OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

Golden Gates

Golden Gates

Morning on top of mark

Morning on top of mark

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013. Ashland- Jacksonville

The rain started at night. It was badly needed; it washed - finally - the smoke from the air, which is now crisp and clear; there are still puddles on the asphalt, and more clouds are gathering in the east, but it is still blissfully warm.

We took the backstage tour, which was as always, fascinating. Our guide today was Eduardo Placer, a young actor of Cuban origin who has just joined the OSF this year. He plays Guy of Gisborne and Bishop of York in The Heart of Robin Hood. I also saw him in "My Fair Lady" - he was one of the four dancer/singers.... He daces well... And as Gisborne, he stands out in that cast. Of course, John Tafts is delightful as Robin Hood, but ... I am still mourning the absence of Eddie Lopez...

After an almost 2 hour-long tour we drove to Jacksonville. We were very lucky to arrive just in time for the trolley tour, which is indispensible when you are visiting with elderly parents - or, in my case, a friend with a swollen anckle.

Our evening performance is "The Heart of Robin Hood." It is staged in the Elizabethan theater, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it would not rain. The forecast says rain and thunderstorm at 8 p.m.!
It might add to the performance, though. We are determined to see it anyways - we are lucky to hold tickets to row L, which is the last one covered by the balcony; row K gets rain on your feet, and closer then that - you are open to the elements...

I love the opening scene to "Robin Hood" -John Tafts performing some aerial acrobatics in a hoop on the second floor of the stage - he looks moody, sort of the man on the moon...

Saturday, August 24, 2013. San Francisco- Ashland.

I could not sleep this night, and instead I perched myself by our window on the 16th floor of Mark Hopkins and just watched the  city and the bay. It seemed that there were lots of other sleepless souls - the hum of traffic, occasional sirens and beeping, horns sounding over the water and lights, lights, lights everywhere.

In the morning we saw the city in a different light. From the Top of the Mark we could see the fog lifting and the sun flooding everything in a soft golden light. It was a pity to leave... but we had to be in Ashland by the evening.

The road to Asland was blissfully uneventful. We drove through fields and hamlets, stopped in maxwell to admire the gorgeous stagecoach - I wish the museum were open! Sadly, many fields stood brown and dead - wilted sunflowers and stubby dry stalks of corn, miles of these. Mount Shasta barely had any snow. As we rose higher, the drought seemed to abate. The clouds were gathering on the horizon when we approached Weed.

Ashland was somber, wrapped in clouds. We took a short stroll down the main drag - and then watched "The taming of the Shrew" at Angus Bowmer theater. This version was stylized after fifties fashions and today's technologies and sensibilities. Petruchio was a tattoed guitar-playing rocker; Katarina was a tattoed scream-fest working in her Daddy's hot-dog stand. Bianka was hilariously retarded, and Tranio as played by inimitable John Taft stole the show from Lucentio.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013. San Francisco.

We started the day well – with a fantastic breakfast on top of the Mark… One could choose from two types of omelettes, three types of smoked fish, dim sum, waffles, French toast, curds, porridge, you name it! My favorite is their fruit smoothie.
After breakfast we went on a city tour. Our guide, Malcolm, spoke some Russian, and was very pleasant. He also spoke Italian, and the tour was in two languages. Good for me – I suddenly remembered a lot of forgotten Italian words… It was a very different tour from what we had with my parents – the bus was small, there were only 5 of us, and we could go to less touristy places. I was happy to see the house of Janice Joplin, for example. I really enjoyed the Alamo square, and my husband loved the City hall square with it majestic, imperial architecture and large open spaces.
We were also happy with the bay cruise – we passed under the Golden Gates bridge and could see infamous Alcatraz from every angle. But the most exciting part was to watch the show run of gigantic catamarans on the bay. Later we walked through the America’s Cup grounds and took some photos of yachts, boats and schooners.

We  walked along Embarcadero, went through the Fisherman’s Warf Market, crossed the business center and slowly made it back to our hotel. As luck would have it, Lyuda twisted her ankle stepping out from the bus – and walking was quite painful for her. We got elastic bandages in a Walgreens next to the hotel and kept our fingers crossed that there was no serious damage. Now she was awarded a title "Lamefoot Sibirian"... (Chromonozhka Sibirskaya).

