Key of C Coffee Shop in Ashland Oregon

Just thought i’d throw out a post from the Key of C Coffee shop in Ashland Oregon where I was visiting with pal Keith who always has great travel insights – in fact he has a great website for Tuvalu: Nanumea in Tuvalu and another for Italy:

Ashland is home to an amazing number of coffee shops and Bed and Breakfasts, though in my opinion now that the Whistle Stop is closing : ( ,  the nicest coffee house in Southern Oregon is Downtowne Coffee Shop in Talent.

A Great Ashland Oregon Bed and Breakfast

Ashland Oregon is a beautiful town just down the road from me, and I wanted to do a post that talked a little bit about the Lithia Springs Inn, a beautiful Bed, Breakfast and Gardens complex in Ashland, just a few minutes by car from the Shakespeare Festival at Lithia Park in Ashland.

Ashland is home to dozens of fine Bed and Breakfasts, but the Lithia Springs offers the only one I know of with natural hot springs baths located in several of the rooms.      There are four acres of gardens surrounding the inn with beautiful landscaping and koi ponds.

Other special amenities at the Lithia Springs Inn are the gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea by the fireplace, and an evening wine tasting at O’Malley’s.

I’ve known Duane the Innkeeper for a long time, and in addition to being a nice guy he’s one of the most knowledgeable people in all of Ashland about dining in the area.   The Inn offers a wonderful breakfast in the beautifully appointed dining room but you’ll want to ask Duane about where to have dinner in town.   For a small town you’d be hard pressed to find a city with more excellent places to eat than Ashland.

I hope you’ll check out the Lithia Springs Inn on your first or next visit to Ashland!

Click here for more about the Lithia Springs Inn

Talent Oregon Coffee

The website for the Talent Oregon Coffee Shop called the Whistle Stop Coffee Shop is currently listed far too low by  Google’s search algorithm, below two of my posts about  the Whistle Stop Coffee Shop Talent Oregon.    Hopefully this post plus some changes to titles in an earlier blog post (which had Title “Whistle Stop Coffee Shop Talent Oregon”,  plus some linkage action will fix this problem, but we’ll see.     The Whistle Stop’s website is using a Godaddy hosting template now and Google may be downranking for that or fretting over the Godaddy banner at the top which may diminish the content score (I’m just speculating here).

Blog content continues to factor very importantly into search rankings, especially (I speculate) because of the freshness and as a source of relevant links in to other content.      Confounding all SEO analyses is the fact that Google appears to treat things somewhat inconsistently to reduce the effects of really aggressive optimization tactics.    For example there are tricks that can be used that may lead to a short term big boost in rankings, only to leave a site penalized for months or even years for “manipulation of the algorithm”, which in the eyes of Google is a crime worthy of the harshest punishment.

One of the interesting challenges in search engine optimization is, as the excellent Mr. Matt Cutts at Google likes to say, that  “Googlebot is stupid”   that might be paraphrasing but I think it’s a direct quote. He was talking about the fact that good site structure will “help” Google figure out the natural and relevant relationships between links, content, and websites.     Matt likes to point out – sometimes to some fairly hostile SEO folks at conferences – that good SEO is mostly just applying a lot of common sense “best practices” rules for websites, aka “building for the user not the search engines”.      I often give that good advice to people who ask me how to rank well even though they are usually disappointed (and skeptical) when I don’t give them hints from the bag of  secret tricks they think you learn at search conferences.     For the record it used to be a lot easier to manipulate ranks and it was a common practice, but now most quality SEO folks will advise you to avoid deception or manipulations and spend your time and money seeking legitimate incoming links and building great websites.    That does NOT always work – especially for new sites – but it’s good general advice.

