Friday, May 15, 2015


On leaving Redding we headed north on the I-5 again and shortly crossed the border into Oregon.  They have some drought problems up here too but it is way wetter and greener than California.  I had remembered the Oregon I-5 corridor as being mostly cities and farmland and was surprised at how heavily forested the southern portion is.  There are a lot of steep up and down grades that make you feel like you are in "the mountains" but the ups and downs balance out pretty well,so we were seldom actually above 2000 feet.  Finally, we crested one last big "up" and we were looking down into the Rogue Valley at Ashland.

Howard Prairie Lake
We have been visiting the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Ashland every few years for over 2 decades and always have a great time.  The only drawback has always been that the motorhome parks in the Ashland/Medford area generally suck.  We've stayed in asphalt parking lots, camper ghettos and freeway sidings all of which wanted too much money for too little RV space.  Two years ago we decided to move a little further afield and stayed at a county park in the mountains east of Ashland called Howard Prairie Lake.  It was a really nice campground but it is a 30-40 minute drive from Ashland and sits at 4500 feet.  We got snowed on while we were there and initially had trouble getting our heater to work.  You can see the story here.

Emigrant Lake RV campground
There is another county park just south of Ashland at Emigrant Lake Recreation Area.  We had avoided it because multiple online reviews complained of a sewer smell in the area.  But those complaints seem to have trailed off in the RV park reviews over the past couple of years, so we decided to take a chance.  It turned out to be a good call, this park is beautiful and there is no smell I could detect.  The parking pads are 50 feet long, just enough to get our monstrosity onto.  It has full hookups and 50 amp electricity, everything you could ask for.  And it is only 10 minutes from the theater district in Ashland.  Perfect.

The Bowmer Theater in Ashland
We only got tickets to one show.  The Shakespeare du jour was Pericles, not considered one of the Bard's finest, so we decided to skip that and instead go to one of Shakespeare's lesser known works, Guys and Dolls. As it turns out, there is some controversy about whether Shakespeare was actually the author of this play.  Some critics point out the unusual English constructions and theorize that this show was, in fact, authored by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.  This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the first known production of the play was in 1950, a few years after Shakespeare retired.

Guys and Dolls, authorship controversial
Whoever wrote it, experts agree that the show is based on the short stories of Damon Runyon from the 1920s and 1930s.  Runyon was primarily a newspaper reporter for the Hearst syndicate and was paid handsomely for this work, but tended to gamble his money away faster than it came in.  He discovered that he could generously supplement his income by writing short stories which were, at the time, considered the quintessential American literary form (because we weren't able to concentrate long enough to get through an entire novel).  He gave his characters some peculiarities of speech including some odd slang, a complete lack of contractions and elaborate euphemisms for threats and violence.  The most notable however is that Runyon's characters always speak in the present tense.  There is no past or future tense in his stories.   Nicely and Nathan never "went" to Mindy's for lunch.  Instead "Last week me and Nathan go to Mindy's for lunch and have some cheesecake after, being as how they do not have any strudel."

Runyon's Broadway gamblers - who talks like that?
Now,  many authors have found ways of producing various dialects to make the written page feel more like how people from certain places and/or classes actually talk.  But that's not what Runyon was doing.  New Yorkers in the 1920s did not talk that way.  Broadway showgirls did not talk that way.  Petty mobsters did not talk that way.  Probably no one on the planet has ever actually talked that way in day to day speech.  It was a complete affectation on Runyon's part that gave his stories a unique sound and feel.  But after Guys and Dolls hit Broadway, it was picked up by that other phenomenon of the 1950's and became humorous "mobster speak" in many TV scripts.  I remember the bad guys talking that way in Superman when I was a kid.

Anyway, we really enjoyed the show and will surely be back again in a couple or three years.  For now, back on the road in the morning.


  1. Glad you found a campground that worked out so good for you. I really like Guys and Dolls. But you're right - I've never heard anybody talk like that.

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed the play, although I think it's a missed opportunity not to write this entire post in Runyon mobster English. Also, I was reading through a bunch of past posts (mainly my own, ego, whatever) and damn, Julian is a seriously photogenic dog.