Queer Ashland and Southern Oregon

Author: , November 4th, 2019

Central Point Sunset

In September, we drove up to Southern Oregon to visit some dear friends who live in Central Point – a little town just north of Medford. We spent a few days up there, and visited their town, a little bit of Medford, and the towns of Jacksonville and Ashland.

So we thought we’d share some of our favorite things about queer Ashland and Southern Oregon!

We’ll break it down below by food, shopping, and entertainment.

Eat It!

There are some great food choices here in the Ashland/Medford area. We only tried a few, but had a few stand-outs:

Lillie Belle Farms
Central Point
Best Chocolate

Lillie Belle Farms - Central Point

We liked this place as soon as we saw the purple building that hosues it. It’s filled with delectable chocolate offerings, including the chocolate covered mint oreos (I took home a small bag) and the hot pepper chocolate (take a bite and wait for it!). Everything we tried here was good, and they stack up favorably against chocolatiers in the big cities we’ve visited.

Lillie Belle Farms - Central Point

Rogue Creamery
Central Point
Cheese Curds!

Rogue Creamery - Central Point

Located right next to Lillie Belle is a fantastic creamery that sells one opf my favorite things in the whole world – cheese curds! These are the randomly-shaped pieces of cheese that are then pressed into bars or cheese, and they are fricking delicious! Pro-tip – pop one (or half a dozen) into your microwave for about seven seconts, then eat them quickly for a squeaky-melty treat. Best when eaten fresh.

 

Rogue Creamery - Central Point

Bella Union
Jacksonville
Best All-Around Restaurant

Bella Union - Jacksonville

The stand-out restaurant of our trip – we went there twice. The food was fantastic – my bread pudding dessert the second visit was one of the best I’ve had in ages. I wanted to lick the plate (actually, I might have LOL). But the star here is the absolutely gorgeous courtyard at the back of this place. Don’t come to Bella Union and sit inside.

Bella Union - Jacksonville

Buttercloud Bakery and Cafe
Medford
Best Breakfast (tie)

Buttercloud Bakery & Cafe - Medford

Oh my god, the decadence. This is one of our friends Nick and Kolby’s favorite breakfast places, and it’s easy to see why. The biscuits are world-famous, and so full of butter you might have a heart attack just breathing the wonderful buttery air.

Buttercloud Bakery & Cafe - Medford

Morning Glory
Ashland
Best Breakfast (tie)

Morning Glory Cafe

Another great breakfast option, this one on the south side of Ashland. It’s a bit out of town, but the food is great, and they have some of the biggest coffee cups we’ve ever seen.They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, made with fresh, organic ingredients. And those muffins… Hey Kolby!

Morning Glory Cafe

Morning Glory Cafe

Kaleidescope Pizza
Medford
Best Pizza

Kaleidoscope Pizza

If anyone asks you what the secret to a great pizza is, it’s the cheese. And this pizza place has the best cheese we’ve had since Pizzeria Aurora in Sorrento, Italy – tasty, stretch cheese that you just want to rub all over your body and… but I digress. No one should stop in Medford without a visit to this place, and the cheesy bread is absolutely divine, too, as Kolby (below) will attest to. Sorry I ate half the Hawaiian pizza…

Kaleidoscope Pizza

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop
Ashland
Best Tapas

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop

We only ate at one place in Ashland, and it was good but not fantastic. The tapas were tasty, but expensive for the portions offered. Then again, it’s in the hard of Ashland, right across from the square. And it’s really cool inside…

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop - Ashland

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop - Ashland

Buy It!

We found a few great shopping opportunities in the area, and we’ll share them with you below:

Carefree Buffalo
Jacksonville
Really cool knick-knacks

Carefree Buffalo

I love this store – so many cool little things, and such a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Carefree Buffalo

The Miners Bazaar
Jacksonville
Eclectic Cafe

The Miners' Bazaar - Jacksonville

We stopped into this eclectic cafe for a quick drink and found a strange mix of museum, cafe and shop, perfect for Jacksonville’s quirky spirit. Plus it’s the perfect place to sit in a rocking chair on the porch and watch the passersby. And check out this awesome fashion panel. Who says high fashion is only in Milan, London, Paris and new York City?

The Miners' Bazaar - Jacksonville

Lithia Artisan’s Market
Ashland
Great collection of local artists

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Along the edge of the Lithia Creek in downtown Ashland, there’s a great outdoor market on the weekends. We found all kinds of cool things here, from paintings to decorative outlet covers to animals made out of wool – the artist was creating a giraffe right before our eyes. It’s a fun outdoor market, and the perfect place to snag something cool to take back home. And while you’re there, check out the colorful mural that runs along part of the market.

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Manzanita Home & Flowers
Ashland
Really cool kitchen stuff and the sexiest bunnies I’ve ever seen

Manzanita Home & Flowers

This is an awesome home store on Main Street with two of the sexiest bunnies you’ll find in Ashland.. and some really clever kitchen ware, among other things. I haven;t seen that good a “come hither” look since Elsa in the Lion King.

