for a non-resident license.  Considering we were just going to be passing through Oregon and wouldn?t be staying long enough to make it worth our while, we decided to pass on this outrageous tax.  Instead, we called a sporting goods store and Shannon had the gall to ask what the price of a fishing-without-a-license ticket was.  Something like $30.  Well heck, I thought, at thirty bucks, we could just take a ticket if we got caught and we?d still be coming out way ahead of the license fee.  Total fish caught: one trout.  When we dropped down into California from Oregon at the coast we immediately started back up toward the Oregon border on the 199.  We stopped for the night at the Smith River, still just inside California.  Not thinking about it the next day, I cast my line in the river a few times.  As luck would have it, I hadn?t been fishing much longer than a half hour when a fish and game warden came out of nowhere and slapped me with a ticket.  He couldn?t even tell me what the price of the ticket was, just that I?d receive something in the mail.  After he left I looked up the consequences online and found that I was into it for a minimum of $250 and some had received fines of over $1,000.

Now I?m going to digress here for a bit of a rant.  THIS IS F*CKING OBSURD!  $1,000 for casting a fishing line into OUR rivers!  Ok, ok ? I can understand the need for proper management and protection from abuse, but I?m not gillnetting for the local Safeway ? I?m trying to catch dinner!  This is America for God?s sake!  The land of the free!  Well, apparently not that free.  Not even reasonable.  More like the land of overpriced taxation on just about everything!  And now that I think about it, they just repealed the tax on corn-syrup-based soda in California!  So that?s right folks, you can get your Pepsi and Mtn. Dew tax-free in the good ol? state of California but you?re gonna pay a minimum $110 tax for a possible fish dinner that you?ve got to catch first.  Anything seem a little crazy about this?  Anyway, my mistake.  Shouldn?t have fished.  Lesson learned.  Seriously though, a nation-wide fishing license seems like it would make sense.  I?m sure not going to pay the $5,000 it would cost to fish in every state, that?s for sure!

Back to the story here.  So up the 199 we headed, spent a horribly loud night next to the highway, then beat it to the Applegate Valley, just west of Ashland.  That night, we discovered that Taio was having some sort of very serious problem.  He was making all sorts of terrible moaning sounds and we soon discovered that he appeared to have an abscess on his back flank.  A late night of research in the animal medicine book in our van in the dark, rainy forest.  Not so much fun.

The next day, to the vet.  $290 later, abscess drained, cone on head, drain in leg, up to our friends Barb and Rich?s house to settle down.  That was Tuesday.  Wednesday involved a deep clean of the van, finding a way to semi-permanently attach Taio to the now ?Taio-Blanket? layered front seat for wound draining, spraying the roof with bleach, and preparing for Thursday?s Thanksgiving feast with Barb, Rich, and sixteen others!

Thursday started with a great yoga class with Barb and friends.  Then back to the house for meal and house prep.  A great walk in the hills with Rich and the dogs.  Dinner involved lots of eating, drinking, and great company.  Probably too much of the first two.  A Thanksgiving to be remembered forever.

Friday started with me ripping apart the van to replace all the fuel lines and fuel pump.  This was a long hard day of getting gas all over myself, stretching around manifolds and hoses, cutting my fingers to bits, getting gas in the cuts, and quite a bit of actual progress.  I stopped at dusk and prepared to go out with our friends to a bar in Talent for some good tunes and dancing.  We definitely got both.  The band was called Left and they rocked and rolled!  A great evening of dancing, hot wings, and fun.

Saturday was more van work.  More gas spilling, more finger grinding, and finally, completion.  New fuel lines all the way around and a new Bosch fuel pump.  Several hours later, fire extinguishers in hand, the van started up without blowing up and all seems good so far.  Visual inspections will continue for some time, as I don?t have a fuel pressure gauge to verify my work more thoroughly.  In the evening we went to see our great friend, and equally great jazz guitarist, Ed Dunsavich play at a winery.  The wine was good, Ed was great.

