Return to Ashland, Oregon and Oakland, California in May-June 2019

Return to Ashland, Oregon and Oakland, California
May – June 2019

Ashland visitor map 1

Ashland, Oregon Visitor’s Map

It’s been a year (and a half) since we planted my father’s body in the ground in Southern Oregon. The headstone unveiling, after a year of mourning, is a Jewish tradition, so we returned to Ashland for the dedication, to see family, and to take care of a little business.

Dad 1

Lee Weisel RIP

NOTE: We started this Blog Post in June after we got back and now it is October.
It is finally time to finish and publish it as promised. There are a lot of previous Blog Posts about Ashland, Oregon! If you are interested in more travel and tourism info, you should search for them using the SEARCH BOX or checking out The Archives.

ROAD TRIP to Ashland, Oregon!
Los Angeles, California to Ashland, Oregon via I-5 north
Thurs 10:15pm – Fri 8:25am

“I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hand’s wet on the wheel
There’s a voice in my head that drives my heel”

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We have found the drive from Los Angeles is much better at night. Interstate 5 between The Grapevine and Sacramento and Sacramento and Redding is a long flat drive through the Central Valley of California. There are a lot of “big rig” trucks and only two lanes most of the way, which makes for slow tourists trying to pass, and that creates dangerous situations when other drivers “can’t wait” and do stupid things. So, there are not a lot of tourists if you drive after 9pm, most are asleep for the night, and the truckers have restrictions on the hours they can drive, so many of them have to stop and rest. And that means less traffic, less stupid drivers, fewer cops and better road conditions if you don’t mind driving at night and the bugs on your windshield. Also, the heat and sun can be terrible during the day (even with air conditioning) so there’s that too.

Sunrise at Lake Shasta

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Sunrise at Lake Shasta, California

If the timing is right, you will get a beautiful sunrise sometime after you pass Redding! Sunrise on Mount Shasta, or coming through the Siskiyou Pass, is a fine experience. There are nice places to stop along the way if you get tired: rest stops, motels, casinos and trucker rest areas along the highway (both commercial and off-ramp/road-side turnouts). We like to drive straight through, stopping only for gas and rest breaks, if we’re doing it at night. We pack food, drink and a change of clothes. Our car is prepared for roadside emergencies, and we have the enhanced auto club coverage with 100 miles towing for our long road trips.

Breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe in Ashland, Oregon!

We arrived in Ashland early morning and decided to stop for a big breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe. We like the place but it can get very busy. Free parking next door at the M-otel. We parked, stretched, and then we got a seat at the counter without having to wait and enjoyed our food.

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The Morning Glory Cafe in Ashland

On The Menu: Belgian Bacon Waffle with walnut butter, marionberry jam and maple syrup, fresh orange juice and coffee

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After breakfast we drove to the motel and tried to get an early check-in, but no luck. So, we went thrifting/antiquing for a couple hours. We drove to Medford and back, made a few stops, and drove to The Ranch. We hung out until it was time to check-in, then drove back to the motel and moved into our room.

Family stuff all weekend and then Dad’s headstone unveiling on Sunday afternoon.
Most of the family activities were small and personal and we didn’t take pictures. We had family dinner at The Ranch on Friday, dinner at Beasy’s on The Creek in Ashland on Saturday, and a post-ceremony gathering at The Ranch after the unveiling on Sunday.

Our accommodations for the weekend:
Comfort Inn in Ashland, Oregon – 3 nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Breakfast and Free WiFi included

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Comfort Inn in Ashland, Oregon (at exit 19)

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The room was spacious, clean and equipped with a fridge and microwave. There was also a large “Jacuzzi Tub” in the room, set in a weird space adjacent. We were told it was the only room with this kind of tub. There was also a skylight in the weird space, and there was no way to cover it or block the light from the rest of the room, which was a problem because we like it dark. We got some black trash bags and tape from the front desk and tried to jury rig a “blackout” shade, but it was not very successful.

We could have moved to another room, but it was also graduation weekend for the local high schools and Southern Oregon University in Ashland, so everything was booked solid on Friday night everywhere in Jackson county, so we just decided to go with it and enjoy the tub.

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Bubble Bath in the “Jacuzzi Tub” at the Comfort Inn

We stayed here last year for the funeral weekend and it was a pretty good “no frills” option, convenient to roads that lead to The Ranch. And yes we were invited to stay at the house, but we would be surrounded by family, and without private space, so we spent the additional money for the motel room and “peace of mind”.

The Comfort Inn has a nice daily Breakfast Buffet served in a large dining room next to the lobby. The start serving the hot breakfast early and it’s a pretty nice spread with good options. And they also have FREE coffee all day and night.

On The Menu: scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage, Mexican egg scramble, waffles (make them yourself), fresh fruit, cereals, milk, juices, coffee, tea, bagels, bread for toasting, mini-croissants, donuts, muffins, yogurt and more.

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View of the Rogue Valley from The Ranch

Family Dinner at The Ranch on Friday night

After checking in, cleaning up, and taking a short nap at the motel, we drove back to The Ranch and had a nice dinner with the immediate family. After dinner we stopped at the market, bought provisions for the weekend and a bottle of Mister Bubble, and then returned to the motel and took a long hot bubble bath in the in-room “Jacuzzi Tub”.

We slept and woke up early on Saturday. After enjoying the breakfast buffet at the motel, we went back to bed. We woke up, got ready and went up to The Ranch to be social, and then went into Ashland, and then up to Medford, before returning to the motel to clean up and get ready for dinner.

Dinner at Beasy’s on the Creek on Saturday night

The family went out to dinner at Beasy’s on The Creek in downtown Ashland. It was Dad’s favorite restaurant for entertaining, the Chef/Owner is a good friend, and we had his “Bilbo Baggin’s” Farewell Party for all his friends there. It was a great meal but there was a lot of emotional stuff happening at the table during dinner.

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Chef Rob in the Kitchen at Beasy’s on The Creek in Ashland, Oregon

On The Menu:
6oz filet with 2 prawns, broccoli, potatoes au gratin, clam chowder, bread and butter, wine, a coke, and pot du chocolate for dessert.
Pressed pinot noir red wine with dinner.

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“Surf & Turf” Dinner at Beazy’s on the Creek in Ashland, Oregon

After dinner we went back to the motel and tried to sleep, but we couldn’t. Too much stuff going on in our head and not tired/insomnia. It was a long night at the motel. We finally fell asleep for a little while and then hit the Sunday breakfast buffet. We hung out until it was time to caravan over to the cemetery for Dad’s headstone unveiling.

It was a truly beautiful day and the weather was absolutely perfect. There was a gathering of family and close friends at the gravesite, and the Rabbi performed a brief service to dedicate the headstone. It is a Jewish tradition to wait a year (and mourn the dead) before placing the headstone at the grave. And so, we gathered and the headstone was unveiled, and it was a very emotional afternoon. Then after the service we went back to The Ranch for a reception and celebration of his life with more food and drink.

