GAYS MILLS - Looking at the map (I had no GPS at that point), it looked like about an hour’s drive from Klamath Falls to Ashland, Oregon, where my daughter Rachel and her family live. Wrong! Using the ‘shortest-distance-between-two-points’ rule, State Highway 66 was the logical choice. The sun was setting (in my eyes) as I set off on the way to Ashland.
It took almost two hours to navigate my way out of Klamath Falls and get onto a very windy road through heavily wooded mountains. The good news: there wasn’t much traffic, which wasn’t surprising given the test track nature of the road. I found out later that this was an early, like covered wagon early, route and wound (and wound and wound) up probably being a very scenic road if it had still been daylight.
Rachel, her husband Erik, and son Bodhi were waiting for me when I finally got to Ashland with a great meal and stories of their own about the road I had just traveled. The long way around sounded like it would have been a lot quicker.
The Sol family live on the north side of Ashland and was just narrowly missed by a devastating wild fire this summer. The fire actually started about five blocks from their home and roared north right up the valley, pushed by strong winds. It caused major losses in the towns of Phoenix and Talent with hundreds of homes destroyed and a number of deaths.
The family was cooped up before the fire due to Covid-19 with both parents working from home and Bodhi being schooled there via computer as well. I heard, and you probably did too, that the air quality in a huge part of the west was “the worst in the world” for many days after the western fires. Erik showed me the whole house air filter that he has and showed me a new one, lily white, compared to the one being changed: black.
Ashland is a beautiful small city and it hosts a famous Shakespeare Festival every year. The festival lasts about nine months so Ashland is a tourist destination for fans of the Bard. I enjoyed seeing lots of homes with small Airbnb cottages built on their lots to accommodate theater goers. The festival has been severely curtailed this year of course, but the town still seemed to have plenty of bustle. Mountain biking, camping, and soon skiing in the nearby slopes keep the visitors coming to the college (Southern Oregon University) town of Ashland.The condo where the Sol family lives is small. I slept in the family’s truck camper, my own little Airbnb, and got some of the best nights’ sleeps of the trip. I got to see a very busy family coping with the constraints of life in the time of Covid and very much enjoyed my stay in Ashland.