Las Vegas, Nevada! “Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada!
“Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

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Back from Las Vegas.
A fun trip to “Sin City”
Happy to be Home!

JOSHWILLTRAVEL! And travel to Las Vegas last week is what we did.*

*well, it wasn’t last week…. more like last month. Tempus fugit!

We were invited (very last minute) to our friend Frank’s 65th Birthday Adventure:
(via a series of text messages)
– Come to Vegas if you want we have extra rooms
– We arrive Wed and lots of different rooms. Party on Saturday
– The party at Topgolf should be good even if you dont golf. Has a private pool for us
– Then we got a big cabana by our pool Friday Saturday and Sunday

So, let me think about it….. and Road Trip to Vegas!
Left the beautiful San Fernando Valley at 1:30am on Thursday morning.
Highways to Las Vegas: 101north-134west-210west-10west-15north
We drove a rental truck, a no-frills silver Nissan Frontier, with unlimited miles.
No traffic! Driving 285 miles at night with the truckers on I-15 north.

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“World’s Tallest Thermometer” in Baker, California

Stopped along the way in Baker, California, for gas and to see the “World’s Tallest Thermometer” once again lighting the side of the 15 freeway. It was “non-operational” for many years, but has been repaired and now it is again a beacon at night on the desert highway.
NOTE: Gas prices were “too f*ckin’ high” in Baker! 

Stateline! No stopping until we get to town.

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Stateline! Primm, Nevada

Arrived at South Point Hotel and Casino before 6am on Thursday.

We have always heard good things about the SouthPoint. People regularly recommend their buffet as being very good. They were also recently featured in the Showtime series “Action” about legal sports gambling, so as we rolled into town we decided to stop there.

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SouthPoint Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

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Self Parking at SouthPoint is FREE. We parked outside, instead of in the structure, and it was only a short walk to the Casino entrance. We had to go to the High Limit Slots counter to get a Player’s Card because the Club Desk doesn’t open until 7am. We played some blackjack and a little video poker and won a little money.

We also earned 300 club points which entitled us to “spin the wheel” and we won 5000 points (so we cashed them out for $15.00), wandered around the casino, and then headed for their Breakfast Buffet.

NOTE: Get the SouthPoint Player’s Card and the Breakfast Buffet is only $9.95 + tax
(Really nice breakfast buffet for ~$11.00 + $5.00 tip for our server/waitperson)

Breakfast Buffet Time! The Las Vegas “Buffet Experience”! And we were hungry…..

On The Menu: Everything. It was a Good Buffet!

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After breakfast we headed out and drove to the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort near the MGM Grand and across the street from TopGolf at the south end of the strip.
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Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

Parked near Tower 3, walked to registration at Tower 2 and Checked In.
Our friends had the rooms reserved and a quick phone call was made, our ID was checked, and we were handed a keycard and welcome instructions. We walked back to Tower 3 and met one of our friends in the lobby. She gave us the “nickel tour” of the resort property and showed us the adult pool and the cabana they had reserved for our party weekend. We walked back to Tower 3 and grabbed our luggage and weekend supplies out of the truck and rode the elevator upstairs.

The SMELL in the hall.
Okay, something died. rotting trash beyond rotting. it was terrible. really terrible.
FOR THE WHOLE TIME! It was disgusting. It reeked. It stank.
Yes, we complained. And they tried to mitigate the smell with deodorizers and sprays, but they should have called for sanitary cleanup immediately. They were really good about apologizing and they gave our hosts credit for the inconvenience.

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“It’s Kubrickian!”

The Sweet Suite!
Tower 3, Room 392 at the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort:

Happily, the smell was only in the hallway. Once inside the room, a “lock-out” connecting room, adjacent to the first room our hosts stayed in…. they moved to the Presidential Suite, and her brother moved into their room. More on that later.

Each room had a nice kitchen area, living room space and private bedroom and bath. Mine was a little smaller than the room next door which also had a bar and bar seating in the living room space. I was very happy with the accommodations and also the fact that it was FREE! My hosts were treated to drinks, gifts and other forms of thanks all week long in appreciation for the invitation.

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After the little tour of the resort the it was nappy time. Then once we were awake and active again, we joined our friends for a quick visit to the TopGolf mega-entertainment center across the street. We met our friends in the inside bar and had a cocktail while they finished their food (we were still full from the morning buffet).

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Our friend’s birthday party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the Chairman’s Suite, complete with private pool and lunch buffet, so they went to check it out.  More on that party later……
We wandered around and toured the massive four deck facility. There were lots of bar and seating areas, and a public pool area with lounges, private cabanas and a “swim-up” bar. There were televisions and monitors everywhere, and really big multi-screens by the pool and in the gathering and game areas. And there were a ton of people having fun at midday on Thursday! The Golf Area has private driving areas for rent, with computer monitoring, that tracks your ball and gives you distance, replay, and other fun golf info. And of course there is plenty of food and beverage service available everywhere.
Just mind the warning signs and watch for errant golf balls and clubs!
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And then back across the street to the resort.
Our friends moved their stuff to the Presidential Suite with a Private Veranda and we hung out there and waited for them to get settled in.
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We made a run to the local market and picked up provision for the week. And then later we went back across the street to TopGolf for a late dinner.