After the reception we went back to the motel and took a nap, and when we woke up we hung out until we got hungry. We drove up to Medford to the In-n-Out Burger (the first one in the state) and got some late-night food.

Dinner at In-n-Out Burger in Medford, Oregon on Sunday night

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In-N-Out Burger in Medford, Oregon

Got that In-n-Out Urge! Also, there aren’t a lot of late night options on Sunday in Ashland, so two Double-Double cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake was a terrific choice for familiar and inexpensive comfort food after a long and emotional day.

 

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In-n-Out Double-Double Cheeseburger

We returned to the motel, took another hot bath in the “Jacuzzi Tub”, took a hot shower, and tried to sleep. When the morning came around we woke up and enjoyed the breakfast buffet again. We packed up our stuff and loaded the car and checked out of the Comfort Inn at noon on Monday.

Family stuff is just exhausting! Our brother flew in Saturday morning and left on Sunday afternoon. Our east coast aunt left on the early morning flight to New York from Medford with a layover in Denver. Our sister left on a later flight Monday for Los Angeles with a layover in San Francisco. And our other aunt and uncle (and their caregiver) left Tuesday around noon on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona.

We moved to The Ranch for the next two nights (Monday and Tuesday) after my brother, sister and east coast aunt had left town. We checked out of the motel and moved into our east coast aunt’s guest room, which used to be my father’s office. It was weird being in the space and sleeping in a bed located where his desk once was, and there were still remnants of his office stuff and the same pictures on the wall to add to the weirdness….

We stayed around the house and there was an afternoon nap, before we went out to dinner in downtown Ashland.

Dinner at Lark’s Kitchen at the Historic Ashland Springs Hotel on Monday evening

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The Historic Ashland Springs Hotel (from an earlier visit)

We went out to eat again with our aunt and uncle (and their caregiver) and stepmother at Lark’s Country Kitchen in the Historic Ashland Springs Hotel. Our aunt and uncle wanted a good burger. and they have a good burger on the lunch menu, also available “off the menu” at dinner on request. We called and confirmed this and made an early reservation. There is no theatre in Ashland on Mondays, the stages are dark, and the OSF has the day off, so there was no pre-theatre dinner rush to worry about. We enjoyed a wonderful relaxed dinner in the dining room with a nice view of Ashland’s main drag, also less crowded on Monday, but alway good for people watching.

On The Menu:
Fried chicken breast with bacon gravy, mashed red potatoes, and sub asparagus for collared greens. Sea Smoke Southing pinot noir red wine and a coke to drink.

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The fried chicken breast was excellent! And everyone enjoyed the burgers too. After dinner, we returned to The Ranch and tried to sleep. It was another long night.

Tuesday was a “take care of business” day. We had a mission to document the details of the Music Master Tape Library and go through a few boxes of Dad’s family photographs. It took all day to complete the tasks, and we had leftovers from the weekend for dinner, packed most of our stuff, and went to bed early.

Ashland, Oregon to Oakland, California on Wednesday morning 8am – 1:30pm

We woke up very early, loaded the car, had a quick breakfast sandwich, and hit the road headed south on Wednesday morning with our friend’s house in Oakland, California as our afternoon destination. It was another beautiful day and the drive was pretty easy. We stopped for gas in Santa Nella and missed the I-505 intersection at Winters. So we had to go further south (80 to 680 to Walnut Creek) to go east into the Bay Area. The “detour” added a little extra time, but it was another beautiful day, so we didn’t mind too much. There was a little traffic coming into Oakland, but it was a really nice drive.

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Mount Shasta, California (from the I-5 freeway)

NOTE: WATCH OUT FOR THE CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL!
There were a lot of cops on the road during the daytime. They drive marked cruisers, Ford Mustangs and SUVs, as well as unmarked cars (white and blue spotted this trip). Watch your speed, watch your mirrors, and watch out for hidden speed traps!

Wednesday Afternoon in Oakland, California (well, actually in Piedmont)

We arrived at our friend’s house and parked around 1:30pm in the afternoon. And after a quick stop there to refresh and relax, we decided to go afternoon day drinking at a local bar within walking distance and then have something to eat TBD nearby in the neighborhood.

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Kerry House in Oakland, California

First stop was Kerry House, a divey neighborhood bar with cheap drinks, on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.  Asked if they had “fresh cream” and ordered a White Russian (aka “a caucasian” made with vodka, coffee liqueur and fresh half&half) when the bartender said yes. Then we waited while the doorman went to the corner store and bought small cartons of milk and half&half, so yes it was fresh! We also had some chips and our friend had a couple of Cosmopolitans (vodka and cranberry juice).

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We offered to take our friend out to lunch or dinner, whatever they wanted. The sushi restaurant didn’t open until 5pm, and with our day drinking and another stop at the nearby coffee house for an Italian espresso with whipped cream, we could have gone there. Instead it was decided that we would cook dinner for our friend, so we went to the local market and bought some good food to prepare and consume at her house.

On The Menu: Chef JoshWillTravel did a great job!
Big Thunder Ranch BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs and steamed broccoli for dinner
with pita chips and hummus appetizer to start

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Big Thunder Ranch BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Steamed Broccoli

We prepped the food and put the ribs in the oven to cook for an hour and a half.
Then we had a little nap during the Basketball Game which was being played in Oakland.

Final Score: Toronto Raptors 123 – Golden State Warriors 109 (series tied 1-1)

After the game was over, we enjoyed a very nice dinner and hung out until 11pm.
Then we hit the road again for another long night drive to Los Angeles. Because of traffic (caused by the game and construction) we had to go north to go east to go south and we added some extra miles, but probably saved some time by following Google Map back to I-5 south.

“No more speed, I’m almost there
Gotta keep cool now, gotta take care”

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TunnelVision!

Oakland to Los Angeles, California
Wednesday night 11pm – Thursday morning 5:30am
Antioch Bridge $6.00 Toll Fee (crossed it around midnight leaving the Bay Area)

Antioch

Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Photo of the Antioch Bridge

The least-traveled and probably least known of the region’s toll bridges, the Antioch Bridge, is a steel plate-girder automobile/bicycle/pedestrian bridge that crosses the San Joaquin River. The Antioch Bridge links Antioch with Sherman Island in southern Sacramento County, near the city of Rio Vista.

Once we reached the I-5 south it was an uneventful drive, with a stop to fill the gas tank and empty the bladder and a rest stop to stretch and use the restroom. There was a lot of construction work and one bad traffic accident ( a car went off the highway and into a deep ditch off the elevated road) and we were pretty sure there were fatalities as we passed. Another obvious reason to ALWAYS DRIVE SAFE and PAY ATTENTION!

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Incident on the I-5 Freeway South on Thursday Morning

We arrived in the San Fernando Valley just before 5:30am and as we reached the 405 freeway north, there was already “stop and go” traffic at the 101 intersection, so we exited and took surface streets home, with a quick stop at our PO Box to pick up the mail.