I had been talking to our friend Dan about going for a bike ride with him and a couple buddies on Sunday so, after making a huge vegetable scramble for breakfast, saying goodbye to Max and Heidi, Sierra, Josh, and Reese, I met Dan and we headed up into the hills.  I hadn?t really givin the ride much thought, Dan is in his middle age and some of his buddies older.  CamelBack half full, no snacks with me, we began our ascent? for NINE MILES UPHILL WITH NO RESTS!  These guys were INSANE.  I think we climbed between 2,000 and 2,500 hundred feet in something like an hour and a half.  Up, up, up.  They chatted the whole way up while I struggled to breathe and hold my breakfast down.  These old guys kicked my ass.  The good news was, we got some great views of the valley, ran into more friends on the trails, and got a seven mile ride back down.  Wow!  What a day.  Back in the van I began stretching, took a couple Ibuprofins, ate a ton of food, showered and passed out for an hour.

When I woke, Shannon had done most of the work, including running to the store, to prepare to host Barb and Rich for a dinner in the van.  We did oysters and crackers and Shannon made a delicious Indian curry with quinoa, and a great tomato and cucumber salad.  A great time was had by all as we chatted the night away, which ended with all of us pouring over maps of the area and the continent.  We said our goodbyes, as they would be off to work in the morning and we would be on the road before they returned.

On Monday we got up, spent the several hours required for departure, took Taio back to the vet for a follow-up visit, grabbed some Mexican grub at a local restaurant and headed into the hills to find a place to go to sleep.  Today is Tuesday and we?re finally unwinding for the first time in a week.  The fog just lifted and Shan and Sam are outside in the sun.  What am I doing in here?!  Gotta go!


Goodbye Ashland, Hello California.

Posted by admin on 12/03/11  ~  Posted in: 199, Ashland

Well we?re just three weeks away from Chistmas and we?re on the road again.  Our trip in Ashland was amazing ? what an awesome couple weeks!  We spent the last few nights in the hills above the town looking down on the city lights.  Beautiful.

I hesitate to write all the wonderful things about Ashland, for if everyone knew about it, it would become overrun and ruined immediately.  That said, now?s as good a time as any to sing it?s praises since I don?t think the traffic from our blog is exactly going to turn the town into a metropolis overnight.  The bottom line is that, from what Shannon and I?ve seen over the last couple weeks, Ashland is damn near perfect.  Of course, we may be jaded because we also happen to have some of the best of friends a person could have in Ashland, but beyond that, Ashland has a lot to offer.

The town is dotted with parks including the massive and gorgeous, creek side Lithia park.  Lithia Park is one of the most pleasant places on earth.  In the winter, the streets around it are lined with twinkly white Christmas lights and kids ice skate on the outdoor rink.  In the summer it?s teaming with recreational users of all sorts, duck ponds, mineral water fountains, concerts, hula hoopers, etc.  It?s a great place to come by and catch a Shakespearean play, as Ashland is of course home of the world famous Shakespeare Festival ? Southern Oregon University offering all sorts of Shakespearean curricula and events.  The town has a nice mix of young college spirit and old liberal wisdom and has maintained a beautiful historic district with Lithia at its center.  One can stroll the streets going from wood carving merchant to upscale clothing boutique to bakery to bookstore for hours, if not days.  The grocery stores offer a broad mix of selection with great prices on organic produce, gluten free products and the like.  In all, the town seems to offer a lot of niceties expected from a large city while maintaining a population of less than 25,000.  This is also very nice, as it seems almost everyone knows everyone else and are constantly bumping into friends in random places.  Just outside town are other outdoor offerings including the Rogue River valley to the north, Emigrant Lake just outside town to the southeast, and Mount Ashland itself just to the south.

I could go on and on about Ashland but its getting late and I?m getting tired.  The bottom line is that Ashland is almost too good to be true.  It?s even home to the folks who make Uncle John?s Bathroom Reader!  Why it hasn?t blown up is beyond me but it?s definitely high on my list of most desirable places to live.  But don?t you all move there!