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TopGolf Photo Op!

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On The Menu: More cocktails
and Boneless BBQ Wings w/veggies & ranch dressing at one of the bars.
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FRIDAY at the Wyndham

Good morning! Cabana Time!
Our Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

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Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday began the same way each day: Tiki drinks for brunch! And some kind of food from the resort kitchen, along with snacks we brought from the room.

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The cabana was equipped with a nice television and a noisy ceiling fan, and the public smoking area was right next door and there was a public cabana in that area. Most of the pool cabanas were positioned in the sun, and must have been really hot inside, while our cabana was on the other side and in the shade set back but facing the adult pool area.

 

Dinner time on Friday, and we had a meeting in the Presidential Suite to decide where to go to eat. There are many choices, so the group reviewed them, and eventually decided to go to Burger Bar (inside the Luxor Hotel, which we didn’t know at the time).

NOTE: Everything we did took a long time to get it together and actually do it. It wasn’t a problem, and we resolved to just ride along and see what happens (most of the time).

And then it started raining. A real Desert Storm! And a wet Friday night.
One of our new friends was the non-drinking designated driver, and he was a cool dude. But his driving was not cool. And it was dark and wet and it took a long time to get there. And then we toured the parking lot, for a long time, before finally parking.

We made our way into the Luxor and found the Burger Bar. Basically a $20 hamburger without anything else, so we decided to go spend our money at The Peppermill instead.

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MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on a Rainy Night in Las Vegas, Nevada

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And so, after another wild ride in the rain around Las Vegas, we arrived for Dinner and Drinks at The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge!

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We had dinner and tiki drinks in the restaurant and then went into the lounge and had more drinks. The rain was really coming down and we were in no hurry to leave, so we rode out the storm in the lounge and met some fun new people.
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On The Menu: Tiki Cocktails!
A Lava Flow and a nice Beef Dip Sandwich with fries and extra au jus

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A good time was had by all! We enjoyed our dinner and drinks at The Peppermill. Frank had a big Scorpion drink (in a glass, not a bowl) and the rest of us had a few different drinks from their cocktail menu too.

One more drive around Vegas in the rain and back to the resort. We survived! We returned to the Presidential Suite and then back to our suite in the other tower. We decided to take a hot bath and then sleep in the next day.

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“Wanna take a bath?”

SATURDAY at the Wyndham and TopGolf

Cabana Time! Basically the same routine as Friday: tiki drinks, food, people hanging out and new friends stopping by until it was time to get it together and head over to TopGolf for the big shindig!

Frank’s 65th Birthday Party in the Chairman’s Suite at TopGolf – Saturday 2-5pm
Golf, balls, a buffet, more drinks and a private swimming pool just for us.

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Party at TopGolf in Las Vegas, Nevada!

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The Guest of Honor in the Private Pool in the Chairman’s Suite

On The Menu: Tacos (chicken, steak and pork), Sliders (cheeseburgers, battered fish and pulled pork), chips with salsa and guacamole, salads, and of course more tiki cocktails!

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The party was a lot of fun, we got out drink on, and there was too much food! We ended up taking a lot of it back to the resort afterwards. There was golfing (unlimited balls, or something like that) and swimming too. The pictures are just a sample before it got crazy wild.

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A beautiful day at TopGolf Las Vegas!

Saturday Night in Vegas!

And so we returned to the resort and hung out until it got dark. We decided our next destination would be (more) Tropical Cocktails at Frankie’s Tiki Room! 

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Saturday Night on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

After the wild road trip on Friday night, we decided we would drive to Frankie’s and meet the crew there. We cruised past The Strip and downtown to the bar.

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More cocktails! Famous tiki drinks! And it was really dark inside.
Here are some pics:

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We enjoyed a Mai Tai and then there was a lot of conversation and more drinks. We moved around from our table in the cabana to a seat at the bar. Lots of kitsch and weird decor to see, even in the dark. Eventually, they decided to return to the resort and we decided to go back to The Strip and have some Las Vegas fun.

We drove to The Wynn, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – FREE SELF PARKING!
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The Wynn is a beautiful property! And it was crowded, which was nice. We played a little and wandered around taking in the different areas of the casino and environs. We had some luck and cashed out and drove back to the resort and went to bed.

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SUNDAY (Mother’s Day) morning after waking up and getting ready, we walked over to the Presidential Suite for Breakfast/Brunch and more Cabana Time! It was a leisurely day of drinking and hanging out. There may have been an afternoon nap involved.

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So we were volunteered to cook and we grilled some steaks for dinner at 9:30pm on Sunday at the community BBQ Grills. There’s a curfew for cooking at 10pm, so we had to be quick! We took them upstairs and enjoyed a great meal on the private veranda (and of course, there were more cocktails).