Comfort Inn – Ashland, Oregon

Morning Glory Cafe – Ashland, Oregon

Beazy’s On The Creek – Ashland, Oregon

In-n-Out Burger – Medford, Oregon

Lark’s Country Kitchen (at the Ashland Springs Hotel) – Ashland, Oregon

Kerry House – Piedmont Av, Oakland, California

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Dixie Hollywood Hotel, Susan Feniger’s Mud Hen Tavern and The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl

SLUGFEST IN HOLLYWOOD!

The Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Susan Feniger’s Mud Hen Tavern on Highland Avenue in Hollywood and The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl are the subjects of this Blog.

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HOLLYWOOD! (not my pic)

Fun Dinner! Met up with some OLD College Friends from UC Santa Cruz at the Dixie Hollywood Hotel and drove over for dinner at Susan Feniger’s Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood before The Cure concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

The Cure Crew

Ann, Diane, Ber, yours truly and Tracy in Hollywood (the valet took this one)

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And THIS GUY!

First, a little History and Backstory:

Our very good friend Ann loves The Cure. She has for as long as we’ve known her… and that’s over 30 years. We met at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the mid-80s.

We became friends, shared many experiences together with a larger group of friends at Kresge College and UCSC, graduated together in 1987 and threw a legendary blowout party at “The Big Yellow House” on High Street to celebrate. To celebrate her wedding to Stevo, we returned to Santa Cruz with our fiancé, along with the rest of the “K-Town Crew” and later she and Stephen were guests at my wedding in Los Angeles.

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The “K-Town Crew” at Ann & Stephen’s Wedding in Santa Cruz (not my pic)

We had a “K-Town Crew” Reunion in San Jose in 2014 at Ber’s house (see the Previous Blog) and they had a gathering last year in Santa Cruz that we did not attend. We often visit Ann in San Jose when we road trip to Oregon and we were present last year when her daughter graduated from high school (see the Previous Blog).

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UC Santa Cruz “K-Town Crew” Reunion 2013 at Ber’s in San Jose (not my pic)

Now among that larger group of friends were Diane, Ber (short for Kimberly), Tracy and Jason. They too are all big fans of The Cure. Jason lives in Los Angeles, Tracy in Rancho San Mirage, Ber and Ann live in San Jose and Diane lives near Sacramento. And so, they all planned a trip to see The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl. Ann arrived on Monday in the afternoon. Jason picked her up at the airport and they went to the concert on Monday night. Then they went out drinking and Ann was hungover on Tuesday afternoon when we called her at the hotel. Also, Ann dropped her phone and broke the screen, so we were lucky she was able to answer her phone at all when we called sometime after 1pm!

Diane flew in early too and she and Tracy partied down in Laguna Beach the day and night before. So, Tracy and Diane were picking Ber up at Burbank airport and they were going to come to the hotel. And so it was decided that we would drive to Hollywood and meet them all and then go to dinner and drinks before the concert.

And so, we ventured out onto the 101 freeway to east Hollywood, and with only a little afternoon traffic, arrived at our destination on Hollywood Boulevard.

The Dixie Hollywood Hotel

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NOW: The Dixie Hollywood Hotel – Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Located on Hollywood Boulevard just east of Western Avenue, the Dixie Hollywood Hotel is the perfect example of the gentrification of Hollywood. Previously it was a Days Inn and the neighborhood around Hollywood and Western was run down and dangerous.

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THEN: Days Inn in Hollywood (not my pic)

Now, the old motel has been cleaned up, painted, some upgrades to the rooms have been added and the neighborhood has undergone significant changes in the past five years. There is and has been major development all along the Metro line, and Hollywood has seen  tremendous growth and new construction. Across the street is a new residential over retail building that used to a “crackhead motel” and there’s another large residential over retail building under construction just next door.

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

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

There’s a restaurant on Hollywood Blvd that is part of the hotel, but it wasn’t open, so we just took a picture of the “A” rating and the chef mannequin in the window. Then we found Ann’s room and knocked on the door. It’s wonderful to see a very good friend you haven’t seen in a long time. We caught up while we waited for the girls to arrive from picking Ber up at Burbank airport.

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Tracy, Ber and Diane Arrive! Let the Party Begin!

It wasn’t very long before the girls joined the party! They unloaded the car and brought their luggage and stuff upstairs to the room. Diane was hung over too, Ber was sober and she and Tracy were ready to go. It was decided that we would hang out for a little bit and then drive over to the restaurant on Highland.

Susan Fenigar’s Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood, California

There’s Valet Parking in the Rear! Very important to know, because there’s not a lot of parking during peak traffic hours or anywhere in the neighborhood after 6pm. We arrived early enough on a Tuesday evening and self parked in the valet lot and kept the keys. There’s an entrance in the rear lot that leads onto the restaurant’s patio and into the main dining room/bar.

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Susan Feniger is a James Beard Award winning American chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and radio and TV personality from Toledo, Ohio. She has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Restaurant Association. She is also known for the cooking show “Too Hot Tamales” on the Food Network and opening several influential restaurants including City Cafe/Restaurant and The Border Grill in Los Angeles. Feniger has published five cookbooks: City Cuisine (1989), Mesa Mexicana (1994), Cantina: The Best of Casual Mexican Cooking (Casual Cuisines of the World) (1996), Cooking with Too Hot Tamales (1997) and Mexican Cooking for Dummies (1999/2002).

In April 2009, Feniger opened her first solo project: Street, a multi-ethnic eatery of street food in Hollywood. In December 2013, Street was replaced in the redesigned space by the Mud Hen Tavern and with Executive Chef and Partner Kajsa Alger and mixology consultant Tricia Carr.

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It’s a very nice space. The Dining Room/Bar is open and airy, so even when it’s crowded and there are a lot of people it’s doesn’t feel cramped and it isn’t as noisy as some places. There’s a long bar and bar seating as well as table seating inside and on the outdoor patio.

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The Bar at the Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood, California

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Party on the Patio at The Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood (our waiter took this one)

We chose a big table on the empty patio because it was a beautiful evening and so we could be loud and festive without disturbing everyone inside. Our friend Jason arrived and joined us at the table and then we ordered drinks and a lot of food to share.

The Food and Drink:

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

On The Menu: deviled eggs, hangover toast, Berliner pizza, tuna crudo, chicken & waffle croquettes, crispy brussel sprouts, special Burger with bacon & garlic fries, and shrimp and grits. And there were some cocktails (a couple of Cosmopolitans, Long Island ice tea, Ketel One Seabreeze, a double Absolut Bloody Mary, a beer and some wine) too.

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Double Absolut Bloody Mary at the Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood, California

NOTE: We were our friend’s “designated driver” and so we did not drink alcohol. We drove a car of happy drunk women through gridlocked Hollywood traffic and dropped them off at the Hollywood Bowl. We did not attend the concert but we watched parts live on Periscope.