Manzanita Home & Flowers

Manzanita Home & Flowers

Renaissance Rose
Ashland
Great costume shop

Renaissance Rose

This is a simply awesome costume shop in the heart of Ashland that gets extra points for the pink fuzzy monster slippers, the steampunk helmet and goggles, and the rainbow stairs we found inside.

Renaissance Rose Renaissance Rose

Treehouse Secret World Vault
Ashland
My new favorite bookstore…

Treehouse Secret World Vault

This cute little bookstore/toy store reminded me of the favorite bookstore of my youth – te Haunted Book Shop – in Tucson Arizona. Like that one, this little store is full of fascinating things for kids, from the toadstool stool to the little doorways that reward the curious who dare to open them. A really cool shop for the kid in all of us.

 

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

See It!

There’s also a lot to see… we just scratched the surface in the few days we were there.

Bum Around Jacksonville

Jacksonville is just east of Medford, nestled against the hills of the Rogue Valley. It’s a cute, quirky town that reminded us of Nevada City, California. There’s lots of antique shopping and a number of galleries.

Plus it’s full of history:

Jacksonville

Jacksonville

Jacksonville

There’s even a ghost tour some evenings.

Walk up to Britt Gardens – it was once the home of one of the founding fathers of the city, and is now a beautiful outdoor concert venue. We were wandering around up there and ran into a family of deer. One of them as less than ten feet from me, and stood really still as if she hoped I wouldn’t see her.

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Picnic in Lithia Park

Ashland’s Lithia Park is a gorgeous creekside park with charming bridges and walkways and wide open grassy areas perfect for a picnic. So grab some cheese and crackers at the Rogue Creamery and some chocolates at Lillie Belle, and head down to the park in Ashland. We spent an hour laying on the grass, munching and talking about life and the universe. One of my favorite parts of the trip.

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

See a Shakespeare Play

Did you know that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers fifty percent discounts on same day play purchases? We saw a play – Alice in Wonderland – in the gorgeous outdoor Elizabethan Theatre. And while I can honestly say it was one of the worst plays I have seen in a long time, the experience itself was great.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

 

There are so many things to do in the Ashland area, and we’ve only shared a few. We’ll be back again to find more the next time we visit Nick and Kolby. But we’ll leave you with this little gem from Jacksonville. Have fun exploring!

Jacksonville sign

Queer Albuquerque

Author: , October 26th, 2019

queer Albuquerque

We’re just back from the GRL (GayRomLit) con in Albuquerque – part of my “other” life as a queer writer.

We explored downtown and Old Town, and thought we’d share some of our favorite things about each. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in the heart of the “new” downtown. Albuquerque is clean and quiet – at least in October. We were both surprised by the paucity of public art – there are very few murals or public statues and sculptures here.

But the city is pretty, and the mountains that surround it reminded me of my home town, Tucson, just a few hundred miles away to the southwest.

The restaurant scene is also a lot smaller than what we’re used to in our current home town, but we did find an awesome place to eat in the heart of Downtown – Brixens:

Brixens - queer Albuquerque

This is a cool, reasonably priced modern restaurant that combines a comfortable atmosphere with a mix of New Mexican and American cuisine, and some innovative touches as well. The menus are all touch screen tablets, which allows them to change the mix regularly. Each item has its own page, with an appetizing picture, price, details about the ingredients, and all kinds of options for picky diners. The swipe and click interface is easy to use, and I loved all the info at our fingertips.

Each table also includes an ice bin in the middle, covered by a board with a hole in it, to keep your beers cold.

We ate here three times over the five days we were in town – the burger was great, as was the flatbread – but the stand-out here was the desserts, especially the fry bread – it’s big enough to easily serve four, and I’m convinced that the one I had was responsible for half my six pound weight gain on this trip:

fry bread at Brixens - queer Albuquerque

Another restaurant just down the street intrigued us:

The Library - queer Albuquerque

We were in town for a book convention, after all – but it was a bit too much of a dark, hooters style bar for our tastes.

We spent most of our one non-conference day over in Old Town, the (touristy) heart of the city. I liked Old Town. Yes, there were about ten thousand shops selling the same things, most of it made overseas. But it has a certain charm, and we managed to find a few gems there.