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Then we went on a mission to The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign!
It was designed by Nevada-born graphic designer Betty Willis (1923-2015) in 1959.
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“The rounded diamond shape of the sign was inspired by the Goodyear logo and the idea for the starburst came from the one in Disneyland’s emblem, which to her meant a happy destination. The seven silver dollars were a symbol of good luck for visitors entering the world’s gambling capital. (Betty) Willis’s design was never trademarked.”

The sign was built by a small local company Western Electric Displays Inc, aka Western Neon. Western Neon was bought by YESCO (Young Electric Sign Company) and they have maintained the sign ever since. The original sign has been rebuilt, restored, and recognized as a cultural and historic landmark for the City of Las Vegas over the years.

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Safe and legal public access to the sign was finally made possible in 2008, when parking spaces and a pedestrian walkway were finally constructed. Clark County and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office had the sign listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

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NOTE: It was “Helldorado Days” a big holiday in the State of Nevada. There was a parade on Saturday and the Rodeo and other events were happening all weekend in downtown Las Vegas and on Fremont Street. So, we didn’t go there.

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Old Vegas! Glitter Gulch!

We returned to the resort and stayed up until MONDAY morning!
“It’s HOT in the Hot Tub!” 
And sometime before dawn we hit the Jacuzzi and Pool! (the pool and jacuzzi at Tower 3 are open 24 hours) It was very Early AM, at Tower 3, after it was cleaned, before the crowd and we were almost alone.

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We had stayed up all night and after our adventures we finally decided to try out the 24 hour pool and jacuzzi in our Tower. The pool area was empty except for one couple, so we waited until they were out of the water and then we moved in. We spent about a half hour enjoying the warm, bubbly spa, and swam in the cool pool until the calm was interrupted by two small children and their mother….. as we left the pool area at 6am the mother was screaming at the children in the shallow end of the pool, “Get over here dammit, you pulled this sh*t all yesterday, I’m not gonna have it today!” 

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Went up to the room and took a hot shower, ate some leftover tacos, and went to bed.
Requested and was given a late checkout time of 12 noon via the telephone.

And then,
Housekeeping knocked on my door three different times between 9:30 and 11am!
AND THERE WAS A “DO NOT DISTURB” SIGN HANGING ON THE DOOR HANDLE!
They also started cleaning the other half of the “lockout suite” and made noise like they were doing construction next door, making it impossible to sleep.

NOTE: We complained and Dan, the resort manager, gave us a $50 credit to use at our choice of restaurants “off-property” at a Caesars Hotel (there was a list of restaurants to choose from at each hotel) for our inconvenience and also took care of our friends who invited us. That’s real good hospitality!

Checked out of the Wyndham and drove back over to the Wynn. FREE Self Parking again.

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We walked to the Palazzo and Venetian, then went outside, crossed Las Vegas Blvd and went over to the Mirage. It was a beautiful day, but it was too hot of course.

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We visited the MLife desk, and asked about a MyVegas room rate. They offered us a Monday night room for $63.00 + taxes and the ridiculous resort fee, so we passed.

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We walked through the Forum Shops to Caesars Palace and enjoyed the weirdness!

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Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino was once the best place to stay and play in Las Vegas. Then they turned it into “Disneyland”, and they threw away all the class and quality that made it great. And then they added RESORT FEES and PAID PARKING.

We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and got a seat a the bar, but when we looked at the menu there was nothing that we wanted to order…. so we thanked them and left. We wandered around Caesars enjoying the sights while trying to decide where to eat.

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The Bar and Sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Then we decided on dinner at Rao’s Italian Kitchen, Las Vegas at Caesars Palace!
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On The Menu: Good bread, an excellent Caesar salad and their tasty meat lasagna.
We ate the salad and half of the lasagna and bread, and had the other half packed “to go”.
No drinks or wine because we were driving later, so only ice water with dinner.

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It was getting dark after dinner, so we started walking back, watched the sunset behind Caesars Palace across the street, and then stopped at Harrah’s and the old Casino Royale on The Strip.

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Casino Royale!

 

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And then we walked back to the Wynn. We enjoyed our after dinner walk at night and took in the sights along The Strip on our way back. We returned to our car and hit the road. Destination: Los Angeles.

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LEAVING LAS VEGAS around 9:30pm on Monday.
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Stopped at the new Mega-Gas Station Terrible’s Road House on the way back to California and filled up the gas tank and emptied mine. They have 100 pumps for “rush hour”, but the place was almost empty when we stopped in around 10pm on Monday night.

It was a quick stop, with lots of light and easy highway access. After getting gas, we took some pics and then got back in the rental truck and made a non-stop, no traffic, night drive back to Los Angeles. Home again before 2am. Had a really fun trip!

SouthPoint Hotel and Casino

Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

TopGolf

Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge

Frankie’s Tiki Room

The Wynn Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

 

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ROAD TRIP to Ashland, Oregon!

ROAD TRIP to Ashland, Oregon! Ten Days “On The Road” and on a mission.

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Cold Rain and Snow! Ashland, Oregon 3-14-18

Los Angeles, California to Ashland, Oregon and now WE ARE BACK!

NOTE: The road trip happened in early March with the threat of winter weather in the north and in the Siskiyou Pass into Oregon, so we had to time our travel and hope for good weather on both sides.

