Day 449 – 451 Grants Pass to Ashland OR. – 53 Miles


20151202_110245We were very fortunate that Doug from the Holiday Inn Express had agreed to host us for an extra night. We were located relatively close to the town of Medford but we had an extra day before we needed to get there. I decided to knock off a few miles so that I would have a light day before my mom arrived. I left the hotel right after breakfast and found that I would be running in a light sprinkle. The sky remained cloudy and dark for a few miles. After I turned a corner and passed Rogues River, the clouds parted and the sun made an appearance. Despite the nip in the air I was covered in sweat and happy to keep moving forward. The stretch of road from there to Gold Hill was the historic 99 hwy. I had run all of sixty six on my run across America. This time the numbers were flipped. Interestingly enough, I had been reading Dharma Bums by Jack Karouac and they had travelled the same road. It dawned on me that many of the books I had read on this trip had settings where I had been running. I wasn’t sure if that was the universe at work, serendipity, luck, or geographic preference. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed reading about the places I was seeing. It was nice to connect with their perspectives.

20151202_122502I grabbed a large fountain drink at a convenience store. The sugary drink gave me a jolt of energy that lasted until Gold Hill. There I found Crystal and our Ford F250 waiting by the side of the road. We decided to leave a few miles for the next day even though the weather had taken a turn for the better. After a short discussion, we decided it was best for us to do some laundry and make room for another traveler. First we had another meal donated by a different Abby’s Pizza. We filled up on salad, potatoes, and a mini pizza.

20151202_133752Our room at the Holiday Inn thawed my joints. I folded clean laundry to help me relax. I had been feeling tension brought on by the costs of regular vehicle maintenance. It seemed like all the items that needed upkeep came at the same time. It shouldn’t have surprised me though. Balance was a topic I had written about numerous times on this trip.

20151204_095745The next morning was freezing. I didn’t even want to step out onto the road. I bundled up and took off. I passed several small towns while the Rogue River spoke to me. It reminded me to keep flowing and to go with the stream. It would lead me to the ocean eventually. I passed a bunch of little towns and I reached Jackson’s RV repair one minute before Crystal arrived. She brought me news that my mom’s flight had been delayed. At least we had ample time for the trailer to be fixed and for me to get my measurements.

The heater’s motor blower had arrived and it was relatively cheap. The repair man didn’t even take an hour to install the part so he just charged us for the time spent. The day was looking better. It also happened that the Holiday RV Park was just around the corner from the repair shop so we didn’t have much farther to go. We were greeted by Joyce and given the nicest welcome. The days had gotten so short that the days dimmed at 4:30.

20151204_141042Crystal unhitched our trailer and drove me back to town so that I could get my measurement to my best friend Howard. He had asked me some time ago if I would be his best man. Since then I had been composing speeches in my mind during my time on the road. The previous week he had asked for my measurements in order to have my suit made. It felt as if daily life had begun to speed up despite the fact that I hadn’t yet finished this journey.

20151204_113806Crystal and I found ourselves waiting for a plane that had been delayed by a few hours. Red Robin Restaurant had agreed to feed our party but they were going to close at 10:00 pm. When the plane arrived it was a few minutes past nine. My mom didn’t check any bags but the attendants had taken her carry on and put it on the carousel. The minutes ticked by slowly. I was happy my mom made it but I had saved my appetite for hours. My hunger began to take advantage of me. The moment I spotted my mom’s bag I grabbed it and we made the dash.

We arrived to the restaurant with time to spare. They took care of us and fed us hearty veggie burgers, smoothies, fries, and drinks. After that it was time to unwind back at the trailer.

20151204_105211The next morning started with radiant light that penetrated our metallic blinds. We got a call from the news station and they asked for some of our materials. It took a few moments out of our schedule but we enjoyed the coverage. The mechanical maintenance continued for Crystal. She and my mom had an appointment for an oil change. I had an appointment with my adventure.

The road to Ashland and beyond started as an easy bike path that followed the Siskyou River. The berry bushes that had kept me company through Washington and Oregon continued to grow along the river. My breathing was steady and easy. It was the first day, in a long time, where I only wore a jacket and shorts.

The town of Ashland was like a miniature version of Berkley. I saw a few hippy style homes and shops as I entered the town. Crystal and my mom continued to wait for the appointment so I continued past the town. As I made my way past the college, a retinue of protesters marched and chanted on both sides of the street. It validated my opinion about the feel of Berkley. Moments later I found myself climbing once again. I hit the hills next to the freeway and they began to get serious. The elevation climbed to a few thousand and I had made it ten miles out of town. I looked ahead and thought about everything that had taken me to that point. I was six miles away from returning to the state where it all began. It was unbelievable.

We checked into the Flagship Inn and where the room was donated by Alexis. She was the sweet general manager who was also a writer. The donation meant a great deal to us because it was a heartfelt gesture from an individual rather than a company. We felt humbled and blessed by her act of kindness. The room was perfect and I would use it to prepare myself for the thirty mile roller coaster ride ahead of me the next day.

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