Thursday, August 22, 2013. Crescent City - San Francisco

We got up early and ate our breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. When we were just checking in, they handed us a hotel card with the number of persons eligible to eat at the hotel’s expense on it. Believe it or not, but they did request that card – and actually took it from us… What if you decide to stay longer? And then again, why would you decide to stay longer in Crescent City?
The breakfast itself was plentiful. The only tricky part was that the waitress was to bring you a big plate to be filled up at the smorges bord…And our waitress gave us two plates for three people. Well, I had to straighten that. The ambience is a surprising one: it feels like you are permanently frozen in Christmas time: wood panels, Christmas lights – and even fake Christmas garlands around the perimeter.
It took us about 15 minutes to get to The Trees of Mystery in Clamath, California. Paul Bunyan was still greeting visitors like two years ago. It was still cold and misty. The trees were still tall and mysterious, like they were supposed to. We went up the sky trail just for the fun of it, even though the view was concealed by the mist. It gives you the feel for the height of the trees, though.
Next stop was in Trinidad. The wind was mercilessly cold. We almost ran into the shelter of the seaside restaurant. It welcomed us with the din of many voices, fire in the fireplace, and the aroma of  home cooking. We ate clam chowder and fried halibut… Hot tea and honey…  And then the sun came out! We went back to the pier and watched the fishermen feeding gulls and sea lions with leftovers… The sun painted the bay with deep green and blue; the fog burned off and suddenly we could see the rocks jutting out in the bay – some shaped like fantastic animals… and dozens of small fishing boats…
From Trinidad we drove about 40 miles to the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants. The most exciting thing about it is that one can actually walk in the forest. We ran about, climbed fallen trunks, measured gigantic sequoias, took tons of pictures and had fun!
We passed Benbow Inn and got more gas in Garberville. Here Ivan got behind the wheel. We still had about 200 miles to go. The road was not very easy, it cut through the mountains, and had too many sharp turns to my liking. Eventually we made it to Mendocino county, and drove among vineyards and small sunny towns.
We crossed the Golden Gates Bridge already in the dark.  The toll gates now use only electronic tolling – we were a bit shocked, but hey – Seattle has “Good To Go” system on 520 bridge, too. Driving in the dark on a Friday night in San Francisco is an adrenalin rush enough for anyone, and I would not call my husband an adventurous person. And Mark Hopkins sits on top of the hill! We were very happy to get rid of the car and collapsed on our beds.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Seattle-Crescent City