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Selfie Time! Tracy, Ber and Diane at the Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood

After dinner and drinks, Jason was going home and the girls were going to Uber to the Hollywood Bowl, but instead we offered to drive them and drop them off. So we got in the car and off we went into Hollywood!

Traffic was beyond UNBELIEVABLE! The gentrification of Hollywood has added thousands of residents to the immediate neighborhood without any traffic improvements. The Metro (Los Angeles’ subway and bus system) brings hundreds more to the neighborhood creating pedestrian traffic that gridlocks the street intersections. Add an event, concert or premiere at the Hollywood Bowl, Kodak Theatre, El Capitan Theatre, Arclight Cinerama Dome, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Chinese Theatre or any of the studios or nightclubs and it creates a daily traffic nightmare!

So, at 7pm to get from Highland and Melrose to the Hollywood Bowl we had to get creative! Highland was a parking lot, so we cut over and took Las Palmas to Fountain, cut over and turned right on Sunset, and made a left onto Cahuenga which was a total parking lot (we saw later on that there was a major accident at the intersection of Cahuenga and Franklin). We cut through the Jack-in-the-Box parking lot and turned left onto Ivar and crossed Hollywood Blvd, turning left again at Yucca, then right at Cherokee and left at Franklin and back to Highland. A right on Highland and little more traffic we dropped the girls at 7:40pm across the street from the Hollywood Bowl and then got on the 101 freeway back to the San Fernando Valley.

The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl

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From Wikipedia:

The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member. The Cure first began releasing music in the late 1970s with their debut album Three Imaginary Boys; this, along with several early singles, placed the band as part of the post-punk and new wave movements that had sprung up in the wake of the punk rock revolution in the United Kingdom. During the early 1980s, the band’s increasingly dark and tormented music was a staple of the emerging gothic rock genre.

After the release of 1982’s Pornography, the band’s future was uncertain and Smith was keen to move past the gloomy reputation his band had acquired. With the single “Let’s Go to Bed” released the same year, Smith began to place a pop sensibility into the band’s music and their popularity increased as the decade wore on, with songs like “Just Like Heaven”, “Lovecats” and “Friday I’m in Love”. The band is estimated to have sold 27 million albums as of 2004 and have released thirteen studio albums, ten EPs and over thirty singles during their career.

The Cure LIVE on Periscope (Screenshots):

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

And a very good time was had by everyone we’re told. They all enjoyed the concert and made it back to the hotel and then home again on Wednesday morning. It was great to see our old friends and spend some time reconnecting. We made good time going back to the San Fernando Valley and caught the sunset on our way. It was a fun time.

Dixie Hollywood Hotel5410 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027
323-463-7171 http://www.dixiehollywoodhotel.com

Mud Hen Tavern742 Highland Ave., Hollywood, CA
323-203-0500 http://www.mudhentavern.com

Hollywood Bowl2301 Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA
323-850-2000 http://www.hollywoodbowl.com

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel unless otherwise noted

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Going Home on the 101 Freeway North to the San Fernando Valley

The Cure “The Love Cats” Live in Japan 1984:

Moonstone Beach – Cambria, California

Moonstone Beach – Cambria, California

Saturday Evening and Sunday Afternoon at the Pacific Ocean in Cambria.

THIS BLOG IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

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Pacific Ocean View, Big Sur, California (not my pic)

We have combined the pics from previous blogs and added new pics into this one.
This Blog was just UPDATED April 9, 2017.

Hearst San Simeon California State Park owns and controls most of the waterfront property along the 20-mile segment of Highway 1 north of Cambria on the Central Coast as well as Hearst Castle and the surrounding land. There are thirteen different beautiful, uncrowded and remote “hidden gem” beaches in northern San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County between Cambria and Big Sur.

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

Moonstone Beach is a California State Park and part of Hearst San Simeon State Park. It runs along Moonstone Beach Drive and parallels Highway 1 in Cambria. The shoreline is made up of brown sandy beaches and coves separated by rocky headlands. On the beach, there are a number of natural ocean tide pools filled with marine life, and in the park there are easy hiking trails and an abundance of natural flora and fauna.

NOTE: Dogs are allowed on-leash on the trails and the boardwalk, but not on the beach!

SATURDAY EVENING

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Marine Layer Rolling In Over Cambria and the Pacific Ocean on Saturday Evening

Moonstone Beach was the end of a long road trip from Ashland, Oregon. We left in the morning without a destination and arrived in Cambria at sunset. The marine layer and heavy fog had rolled in as we were coming down Highway 46 from the mountains, so there were gray skies and it was chilly outside the car when we reached the ocean.

NOTE: Read the previous Blogs about our Spring 2016 Oregon Roadtrip, Historic Cambria, the Vault Gallery and the Bluebird Inn in Cambria (see the links below)

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Sunset at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

We parked the car at the Beach next to the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. The marine layer was over the ocean and there was only a thin line of orange on the horizon as the sun went down over the ocean, but it was really beautiful as we watched the sunset.

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Sunset at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

The one and a half mile long boardwalk runs the length of Moonstone Beach along the bluff top and walking it is a great way to experience the beauty of the Pacific Coastline.

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The Boardwalk at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

There is easy access to the sandy beach via stairs down from the bluffs and there are many wooden benches along the Boardwalk to just sit and enjoy the view.

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

As the sun set, we called and found a room was available at the Bluebird Inn. We had a very nice dinner at Robin’s restaurant and went for drinks afterwards at the Cambria Pub and Mozzi’s Saloon and then stayed the night at the motel.

Read the Previous Blog! (RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”)
Saturday Night at The Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria 
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3gi

NOTE: There is not much to do after 9pm in Cambria. There is no real nightlife, except for a few bars and restaurants that stay open late.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

After a good night’s rest and the morning breakfast buffet at the Bluebird Inn, we spent the early part of the day walking around downtown Cambria exploring historical sites and visiting shops and galleries (Read our previous Blogs).

Read the Previous Blogs! (RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”)
Sweet Offerings Confectionary in Cambria, California! http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3ik

It was still overcast, so we decided not to drive north to Big Sur. Instead, some time after noon, we walked back to the car at the motel and then drove down to Moonstone Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Moonstone State Beach in Cambria, California

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

SEAGULLS!

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

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

 

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

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Moonstone Beach – Parking Lot and Picnic Area

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SQUIRREL! “Hey, nice marmot!”
They Have No Fear! Please DO NOT feed the wildlife!

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SQUIRREL! No Fear! Please DO NOT feed the wildlife!

This little squirrel tried to “panhandle” us in the parking lot!
It came right up (not even 3 feet away) and posed for these pictures exhibiting little fear of people and obviously looking for some food from the tourists…
PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!

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

Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, consisting of small or medium-size rodents. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs.

That word “squirrel” first specified in 1327, comes from the Anglo-Norman esquirel which is from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word sciurus. This Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek word σκίουρος, skiouros, which means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members.

