From classic Shakespearean theatre to the great outdoors, my husband planned the perfect birthday weekend getaway!
We road tripped down to southern Oregon, stopping once at the In-N-Out in Grants Pass. It’s the closest location to Portland–about 4 hours away–and one of only two locations in the whole state. I mean, if it’s on the way, you gotta stop! This girl loves her burgers.
I snapped a pic of this road sign because it had both our destinations on it: the historic hotel where we would be staying at, and of course, the Festival itself.
My grandparents used to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival almost every year for their wedding anniversary (I always say they’re where my love for classic lit came from!). They both passed away when I was in my teens, but they weren’t far from my mind this weekend when we saw Romeo and Juliet.
We watched the famous play of star-crossed lovers performed underneath the stars in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. It’s an outdoor theatre, and, though it was a chilly evening, it was such a treat.
I wore a wool coat over a long-sleeved blouse, but I was admittedly still a bit cold. Many playgoers brought blankets with them, which was definitely a good idea this time of year (the evening temperatures were in the mid 50’s). The play’s start time was 8pm and was almost three hours long (including an intermission in the middle).
As for the play itself, I very much enjoyed the set design, the Elizabethan-style costumes that had a modern edge, and the high quality caliber of the actors (we weren’t permitted to take photos inside the theatre itself due to copyright laws). Juliet’s performance was especially memorable–the actress balanced the character’s youthful innocence and fierce passion extremely well. My husband thought Friar Lawrence provided the perfect dose of humor and wit to the tragic nature of the play.
I first read this play in high school in my freshman English class, when I was 14 and quite near Juliet’s own age of 13. Like a lot of teenage girls, I was a bit fanciful then–the whole notion of love at first sight seemed romantic, and the idea of a secret elopement felt exciting and forbidden.
Now I’m 27 and–needless to say–have a bit more life experience under my belt. I studied the play several times in college, but something that struck me this time around was the fact that Romeo and Juliet share only four scenes together–technically five if you count the death scene at the end; however, they don’t speak with each other because at first Juliet is still asleep, and then by the time she wakes up, Romeo has already killed himself. This is one of the most iconic plays in English literature, and the title characters barely interact with each other!
And yet, four scenes is all it takes. The eloquence of Shakespeare’s writing, the immensity of what’s at stake, and the timeless romanticism of forbidden young love all make it the great tragedy that it is.
Before the play, we had dinner at Larks, a cozy local restaurant adjacent to the Ashland Springs Hotel. I had one of their daily specials (the salmon was excellent!), and I was grateful my husband had made reservations weeks prior to our visit because it was such a busy spot.
We’d also made our hotel reservations at Ashland Springs about 5 months prior (Ashland is a small town and the hotel is so conveniently located to the Festival–barely two blocks away!).
The next day, we headed out on Crater Lake Highway to–you guessed it!–Crater Lake National Park. I’ve lived in Oregon all my life, and yet I’ve never visited this famous site.
It was formed by the explosion of Mt. Mazuma over 7,000 years ago. The crater was filled in with water over time, gradually becoming what is now the deepest lake in the United States.
No filter needed for the incredible blue water of Crater Lake! It’s famous for its vibrant blue hue, and the intense sapphire color truly didn’t disappoint.
I’m no expert, but I learned that the remarkable blue color has to do with the lake’s depth and water purity. Since the water is so clear, sunlight is able to penetrate deep into the water and most of the colors on the light spectrum (red, orange, etc.) are absorbed. But the blue and violet light rays are reflected to the lake’s surface, creating that amazing blue.
We had planned a short hike at Crater Lake, but my husband was just getting over a cold and I was just starting to come down with one, so unfortunately neither of us were up to it. Next time!
I do recommend checking the weather and visibility before making the trek to Crater Lake. We had friends who went earlier in the summer, and they couldn’t see anything because of the smoke caused by the wildfires in Oregon and California.
All in all, it was the perfect birthday weekend! Thank you to my sweet husband for planning such a lovely trip with so many of my favorite activities. ❤️ I’m hoping we can take another visit down to Ashland next summer for some more plays! Is there ever such a thing as too much Shakespeare? 😉
Have a wonderful weekend, loves! Thank you for stopping by!