So let’s see if Google can get this one right quickly.   The most relevant site for the query “Whistle Stop Coffee Shop Talent Oregon” is …

Nanumea via

My pals Keith and Anne are anthropologists who have spent considerable time in the country called Tuvalu on the island of Nanumea.     Keith’s done a great  job with a website called “” that offers Nanumeans as well as the rest of the world a lot of insight into their history, geneaology, cuture and language.   Unfortunately Nanumea is third at Google when you search for “Nanumea” when clearly this is *by far* the best resource for the island with extensive history and photos.     Part of the reason for this post here is to see how quickly Google correctly ranks and also how this blog post ranks for the term “Nanumea”.

Unlike islands that are far more familiar to most of us like Fiji or Hawaii, the Tuvalu group of islands which includes Nanumea is fairly isolated and Tuvalu has never become much of a tourism destination.    For example to get to Nanumea you need to first fly to Tuvalu (usually from Australia I think), and then ride a boat over to this island, home to about 600 people.

Yet thanks to Keith and Anne those of us who may never travel there can get a great sense of the people and culture, and language.  They are only a mouse click away at is an ambitious attempt to document the life and times of the Polynesians residents of the island, include the following:

  • Photographs (1973 to the present)
    • Nanumean families (1973-4, 1984)
    • Daily life in Nanumea
    • Ceremonies and Celebrations
    • Fishing, Gardening, Cooking
    • Making Canoes, building houses
      weaving mats, titi, fau, etc.
    • Individual people, including many
      elders who have now passed away
  • Genealogies (family lines: gafa, telega)
  • Tape recorded interviews and stories (if possible – we are looking at the technical requirements)
  • Publications about Nanumea
  • Miscellaneous other information

Oregon Retirement

Wow, I’m doing some research for an Oregon retirement website and just learned that according to  recent survey  the   2004 book called “Retirement Places Rated” out of hundreds of retirement areas in the USA two of the top ten places to retire in the USA are right in my back yard – one of them actually includes my back yard because it’s the Medford / Ashland area here in Southern Oregon. The other is Florence, Oregon – number one in the survey of over 300 places. I travel there often and personally prefer this area due to much better weather and our abundant big-city amenities in a small city, but Florence Oregon is a really nice place too and it’s the home of Oregon Coast Magazine and our Online Highways websites including this great Oregon Travel section in case you are planning a trip to Oregon. Our Travel Blog is here and I’ve posted a few good Oregon travel references as a warmup to the big blog I’m starting this month that will cover the entire state of Oregon. More on that later.

Locals call this the “Rogue Valley” and historically our wonderful region does very well in national “best places to retire” and “best places to live” surveys. I’ve lived in the East, Midwest, several California cities, and here in the Rogue Valley and it’s hard to imagine a better place to raise a family or retire. The houses are relatively expensive and the economics for a wage earner are the most challenging aspect here which may be why the population remains modest, though growth in some of our areas has been dramatic.

Real Estate prices. Highest to lowest cities show more than a 1000% difference.

Wow, Coldwell Banker is reporting these stats on the most expensive vs cheapest USA markets for a comparable  4 BR house.  I’ve been wondering about this for some time and this indicates clearly the truth of the old maxim in real estate “location, location, location”Looks like here in southern Oregon we are near the national average of about 410k for a 4BR house.


Greenwich, Conn. $2,018,750
Santa Monica, Calif. $1,785,000
Newport Beach, Calif. $1,617,500
San Mateo, Calif. $1,498,023
Boston, Mass. $1,381,250

Most affordable markets
City Price
Minot, N.D. $139,033
Canton, Ohio $146,333
Topeka, Kan. $150,075
Tulsa, Okla. $153,750
Wichita, Kansas $156,500

Talent Oregon Real Estate

Wow, Talent is for sale these days as hundreds of houses go onto the market at prices that appear to be coming down, down and I predict down more now that the winter doldrums are approaching.    Under normal real estate circumstances people would be pulling houses off the market now, but the sub prime mortgage fiascos have put a lot of folks in the terrible position of “having” to sell their house or lose it.    I’m not clear when we’ll hit the bottom but I think this winter will be a great time to buy and a bad one to sell.