The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi), is a common and easily observed ground squirrel of the western United States and the Baja California Peninsula. “Beechey’s Marmot” (named after Frederick William Beechey, an early 19th-century British explorer and naval officer) is common in Oregon and California and its range has relatively recently extended into Washington and northwestern Nevada.

California ground squirrels live in burrows which they excavate themselves. Some burrows are occupied communally but each individual squirrel has its own entrance. They readily become tame in areas used by humans and quickly learn to take food left or offered by people. They spend most of their time within 82 feet of their burrow and rarely go further than 160 feet from it. The squirrel’s fur contains a mixture of gray, light brown and dusky hairs; the underside is lighter, buff or grayish yellow. The fur around the eyes is whitish and around the ears is black. Head and body are about 12 inches long and the bushy tail an additional 6 inches.

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Squirrel! No Fear! Please don’t feed the wildlife!

 

TRAVEL ALERT!
Highway 1 IS CLOSED! Pacific Coast Highway from Cambria to Big Sur!

 

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HIGHWAY 1 NEAR BIG SUR IS CLOSED DUE TO STORM DAMAGE!

There are currently temporary closures on Highway 1 after winter storms damaged the coastal road again. The highway north of Big Sur has reopened but a full closure due to landslides (Paul’s Slide) near the town of Lucia will continue for at least four to six more weeks. The highway continues to deteriorate at Mud Creek near the town of Gorda as slide activity continues. It is currently closed there and it is also closed at Ragged Point, 24 miles north of Cambria. They remain closed to travelers according to Caltrans as of April 4, 2017. Caltrans completed demolition on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge just south of Big Sur Station on March 20 after the bridge failed in mid-February and is planning to build a replacement bridge. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, the only road that cuts through the Santa Lucia Mountains from Highway 101 and allows access to Big Sur, reopened in late March.

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Big Creek Bridge and Cove – Big Sur, California (not my pic)

Moonstone Beach at Hearst San Simeon State Park
6216 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, CA
Free parking along Moonstone Beach Drive and in the park parking lot.
NOTE: Bring a sweater or jacket! It can get cold, even in Summer.

Read the Previous Blogs!
(RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”)
Master Blog! Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon! http://wp.me/p3dhVM-35M
Seagulls! Moonstone Beach in Cambria http://wp.me/s3dhVM-seagulls
The Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria 
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3gi
Historic Downtown Cambria, California http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3yI
The Vault Gallery in Cambria, California http://wp.me/p3dhVM-4lQ
Sweet Offerings Confectionary in Cambria, California! http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3ik

Hearst Castle website: http://www.hearstcastle.org

All Photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

Our Periscope videos from Katch are now on YouTube:
RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE PAGE!>
The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

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RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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Pacific Ocean at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

 

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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California


25000 Hits! Thank you from JoshWillTravel!

25000 Hits!!!!!

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25000 HITS!!!!!

THANK YOU TO ALL MY LOYAL FOLLOWERS AND READERS!!!!!

It’s a MILESTONE! When we started this Blog in February 2013 we wondered how long it would take to reach the milestone numbers. We have finally reached 25000, without any paid promotion or heavy marketing. In fact, beyond our facebook and Twitter posts, we have let our Blog grow organically without hype and have attracted loyal readers from around the world!

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25000 HITS!!!!!

Sunday 24 April 2016 is the day we hit 25000 Hits on our Blog!!!!!

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25000 HITS!!!!! A Champagne Toast!!!!!

We will continue to post about things we find interesting, important and fun!
Thank you again for your time and attention! We look forward to the next milestone!

Please FOLLOW and READ this Blog! – Check out our Past Blogs!
FOLLOW us on Twitter and Periscope! – We are LIVE! Stay up to date up!
LIKE our facebook pages! – JoshWillTravel & Experience Ashland Oregon!
WATCH our videos on YouTube! – NEW! Our broadcasts are now posted!

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel 
http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel
http://www.periscope.tv/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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25000 HITS!!!!!

 

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on YouTube!

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on YouTube!

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Our saved Videos are still available! We are currently migrating our Periscope videos from Katch to YouTube and will be loading more videos & scopes in the coming days and weeks!

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE PAGE!

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

All photos & videos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel | http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel
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RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

As of today, April 23, 2016 there is no more #Katch and the Katch.me website will be shutting down as of May 4th. All saved videos will be deleted…

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Screenshot from Katch.me/joshwilltravel

Road Trip! Ashland Oregon! Cambria California!

Road Trip to Oregon!

Ashland Oregon! The Oregon Shakespeare Festival!
With A Side Trip To Cambria California!

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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon

It’s TravelTuesday Again!
RECAP: Our recent BLOGS with lots of new pics from our Spring 2016 Road Trip to Ashland, Oregon and Cambria, California.

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW A BLOG

MASTER BLOG> Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon!
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-35M (READ THIS FIRST!)

Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates in Central Point
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3kb

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Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates

Tuesday Afternoon in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon!
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3mi

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Tuesday Afternoon in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon

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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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Spring 2016

Vintage Disney Storage Finds #6 Disney Stuff! Thrift Store Finds in Oregon! http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3bb

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Disney Stuff!

Vista Point – Benecia, California (exit Lake Herman Rd on the 680 freeway)
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3mK

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Vista Point at Benecia, California

Saturday Night at The Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3gi

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Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria, California

Want Some Candy? Visit Sweet Offerings Confectionary in Cambria, California!
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3ik

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Sweet Offerings Candy & Fudge

SQUIRREL! No Fear! Please don’t feed the wildlife!
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3fu

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Squirrel!

Seagulls! Moonstone Beach State Park – Cambria
http://wp.me/s3dhVM-seagulls

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Seagulls! Moonstone State Beach in Cambria California

Smokin Deals Custom Glass & More (Smoke Shop) in Ashland, Oregon http://wp.me/p3dhVM-3o8

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Smokin Deals Custom Glass & More (Smoke Shop) in Ashland

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW A BLOG

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

Here are the recent Periscope Videos (saved on YouTube) from the Oregon Roadtrip:

Right Click and “Open in New Window” to Watch the Video
Walk with me Lithia Park (Periscope saved on YouTube) >

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Right Click and “Open in New Window” to Watch the Video “At the Pacific Ocean in Cambria, CA” (Periscope saved on YouTube) > 

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Right Click and “Open in New Window” to Watch the Video
Drive Home Agoura to Encino (Periscope saved on YouTube) > 

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE BLOGS>

START WITH THE MASTER BLOG! Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon!
http://wp.me/p3dhVM-35M

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

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel | http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel
http://www.periscope.tv/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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The Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria, California

Saturday Night at The Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria

Set in a creekside garden, this 2-story hotel is just off Cambria’s Main Street, adjacent to Highway 1 and 9 miles from Hearst Castle. 
The homey rooms have country-style decor and views of the gardens or surrounding pines. Upgraded rooms have fireplaces, balconies and patios. Kids 15 and under stay for free.

