Ashland, Oregon 2019 was quite the year for our Bed and Breakfast Inn !
I felt that it was time to put our eventful 12 months down onto paper as a reminder just as to how far we have traveled and to how events are forever changing our lives.
As Innkeeper owners of Abigail’s (although I am inclined to think that it Abigail’s who runs us) this sixth year of running the business has been nothing less than a challenge to us both. I sit here trying to remember just what we did for our Christmas of 2018 and I had to seriously think about it. It feels a lifetime ago. I did however remember that Adam and I took a RV trip up to one of our favorite places on the West Coast. It’s the small coastal resort of Cape Kiwanda. We had a beautiful sunny Christmas day in the middle of winter on that trip. It was good to be away from the trials and tribulations that the fire season of 2018 bought to our small town of Ashland. Although we were fortunate ourselves not to have any fires in our area, we were surrounded by fire,
smoke and ash from further north and south. The mountains of Ashland and the floor of our valley sat in dense greyness for approximately eight weeks, the height of our Oregon Shakespeare Season here.
After five years of being away from Zimbabwe, we finally planned a return trip to attend the wedding of my son Matthew and his bride to be Sara in April this year. We made the hard decision to close Abigail’s for the duration of our trip. This was based solely on my arrogant lack of faith in anyone but ourselves to look after our guests the way that we like to. Our trip back to Africa was filled with heightened emotion – for me in particular. The thought of returning to my birth home and my precious family made me wonder if I would ever want to leave again and return to my new home here in America. However five years away has done nothing but wear away at my home country to a point that it is far worse now than when we left in 2014. The driving, where no laws exist, the pot holes in non-existent roads, no electricity, the crime, the sadness, just daily living is terrifying to me now. I have definitely been Americanized. It made me thankful that we had made the decision to leave when we did even though it was incredibly hard for us to leave at the time.
The return for Matthew and Sara’s’ wedding was filled with joy, comfort and familiarity. Tears and laughter were shared. Wine was drunk and food was familiar. Biltong, Piri piri chicken and Chips (French Fries) and Sadza with Nyama Relish. Memories were made and all welcomed us back with open arms. The wedding in the middle of the African bush on the Zambezi River shall be forever embedded in my mind. A day that seven days prior to the event, I thought might never happen. Lots of drinking, fishing, tempers flaring and a flash storm which turned the roads to instant mud made it all seem impossible, but amazingly it all came together like music – not surprising when everyone just hunkered down and made it happen as though by magic.
Sara looked stunning in her bridal gown with her sisters by her side and Matthew did me proud with the most incredible speech that I have to admit filled me with awe, tears
and immense pride. Awe that this child of mine was now a man about to become a husband and had found his place in this life. He made me proud to be a mother. I left the Zambezi valley that next day with Adam covered in Tsetse fly bites, exhausted but completely happy that we had been a huge part of that day.
Leaving Zimbabwe once again left my mind in complete turmoil as it did in 2014. A three day trip back to America was probably just what I needed to get my mind back to present day. Added to that of course was the fact that
we were coming back to do our Citizenship test. Adam and I knew those 100 citizenship questions off by heart when we got off that plane in Portland. That was the only good part of our three day travel. Filled with nervous apprehension we filed into the Immigration Office at 7.30 am the next morning after our incredibly exhausting “cattle class” flights. I am now proud to say that we left that office in the afternoon as fully fledged American Citizens. That was on April 22, 2019. What a journey our Citizenship process had been and what an achievement
for us. We now belong somewhere again!
Our return to Abigail’s Bed and Breakfast Inn fortunately was quiet and there she sat waiting along with Jack Lemon our little rescue dog.
It was good to be home as always. Tinged with some sadness but that is the way of life. We settled back into our routines fairly quickly and were prepared to face the 2019 season not really knowing what it would bring after the awful fires of 2018.
Sadly, we were quick to discover that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Theatre had made a disastrous business decision that impacted our summer season of 2019 in the worst possible way. The 2018 Fires took their toll on the outdoor Theatre last year. Subsequently OSF decided that it would be better to close the outdoor venue from July to September and relocate the plays to another indoor location for six weeks of the season. This all during the height of the 2019 season. This had an adverse effect on the entire business community of Ashland. Our tourism numbers dropped drastically from the beginning of July right through to October.
