Monday/Tuesday – Day 294/295

Posted on 26th May 2013

Today was beautiful outside and as such, a perfect day to head to Washington State Park, a local nature reserve. Paul Marett, Thomas Nance, Eric O’ Brian and I set off on the hour long uphill walk to the park, stopping on our way to buy lunch at a supermarket.

Although the park was very beautiful, I decided to bring with me only a book and no camera, so that my enjoyment would not be spoiled by trying to capture it imperfectly. Inside the park, the first thing we visited was the International Rose Test Garden, a large area within which all new varieties of Rose were being grown and tested for popularity before release to the mass market. While it was beautiful to walk amongst them, the symmetry of the place left it a little uninspiring. However, this was strongly counteracted by  the next set of gardens we visited.

The ‘Portland Japanese Gardens’ was guarded by a traditional gate for a daimyo’s province and a small entrance fee, however once inside, we were met with stunningly beautiful, well kept and serene gardens. Thomas Nance and I embarked on a guided tour, learning about the design philosophy, which while detracting initially from my appreciation of the gardens due to the large group, eventually helped me appreciate it more when I returned to walk through after. Once thing that was quite amazing was the way the gardens were designed so that after each turn of the path, you were met with a completely different view, even if the specific plants you were looking at were the same. This was achieved by having the path vary in elevation and angle. I can’t repeat enough how wonderful the gardens were and Paul and I thus decided to sit and read for a few hours there before returning home.

After the hiking and long day out, I decided to stay in for the evening, reading my books and finishing Earth Unaware, that aside from the ending I really enjoyed.

Tuesday was checkout and a long bus ride to Ashland on the PGC Chartered bus. As we drove it started to rain and then soon started to snow. We were meant to stop off by Crater Lake, which was apparently a site of great natural beauty, however on reaching our drop off point, the snow was so thick and the weather so cold that on exiting the bus you both couldn’t see the lake and were so cold that you re-entered the bus almost immediately.

A few hours later we arrived in rainy Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare festival. First task there for most people was to check into the hostel but for a lucky (or unlucky as some people thought) few we were to be doing homestays with local students from the University of South Oregon. Thus my bags were with me for the rest of the evening while we saw the show “The Unfortunates”, a new musical. The show was fun and interesting, though I wasn’t so sure what to make of it. The musical style and theme of the show was early to mid twentieth century US and it followed the fantasies of a soldier waiting in an internment camp. His fantasies involved a make-believe bar and characters with all manners of moral colourings, from deepest black to grey.

After the show I was picked up by the girls I was to be staying with that evening, Katie and Briawna. Dan Carsello was also to be staying with them, despite their request for two guys over the age of twenty one, as there wasn’t much they could do in Ashland other than frequent the bar scene. Thus, after dropping my stuff off, Katie and I headed out to an Irish Pub for Kareoke with the casts of “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Avenue Q”. I met a great deal of lovely people there, most of whose names I forget, but I seemed to click with a friendly girl by the name of Beth who was playing one of the bad idea bears in Q. The only non-theatre guy at our table, Joe, was also a great guy and bought me a drink after learning from how far I’d come to be there. Unfortunately I was in Ashland for too short a time to get to better know any of these awesome people.

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