It was like any other off-day in the summer. Hotter than the forecast, a silken screen of smoke from far-enough away fires filtering to the ground. The nonrhythmic trudge of out-of-towners and out-of-school kids clomping down the sidewalks.
What better escape than to zig and zag up Dead Indian Memorial Road and sit under the trees at Lake of the Woods for a couple of tranquil hours? The mustard yellow of the fields on either side — with no one but cows, crows and the occasional family of deer to share the view.
Then it hits you, smack in the face. You're driving along something called "Dead Indian Memorial Road." In two thousand and twelve, 236 years after all men were created equal and all that.
Leave aside the bizarre redundancy of "Dead (Anything) Memorial," which the Jackson County Board of Commissioners created in 1993 in response to squawking over appropriateness. And while we're at it, let's set by the side of the road the highly debatable decision to maintain the imagery in the first place.
No, this is about nomenclature. More specifically, the inexplicable inability of Rogue Valley Southern Oregonians of Jackson County to come up with a name that's short and sweet ... and sticks. Across our horizon, we can see scrap heaps of monikers that at one time identified a place, an institution, a well-known operation ... all now relegated to the history books.
Most recently, for instance, Asante Health Services thought it would simplify things if it changed the name of Rogue Valley Medical Center to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
This indubitably makes things simpler for Asante, particularly when it lists its various holdings alphabetically. But for your average RVSOofJC residents, who have spent their lives referring to "RVMC," the new name is cumbersome to say the least. To say the most, it's a pain in the RRMC (formerly known as RVMC).
Let's face it: As much as this will help Asante's file-folder arrangements, that Medford hospital is always going to be known as RVMC — just as the veteran's center out there in White City will always be "the Dom."
The Veterans' Affairs Domiciliary became the Department of Veterans Affairs Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in 2003, becoming a SORCC of confusion for those asking for directions to the Dom.
Where's the Dom? Well, it's in White City ... you know, the "city" that isn't actually a "city" because — well, technically — it hasn't actually been incorporated yet. They've been working on it since 1960; a vote is set for later this year.
If incorporation fails, White City will remain White City, although it still won't be a city.
Now, if RRMC will always be RVMC and SORCC will always be The Dom, what to make of The Expo?
The Expo was "the Expo" before it was The Expo. Back when it was known, before this summer, as the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Exposition Park.
Where did RVSOofJC residents go to the Fair? At the Expo, which was at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. This year, the Jackson County fairgrounds (and the Fair) were at The Expo. This all becomes clearer when seen ... in the House of Mirrors.
The Expo, at least, was a nod to changing the name to what most RVSOofJC residents already called the place. Same can be said of the change up on Mount Ashland.
No, not THAT change. Rather the change from the Mt. Ashland Ski & Snowboarding Resort to the severely de-expansioned Mt. Ashland Ski Area. The anti-development contingent might even approve of that scaling back. You can't argue with that sort of progress, especially when it actually does simplify matters.
Although you do wonder when/if the planned expansion does happen, whether the name will revert to something along the lines of the Mount Ashland Ski, Snowboarding, Tubing and Global Warming Theme Park.
The change on the mountain did cause us here in the newsroom to change our generic use of "Mount Ashland ski area" — spelled-out Mount, lowercase ski and area — to "Mt. Ashland Ski Area" — abbreviated Mt., uppercase Ski and Area. (As an aside, this is why reporters and editors roll their dotted and crossed eyes at being teased about being politically biased. Much too busy working on capitalization, abbreviation and hyphenation.)
Would the same kindness bestowed by the folks at Mount Ashland someday arrive (on time, with our luggage) at what we know as "the Medford airport."
Pop quiz: Without looking it up, RVSOofJC residents, what is the actual name of the Medford airport?
Time's up. It's the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport. Wait ... that needs a hyphen ... Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. Much better.
The problem isn't so much the International part of the name. Cargo and Customs shipments and all — although flights to Vancouver or Cabo would be nice. It's the need for both Rogue Valley AND Medford in the name that's the issue. No one would be confused by calling it Rogue Valley International ... and, besides, it doesn't say RVIMA on the bag tags.
The next expected new name will come at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where the New Theatre, which is now 10 years old, will become known in 2013 as the Thomas Theatre in memory of longtime OSF Development Director Peter D. Thomas, who passed away in 2010.
As worthy an honor as that is, it does point out how quickly New can become old.
It's likely that early references to the Thomas Theatre will include the phrase "formerly the New Theatre" until the new name sticks in the memory — same as how RVSOofJC graduates of Skidmore Academy, Ashland Academy and Commerce College, Ashland College and Normal School, Ashland Collegiate Institute, Southern Oregon State Normal School, Southern Oregon College of Education, Oregon College of Cognitive Offerings, Southern Oregon College, and Southern Oregon State College inject "now known as Southern Oregon University" to reference the current name of the institution of higher learning.
If we're smart enough to change the college's name that many times, perhaps someday RVSOofJC residents will finally do something about Dead Indian Memorial Road.
Or at least the Ashland Daily Tidings, which has been publishing since there were only six days in a week.
Mail Tribune News Editor Robert Galvin can be reached at email@example.com.