As Ashland's big ice-up slowly began to thaw Wednesday, parents took their kids on the fourth snow day in a row to the parks and ice rink, dug the last cars out of the snow and quieted their complaints about the city's inability to get ice off streets.
"It's been crazy, but the kids are very excited about the snow and the days off school," said Kaylan Wilson as her brood ripped sheets of ice off Ashland Creek, broke them into tiny pieces and, amid shrieks of delight, hopped back and forth over the running stream.
"It's still dangerous driving around town. Finally got my car unstuck by the college," she added. "Had to walk home two miles in the storm Friday night. We've never been through anything like this, but the snow days have been fun, hanging out with the kids, sledding at Briscoe and North Mountain Park."
Chris Sohl, who also was playing with kids in Lithia Park, said they would watch the Internet with anticipation, then hoot with happiness when schools posted another snow day.
"They've been pretty excited about the whole thing," said Sohl, who struggled with frozen pipes but got water for cooking from the shower. "Our heat went out and we had to build fires in the fireplace. We helped push cars up the hill by Wells Fargo during the storm Friday night. For the most part, we're back to normal now, but the driving is still not fun. It's very slick."
Most streets appeared sanded, with many patches of bare pavement, though cars were still skidding at the end of Wednesday, five full days after the sudden blizzard and near-record freeze.
"It's been fun, very different looking," said Ryan Gibraltar, as he swung his kids at the Lithia Park playground. "The main bother is that people don't know how to drive in snow. A lot of them stop before going up an icy hill. You need speed to get up hills."
His companion Emily Howard, new from Florida, was seeing snow for the second time in her life and found it beautiful.
"The college day-care's pipes burst, so we had snow days," said Howard. "We built snowmen and threw snowballs and slid on the duck pond, which was frozen over. It's been fun, but the driving has been pretty scary."
Their friend, Simon Andrew, drove up from the south on Friday and got stuck in Mount Shasta before finally making it over Siskiyou Pass.
"It's been a blessing, very unexpected and a lot of fun," he said. "I think it's great."
After a Wednesday tour of Ashland, Julie Brown, general manager of Rogue Valley Transportation District, said still-icy streets are requiring buses to chain up before entering town and forcing them to keep to 30-minute intervals instead of the normal 20.
"If it continues to thaw, we hope to be back to normal by Monday," Brown said. "The city did plow and sand, but it's not enough. There's also a lot of bad drivers out there. I just saw two wrecks going back to Medford. A lot of people are under the impression they can drive normally now, but they can't."
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.