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Ashland to Grants Pass, Oregon

November 13, 2018

Leaving Ashland after a week with on my friends’ farm, I decided to drive north to go south, which only makes sense if you realize that a bunch of mountains are in your way and there are only a few ways to get through them.

I had already been south, so I headed up toward Medford and Grants Pass, so I could cut over to the coast and the 101 to head back south.

I also felt a strong need to re-visit Grants Pass, where my family had stayed on a road trip when I was a kid. We stayed at a 3-story motel on the riverfront. The third floor was just two rooms perched on top of the other two floors, and we got one of those rooms. I was convinced we were staying in the penthouse suite, and that seemed so luxirious to me at age 11. We fed ducks at the river and everyone was in a good mood and it was one of those days so happy that it led me to want to come back to visit, 45 years later.

Grants Pass did not disappoint. After a drive through mountains covered in tall trees, many of them damaged by recent fires, I emerged on the main street of a the town. It looked like most buildings were from the 1930s to 1950s, a real downtown with lots of little locally owned shops.

I parked Gladis on a side street and began walking around, accompanied of course by Pokemon Go. Bonus: it was Community Day and all you PoGo people know I wouldn’t want to miss that.

Crossing Main Street, I spotted an older man napping in a folding chair, holding an open briefcase full of nicely displayed hand-carved myrtlewood butterflies. I thought they were so beautiful I had to speak to the man. He woke from his doze in the sun and told me his story. He is a Navy veteran the aircraft carrier Yorktown. He was released from the Navy when his toe was crushed in a ship elevator accident.

He loved Grants Pass but rued the rent – he said he survived on $900 per month. He had always been a carver and bragged that he once carved a life-sized possum hanging from its tail. He discovered butterflies sold well, so was out on the street with his $20 butterflies. I bought one, thinking of my mom, who had a wood butterfly sculpture on her wall that she loved so much.

He told me he was a Mormon and was the most blessed man he knew. Even though one leg was amputated in a long series of operations, it was paid to the tune of about $700,000 for by the VA, which wouldn’t have happened if that toe hadn’t been damaged in the ship accident. He considered that a gift from God.

He got so happy and excited to tell me he was going to make his daughter-in-law a carved purple stone butterfly with a stone slab he had gotten. His eyes danced as he described how happy she would be.

He did seem a truly blessed man. I’m happy to have met him.



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  1. Grants Pass Part Two | Suebob's Red Stapler

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