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Monday Morning Road Trip! Los Angeles to Ashland (670 miles) in 10 hours! Instead of stopping, we decided to make a straight shot on Interstate 5 (via the 405 freeway) to stay ahead of the winter weather in the Siskiyou Pass…

A long, beautiful, uneventful drive north with the intent to get there as soon as possible while driving as safe as possible. “No tickets, no accidents, and no encounters with law enforcement” makes for a good trip. We stopped for gas and to stretch our legs (and other business) along the way, and arrived in Oregon in only 10 hours!

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Tejon Pass, California

NOTE: This Blog Post was delayed again because of technical issues. Our primary computer crashed recently and it had the transferred pics ready to upload.

 

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Mt. Shasta in the Siskiyou Pass, California (things start getting blurry)

670 miles and ten hours later we were in Ashland, Oregon!

WE LOVE ASHLAND!

There was beautiful weather all week long. It had snowed the week before, there was snow on the mountains, Mt. Ashland ski resort was open for business, and there was even still some snow on the ground the first day. It was cold and windy at night the first couple nights, and it was raining/snowing in the pass, but the weather stayed really nice during the day (sunny and in the 70s) from Ashland to Medford most of the time.

 

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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon

 

Scenes from the Ranch:

 

 

On The Menu in Ashland:

Lunch at Sesame Asian Kitchen in Ashland

Dinner at The Loft in Ashland
NY steak & prawns, fries, veggies, caesar salad, tuna tartare, bread & butter, an excellent 1993 Southing Sea Smoke pinot noir, and a coke
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Pizza (take-out) from Kaleidoscope Pizza in Medford
Lunch (take-out) from Arby’s
Lunch (take-out soups) from Olive Garden

BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwiches for Dinner at the Ranch
Pasta and Meatballs with cheesy bread and a coke for Dinner at the Ranch
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Pizza and Champagne Dinner at the Ranch with friends
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Ice Cream from Grater’s in Cincinnati, Ohio (via UPS)
pints of black raspberry chocolate chip, cherry chocolate chip,
salted caramel chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate chip
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Girl Scout Cookies: Tagalongs and Samoas

Dinner (take-out) from La Tapatia in Phoenix (Oregon, not Arizona)
2 chicken street tacos with salsa

Dinner (take-out) from Harvey’s Place in Ashland
roast beef dip sandwich and fries
(Read our previous Blog Post about Harvey’s Place>
)

Sushi Lunch at Bonsai in Medford
sushi, sashimi and cut rolls

Dinner at Beasy’s on the Creek in Ashland
shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, grilled prawns (didn’t eat them, got them “to go”), bread & butter, red wine, a coke, and no dessert thank you

Hand-made Chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point

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Oregon Sky 2

 

Walking in Lithia Park on Monday Afternoon (almost alone)
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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

 

Heading South on Wednesday! Destination: Oakland and then Home!

There was rain and snow in Ashland, in the Siskiyou Pass, and even further south to the Bay Area. And more stormy weather was predicted for Thursday and through the weekend, so when the weather looked clear on Wednesday morning we headed south hoping to get through the pass without incident or chain requirements. It rained a little, it snowed a little, there was a little sleet and then it was clear and beautiful the whole way to Oakland.

We stopped for an hour at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning, California on the I-5.

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Rolling Hills Casino – Corning, California

 

Going south, we had the choice to “stay on or get off?”: stay on and keep going south on the I-5 with Los Angeles as our destination or get off and take the 505 Winters cutoff to the Bay Area with an Oakland stopover as our destination. We almost kept going, but decided to detour west, get a hotel room, have dinner and rest for the night instead.

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San Leandro Bridge and Puffy Clouds 3-14-18

We were going to stay at a hotel in Emeryville where we got off the freeway because East Bay traffic was jammed, but found a good deal on a room at the LaQuinta Inn near the Oakland Airport online and made a same-day reservation through an internet site because it was easy and we were tired. We had Dinner at the Black Bear Diner in Emeryville on Pi Day and tried to connect with a friend who was local via telephone.

On the Menu: Breakfast for dinner.
2 eggs over medium. bacon (with extra bacon), biscuits & gravy, and iced coffee
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and then a small chocolate cream pie “to go”
We enjoyed it with some “free” coffee from the lobby in our hotel room.

 

 

After we ate, we drove over to the La Quinta Inn at the Oakland Airport via surface streets to avoid the freeway traffic and soon arrived at the hotel without too much trouble.
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We checked in, went to the room, unpacked, took a nice hot shower and shaved, and then got dressed to go and meet our friend. But it was too late (almost 8:30pm) so we got undressed and ate some of our pie and quickly fell asleep.

Thursday 7am: Leftover Pie and a Continental Breakfast!

On the Menu (a nice continental breakfast at the hotel): scrambled eggs, bagel with cream cheese, cornflakes and milk, and coffee. We also took a banana, an apple, 2 blueberry muffins, and a bagel with peanut butter and jelly for the road trip home. We also enjoyed the leftover chocolate cream pie and some canned pineapple juice before breakfast.

