A few months ago, I decided I needed a self-imposed writing retreat to help me restore my creative juices, stimulate ideas and concentrate on my projects. So, here I am in Ashland, Oregon for a week of writing, theater-going, nature hiking and basking in the warm sun. For those of you that haven’t been to this gem of a town, I’m here to persuade you to plan a visit.
The big draw to this little town is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and lest you start rolling your eyes, I need to dispel the idea that they only produce plays by the beloved bard. That’s not the case at all. With three theaters running eleven plays in repertory from March to October, they have become one of the leading organizations for developing new plays. The Pulitzer prize winning play Sweat debuted here and they have a robust program for students and developing playwrights. From musicals like Hairspray to evocative new plays like Mother Road, Between Two Knees and Cambodian Rock Band, this troupe of theater professionals delivers high quality, engaging and thought-provoking experiences, year after year. I could go on and on but will suffice to say it’s a wonderful place for anyone who enjoys great theater.
With the Rogue river and Crater Lake nearby there are a multitude of things to do – day hiking, river rafting or zip lining to name a few. I recommend Noah’s Rafting for a great day on the water.
Or you could just simply stroll through Lithia Park in the center of town. My “happy accident” this time was running into a docent-led tour through the park where I learned about the history of Ashland, the park and the festival. The creek offers many places to cool your feet during the hot weather or sit and quietly contemplate life while listening to the water rush over the creek bed rocks.
Merchants of Ashland
Granted this is a tourist area but it has a small town feel that makes you feel completely at home. I’ve found the shops and restaurants to be friendly and kind. Try pampering yourself at the Blue Giraffe Day Spa. Spend time lingering in magical bookstores like Tree House Books or have bite to eat at Bloomsbury Books. Dine al fresco and enjoy the artisan craft fair on the weekend. Catch the latest sports at Louie’s restaurant or take a day to tour the local wineries. And don’t miss the Tudor Guild shop where members of OSF get a nice discount!
I’m now at the end of my self-imposed retreat and I have a confession – I didn’t write nearly as much as I hoped. The weather was just too gorgeous, the plays too stimulating and the lure of relaxing too hard to resist. I did, however, gain a ton of ideas, refresh my spirit and … write this blog!