Cures for summertime blues

Let's face it, summer isn't exactly the greatest time of the year to be a sports fan in Ashland.

There are no local prep or college sports to watch, the nearest Major League ball park is a five-hour drive south, and every time you turn on the TV somebody with perfect hair and teeth is trying to ambush you into thinking about LeBron James, or Lindsay Lohan, or the possibility of a LeBron James-Lindsay Lohan "dream team" taking over Hollywood.

No worries. In fact, there are plenty of options for all you sad, lonely sports junkies looking to get your fix over the summer, so long as you're willing to try something new. Honestly, that's a total lie. You are doomed.

But just for fun, I did come up with a list of summer activities that should at least keep you from jumping off the roof of a seven-story building and, best case scenario, keep you from jumping off any roof. Take it from me — I'm descending a flight of stairs as I write this.

1. Fishing: We live in a beautiful region, so I've been told — I haven't left my office since 2002 — so take advantage of it. Go catch some fish! Not counting the $33 fishing license, the $10 of gas plus $25 for a baby sitter it's as free as the air you breathe (the state of Oregon is looking into that, so hurry). Personally, I prefer to find a quiet spot with some shade along the Rogue River. You'll need a fishing pole, some line, a lure, and a baseball bat. The first three will be to create the illusion that you actually have a chance to catch a fish. The bat is for the guy across the river, who will be reeling in fish all afternoon while you spend four straight hours untangling your line, pulling the hook out of your son's left nostril and slapping at mosquitoes the size of humming birds. (Editors note: I am in no way condoning attacking the guy with all the fish, nor do I think you should take his car keys and throw them in the river while shouting, "Bechya don't got a lure for THAT."

2. Biking: Again, another inexpensive way to enjoy the great outdoors. As a special bonus, you live in Ashland, where trails are everywhere. All you need is a bike that can outrun a bear, a deer, a mountain lion, and naked people. If you do happen to run into the wildlife, you're advised to keep riding. Don't make eye contact, avoid sudden movements and whatever you do, do not attempt to feed the animals. As for the bears, deer and mountain lions, just remain at a safe distance.

3. Emigrant Lake Water Slides: If you're into water, or slides, or both, this is definitely for you. No, it's not as extreme as the WaterWorksPark in Redding, Calif., but it's local, it's fun and it's a great way to cool off. Just a heads up, though: the stairs to the top of the slides are very steep, and there's always a chance that you'll be waiting in line behind some guy who couldn't quite pull off a Speedo 22 years ago, but is still trying.

4. Beach volleyball: I know what you're thinking. "But Joe, I can't jump around on sand, non-stop, for roughly 45 minutes; I can barely jump on a trampoline." True, most hardcore sports fans wouldn't last three points in a standard two versus two beach volleyball match. You lose 200 calories just walking to your position for crying out loud. But if you have 20 friends and nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon, head on over to Garfield Park and bring a ball. As a general rule, the more people play, the less running for each. As an added bonus, you'll have a great conversation starter whenever you get up the nerve to approach that bronzed beach babe on the next court over. You: "So, I see you prefer the jump serve to my underhand granny technique." Her: "Of course. What do I look like, some kind of amateur?" You: "No, but it's just that ... Oh my God, watch out — naked guy at 5 o'clock." Her: "Wow, that was close. Say, are you busy Friday night? I have Giants tickets."

5. Read: There's some great literature out there for sports fans who simply can't wait for football season to start. Simply go to the local library, find an open computer, open your favorite search engine ("Google" seems to be a popular one) and type in the search word: "sports." This will give you 916 million "hits" to choose from. Roughly 915,000,000 of those are Web sites created by former girlfriends of Tiger Woods, 999,000 will explain why LeBron James is either the biggest fame-monger in NBA history (998,985) or just an easy-going guy who wants to win (15), and the rest will feature photo galleries of whomever Tony Romo happened to be dating at the moment you logged on to the computer.

6. Lawn mower racing.

7. Star gazing: All you need is a telescope, a chart and a baseball bat.

Tidings sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-482-3456 x224 or

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