Friday, August 26, 2011

A happy hippie camping road-trip

We recently returned from our road trip up to The Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, and we wanted to share some highlights with you...

Stop 1: The Goddess Temple in Chico, CA

On our way up to Ashland, we stayed at the Goddess Temple in Chico where we slept in a teepee, made of wooden poles and canvas. We were surrounded by the sounds of bull-frogs (they really do sound like cows), chirping crickets and howling coyotes that seemed very close by.

Surrounding the teepee were lotus flowers, a moving creek, a naturalized pool and 4 acres of hiking grounds.

Stop 2: Stewart Mineral Springs in Weed, CA

We experienced our first "sweat" at the sweat lodge in Stewart Mineral Springs. A sweat lodge is a ceremonial sauna, in a domed hut covered with many, many blankets. Stones are heated in an exterior fire and then placed in a central pit in the ground of the domed hut. Elders from the Karuk tribe of California led the ceremony, which is the Native American way of cleansing the body, mind and spirit, eliminating toxins from the physical body to allow space for listening and reflecting upon what our inner spirit may be saying to us. The ceremony begins by lighting a bonfire that heats the stones used in the lodge. We each took a pinch of tobacco, and with our prayers, contributed it to the fire. Then after taking our place in the lodge, we joined the others in "singing in" the rocks. With the glowing rocks and the darkened space, it was a deeply profound and intense experience.

Stop 3: The Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR

We had a great time in Oregon and the Shakespeare Festival and fell in love with Ashland. We saw two fantastic plays (Henry IV, Part Two and Jonathan Moscone's Ghost Light) this year, and are looking forward to returning next year for Henry V and Romeo and Juliet.

In the middle of Ashland is Lithia Park, the largest and most central park of the city, consisting of 93 acres of forested canyon land. The park has two large greens, a bandshell, two duck ponds, playgrounds, and miles of hiking trails. We especially loved the daisies and the monkey bars where Leah showed off some aerial moves and Pearl tried to swing from one end to the next, quite unsuccessfully.

Stop 4: Hyatt Reservoir in Ashland, CA

We met a local Ashlander at the Bloomsbury Cafe who told us to explore Hyatt Reservoir (between mile 17 & 18 on Rt. 66), and it was a great suggestion (thanks, Carl!), for we saw very few people as we picnicked and hiked the open lake, watching the birds and wildlife that abound the area. We came upon a tree that looked like it belonged in a Tim Burton set and a deer who seemed as interested in us as we were of him.

Stop 5: McCloud Falls in McCloud, CA

The falls of the McCloud River is in the Shasta National Forest and consist of three levels: lower, middle and upper, each with its own distinct flavor. We spent most of our time sunning and swimming in the Middle Falls, which weren't as crowded as the Lower Falls, but are much more accessible than the pool fed by the Upper Falls.

McCloud Falls is certainly one of the most spectacular river falls in Northern California and is a must-see for anyone venturing north of the Bay area.