As we finished loading the car for our week long road trip to L.A., I thought to myself: Crap. I still haven’t had the air conditioner fixed in this beast. I don’t need it that often in Portland, and since I didn’t have the $1500 quoted to fix it, I’ve gone without. California’s Central Valley can get pretty hot, though.
We managed to avoid the worst of the heat until our final day on our trip home. Leaving Chico it was 95* and climbing, but none of us was prepared for the thermometer to top out at 109* driving through Redding. It was unbearable. The windows were down, we were all drinking cold water and trying not to move or speak. I was solely focused on getting up and over the Siskiyou Pass, back into Oregon and out of this 10th Circle of Hell.
When we finally cruised down the pass and into the bucolic town of Ashland, the temperature had dropped 25 degrees. We all breathed a sigh of relief, and when Joe said, “I need a beer”, I think even the baby said. “Hear. Hear!”
We headed straight for the newly-opened Caldera Tap House in downtown Ashland.
Although there are no minors allowed inside, we were more than welcomed to take a seat on their beautiful deck above Lithia creek. It was a great choice. Misters were coating us with a layer of moisture which, combined with the breeze, quickly cooled us (and our attitudes) down.
Jim Mills, the Tap House founder was so nice. He commiserated with us about the heat in Redding (he was stuck there once for a couple of days after his car had broken down). He quickly brought Joe and me a couple of frosty pints. I had the Amber and Joe, the IPA. He even offered books and games for the kids.
Joining us on the patio were a small group of musicians in t-shirts and shorts tuning instruments and sipping beer. We figured that they were that evening’s live act warming up, but the group grew quickly to fill half the deck. Picking on banjos, strumming guitars and mandolins and pulling the bows of their fiddles, the group treated us all to an amazing Bluegrass concert. Jim told us later that they are a group of faculty from the music department of Southern Oregon University that meet-up to play, drink and eat on Saturdays.
Our bellies were full from a hearty and satisfying chicken club (grilled chicken breast, blue cheese and bacon on focaccia) accompanied by crispy, perfectly-salted french fries and award-winning beers. The girls shared nachos and a cheeseburger. They were giving thumbs up.
We were in Heaven.
We certainly didn’t want to leave. My practical side took over after seriously considering staying in Ashland for the night. I think if the kids had begged, I would’ve caved. However, it had been a long trip, and it was time to head home to Portland.
We will be back, however. That’s for sure.
Caldera Tap House 31 Water Street, Ashland (541) 482-HOPS www.calderabrewing.com