I’ve got two friends now working the Talent Oregon Real Estate market.   Dave doesn’t have a site up yet but Jack’s Talent Oregon Real Estate website is  a good resource for some local information and houses.  Jack also covers Ashland Oregon, Jacksonville Oregon, and Medford Oregon Real Estate. However best to email or call him directly for the latest information since the market is changing rapidly around here.

Oregon Travel

I’m hoping to get my Oregon Travel blog going soon with tips and tricks about great vacation stuff here in Oregon. One of the things I *always* notice after travelling is how nice it is to come home to the great cultural and outdoor attractions within a few hours of my house here in lovely Talent Oregon

We’ve got some good basic detail about Oregon at the Online Highways Oregon Travel section but I’m hoping to do a more personalized version of this. Some will appear at the Online Highways travel blog but that travel blog will be focusing more on destinations around the globe and not digging into Oregon in great depth.

Oregon is home to several great regions. The state defines them like this but I’m going to be a little more precise at the Oregon Travel blog and try to focus in on more of a single city or destination basis.

I’ve already covered some Oregon Travel information in these Travel Highways and History posts but I have quite a bit of information, pictures, and adventures to share in the future. Oregon is one of the few places where you can enjoy skiing on peaks over 2 miles high, smashing surf and sea, and a round of golf all in the same day. (No, it would not be a relaxing day!)….

Downtowne Coffee Shop, Talent Oregon

Here in lovely Talent, Oregon and in Southern Oregon in general we’ve got more than our share of great places for coffee but my favorite *by far* is the Downtowne Coffee Shop here in Talent, where the owners have created a cozy little coffee oasis right in the heart of our tiny town.     The coffee and specialty drinks are *always* first rate, food excellent, soups made right here, and the owners are almost always around.    WIFI is fast and reliable, outdoor patio, and really nice cozy indoor seating away from the separate room with the espresso machine.

If you are making your way up or down I-5 and need to check email or just grab a nice cup of java I’d recommend you drop in.  Downtowne Coffee Shop is only about a mile off the interstate and easy to find right in the heart of Talent.

(FYI this is an unsolicited review – I really love this place!)

Talent Oregon Wagner Street Project

Wow, lots of work on the old house this past 10 days without a lot to show for it but I think the “turning point” is near where things will start to feel more like the big progress I was hoping for.

The little back porch is completed with some 3/4″ cedar boards that are really pretty and I got at a great discount of .50 per foot. This wood is somewhat thin for a porch though ~3/4 fir was the most common porch board historically around here so it looks correct.

I’ll seal it with special stain today (Red Cedar transparent deck stain) and it should look super nice that way, though I may eventually have to paint this to be consistent with the house exterior paint job. Historically the (clear and gorgeous) woods used in construction were stained dark or painted.

A bottleneck has been the proper removal / disposal of the asbestos sheet flooring that was in kitchen and popcorn ceiling in living room (which may contain asbestos). You can pay a small fortune to have this work done or do it yourself as owner, so I’m doing it. Like so many environmental “evils”, the story of asbestos is really interesting and confusing. The more I know about the many issues (which is quite a bit now), the less I seem to understand. Here’s a neat asbestos identification guide from NY.

Asbestos went from wonder material used in millions of houses and thousands of schools and buildings to despised cancer-causing nightmare material requiring very special disposal procedures. There is a substantial bureaucracy in place via the DEQ to give advice about removal procedures but they won’t help identify the materials. For that you need lab analysis at $20 per sample. I’m treating the ceiling popcorn stuff as contaminated but should have had it sampled because it’s messy and if it’s *not* asbestos I could do this work faster, but it’s almost done now. The ceiling stuff scraped off smoothly after wetting using a sheetrock taping blade. I covered the floor with the 6 mil plastic required for disposal (2 layers of 6 mil plastic, both layers sealed with duct tape for most of the disposal wrapping though I can also use a cardboard box, sealed with duct tape and then wrapped with 6 mil).

Hey, maybe I AM making good progress!