Public areas include a cozy lobby with a fireplace and flower gardens along the Santa Rosa Creek that feature loveseats, bridges, a patio and lighted stone paths. 

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NO VACANCY! Saturday evening in Cambria, as we drove down to the ocean to watch the sunset, we were greeted by “No Vacancy” signs at every motel along Main Street…

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NO VACANCY at the Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria, California

We got lucky and with one phone call got a nice motel room at the Bluebird Inn on Saturday night in a town with “No Vacancy”, then had a nice dinner at Robin’s restaurant and cocktails at the Cambria Pub & Steakhouse (open until midnight) and Mozzi’s Bar (open until about 2am).

A good friend’s parents were the long time owners of the Bluebird Inn Motel and our friend worked there before moving south and getting married (They sold the business to new owners not too long ago). There was an open invitation to come visit but we never made it back to Cambria (another reason for the side trip). After the sun set we tried to call our friend to ask him where to eat in town, but dialed his old work number at the Bluebird. We were surprised when he answered “Bluebird Inn”, but then asked “I know you are full, but do you know anyone with  a room?” He said, “We just had a cancellation, so I have a king bed, non smoking available.”

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NO VACANCY at the Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria, California

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

Ten minutes later, we were at the Bluebird Inn.

The Lobby and Office is very nice, warm and inviting. There was a fire in the fireplace, 3 nice sitting areas, 3 tables with chairs and hot coffee and water is available all day. The office and lobby is only open until 10pm.

We checked in and checked out the room. Room 8, upstairs on the end, next to Main Street, king bed, non-smoking $149+tax, etc.

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The room was also large, super clean and comfortable, with a real King Bed and a vanity area with a large size mini-refrigerator and small microwave. The new owners “refreshed” the bathroom and walk-in shower and there was plenty of ultra-hot water even though the motel was full.

The room was on the end with windows facing Main Street. However, there was no traffic at night and it was pretty quiet. The windows on the second floor are almost at street level, so people walking past can see into the room if the shades aren’t closed.

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

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The room is non-smoking, but there’s a nice area just outside on the covered balcony with an ashtray if you need to smoke.

The Bluebird is very close to everything in downtown Cambria, just one block from the center of the tourist district. There are a lot of restaurants to choose from when hungry and some will even deliver to the motel. They roll up the sidewalks in Cambria about 9pm in the evening, so there isn’t much nightlife. There are only a couple restaurants that have bars that stay open late (until midnight) and there’s one local bar in town (Mozzi’s) that stays open until about 2am.

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Downtown Cambria At Night – 11:05pm Saturday

Continental Breakfast Included (served 7:30am-11am) on Sunday morning

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Continental Breakfast at the Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria

On the Menu: Continental Breakfast included coffee, orange juice, mini-croissants, pound cake, fruit (bananas & tangerines) and strawberry yogurt.

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The Bluebird Inn Motel and Main Street on Sunday Morning in Cambria

The bed was comfortable and we slept well. Checkout time is usually 11am, but we asked for a late checkout and they let us stay until noon. We enjoyed the continental breakfast  and several cups of coffee, packed up and checked out. We left the car parked at the motel while we walked around Cambria Sunday afternoon after asking if it was okay.

The Bluebird Inn Motel gets a big thumbs up! Big thanks to Ben from Atascadero and Holly from Cayugas for their advice on where to eat and what to do and for being super-friendly and helpful while doing their jobs at the front desk.

Bluebird Inn Motel1880 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428 805-927-4634

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

New Blog! Spring Roadtrip 2016 to Ashland Oregon> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-35M

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RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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“Do Not Disturb” at Bluebird Inn Motel in Cambria, California

 

See Southern Oregon! (btw Sacramento CA & Bend OR)

Travel Answers about Southern Oregon!

Visit our Ashland, Oregon facebook page: www.facebook.com/theatreinashland

Q: What is a must see between Sacramento, CA and Bend, OR?

My husband and I will be driving from Sacramento, CA, to Bend, OR, in early August, what are some must sees along the way?  I just discovered the Mt Shasta Lavender Farm will be closed for the season August 4 the day we will be doing our drive north.

A: Must see between Sacramento, CA and Bend, OR?

Food, Wine & Theatre in Ashland Oregon with JoshWillTravel

Food, Wine & Theatre in Ashland Oregon with JoshWillTravel

Ashland in Southern Oregon is just across the California border on the 5 freeway.

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon University, the city is a great place to stop and stay overnight or for a few days.

The OSF theatre season runs February to November, and there are free Green Shows during the summer. There are several other theaters in town and nearby, and the university has a full schedule of music, dance and drama programs as well. The Britt Festival Pavilion hosts great concerts and the Oang Medford Armory always has events scheduled.

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon

Lithia Park was just voted one of the best parks in the United States, and is right off downtown. There’s hiking, biking, sports, a playground, a lake for swimming, ice skating in winter and bandshell concerts in summer.

There are lots of really great restaurants in Ashland! Beasy’s On The Creek, Peerless Hotel & Restaurant, and Amuse to name just three of the best. Other food places of note are Callahan’s Lodge and Restaurant, New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro outside Ashland, Puck’s Doughnuts and Noble Coffee in town.

The historic Ashland Springs Hotel with Lark’s Restaurant is located on Main Street and the Lithia Springs Resort is just north of town. Both are good choices if you’re staying overnight, and there are many other hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other accommodations available in Ashland or any of the neighboring towns.

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are great wineries that offer tastings throughout the Rogue, Applegate, Umpqua and Willamette Valleys like Weisinger’s Winery, RoxyAnn Winery and Grizzly Peak Winery, named for the mountain and there’s great hiking at Grizzly Peak Trail and Mt. Ashland Ski Resort.

Visit historic Jacksonville (Oregon) and drive by Medford, but be sure stop in Central Point at Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolatesand the Rogue Creamery cheese shop before continuing north.

Visit our facebook page “Food, Wine and Theatre in Ashland, Oregon with JoshWillTravel” for more info: www.facebook.com/theatreinashland


Q: “Can’t miss” in Oregon Wine Country? Where’s best base? Best time to go?

We’re planning a trip to explore the best of Oregon’s wine country and would appreciate any insider suggestions as to when is the least expensive and least crowded time to go, where to stay to maximize the experience and what we should be sure to do!

It will be my boyfriend and I, less expensive is ideal, I prefer white wines but know this is red wine country!  Want to do as little driving as possible but understand that wineries are spread out….

Are there any festivals or events we should check out?

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A: Oregon Wine Country!

Visit the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon.Stay in Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Visit historic Jacksonville, home of the Britt Festivals and Medford, home of the Harry & David Country Village.

There are lots of great wineries: Grizzly Peak Winery, RoxyAnn Winery, Weisinger’s Winery, Trium Wine, EdenVale Winery and many others. You’re also just south of the Applegate, Umpqua and Willamette Valley wineries, so there are great day trips available.

