West Coast Road Trip: Ashland OR to LA



[Note to readers: this post and the following ones should have been published last August but apparently disappeared. I’m posting them both now hoping they are still of interest.]

Among the eight stops on this trip, we splurged on a hotel in one place: Ashland, Oregon. I booked a special cottage with a private cabana next to a pool and looked forward for months to a few precious hours of reading and resting after teaching. We had heard that there were 85 forest fires burning in Oregon but there was no sign of any trouble in Ashland. Bill and Sophie headed off for some white-water rafting while I taught our Rediscovering Your Stash class. We planned a leisurely take-out dinner next to the pool and lounging in the morning the following day. This was to be our much-needed bit of rest.

After my class we began noticing the smell of smoke outside but inside the cabin, it was fine. You know how it goes. In your mind you don’t want to accept that it’s going to get worse.  We could give up the pool. It’s not going to get worse. But by 8pm the smoke was thicker and I was starting to get nervous. Google told me that there was a hazardous air warning, which is something that is not good for Bill, who has sinus problems and me whose lungs are a train wreck. You could barely see across the street the smoke was so thick. The light from the street lights looked like cones of sediment hanging in the air.

Our next stop was 5 hours away and there were three forest fires and a lot of mountain roads between us and our next stop. Bill’s default mode is always, “It’ll be fine.” Mine is, “What’s Plan B if it isn’t fine?” We decided that driving through the night in bad visibility would be more dangerous. There were no fires nearby, just the bad air. No one else seemed worried or was leaving. We decided to load up the car and be ready to head out at the crack of dawn. Bill and Sophie began to load up the car while I packed. Sophie came into the cabin and said, “Daddy says that if we can find a hotel room, we should leave now.” I called our hotel and they had one room left. “Let’s go,” sighed Bill. We drove through the night, slowed by hairpin curves, darkness and poor visibility. We arrived in Santa Rosa at 4am, tired but infinitely relieved not to smell smoke.


Having arrived a day earlier than planned, we went to the Charles Schulz Museum, which was the only stop Sophie really cared about on the while trip. We saw every inch of the wonderful museum and went next door the Warm Puppy Cafe where Charles Schultz ate breakfast and lunch each day. It was charming.


We continued down the coast to Sausalito for a quick stop at Heath Ceramics to replace a broken bowl and to immerse ourselves in beautiful design. It was Chinatown for lunch and a lovely dinner with Bill’s uncle and aunt before we headed to San Mateo, the venue for our next gig. It was an evening class so we spent the day at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Bill taught a large class there (35 students!!!) and we continued down the coast to Santa Cruz where I had a wonderful day with the South Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild.


Next stop, Ventura, CA where we taught at SuperBuzzy followed by LA where Weeks taught a class to the LA Modern Quilt Guild and Bill lectured at Sew Modern. It was a long trip and we learned a lot about how people sew on the West Coast and more importantly to us, how we can integrate the interests of another group of quilters into our magazine and patterns.

2 thoughts on “West Coast Road Trip: Ashland OR to LA

  1. Holy smokes! ;-) You guys had an adventure. Glad it worked out well, but sorry you missed out on the pool and relaxation.

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