This is the longest stretch we will have to face this trip. With two people driving, it is quite tolerable. But beware if you are driving alone: from Grants Pass to Crescent City the road is narrow, windy, and extremely precipitous.  You have to be well rested – and by all means, try to make it before dark!!!
We introduced Lyuda  to American rest areas. She was very happy to find out that one does not need to relieve herself in the Nature; now she understands why grandpa calls these restrooms “upside down restaurants” or just restaurants.
We had a picnic in a pleasant rest area between Eugene and Roseburg. As true Russians, we had baked salmon, fried chicken, eggs, potatoes, stuffed eggplants, two types of cheese, mayonnaise, butter, Ciabatta bread, cucumbers, blueberries and Coca-cola. Was it easy? Well, according to our friend Adrew Kriegel: ”Whose life is easy nowadays?”
After Eugene the air became oppressive, there was so much smoke from the forest fires, you could barely see the hills around. We felt dizzy from so much carbon dioxide; I was beginning to feel for aliens who would have to breathe foreign atmosphere.
There were lots of police patrols everywhere, and they were all occupied; still, lots of crazy people continued driving way above speed limit or way below… Lyada told us that in Russia, impatient drivers constantly  zooming from one lane to another are called “chess players”. There were plenty of those. One drove barely two feet behind us, demonstrating how slow ad dumb we are; finally, he passed us on the right – and, alas, got stuck anyways between the car in front and a truck on the side. He gained probably 10 feet of the road… Let him tell the trucker how slow he is.
It was no sooner then 30 miles to Crescent City when we felt the air was beginning to clear  up; it was also getting cooler. The forests rose on both sides of steep mountain slopes, there was a mountain rivers on one side, and dark looming cliffs on the other side of the road. Encouraging signs like “Danger! Rock slides!” etc. kept us – at least me – rather awake.
And the, without a warning, we drove into the redwoods forest. Suddenly we were dwarfed by the black trunks of the gigantic pines. I had to stop! We had to take pictures!
Crescent City laid just at the exit of the National park. It is a dismal looking grey little town with lots of trailer parks, hotels and Mexican restaurants. When I asked about historic buildings, the young clerk at the counter giggled nervously and explained that all their historical buildings were washed away by the tsunami of 1962, and the embankment and bouleward were washed away by the tsunami 2 years ago. All that is left are piles of concrete. Work is going on, but it would take some time… What they still have, though, is worth seeing – a small historical landmark, a lighthouse at the Battery point. It was about 2 miles away from our hotel, and we just walked there and back. The colors of the early evening were absolutely surreal: just shades of gray and a touch of very dark somber green: fog from the ocean, steely waters, silvered floatsome on the shore and dark, gloomy, tortured pinias…
It was low tide, and thousands of birds were looking for food in the intertidal zone, with much flapping of wings, cries and screehing; gulls, herons, sandpipers, cormorans, pelicans, all loudly protesting an attack of an osprey.
We took a lot of pictures… Came home, ate, swam in the swimming pool (indoor), and collapsed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013  Grandmother’s birthday

We took Lyuda to see the most iconic tourist spots: we made it to the top of the Space Needle, we walked through the sculpture park, we had lunch at the Anthony’s restaurant, walked along piers to Pike Place Market, and went back by monorail.
As a result we were 40 min. late to grandma’s. There were reasons for everybody to be unhappy. Grandma thought we forgot about her; my husband and son were unhappy that Grandma decided to add her best friend Nadya to our group, Grandpa was unhappy hat I did not want to order wine ( 92 bucks per bottle, thank you very much), I was unhappy that my Mom was giving a public show to unwilling and captive audience. In the end, I solemnly swore this is the last time I am paying for something like this.
We came back and proceeded packing up for the trip. I barely slept…

Monday, August 19, 2013. Lyuda arrives in Seattle

OMG!!!! My best friend came to Seattle! We have been friends since our first day at school in 1963!!!! 50 years!!!
We got her white and pink roses and drove to the airport. She was very happy to arrive on time. It appears that Delta refused to assign her a seat on the plane from Amsterdam to Seattle till the very last minute; shaken, but happy, she fell into our arms . We drove through downtown on Aurora, we showed her our home, her new quarters, exchanged presents and talked. Surreal!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013. Ely, Nevada.

It took us about 4 and a half hours  to reach Ely (ee-li) from Las Vegas. The road led us through the desert at the average elevation of 6 thousand feet. There were salt marshes and fresh lakes and brooks, marked by trees and shrubs, and very dry areas, as desolate as a moonscape. Near Ely we entered a Humbold National forest, consisting of hardy, stocky short junipers. We did not stop to eat (ther were only 2 dismal-looking rest stops - and there were no gas stations. We were lucky to make it to our destination with 3 gallons of gas still left.

Ely is one of the most forgotten small American towns. It has a few streets, a few casinos, and a few mom-and pop businesses. Plenty of gas stations and motels, though. they are mining copper here, so I guess there are lots of truckers passing through.

We were recommended a small restaurant "Silver State" - family owned, very simple, but the food! Oh, the food was delicious! Dad and I had ribs!!! We shall eat those for the next three days, I imagine...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013. Las Vegas

One of the main attractions at Bellagio are the mosaic-tiled pools. There are warm, cold, hot pools for any taste. I would probably never have enough of those…

The pools are open from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. They do ask to show your room card at the entrance, and then you are completely taken care of. You can get as many towels as you want. You do not need to give them back, just leave them on your lounger. You can order a non-alcoholic beverage or a cocktail; there is also a pool-side café if you are hungry.
We stayed at the poolside till half past 2, and then left because it was getting a bit hot.