There are also many great restaurants, places to shop, tourist activities and nice places to stay in addition to the wine and theatre available in Ashland. Please see my other answers for more details!

There’s skiing at Mt. Ashland Ski Resort if there’s snow.

Another great day trip is north 2-1/2 hours to Crater Lake National Park


Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

Q: Place to stay w/ Kids at Crater Lake?

Driving up to Crater Lake this summer w/ 3 kids in tow. Would love a recommendation for a place to stay for 2 nights as close as possible to the lake.

Place to stay w/ Kids at Crater Lake National Park?

A: The best place to stay inside the park is the historic Crater Lake Lodge inside the park on the rim of the lake. Spend the extra money and get a room with a view if available!

From the nps.gov website: http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Crater Lake Lodge has 71 rooms and is normally open mid May through mid October (2014 Operating Season is May 16 – October 12, 2013). Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made on-line or by calling (888) 774-2728 

Cabins At Mazama has 40 units and is located in the Mazama Village complex. It is open late May through early October (2014 Operating Season is May 23 – October 5, 2014). Reservations are recommended. (888) 774-2728

RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

Accommodations for spring and summer book early and sell out fast! Check the nps.gov website for info.

There are additional places to stay (motels and cabins for rent) and activities (rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and more) available outside the park near Lost Creek Lake, Prospect, Fort Klamath, along the Rogue River and Highway 62 down the mountain.

 

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Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Today, May 4th, 2015, is the last day for the Riviera Hotel & Casino, once one of the finest “carpet joints” in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino will close at noon today…forever.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

*NOTE: THIS BLOG IS NOT YET COMPLETE BUT I WANTED IT POSTED BEFORE THE RIV ACTUALLY CLOSED. I’LL BE ADDING MORE HISTORY AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SOON. PLEASE READ AND COMMENT!*

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera opened on April 20, 1955, it was the very first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort’s opening and for many years afterward.

4/20/55  L-R James Cashman Sr. and Liberace at Riviera opening

 

liberace-streisand

The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, was identified as a member of Miami’s S & G gambling syndicate and was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo and Gummo Marx held minority interests in the resort at the time of the opening.

The opening of the new Riviera hotel and casino, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada resorts within a month in 1955, was the subject of a famous issue of LIFE magazine asking “Las Vegas – Is Boom Overextended?”

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas - Is the Boom Over-Extended?

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas – Is Boom Over-Extended?

The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum started in the rackets with Al Capone and was in charge of the TransAmerican wire service on the west coast for the Chicago mob beginning in 1928. After the Outfit whacked Bugsy Siegel in June of 1947, Greenbaum was appointed the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s next manager and by 1950, he was managing the Tropicana. Known and respected in the underworld as a reliable source of information on Las Vegas real estate, he had planned to retire to Arizona and initially rejected the offer to run the Riviera, but after his sister-in-law was murdered, he accepted the job. Greenbaum’s womanizing, drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino and in December 1958, after refusing to step down and sell his interest in the resort, Greenbaum and his wife were found murdered in their home in Phoenix, Arizona. “That was Meyer’s contract” Johnny Roselli said years later.

Gus Greenbaum - Johnny Roselli - Meyer Lansky

Gus Greenbaum – Johnny Roselli – Meyer Lansky

Sidney Korshak, a lawyer for powerful businessmen, both legitimate and illegitimate, played a major role in the Riviera’s management. His reputation as the Chicago mob’s man in Los Angeles made him one of Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Korshak was heavily involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ west coast operations when organized labor was at the peak of its activity. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit’s interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino’s revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO OUTFIT:

The Chicago Mafia began on the South Side Chicago with James “Big Jim” Colosimo. From modest beginnings in the 1890s, Colosimo, who was involved in vice, gambling and labor racketeering, became Chicago’s most powerful gangster during the period before Prohibition. Colosimo was reluctant to pursue the rich opportunities in the liquor trade that Prohibition offered. In May 1920 he was shot and killed in his café reputedly on a contract from Johnny Torrio.

“The Outfit” rose to power under the control of Torrio and Al Capone in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Their criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Following Capone’s conviction for income tax evasion in 1931, the Chicago mob was run by Frank Nitti, who committed suicide in 1943 after being indicted for extortion, and then Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo for over 60 years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, when the national syndicate was dominated by what was called the Big Six, Accardo and Jake Guzik, a trusted advisor and fixer for Capone and the Outfit, flew east weekly to meet with Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman.

The Outfit’s biggest moves in the 1950s concerned casino gambling outside of Chicago. Chicago invested in hotels and casinos in Havana, Cuba and later went into Las Vegas in a big way and built the Vegas Strip. By 1961 Chicago had major interests in the Stardust, Riviera, Fremont and Desert Inn. Their Vegas holdings, partly in cooperation with Moe Dalitz, were overseen by Johnny Roselli, while the Teamsters’ Pension Fund provided financing. The Justice Department under Robert Kennedy investigated the Mob dominated Teamsters Union and its national leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was convicted of manipulating the pension fund in 1964.

Around 1957, Tony Accardo turned over the official position as boss of the Chicago Outfit to Sam Giancana, and became Consigliere. Giancana still had to obtain the sanction of Ricca and Accardo for all major business. Around 1966, Giancana was replaced as boss by Sam Battaglia. In 1967, Battaglia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Giancana was still living in exile in Mexico. Felix Alderisio took over as acting boss in the late 1960s, was convicted of extortion, sent to prison in 1969 and died from natural causes in 1971. Then Jackie Cerone became acting boss. Cerone was convicted on gambling charges in May 1970 and later convicted of skimming $2 million from a Las Vegas casino in 1986 along with Aiuppa, Carl Civella, Angelo LaPietra and Carl DeLuna. Milwaukee organized-crime boss Frank Balistrieri was sentenced to 10-years in prison in the same case in December 1985. Cerone died of natural causes in 1996 six days after his release from prison. He was followed by Gus Alex, Samuel Carlisi and Joseph Aiuppa. Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison in 1992. Carlisi was convicted of racketeering, loansharking, and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in Chicago in 1996 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He died there of a heart attack in 1997.

Paul Ricca died in 1972, leaving Tony Accardo as the ultimate authority in the outfit. Giancana was murdered in the basement apartment of his home in Oak Park, Illinois in 1975 after returning from Mexico. The FBI alleged that Aiuppa conspired with Johnny Roselli to kill Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico, but another theory states that Giancana’s murder was connected to the U.S. Senate Church Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Castro. Giancana was subpoenaed to testify on his knowledge of alleged government-mafia cooperation just before he was murdered.