Thursday 11am: On The Road Again!
I-5 south (via 580) Oakland to Los Angeles

The LaQuinta loyalty program offers a late check-out to guests, so we could have stayed until 1pm. Instead we enjoyed the “free” breakfast, packed our bags, and loaded the car The early storm passed and morning Bay Area traffic cleared and we left at 11am to get on the road and get clear of the weather. From Oakland we had the choice to take the faster Interstate 5 (east route) or more scenic US highway 101 (west route) south to Los Angeles and so we chose the 5 south, again because of the stormy weather on the coast.

There was a little residual rain as we left the Bay Area at Livermore, but then it was blue skies all day and the whole way to L.A. and it only took 5 & 1/2 hours with one stop for gas.

 

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Los Angeles Again 3-15-18

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Oakland Sunrise 3-15-18

Summer in Los Angeles! ‘Tis the Season for Hot Pursuits & Car Chases!

Summer in Los Angeles! ‘Tis the Season for Hot Pursuits & Car Chases!

Yesterday there were two car chases involving the Los Angeles Police Department within an hour. The first was only broadcast for a little while, but was KRAZY out of control.  He was driving like a madman and had a couple of collisions along the way, almost hitting a pedestrian or two, until the suspect lost control making a turn on a surface street and crashed head-on into a telephone pole and steel fence.

Suspect in Custody:

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Tiene un accidente!

And the second one was over before the helicopter arrived, with the suspect surrendering after running from the San Fernando Valley to Central LA.

Suspect in Custody:

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Over before it began….

Two hot pursuits on TV in a hour is a good chase day, and there were also televised pursuits on Monday night and Tuesday night too.

BIG THANKS to the news and the helicopter pilots and reporters!
BIG THANKS to the LAPD for their hard work!

NOTE: The Police have helicopters and radios in addition to guns and a gang of armed uniformed (and undercover) soldiers. Chances are good you will go to jail if you attempt to run from them. However, everyday people still take their chances and for that we thank them for the entertainment.

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com
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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! Another Benchmark!

Many thanks to our loyal readers and all the “drop-in” visitors since February 2013!

There are almost 600 Previous Blog Posts (BLOGS) archived for your enjoyment!
Use the Search Box at the top of the page or just read though (there’s an “Older Posts” link at the bottom of the page) to find fun and interesting stuff.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! More to come!

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THANK YOU!

Reflections of a roadtrip on ThrowbackThursday!

Reflections of a roadtrip on ThrowbackThursday!

SOUTHBOUND

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Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon!

Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon!

THIS BLOG IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
COMPUTER INTERNET PROBLEMS AGAIN FORCED US TO PUBLISH!
WATCH AS THIS BLOG IS CONSTRUCTED!
First Posted 4-4-2016 and Last Updated 4-13-2016

Roadtrip to Oregon!

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Spent the week in Ashland, Oregon on the ranch. Saw three plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and ate, drank, shopped and had a great time away from Los Angeles!

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The View From The Green Room On The Ranch in Ashland Oregon

And we stopped overnight in Cambria, California on the way home. Saw the Saturday sunset over the Pacific Ocean, stayed at the Bluebird Inn Motel, had dinner and drinks, spent Sunday visiting Cambria and the Pacific Ocean at Moonstone State Beach.

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Saturday Sunset Over the Pacific Ocean at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

And now we are back home in Los Angeles to tell the story!

NOTE: This Blog is actually composed of multiple Blogs and there are also other Blogs and several Periscope videos (saved on Katch) linked to this Master Blog. Please RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” to view them!

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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon Spring 2016

We traveled to Ashland, Oregon and back. We left Monday evening after dark at 9pm and drove the 5 freeway all night. It’s about 770 miles from Los Angeles to Ashland and we did it in about 9-1/2 hours.

Going over the Tejon Pass just out of Los Angeles, there was rain, sleet, snow and hail blowing sideways directly into the front of the cars climbing the grade. It wasn’t quite a “whiteout”, but it was unexpected and caused a little delay due to slowing traffic and bad conditions. Luckily, it didn’t last that long and coming down the Grapevine was a nice leisurely cruise.

We fueled up in Valencia (9:15pm) as we left Los Angeles, and stopped for gas in Santa Nella (12:15am) and Corning (3:30am), California along the 5 freeway to Ashland, Oregon.

Arriving in Ashland, Oregon (6:30am) before sunrise on Tuesday morning, we stopped for a big Breakfast at the Breadboard Restaurant (opens at 7am).

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On the Menu: Country fried steak, 2 eggs over easy (we asked for over medium), potato “homers” home fries, toast & jam, and 3 cups of coffee. Great way to start the day!

GOOD MORNING ASHLAND, OREGON!

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Entrance to Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Allen Elizabethan Outdoor Theatre on the hill behind the trees

We went over Lithia Park for a morning walk after breakfast, but it was too cold by Ashland Creek for this Southern California boy on Tuesday morning.

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Cold Tuesday Morning at Ashland Creek in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon

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“Tuesday Afternoon in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon”>
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Historic Ashland Springs Hotel on Main Street in Ashland Oregon

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Tuesday Morning – The View of the Rogue Valley From The Ranch

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Tuesday Morning

We went back to Lithia Park later in the day after it warmed up and walked the park from the playground to the picnic area (and Periscoped and saved it to Katch) and then back.

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Tuesday Afternoon in Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon

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Walk with me Lithia Park (Periscope saved on Katch) > https://ktch.tv/8ZmC

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Tuesday Afternoon – Japanese Garden in Lithia Park – Ashland Oregon

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Tuesday Afternoon – Lithia Park Lovers – Ashland Oregon

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Tuesday Evening – Dinner at the Texas Roadhouse BBQ in Medford, Oregon

Our first night in Ashland, we had the fine idea to drive up to Medford (only about 20 minutes north on the 5 freeway) to the Texas Roadhouse BBQ for a big dinner.

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On The Menu: BBQ baby back pork ribs, bone-in ribeye steak with fries, side of chili, dinner salad, bread & butter, salted shelled peanuts and a coke.

 

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Tuesday Evening Sky – Ashland, Oregon

 

Wednesday

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Wednesday Morning in Ashland Oregon

Take A Drive To Grizzly Peak! (weather permitting)
Out and Back to the National Forest on Dead Indian Memorial Road

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Mount Shasta and the Road to Grizzly Peak in Southern Oregon

Wednesday morning we set off to have an adventure in Ashland, knowing that we had a brunch meeting and a matinee performance of “Twelfth Night” later in the day.

We decided to head up towards Grizzly Peak on Dead Indian Memorial Road past the Ashland Airport and the Bella Fiore Winery (Read our Previous Blog) and drive as far as we could until we had to turn around and come back for brunch. We also hadn’t filled up the gas tank, so we had a limited range in terms of “as far out and back”.

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Dead Indian Memorial Road to Grizzly Peak in Ashland Oregon

We made it past Mile 22 and into the National Forest before we turned around! We saw and wrote our name in the snow. We saw snow covered Mount Shasta and a lot of beautiful Oregon country as we drove up and into the pine forest. We turned around when we reached our time, range and weather limit: we had to get back for brunch and we had just enough gas to get down the mountain, and we reached an elevation where the road got icy.

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JoshWillTravel the Road to Grizzly Peak in Southern Oregon

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The ride back to Ashland was equally beautiful and we stopped for photo opportunities along the way. Dead Indian Memorial Road has great views and a lot of safe turnouts to pull over, enjoy nature and take pictures. I’ve been all the way to the summit in late spring and summer and it is beautiful! There’s a hiking trail to the top and great views of Mount Shasta from the parking lot (again weather permitting).

NOTE: Dead Indian Memorial Road is not really maintained during the winter, at night or in inclement weather. And the weather can change quickly so be prepared! Watch out for snowplows, service trucks, other equipment, black ice, horses, deer, elk and snowmobiles! Travel the road to Grizzly Peak carefully!

“Grizzly Peak (elevation 5922 feet) affords an outstanding view of the Rogue Valley and the city of Ashland. This short trail to the summit passes through a mixed forest of fir and pine. The trail also offers outstanding views of the Cascades including Diamond Peak, Mt Mcloughlin, and Mt. Shasta. In early summer wildflowers put on a spectacular show along the trail. Keep an eye out for elk and deer, as well as many other animals including Golden Eagles and other birds of prey.”

Season: April 1 to November 15 – No Fees!
Trail Length: 3 miles one way
Difficulty: Moderate – Use level: Moderate to High

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE BLM Website> http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/site_info.php?siteid=346

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Wednesday Brunch at Greenleaf Restaurant on the Plaza in Ashland, Oregon

We drove back to downtown Ashland and parked at the entrance to Lithia Park just off the plaza. A quick walk down the street and we arrived at Greenleaf Restaurant and met our host for brunch. We’ve eaten here before, it’s a local favorite, they serve both breakfast and deli sandwiches all day, with a lunch menu after 11:30. There is indoor seating, seating on the patio on the pedestrian friendly lane, and “to go” counter service. They have picnic style boxes available on the menu for people wanting to take their food on an adventure.

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Brunch at Greenleaf Restaurant on the Plaza in Ashland

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Greenleaf Restaurant & Deli on the Plaza in Ashland

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Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland Oregon

On The Menu: 2 eggs over easy (asked for medium), bacon, fruit, english muffin, orange juice and iced coffee

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Brunch at Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggs Benedict at Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland (from a previous trip)

 

We filled up the gas tank at the historic 76 Station in downtown Ashland and then parked the car in a 4 hour lot.

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Fill Up at the Historic 76 Station in Downtown Ashland Oregon

We walked over to the OSF campus and the Angus Bowmer Theatre for the “Twelfth Night” Matinee at 1:30pm.

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Spring 2016 http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3c4

 

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Mini-Burros!

 

Wednesday Evening Dinner at Sesame Asian Kitchen in Ashland

Trying something new, at the recommendation of our host, located just off the plaza next to the entrance of Lithia Park and the pedestrian friendly Guanojuato Lane. It’s an Asian Fusion menu and they have indoor and outdoor seating.