Today we ate lunch/dinner at the buffet, after which Grandpa said: “To the circus, you will have to roll me. Of course, people might be slightly shocked; on the other hand they might assume we are part of the act.”  I agreed: I had snow crab leg, turkey, prime rib, self-created salad, lox, flan and chocolate mousse. I could not eat a morsel more even under a gun.

We walked to the Mirage through Cesar’s palace and then watched “Love” at the Mirage at 7:00. Unfortunately, our consierge gave us wrong time for the show  - 7:30. It was just sheer luck we came there at 7:05. They collected more strugglers like us and let us in at 7:10. Our seats were on the balcony, and it was a somewhat different perspective then the first time I saw this show. This time I could see what was going on above the canvas that they spread over lower rows. The bed with the kids goes up almost to the ceiling, and then the canvas billows like waves of an ocean. Next, aerialists descend from the ceiling, and an image of the yellow submarine is projected on the waves. The end of the scene is spectacular, with the canvas mushrooming upwards, and then collapsing with the bed and actors into the pit and darkness.
My favorite act today was “Lucy in the sky with diamond”. I still love Mr. K on the swing, but my heart stopped to watch his act. I was glad when it was over. And, of course, the trampoline acrobats in “Revolution” are fun to watch. Grandpa loved Julia’s act, and Grandma Mr. K.

I am wondering if we shall be hungry tomorrow…

Saturday, August 10, 2013. Sedona - Las Vegas

I am sitting in our room in Bellagio - gorgeous room, nice view, awful internet service. But - let's not talk about sad things.

We left beautiful Sedona early in the morning, about 9:30. It was easier to drive down this winding road then it was going up. I already remembered the tricky narrow parts, and went super slow.
In some stretches of the road there was barely space for two cars to pass, and the most dangerous thing was that some people rounding the corner drove in the middle of the road. Luckily, that was only for  about 6 miles. After that we just drove through the sunny, dry pine forest, spread over gently sloping hills, a very Russian kind of countryside.

After Flagstaff we basically drove 75 miles per hour on interstate 17 through Arizona's high plateau. At first we could see pines, then pines became shorter,  interspersed with brushes. As we went lower the ground became more and more dry, and  cheerful woodland gave way to the desert. Before long we saw nothing but sage, yuccas and Josua trees. Closer to Hoover Dam the rocky hills rose barren and gray. From one of the scenic stops we could glimpse a stretch of Colorado river, and later passed by lake Mead. Hoover Dam also marks the border between Arizona and Nevada. Lots of people were walking across to see the dam.

Immediately we could see casinos everywhere - in Boulder city, in small towns, and lo and behold - 15 miles away from Las Vegas we could already see the giganic hotels of the strip. We drove safely to the main entrance, got valet service and a porter and proceeded in style to our room on the 27 floor.
I even managed to make it to the pools for a good long swim.

Today I took my parents to see Aria-Vdara-Crystals complex. Last time they visited Las Vegas these buildings were still under construction. When I visisted last, they were so brand new, there were hardly any people. Now the complex is teaming with crowds of people, some art chaged (for worse), Elvis is gone, his show is replaced by Zarkana, and even his effigy is banished. Too bad.

After late dinner I left mom and dad to rest and just walked around, soaking in the sights and the sounds of this exciting place.

I love these movies!

  • The Fall, directed by Tarsem
  • Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jennet
  • Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson
  • Moulan Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Moonsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair
  • Australia, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Despereately seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman
  • Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, directed by Bharat Nalluri

Favorite books and authors

  • Boris Vassiliev, historical novels
  • C.Cherryh, Morgaine Sagas
  • Ch.Dickens, The Bleak House
  • George Martin, The Chronicles of Ice and Fire
  • Gregory Frost, Shadow Bridge novels
  • Heinrich Mann, Henry the IV
  • J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
  • Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma
  • Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time
  • Sir Thomas Mallory, Le Mort D'Artur
  • Ted Williams, Green Angel Tower
  • Terry Goodkind, Magician's First Rule and the following books in this saga
  • Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers