We never get tired of it. I’ve been coming here since I was a teenager in English class on a bus I’m sure no driver wanted to drive. It’s where I fell in love with Shakespeare. Probably why I eventually became an English major leaving political science behind for some other would be lawyer. In many ways, it’s the same as it’s been for the past 40 years when I used to ski its slopes. In others, it’s quite different. I’ve blogged on it a gazillion times. Here’s one: https://jamieweilhealthcoach.com/2015/06/22/ashland-secrets-youll-love/.
That was about five years ago. On that trip, we went in search of Southern Oregon’s wine scene. This time, they came in search of us. We almost always settle in at Lithia Springs Resort, a peaceful little mineral water sourced place with big tubs in the rooms with mineral water piping into the privacy of your own fire lit space.
Everything about this place is well thought through and always offers new pleasures. A new detail this trip: Cowhorn Winery just happened to be doing a wine tasting of their biodynamic wines the day after we arrived at Lithia.
Cowhorn is located about 30 miles from Lithia and owned by two city kids from the Bay Area who traded in urban living to set up a sustainable ecosystem and grow grapes, purple asparagus, truffles, lavender and make wine all on their own farm. They open their land to creatures, used some super green architecture that is marveled over by those who marvel at such things, and have put together some intriguing whites (Spiral 36 was a standout) and a red called Moonraker that goes along with a story probably best told at the winery itself. Wine does its best in stories after all, and when those stories are told strolling through rows of grapes, all the better. It’s what makes it interesting. Though we weren’t in that lane this visit, our tasting was done about 200 yards from our room which made it nice as our goal for this Valentine’s Day visit was to relax as completely as possible.
I think we accomplished that, even if we felt a bit guilty along the way. (Do we look guilty or are we hiding it?) Back home, we had left a day early because of a storm we feared would block the Siskiyou Pass and keep us from our destination. Twenty four hours before departure we were able to coordinate the dog/house sitter coming early and get the hillside suite an extra night, no small feat on Valentine’s Day week. As it turned out, our drive was perfect, but as soon as we settled in Ashland, back home saw snow they hadn’t seen in two decades. This snow took down three hundred year old oaks (en masse) and knocked out power and phone lines for all of Shasta County, eventually evoking a State of Emergency. Just a freak storm.
Meanwhile, Ashland was seeing fairy snow–powdered-sugared pines, dusted mountains in the distance, and just enough fluffy white to bury the first crocus. I love snow falling from the sky and was eventually awarded for my patience on Day 5. I woke up several times a night and checked our back balcony just so I didn’t miss it. It’s such a peaceful, beautiful feeling, especially when it’s the kind that falls, doesn’t make a mess, and leaves as quietly as it came. Pure beauty.
Ashlandia wore more than just her moody weather this trip. She carried such a peaceful energy this visit, possibly because OSF hadn’t started the play schedule and partly because many visitors were blocked from the area because of surrounding snow walls.
Without plays to distract us, we spent time soaking up mineral waters, taking long walks, shopping, getting massages, going to tea time, and hitting this retro ’80s throwback everynight (except Valentine’s Day when we stretched out dinner) to watch every category of Academy Award nominated shorts. We loved doing this, and this is the first year we’ve seen them all. Phenomenal! Having spent the past year and a half making a documentary series I have so much appreciation for this art form. We also watched Roma on the big screen which was quite different than watching it on Netflix. I loved Bohemian Rhapsody, but I honestly think Roma might take first. As far as shorts, here are my predictions: animated One Small Step; live action Skin (intense!); and best short documentary, Period. End of Sentence. But honestly, they’re all fantastic and we really enjoyed experiencing that work.
The other thing we really loved this trip was Alchemy. Set in this character driven Victorian, it’s become one our favorite Ashland fancy pants places. This visit, Greg (sommelier) was our server and we loved talking wine and food (and family and history) with him. The meal was more than food and champagne. It was a culinary journey. An art walk.
We’ll be back. Again. And another again.
Having the extra time to stroll Lithia Park under dancing snow flakes and through back allies of Ashland landed us on a few treasures: the ice skating rink put up for the winter in the park and a beautification project that takes otherwise boring back walls and spruces them up with murals. It appears as if people sponsor local artists to do this which struck me as a super cool partnership. We loved this one sprucing up a back alley along the creek.
After soaking up Ashlandia (I mean, there’re four separate menus at Louie’s for each of our eating categories of people), we headed down past Mount Ashland not sure what would we see because of the heavy snow. What we saw was sheer, breathtaking beauty, Mt. Shasta showing off her new coat.
Sites like these renew me. They show up in my dreams for months after. They remind me what a phenomenal planet we’ve been given to enjoy, and I breathe in every moment grateful to be on it.