Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oregon Trails

We returned last night from our long weekend trip to Oregon. We took the train up there...correction...We took the train to Sacramento, and then mudslides on the tracks required us to take a bus the rest of the way. The train ride was wonderful, the bus ride was cramped and awful. Let's just talk about the train ride and pretend the bus ride didn't happen.

The train runs along the coast from where we caught it in Santa Barbara up to just about San Francisco. You've got the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, and it's like you're in this gorgeous mural. It just doesn't seem real -- the colors are too bright or something. The train was also very relaxing. We were just hanging out in coach, but the seats are like first class on an airplane with a nearly full recline, foot rests, and extra-wide seats. It makes it confortable for sleeping when you're on the train for 12 hours at a stretch. Then, you don't have to stay in your seat -- you can get up and walk around, sit at a dining table for lunch, or strike up a game of cards with one of the strangers you're traveling with. Very relaxing and almost luxurious travel. It's cheaper than flying, but takes longer than driving, so there's your tradeoff.

Once we got up to Oregon, we saw several plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A Midsummer Night's Dream had been done in a 70's disco style, and was a lot of fun. High energy and happy people in the audience always make a play more fun to be at. We ended up seeing Coriolanus on opening night, and it was clear there was still some rust to be worked out, but it's a good story on class struggles that, while it's not one of Shakespeare's most commonly done play, is a good thought-provoking study. I'm sure this one will get better as the season progresses. Then we saw two non-Shakespeare plays, too. One was a play that had been commissioned for OSF called Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter. This was a different take on the war play, focusing on the difficulty of one returning vet to readjust back into civilian life after her experience. It was well done, with great little quirky characters to keep it from getting too heavy. Finally, we saw August Wilson's Fences. This is GB's favorite play, and I can see why. The characters have such powerful relationships with each other, and they're such good people struggling with the changes in the world, that the poignancy is strongly applicable to virtually everyone (okay, awkward sentence, but I'm moving on). When you have a play where three separate characters move you to tears, there is no way to get out of the theatre afterwards without everyone knowing you've been crying -- red face, puffy eyes, the works. But a great story, and really well done.

All in all, a great weekend. The kind that makes you ready to get back to work and hit the ground running. Time to get back to that!

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