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On The Menu: Ji Bao with Chicken, Orange Chicken, Asian Salad, Ginger Beef with Noodles (we it sent back) and a coke.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

It was the first time we tried Sesame Asian Kitchen and it wasn’t good. The Ji Bao with chicken was tasty but dry and could have used lettuce or some kind of vegetable to give it some moisture. The asian salad was basically cole slaw without mayonnaise. The orange chicken was okay, but could have definitely used more orange or flavor in the sauce. There’s no picture of the ginger beef and noodles because we sent it back! The beef was so completely overcooked it was like jerky…inedible. Our server had a trainee shadowing him but the service was just okay and there wasn’t really an apology for the bad beef. They get a lot of tourist business because of their location, but we probably won’t be back again.

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Rogue Valley Sunset (Wednesday Evening) – Ashland, Oregon

 

Thursday

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Good Morning Oregon!

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Thursday Morning – Ashland, Oregon

 

Thursday Morning at Noble Coffee and Walking the Railroad District

Noble Coffee on 4th Street has the best coffee in town. It’s a local favorite and far away from downtown in the Railroad District.

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Noble Coffee Shop on 4th Street in Ashland Oregon

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Noble Coffee

There are some very good restaurants, the Peerless Hotel, cool shops and galleries, a small park and the railroad tracks in the neighborhood, as well as the Grange Co-op and a lot of cool old buildings and houses.

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The Railroad District: NO TRESPASSING! – Ashland, Oregon

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The Peerless Hotel on 4th Street in Ashland Oregon

 

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Revive Antique Shop on 4th Street in Ashland Oregon

 

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PUSH An Art Gallery on 4th Street in Ashland Oregon

 

The Goodwill Store (on Tolman Creek Rd) in Ashland

We’ve been to the Goodwill Store in Medford on previous trips, so this trip we decided to check out the branch in Ashland on Tolman Creek Rd. and we weren’t disappointed. This store gets really good stuff donated from the Ashland community, a lot of whom are well-to-do retirees from other places. We made a decision before embarking on this road trip, that we weren’t going to buy a lot of things or spend a lot of money on thrift store items, so we limited our shopping to small and inexpensive gifts and souvenirs. At the Ashland Goodwill Store we found a Penguin Snowglobe with a working music box inside for $3.00 and chose three comic books (Sgt Rock Special #6, the Spawn Bible #1 and Buckaroo Banzai #1) from the large selection of packaged and in good condition comics that had been donated (there were a few hundred) at $.49 each for sentimental reasons.

 

Thursday afternoon we drove north on the 5 freeway to Medford, Eagle Point and Central Point for lunch and some food shopping.

We started with Lunch at Kaleidoscope Pizzeria in Medford

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Lunch at Kaleidoscope Pizzeria in Medford

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Kaleidoscope Pizzeria – Aloha Pizza: 1/2 Pepperoni & 1/2 Canadian Bacon

On the Menu: Caesar Salad, 3 pieces of Aloha Pizza with pepperoni and a coke
(and we took the leftover pizza “to go”)

We drove around Medford after lunch and went Food Shopping at The Butcher Shop, the Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates.

The Butcher Shop in Eagle Point is a cool specialty shop that is a far distance away but worth the drive if you like good meat and seafood. They also have fresh seasonal produce, cheeses and other food items as well. We picked up some steaks for freezing and a big piece of sushi grade Ahi Tuna for supper later.

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The Butcher Shop in Eagle Point, Oregon

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A visit to the Rogue Creamery is a regular stop when we visit Southern Oregon. It’s owned by friends and the award winning cheese is incredible! They make it all on premises by hand, with their special recipes, and age it in special caves that give it the rich flavors.

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Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon

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There’s always a nice selection to choose from, they have patio seating and make grilled cheese sandwiches on premises. There also a good selection of Rogue Ales, crackers, fresh pasta, jams and gift items available for purchase in the small shop area inside.

And then a stop next door at Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates…

We LOVE Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates in Central Point!
Read the Blog!

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Handmade Gourmet Chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, Oregon

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Right Click and “Open in New Window” to Read the Blog “Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates in Central Point, Oregon”> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3kb

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Handmade Gourmet Chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, Oregon

We sampled the cheese and chocolate while we were shopping and drove back to Ashland with an insulated grocery bag full of good stuff. The Ahi Tuna was excellent with soy and ginger for supper!

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Ahi Tuna Sashimi with soy sauce and ginger

We had a ticket to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Yeoman of the Guard” Evening Performance in the Thomas Theatre at 8pm and we were told to arrive early for the audience interaction “pre-show” at 7:30pm.

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE BLOG>
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Spring 2016 http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3c4

There was no intermission and it was a short show, so about 9:45pm we walked the plaza at night and headed upstairs to the Brickroom for a post show cocktail and some food.

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Natural Lithia Water Fountain on the Plaza at Night in Ashland Oregon

After Theatre Drink at the Brickroom: Stoli Rocks with a splash of pineapple and an order of small fries with barbecue sauce to soak it up before heading back to the ranch.

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The Brickroom in Ashland Oregon

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO READ OUR PREVIOUS BLOG
 The Brickroom in Ashland, Oregon> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1AV

We took our time driving The Ranch at night hoping to see some wildlife on the way. We’ve seen elk, deer, coyotes, jack rabbits, skunks, an owl and squirrels on the road at night, but this time nothing at all….

And we ate the leftover piece of cold Aloha pizza from lunch before going to bed.

 

Friday

Coffee at Starbuck’s at Pioneer & Main Street in downtown Ashland on Friday morning. Then we walked down to the Village Bakery and bought a chocolate covered croissant (and Periscoped it but didn’t save it). On the walk back we stopped into the new smoke shop in town, Smokin Deals Custom Glass & More and took a bunch of pictures for this Blog.

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Starbuck’s Coffee at Pioneer & Main in Downtown Ashland Oregon

A long line for Coffee at Starbuck’s in downtown Ashland on Friday morning:

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Venti Mocha Frappuchino with whipped cream

 

Village Bakery on Main St in Ashland

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Chocolate Covered Croissant from the Village Bakery in Ashland Oregon

 

Picker’s Paradise

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CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

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“Vintage Disney Storage Finds #6 – Disney Stuff! Thrift Shop Finds in Oregon”> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3bb

 

Our planned afternoon activities were cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances so instead we drove over to the OSF Box Office and switched our ticket to the Friday matinee of “Great Expectations”. We parked the car in the 4 hour lot and went to the show.

 

“Great Expectations” Friday Matinee in the Angus Bowmer Theatre

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE BLOG>
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Spring 2016 http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3c4

 

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Friday Afternoon View from The Ranch

Wonderful Friday Night Dinner at The Loft in Ashland Oregon

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On The Menu: fried calamari, mussels florentine, bacon cheeseburger & fries, duck breast with cauliflower/brussel sprouts and chocolate tart with sea salt caramel ice cream

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Friday Evening View From The Loft in Ashland Oregon (Brickroom Patio)

 

We saw three plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival while we were in town: a Wednesday matinee of “Twelfth Night” set in 1930’s Hollywood,  a country version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Yeoman of the Guard” on Thursday night and a Friday matinee of the world premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.

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RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE BLOG>
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Spring 2016 http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3c4

 

Saturday and SOUTHBOUND!
Ashland, Oregon to Cambria, California

 

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Southbound! Saturday Morning on the I-5 at Mount Shasta

We left Ashland, Oregon on our return drive on Saturday morning at about 9:30am and arrived at the beach in Cambria, California 9 hours later at 6:30pm just in time for the sunset.

NOTE: Here’s the story of how we ended up in Cambria for the sunset>

When we set out there was no predetermined destination or idea of where we might end up. At some point we would decide “enough driving” or find our journey’s end.

When we stopped at Taco Bell in Oroville for a Burrito Supreme the original choices were Reno, Yosemite and San Francisco. Both Reno and Yosemite would require a lot of extra driving and it was already late in the day to arrive in Yosemite at night without a reservation and there’s the cost of the entrance fee as well. So we set out for San Francisco and continued south on the 5 freeway.

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The Winters cutoff (Highway 505) was great and we made excellent time and then hit a lot of traffic at the Highway 80 junction. And as we approached San Francisco there was a lot of traffic going into the city, so instead we headed for San Jose and Santa Cruz.

Right Click and “Open in New Window” to Read the Blog
“Vista Point – Benecia, California”>
 http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3mK

We drove by our friends house, but no one was home, so we waved and kept going. And then again at the 680-880 junction there was a line of cars backed up a mile to go over the hill to the beach, so we vetoed going to Santa Cruz and continued south on the 101 freeway.

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We had the option to get off in Napa-Sonoma as we approached San Francisco and we could have done “wine country”, and we probably should have since we were right there, so as we approached Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles there was another chance to stop and taste the “fruit of the vine” but we weren’t sure where to go as it was after 5:30pm on Saturday evening.

So San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach would be our destination, but then we remembered it was Spring Break and we saw the sign for Highway 46 to CAMBRIA and thought “Hearst Castle” and there are a lot of fond memories of visiting as kid. We could make it to the beach by sunset, have some food and try to find a room or place to camp near the ocean. A quick turn of the steering wheel to the right and we were on our way to Cambria and Highway 1 with the thought of maybe driving to Big Sur on Sunday…

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“Sea of Clouds” – Highway 46 west near Cambria, California

Coming down the hill on Highway 46 west we saw the fog rolling in over the ocean and coast. It looked like a sea of clouds and the mountain tops were islands in the sky.

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Fog Rolling In – Highway 46 west near Cambria, California

It didn’t take long to get to downtown Cambria and we drove down Main Street and found a parking place at the beach. There’s a wooden boardwalk along the shore to protect the plants and tourists. Greenspace and protecting the environment are of major interest to the local people and the beautiful unspoiled landscape is one of the major tourism selling points.