28 March 2007

South by Southwest

As any of you out there that know me can attest, I am pretty well convinced that the Pacific Northwest is the best part of the world (those of you that don't know me all that well could probably figure that out from the title of this blog). The last few days, I've been on a brief road trip that's given me cause to say that many of the best parts of the best part of the world are in Southern Oregon. Here's what we saw that led me to that conclusion:

  • Ashland - Besides being a lovely town in a gorgeous setting, Ashland has always been one of my favorite places because it's where I saw my first Shakespeare play, performed by one of the world's preeminent presenters of The Bard's works, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That was years ago, but I've returned several times since to see many excellent plays; this time, though, we saw one that tops them all. It was a production of As You Like It set in 1930s America. I was skeptical at first, but I was convinced before the first scene had ended: setting the the play in the Depression both complemented its fast-pace humor and underscored its more serious moments (particularly the "All the world's a stage" soliloquy). If you find yourself anywhere near Ashland this year, by all means go out of your way to catch this one. I can't sing its praises highly enough.
  • Wineries - Not only does Oregon produce excellent Shakespeare, it produces excellent wine as well (Why even bother traveling to Europe?). We stopped at several wineries on the road between Ashland and the coast, and we tasted wine ranging from good to outstanding (and that's not just me being positive; we really didn't taste anything that was bad). The biggest surprise of all was a dry Riesling we found in a winery just outside of Eugene, something that I didn't know existed outside of Germany.
  • Redwoods - Technically speaking, Redwood National Park isn't in Oregon, but we did pass through the northern corner of it en route to the coast. I mention it here because it's one of those places that everyone should see once in their lives. I'm willing to go out on a limb to say there's nothing quite like it anywhere: it's the Forest to End All Forests. There's something otherworldly about the groves of staggeringly enormous trees shrouded in fog and blanketed in a thick green carpet of ferns. I'm not the only one who thinks so: the redwoods served as a backdrop for both Endor in Star Wars and the Jurassic in Walking With Dinosaurs, and if both George Lucas and the BBC give the forest their seal of approval, then it must be a great place...
  • The Coast - I've sung the praises of the Oregon Coast so many times on this blog that there really is no sense in me belaboring the point here. Suffice it to say that the southern coast is, if you can imagine, even better than its northern counterpart, and is certainly far less built-up. It also turns out you can get a great bowl of clam chowder at no less than three restaurants in Florence (we went with Mo's, which also has the best view in town).
So there you go, four great reasons to visit Southern Oregon (and Northern California). If you're still not sold on it, check out my photos from the trip, which on the whole actually turned out pretty well.

1 comment:

Malacoda said...

Why even bother travelling to Europe?

Er, you tell me!