After lunch we drove into nearby Ashland to look around. We found perfect parking spot at the entrance to Lithia Park so we decided to take a stroll through the beautifully wooded park.
We looked at the park map, briefly, and decided to just experience what we came upon without having a plan. As usual, I said we'd check with the visitor center after instead of before. Sometimes that works well, we enjoy the spontaneity, sometimes we bumble. Bumbling isn't bad, is it?
The park is simply beautiful and obviously very appreciated by tourists and locals alike. The playground was full of young mothers and their little ones, the tennis court was being used as we passed it by and many of the secluded and private picnic tables were hosting families enjoying each other and their lunch.
The park is a 93 acre natural space with green lawns, a peaceful Japanese garden, a grove of sycamore trees, duck ponds, a formal rose garden and lots of trees of all size and variety. Lithia Park was designed by John McLaren (landscape architect of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park) in 1914, but began its life in 1892 as an 8 acre plot used by the Chautauqua Association as a place to bring entertainment and culture to southern Oregon. The Park naturally follows the course of the Ashland Creek and most of it is undeveloped with bark trails leading you away into the cool woods. Oh, and it is full of wildlife.
|what are you lookin at!|
Many of the trees have identifying plaques near them and we appreciated that.
|two Giant Sequoia watch Dave check out the needles on a Scotch Pine|
We appreciated learning about the different spruces, firs, cedars, and pines. Seeing and understanding their individual pine cones, needle shapes and bark patterns, even their different fragrances.
|what does Incense Cedar smell like?|
|a Douglasfir cone with its distinctive three pointed bracts|
|Dave is dwarfed by the Norway Weeping Spruce|
|twisted Scotch Pine needles|
|Blue Atlas Cedar|
We walked through a carefully staged grove of London Planetrees, or Sycamores, that were planted in rows to give the area the feeling of a temple and were originally intended it to be a music concourse.
At one point, I lost Dave.
|Oh, there he is....|
We came out of the Sycamore grove into a broad, sunlit expanse of lawn with a large fountain and a few people picnicking on the grass.
We also saw more deer. Two does and their spotted fawns hugged the shady edges but a couple young bucks grazed brazenly in the open, quite near the picnickers.
We stood and watched them boldly move closer and closer to two women enjoying their lunch on a blanket spread under a tree.
It wasn't long before we realized what was really going on......Apples! One young man smelled the women's desert hidden in the small blue bag and he slowly and carefully inserted his nose into that bag, deep into that bag and came out with the prize.
Then.....he didn't even run away his prize. He placidly ate the thing down before flipping his tail and trotting away. What a little devil.
We had a lovely sweet day with one regret. The Rose Garden, we didn't find the Rose Garden. It was the only thing we really were "looking" for in our meandering and we never did. Maybe another day.