What the hell are we doing in Roseburg, OR?

Posted on
Sep 30, 2009

We headed down to Ashland a few weeks ago to celebrate our anniversary. On the way there, we decided to stop in Roseburg, since we remembered some friends of ours had stopped there while driving down to our wedding. They said the town was adorable, and that they had a really nice time. I’ve now concluded that Rand and I must have fabricated that memory entirely. Not because Roseburg wasn’t cute (it kind of was … sort of), but because we asked around, and not a single one of our friends had stopped in Roseburg. Was it a case of matrimonial hallucination? Or perhaps a well-crafted subliminal message created by the powerful and covert Roseburg tourism board? We still aren’t sure. The point is, something led us there. And boy was it … yeah. We knew we were getting close to Roseburg when I saw the Mc Donald’s billboard that looks like the mugshot of some dude who hangs out in elementary school parking lots:

Scary, right?

Scary, right?

I dare you to stare at that for a full minute before going to sleep. The town of Roseburg is fairly small. I usually find that sort of thing crazy appealing (see Astoria, Oregon) but Roseburg didn’t bowl me over nearly as much. I suspect that scorching sun might have been to blame (it was about 104 degrees, with no breeze). Still, it was sort of cute: You’ll notice that the streets are pretty deserted. I think it had something to do with the beauty college, which was offering free haircuts that day. There were at least three dozen people lined-up outside:

Even the local news was there. They were getting a soundbite from a dude wearing a Big Johnson t-shirt. Stay classy, Roseburg!

Even the local news was there. They were getting a soundbite from a dude wearing a “Big Johnson” t-shirt. Stay classy, Roseburg!

We also passed the Greyhound station, of which Rand became inexplicably enamored …

I just think its neat. - Rand

“I just think it’s neat.” – Rand

He also liked the old Dodge parked across the street from it: But then, as is the case with most small towns (based on my travel experiences and the summary of “Deliverance” I read on Wikipedia), shit got weird.**

This store was apparently going out of business. Where the people of Roseberg will buy their parasols and mannequin heads, I know not.

We then came across the Douglas County Republican Headquarters. Here you can see my Commie-Pinko husband trying to contain his enthusiasm:

The store next door is either called Touch of Class or Couch of Glass. Im sure you can guess which I prefer.

The store next door is either called “Touch of Class” or “Couch of Glass”. I’m sure you can guess which I prefer.

Without hyperbole, the headquarters looked really, really depressing. Like it had given up hope. Which makes sense, looking at their election results from 2008 (Note: for some reason, that map has the colors mixed up. I’ve never seen a Republican candidate listed as blue and a Democrat listed as red). There were a bunch of patriotically-themed nutcrackers that had faded in the front window (sadly, I neglected to take a photo of this) along with a few signs …

Click on the photo to see a larger image.

I actually don’t entirely disagree with any of the nine tenets listed there (I sort of disagree with number 5, because, like my husband, I too am a Commie-Pinko). I just think it’s weird that a lot of the signs looked like they were part of some middle school student’s civics project. This was also true of the county’s Democratic headquarters, located just a few blocks over.

At this point, I didnt know what Rand was looking at. I just heard him say, You have got to be f*cking kidding me.

I didn’t know what Rand was looking at when I took the above photo. It wasn’t until he said, “You have got to be f*cking kidding me” that I got a closer look, and saw that the window display was apparently having a fight with a crazy person:

And then there was this, which is made even more creepy by the placement of red squiggly lines over the president’s youngest daughter’s eyes. Not cool.

They also felt the need to point out that Dick Cheney is in the photo.

They also felt the need to point out that Dick Cheney is in the photo.

The thing about trying to fight with the mentally infirm is that 1.) you are soooo not going to win, and 2.) you come off looking bat-shit crazy yourself. So congrats on that, Douglas County Dems.

Then what? Oh – we realized we were starving. I had already been severely disappointed with our food options as we drove into town, when Rand got my hopes up, only to dash them seconds later:

Rand: Let’s see … we could go to Cheese Garden.

Me: Shut up. SHUT UP. They do not have a place called the Cheese Garden. We are SOOOOO going there. I want to eat a salad made of brie.

Rand: No, no – it’s Chi’s, as in belonging to someone named Chi. It’s a Chinese Restaurant.

Me: (begins sobbing) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I was utterly devastated, naturally. We decided not to eat at Chi’s because 1.) I was still waaaay too emotionally broken up over my fictional Cheese Garden restaurant, and 2.) it looked really sketchy. In retrospect, we probably should have gone there, because life is an adventure. Plus, it would have made a great blog post.

Instead, we played it safe like the total wusses we are, and ended up going to a McMennamin’s restaurant. We even got boring food:

So while it was nothing fancy, it was pleasant and dysentery-free. Plus, I had time to think about the menu of the Cheese Garden. It would totally kick the crap out of The Olive Garden.

After that, we headed out of Roseburg and on to Ashland. And since God knows I love symmetry, as we drove out of town we encountered a billboard as delightfully creepy as the one we saw on our way in …

Visiting that site is the mental equivalent of digging your own eyes out with a spoon. Do not go.

**Note – I don’t mean to suggest that shit doesn’t get weird in big cities as well – it certainly does. For some reason, though, I don’t expect it in places that look like Mayberry. And for those of you who don’t think that small towns are weird – well, check out reason #9 to visit Mount Airy (a.k.a. “Mayberry”), North Carolina, that I found when looking for the preceding link: Yeah.

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UPDATE, November, 2014: I’ve written about how this blog post has influenced my commenting policy, and why my husband has made me promise never to go back to Roseburg.

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