So, here I am… back at my desk, in our apartment in NYC. I’m still in a slight haze though I managed a three-hour nap upon returning home from our red-eye last night. Poor Adam went straight to work! Now, he’s passed out cold on the couch.
First off, Oregon is amazing. If it wasn’t on the other side of the country from my family and friends, I would move there in a heartbeat. We totally fell in love with the entire state this week. And Ashland… oh my Ashland – what a little heaven. I’ll post a bunch of pictures so you can see for yourself.
But besides just being in love with Oregon, this week was amazing because of the film festival! We felt like we were wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket of love from the minute we got there. The Ashland community was so warm and welcoming and they LOVED Hello Lonesome. Everywhere we went, people would stop Adam on the street and tell him how much they enjoyed the film and how much it moved them. In fact, a few women professed their Adam crushes to me. Amazing. And then, there were the festival organizers and the other filmmakers – what talented awesome people. We left Oregon last night both super inspired to create something new and even better! The festival truly fueled us.
So before I go any further, let’s start where we left off…
I didn’t take too many photos on Wednesday, during our five hours of driving (I was the driver) – so I found myself searching for a photo at around midnight in our B&B. I ended up in the bathroom – with another face photo:
Photo 362 out of 365 – “Bathtub Face”
This one looks like an animal of some sort to me… maybe a lamb – with the white knobs as his ears? Yes – I still see faces after my initial face project… Adam saw one too on our way home:
This one’s definitely a person instead. Right?
Anyway – Thursday was an amazing day. We had breakfast at a place called Morning Glory in Ashland, where the food was delish, but the servings were so huge we left feeling guilty for wasting half our breakfast. After breakfast, Adam had to jump on a conference call with work, so while he did that in the passenger seat, I drove around the hills of Ashland, looking at the beautiful houses and stopping to take pictures of the scenery. Here’s a taste:
All of a sudden, Adam points out a couple of deer eating some shrubbery right near where we were parked. I got out of the car, put the 70-200 lens on my camera and started stalking the deer (in a nice way of course). I kept whispering… it’s ok, it’s ok… as I snapped pictures. I think they trusted me, because they didn’t really run away. Before long, there were about eight deer – all just walking around the neighborhood. I guess that happens pretty regularly in Ashland. This is my favorite photo from the deer session:
Photo 363 out of 365 – “Deer in Ashland”
I really think I could get more into the nature/animal photography thing. I enjoy the patience that is involved – and I find it exciting capturing the animals doing their thing – especially when they look straight at me – and I feel that we have a moment’s connection. It gives me a little rush.
When Adam was done with his conference call, we kept driving up and up into the hills until we ended up at a road that led to a trailhead. We decided to go for it and drove about a mile up this windy, bumpy road until we reached an entry to the Pacific Crest trail. At this point we were up fairly high and the trees were covered in snow! We were sort of ill-prepared, with spring jackets, and no hats or gloves or hiking boots, but we decided to just take a short little walk to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Here’s Adam at the start of the trail:
By the time we had walked about twenty-five minutes or so, it had started to snow really hard, so we turned around to head back. We were kind of cold – but it was magical – a far cry from the sirens and noise I’m hearing outside my window right now while I write this.
Here I am… seeking shelter in my sweater… but really happy:
Finally – here, we recreated the first shot – but with massive snow falling on us this time:
At this point, a bit cold and wet, we decided it was time to hit up Rogue Creamery in Central Point, OR (about twenty minutes away). I am familiar with a few blue cheeses from Rogue Creamery that are sold at Murray’s. These blues are AWESOME, award-winning cheeses, so I was psyched to check out their birthplace.
The shop manager is named Tom Van Vorhees and after some chatting, I found out that he used to live in NYC and worked at Murray’s in Grand Central. I told Tom about my Murray’s cave internship and we became fast friends. He took about a half hour with us, letting us taste whatever we wanted. I was in cheese heaven.
And here’s where all Rogue’s famous blues are displayed – note the one named “Flora Nelle”. I was excited about that one.
Tom explained to us how the Flora Nelle was created to put a new American spin on a classic French blue called Fourme d’Ambert (the first blue cheese I fell in love with). Flora Nelle is also their first pasteurized-milk cheese as they are hoping to expand to the Australian market and those Aussies don’t import anything raw! I never knew that. Anyway, we got to taste a version of Flora Nelle that is still evolving and won’t taste the same when it’s finalized and brought to market officially. Here is Tom, scraping a piece off for us to taste. It was delicious… salty and nutty with those little yummy cheese crunchies.
Still, my overall favorite was the Caveman Blue… it just sort of smacks you over the head with amazing blue flavor.
When we checked out at Rogue, Tom told us to head next door to Lillie Belle’s Handmade Chocolates so off we went.
Jeff Shepherd, the owner of Lillie Belle chocolates (named after his wife and daughter… cute), is quite a character! He definitely brings his own unique spin to the chocolate world and his shop was a blast to explore!
He’s won awards with his “Do Not Eat This Chocolate Bar“, which is so hot, it manages to burn your face off while still being quite good. His advice is to break it up over ice cream – I’m definitely trying that. He also makes these crazy dark and deranged bunnies called Voodoo bunnies, which are apparently all the rage. I bought one of course.
But besides the crazy stuff, he makes wonderful treats like lemon-coconut buttercream bon bons, marzipan fig bon bons, smokey blue cheese ganache and a huge array of other delightful chocolaty creations. We brought back a selection to sample. Though never formally trained, he’s become hugely successful over the last several years and next week he’s being shot for Food Network. Good stuff.
So… sated with cheese and chocolate, we headed back to the B&B to get ready for the AIFF welcome party followed by the first screening of Hello Lonesome at nine-twenty Thursday night. The party was wonderful – more cheese and chocolate, local ciders, beers, wines – lots of people to meet. It was great – and then we had to ditch out early to go attend the screening, which seriously… ROCKED! It was sold out and packed with Ashland folks who were totally with the film all the way. It’s a true pleasure watching the film with an audience like that! It’s more of a community event. The screening was a huge success and nearly everyone stayed after for the Q&A with Adam – we got a tremendous response. It was really touching. At that point, we had a feeling it was going to be a really special festival.
So that’s only the first day! The next couple days were filled with screenings of excellent movies! We saw mostly documentaries – but I’d love to tell you about them all so stay tuned tomorrow when I continue with the rest of the festival scoop. It definitely ended with a bang!!