In the 1940s Johnny Roselli was involved in the Outfit’s extortion in Hollywood of the motion picture industry. By 1956, he had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob’s man in Las Vegas. In the early 1960s, Roselli was unknowingly recruited by the CIA. In April 1976 he was called before the Warren Commission to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony the Committee wanted to recall him. Roselli went missing in July and his decomposing body was found  shot, dissected, then stuffed in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating near Miami in August 1976. Roselli was killed on Santo Trafficante Jr.’s orders and he would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Accardo and Aiuppa for the murder. Bill Bonanno, the son of mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, claimed in his 1999 memoir, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story, that he had discussed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with Roselli and implicated him as the primary hitman in a mafia conspiracy. According to Bonanno, Roselli shot Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street.

Joseph Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos in 1986 and received 28 years in prison. On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison and died of natural causes three days later. In June 1986, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and his brother Michael were beaten and strangled to death and buried in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was assumed that the Outfit ordered the murders because of Tony’s misbehavior in Las Vegas. It was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the skimming conviction. In a 2010 interview with Maxim magazine, Tony Spilotro’s son Vincent claimed that the real target was his uncle Michael, and Tony was killed to prevent any revenge.

Tony Accardo bought a home in Palm Springs, California in the late 1970s, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit “sit-downs” and mediate disputes. He died of heart failure at age 86 in Barrington, Illinois in 1992.

1975

Howard Hughes and Las Vegas:

Howard Hughes began the move into Las Vegas by legitimate operators and large corporations in the 1960s, resulting in the sale of many mob owned casinos. On November 24, Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad and moved into the Desert Inn. Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967 and then bought the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark and the Sands. He also bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, which was visible from Hughes’ bedroom and had been keeping him up at night. Hughes spent at least $300 million on his many properties and real estate in Las Vegas.

The Riviera sold in June 1968 to a group of investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. but the sale was blocked by the Gaming Control Board.

Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino’s showroom in exchange for a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. They bought back his shares after Martin left in 1972, because management refused to cut his performance schedule from two shows a night to one.

Dean Martin - The King of Cool!

Dean Martin – The King of Cool!

In 1973, the Riviera was purchased for $60 million by AITS Inc., a Boston-based travel company controlled by Meshulam Riklis and Isidore Becker. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation and appointed Jeffrey Silver as the new CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver shifted the Riviera’s marketing away from high rollers towards middle and working-class gamblers.

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A Burger King franchise opened in the Riviera in 1983, the first fast-food chain outlet in a Las Vegas casino, inspiring the phrase “Burger King Revolution” which referred to the trend of hotels and casinos targeting middle-class customers.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990 which went significantly over budget, leading to another Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The resort emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 owned by Riviera Holding Corp.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas showgirl revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera. And in 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.

On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decline of the Riviera was caused in part by the recession of 2008. The Riviera was once surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho which were demolished to make room for construction of the unfinished Fontainebleau and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Place projects. Under the terms of the bankruptcy reorganization agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group and the other secured lenders the property was leased to Paragon Gaming.

In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished in the name of progress and the planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center.

"Crazy Girls" at the Riviera Hotel

“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel (the show and the statue will move to Planet Hollywood)

“Crazy Girls” is immortalized with a bronze sculpture based on a promotional photo for the show at the front of the casino. It was unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No “Ifs”, “Ands” or…. Since then, the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by visitors rubbing them. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs back in the day.

crazy-girls

Vegas Matchbooks! Some are long gone now, some still remain…but for how long?

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

“It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t win out there, you understand. We got the percentages rigged all in our favor. The longer you stay, the more you play, the more chances you got of losing. I don’t let nobody around me who gambles. A couple thousand, okay, but no gambling!” – Chicago Outfit Boss Gus Alex on the subject of Las Vegas Casinos

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Rivera Hotel & Casino

Rivera Hotel & Casino

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

Sign of the Times! Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

 

UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2017:
Going through boxes in storage, came across a matched set of Riviera coffee mugs>

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A Matched Set of Riviera Coffee Mugs

 

 

ASHLAND, OREGON! Food, Wine and Theatre!

Ashland in Southern Oregon is just across the California border on the 5 freeway.

Ashland, Oregon Visitor's Map

Ashland, Oregon Visitor’s Map

Rogue Valley Spring - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley Spring – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon University, the city is a great place to stop and stay overnight or for a few days.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Elizabethan Stage - osfashland.org

Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Stage (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Green Show with Dirty Cello (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Green Show with Dirty Cello (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The OSF theatre season runs February to November, and there are free Green Shows during the summer. There are several other theaters in town and nearby, and the university has a full schedule of music, dance and drama programs as well. The Britt Festival Pavilion hosts great concerts and the Oang Medford Armory always has events scheduled.

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park was just voted one of the best parks in the United States, and is right off downtown. There’s hiking, biking, sports, a playground, a lake for swimming, ice skating in winter and bandshell concerts in summer.

Puck's Donuts! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Puck’s Donuts in Ashland, Oregon! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are really wonderful restaurants in Ashland! Amuse, The Peerless Hotel & Restaurant, Beasy’s On The Creek, Omar’s (usually open late), Lark’s Home Kitchen, and Coquina are all exceptional dining experiences and located in downtown Ashland.

www.amuserestaurant.com – www.peerlesshotel.com – www.beasysonthecreek.com – www.omarsrestaurant.com – www.larksrestaurant.com – www.coquinarestaurant.com

Other food places of note are Callahan’s Lodge and Restaurant, New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro just outside Ashland, Puck’s Doughnuts, Great American Pizza, the Morning Glory Cafe, the Wild Goose and Noble Coffee in town. Bon appétit!

The historic Ashland Springs Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The historic Ashland Springs Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lark's restaurant at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel (copyright 2013

Lark’s restaurant at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The historic Ashland Springs Hotel with Lark’s Restaurant is located on Main Street and the Lithia Springs Resort is just north of town. Both are good choices if you’re staying overnight, and there are many other hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other accommodations available in Ashland or any of the neighboring towns.

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

View from Grizzly Peak Winery

View from Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are great wineries that offer tastings throughout the Rogue, Applegate, Umpqua and Willamette Valleys like Weisinger’s Winery, RoxyAnn Winery and Grizzly Peak Winery, named for the mountain and there’s great hiking at Grizzly Peak Trail and Mt. Ashland Ski Resort.  Take a day trip to Crater Lake National Park or Klamath Falls.

Grizzly Peak Winery - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Grizzly Peak Winery – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Weisinger's Red Petite Pompadour (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Weisinger’s of Ashland – Red Wine 2006 Petite Pompadour (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Visit historic Jacksonville (Oregon) and drive by Medford, but be sure stop in Central Point at Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolates and the Rogue Creamery cheese shop before continuing north.

Say Cheeeeese! Rogue Creamery (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Say Cheeeeese! Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley Sunset - Ashland, Oregon

Rogue Valley Sunset – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LIKE our OTHER facebook page! Food, Wine and Theatre in Ashland, Oregon: http://www.facebook.com/theatreinashland

Oregon Shakespeare Festival website: http://www.osfashland.org

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