In retrospect we had a beautiful summer, one of the best since we have been in Ashland. Any fires that occurred were immediately attended to and controlled. Our occupancy levels this year were our lowest to date based on these facts not only for us but for the entire business community from Restaurants, Shops, other lodging areas, our wineries and of course the Theatre. For the first time in years there was parking to be had downtown, reservations were not required for a restaurant and OSF were selling rush tickets throughout the months just to fill the theatre seats. On a positive note I saw some amazing plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre this past year –“Cambodian Rock Band, Indecent, Mother Road, Hairspray”! “How to Catch a Creation” by the new incoming artistic director – that made me think that some positive change are coming to the 2020 Theatre Season. It sounds as if the sequel to “Vietgone” in 2018 – Poor Yella Rednecks and The Copper Children of the 2020 season may be sell outs. Another gem to remember here in Ashland is our Oregon Cabaret Theatre. They are re-producing some great shows. Adam and I went to see Mamma Mia The Musical and we left with a smile on our faces and of course an Abba song in our heads. It reminded me of my 50th Birthday celebration – my Abba Party, back to the 80’s. Some many “moons” ago and in another life. Next year they have a great line up with Steel Magnolias, The Full Monty etc. On another positive note we got to meet some new visitors to Ashland who chose to stay with us at Abigail’s travelling on their way through to various parts of the States. We certainly hope to welcome them back next year. It is going to be a great 2020 Season here in Ashland, Oregon.
Our Southern Oregon Wine Region has had a great harvest because of our summer weather. Our local Tempranillo and Pinot Noir seem to be making huge inroads in the wine market. Due to our quietness Adam and I got to spend a little more time at some of our local wineries this year – mostly on a Saturday afternoon with some good company, great wine, cheesy snacks and soothing music. Fun in the sun. New to our wine region this year is the Rogue Valley Wine Card. If you are a wine lover it makes great sense to treat yourself to this card. You get the chance to savor 16 unique and exciting offers from local tasting rooms in both the Rogue and Applegate Valleys!
I was finally persuaded by my good friends of Eliana Wines to tackle a wine dinner here at Abigail’s earlier this month. Having been out of the “loop” so to speak for the last eight years when I used to do wine and food pairing dinners for up to 40 people, I was undaunted about doing it for 10. “Liar” I said to myself – I was petrified. On a good note I would like to think it was successful and that all who came enjoyed the evening. Our season is at an end with just the odd guest passing through so having some time on my hands I am enjoying the quietness of the old house and the company of “Ms. Hersey” our resident myth. I am finally in recovery from my “knee replacement operation” a month ago. To add to that, Adam and I had the wonderful company of my son and daughter in-law for Christmas. They are newly pregnant and all three came to visit all the way from Zimbabwe! Baby Pea is due in June! We are about to become Grandparents! What a wonderful end to my year….
On this New Year of 2020, I can honestly look back with amazement as to how far we have come in this new life of ours here in America. As I look forward it is with a great amount of confidence that I think that Adam and I are about to embark on an epic year for us all here at Abigail’s Bed and Breakfast Inn !
With all that Ashland, Oregon has to offer Adam and I highly recommend that our guests plan on anything from a three to seven day Vacation. Ashland is becoming renownded for being that Vacation Destination here in Southern Oregon. We strongly urge you, our future guests to come an enjoy all that is on offer in this small town of ours. From Wine Tasting, Theatre, Cabaret, Restaurant dining, Cocktail and Wine Bars, Boutique Shopping, Artisans and Farmers Markets, For the more adventurous we have golfing, fishing, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, walking trails and white water rafting. We encourage day trips to Crater Lake, Rogue Creamery (producers of the best cheese in the world of 2019), Oregon Caves and so much more. Plan you trip around our festivals and parades:
- 16th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival in March 6th – 8th March
- 16th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival March 13th – 15th March
- 19th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival April 16th – 20th April
- A Taste of Ashland April 25th – 26th April
- Ashland World Music Festival in May
- Ashland Chamber of Commerce 4th July Celebrations
- Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Or
- SoPride Parade early October
- Children’s Halloween Celebration October 31st
- 14th Annual Ashland Culinary Festival in November
- 28th Ashland Festival of Lights Celebration
Best wishes and may 2020 bring happiness to you all!
Susan and Adam
Have a look at some of our Breakfast Recipes…