Well, here we are, headed back down the 199 toward California.  We?re sad to leave Oregon.  We had a wonderful time and would like to thank Barb & Rich, Dan & Ellen, and everyone else who made our visit absolutely amazing.  This was my first Thanksgiving away from home and you made it a great one.  We?re going to be heading down the 101 tomorrow trying to find some warmth.  The temperature has been below freezing the last several nights so we?ll press on down the coast.

Into the beast of California we go.


My feet are cold

Posted by Shan on 11/30/11  ~  Posted in: Ashland

And I miss my cat. He is lost in the woods, on a mountain, in the forest. The sun is setting. It will be 31 degrees tonight. Do cats get hypothermia at the same degree as humans?

I packed five pair of socks. One light hiker, one heavy expedition, one medium, two pair running socks. I am not prepared for this weather. In the pod I have a "blue sky" bag. This is what I shopped for before we left. Sun dresses, skirts, tank tops. Vibrant colors, cottons to cool in the heat. Sandals flip flops. Damnit-what was I thinking?

I was not thinking it would take us three months rather than three weeks to begin our journey. I did not expect us to travel so slowly; for the cold to catch us as quickly. I did not expect to find myself at a Thanksgiving table so soon and to need socks-seriously need socks- as I sit in a café contemplating nationwide weather. Icy, cold, wind, snow-most of the States covered in blue. One bit of orange, deep in the heart of Texas-a few yellow splotches. Will mid sixties feel warm to me? I think so, I hope so. God I need a tan-not for the vanity of it all, that?s just the amount of sun my body/soul/spirit need to drink to come out of this and thaw.

Struggling with writing-did I mention cat lost, sun setting-frustrating because it has taken us nine days of effort to make it to this internet moment. For every hour spent in a café typing, dinner time and finding a place to sleep time is pressed, especially as the sun sets. Tie in lost cat searching in the freezing cold time and things get even tighter. I am gritting my teeth a lot at night. I am cold.

I watch the light play on the hills here in Ashland, and I am in love with these landscapes. I have never watched light and color transition and shift so fluidly as it does here now-this is truly a magical place. And yet the cold is driving us out. I feel fear, the fear of more cold nights grip me as the map promises no relief and as we wind up our tasks to search for the cat. I hope we find him, poor little bugger.

Coffee has never tasted so good. I drink it hotter than ever, just above scalding. I am drinking whiskey-often, we found this honey kind-lovely. Opting for soups rather than salads so I know my nutrition is concerned?..need to find the sun.

I saw a lizard on my hike yesterday. I wondered what he was doing here, out so late in the cold. I wonder what I am? Does anyone know a warm place we can get to without too many cold nights in between? Has anyone seen our kitty, a grey tabby, Taio?..damnit, this day did not go as planned.  Signing off, Shan


Our Kitty is a Streak

Posted by Shan on 11/30/11  ~  Posted in: Ashland

Our kitty is a streak- a jet of black, and white- brown, depending on which part is seen.

He is a shadow, a sprite. Only visible when he wants to be.

He has been wearing a cone lately. That's been hard. He is not used to looking conical.












But he found  Zen. He turned his face to the light and found peace, repose.

Kitty in a cone portrait, in low light-rendition 1.

Poor dear beast who's bottom is half shaved and whose hiney is now chilly- in the breeze, in the rain. Poor adventuresome, proud and daring soul who must suffer the indignation of a sheath of plastic around his skull-marring his vision, messing with acoustics, inhibiting his cleanliness of self.

It is only for a week kitty, or two- no more than two, maybe less. Don't fret kitty your days of majesty, stealth and cunning will reblossom once this apparition has disappeared. The time will come when you will no longer walk with a bobbly bowed head but will regain your dignity, your stride. For now kitty, enjoy the sun, the calm and let the cold breeze on your backside remind you to think twice before you tangle with other cats.