Old Town surrounds a central square, and funny story – when we were there, a wedding was taking place in the gazebo in the heart of the square. We checked it out from afar, and saw that the bride and groom were in t-shirts – “Second Amendment Rights” t-shirts, to be exact. So yeah, there’s that. As I remarked to the hubby – “hey, at least they found each other. Once the wedding party was gone, Mark strode around the gazebo’s interior a few times to dispel the gun karma with a little fairy dust of his own:

gazebo - old town - queer Albuquerque

St. Felipe de Neri

On the north side of the square, a beautiful peach-colored church dominates the block. This is St. Felipe de Neri, named for an Italian saint Philipe di Neri. The church was built in another location, burned down, and when it was reconstructed in its current location, it was funded by Spain and King Felipe, named for the original saint. It’s a beautiful little church that has gone through three or four reconstructions, from Jesuit to Franciscan, once hosted a convent, and and which is still an active community church:

St. Felioe de Neri - queer Albuquerque

There’s also a lovely side courtyard/garden to wander through:

St. Felipe de Neri courtyard - queer albuquerque

And the inside is simple but beautiful:

St. Felipe de Neri interior - queer Albuquerque

Bonus, there’s a cute little gift shop attached to the church. We found a beautiful hand-made angel ornament there for a friend, and I bought a miniature replica of the church to take home as a memento of our time in queer Albuquerque.

La Choco

This is a cute store and candy shop on the eastern side of Old Town, perfect for a quick chocolate pick-me-up. But it also had some really cool merchandise, including balloon ornaments designed by the owner and made in Mexico. You can see some of them hanging from the ceiling in the second picture:

La Choco - Queer Albuquerque

La Choco - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Arts and Gifts

This was our favorite shop in Old Town. The whole place is chock-full of art made by local artists, and while you could spend a whole lotta money here, you can also get some great things at reasonable prices (including the beautiful turquoise-colored earrings I found for my Mom – don’t tell her)! The shop is tucked away on the Eastern edge of Old Town, but it’s well worth the search. here are a few of the pics we took there of their beautiful gifts and art (including a few rainbow finds):

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Church Street Cafe

When you wind down and want a nice place to eat, check out the Church Street Cafe. It’s about a block north of the square. The food was good, if not the best Mexican I’ve ever had, and the back courtyard was beautiful.

Church Street cafe - Queer New Mexico

The sopapillas after dinner were hot and delicious, especially with a little honey (though we wished they had honey bottles instead of packets).

I won’t mention the name of another restaurant – this one on the square – that was out of almost everything, and that served us a “salad” of green lettuce with no dressing that was basically cooked by a helping of poor quality dark meat chicken put on top too hot, and smothered with cheddar cheese.

All in all, we had a great time in Albuquerque, and hope you enjoy it too!

Here are a few ore pics of Old Town from our trip:

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

 

 

Arts, Culture and Nature for the LGBTQ Traveler Puerto Vallarta

Author: , June 20th, 2019

puerto vallarta arts culture

Puerto Vallarta is well known for its vibrant gay bar and club scene. It is Mexico’s #1 gay bar and club scene. So what about the LGBTQ traveler looking for Arts, Culture and Nature? Puerto Vallarta does not disappoint. From November until April, the every other week Southside Shuffle on the cobblestone streets of Basilio Badillo in the Romantic Zone feature street music, food and drinks, and artists showing their work in the local art galleries. Also the Centro Historic Artwalk draws a large crowd to the center of town every Wednesday to galleries open until 10 pm.

For the rest of the art, culture and nature found in Puerto Vallarta visit this story.

Oscar Wilde Tours – Gay Tour Operator

Author: , March 18th, 2019
Oscar Wilde Tours Credit Jeffrey James Keyes117

Credit Jeffrey James Keyes117

Oscar Wilde Tours offers gay history for gay travelers: Oscar Wilde Tours organizes group tours focused on gay history, culture, and art. From Socrates to Michelangelo, from Whitman to Wigstock: come discover the richness of the gay past and the importance of the gay contribution to world culture on our tours!

See the Oscar Wilde Tours Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Pieta Rondanini, Michelangelo’s Unfinished Statue – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 9th, 2018

Pieta Rondanini - Keep Calm and WanderPieta Rondanini – Keep Calm and Wander

Pieta Rondanini is Michelangelo’s unfinished marble statue. Since 1952, Milan is a host to the master’s work. Today, you can find it at Museo Pieta Rondanini inside the Castello Sforzesco. When Michelangelo died in 1564, they found the sculpture at the artist’s workshop in Rome. Afterwards, the unfinished statue was missing for more than 200 years and reappeared in 1807 at Palazzo Rondanini.

And that’s how it gained its monicker: Pieta Rondanini.

As you can see, Mary is standing, supporting her son, Jesus, after he was taken down from the cross. The famed Pieta inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican has Mary sitting while looking down at his son bathed in blood.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Florence Gay Travel Resources

The Broken Chair – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , January 27th, 2018

The Broken Chair

You’d never miss the monument of the broken chair at the United Nations office in Geneva. It’s on the square in front of the office where world affairs are decided. The monstrosity of the structure carries the weight of a world problem we all too familiar with – war.

Where is it? It’s in front of the Palace of Nations in Geneva. From the train station downtown, take a streetcar that goes all the way to the United Nations. Get off at the last stop.

Best Time to Visit. Wake up early to beat the crowd. The sculpture, I think, can be felt when you’re alone with it. Even without reading its description, you feel the sense of what the statue stands for.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Switzerland Gay Travel Resources