Kick them to Sacramento

This morning began our drive from Portland down to Sacramento. This was a much shorter drive for today than we were planning originally, which was truly welcome. But if there is one thing true about driving in Oregon, its that you are playing a life-sized game of Frogger with those triple-long semi trucks the entire time. It’s maddening for the most part, but just part of the deal.

As far as we go, we are thrilled just to not be at home. Yulia feels great to be gone, Sasha is enjoying her movies, and Oscar is overheated, but travelling well. We have loved the GPS for letting us track arrival time so we know how much stop time we get at rest stops and other places without driving our final arrival time into the late evening.

We hit Ashland at 1pm. We pulled into Ashland to stop for an hour or so, and have some lunch. We purposefully did not search online for a place to go, but decided to explore a bit to see what was around.

Picture 001Parking was nearly impossible along Main street. We ended up a few blocks from Main up a pretty nasty hill. On the way down we found an interesting set of stairs leading down, we followed them down into a small park along the river. It was about 102 degrees out, so Yulia and Sasha walked in the rocks on the river bank to cool off, and we could see a small bridge just past us leading towards  the back side of main street. As we headed up towards the bridge, we could see the alleyway behind this beautiful brick building was nestled right alongside the river embankment. The whole alley was a dining porch for the restaurants in the building and was filled with people trying to find shade to escape the sun and beer trying to escape sobriety. We took a look at the menus and walked around to the front of the street.

The city square had a fountain made of marble and porcelain, with a brass plaque labeling the ingredients of the water bubbling out. Apparently there are natural mineral springs nearby, and there were plans to pipe all the water into Ashland for spring spas, bottled water, and the like, back around the turn of the century. Apparently this didn’t pan out, and they were just left with a big bunch of Shakespeare geeks instead. But the fountain is cool nonetheless. I actually wanted to try the mineral water, but while the water looked clean, I wasn’t too sure about the fountain itself.

Picture 012 We made our way back to the dining terrace through a small passage through the building called “Mason’s Alley” Apparently this building used to be the Masonic lodge. We grabbed a table at “Louie’s” and got ourselves some burgers, salmon, beer and margaritas to cool off. They also brought water out for Oscar, who was melting. After the rest, we were on out Way to Sacramento.

You really don’t get the pleasure of discovering little places like this by studying guidebooks or using Google search. Nothing feels better than just happening across something of interest while travelling. Nothing beats that feeling.

We made really good time heading down, and were able to make our next stop at “The Olive Pit” in Corning, CA. This is one of our favorite places. They have every kind of Olive there, along with everything that you could want with your olives. The tasting bar is fantastic. We pulled in and it was the perfect rest stop.

The Ramada Inn in Sacramento was our final stop for the day, and was way nicer than expected. We got lucky there as we expected to stop in a pretty mediocre hotel, since it was so cheap. We sacked out early and planned to get an early start, giving us an extra half-day at Disney. Should be an easier drive.