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:

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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 …

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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.

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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:

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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.

Full list of categories:  City Guide » Local Color » WTF
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Comments (39)

  1. 1
  2. 2
    rachel says:

    We made a brief pitstop in Roseburg on our way to your pre-wedding BBQ! Except we didn’t stumble across any of this excitement you unearthed…I just got an ice cream cone. Yeah, that’s how I remember everything: by what I ate.

  3. 3
    Trisha says:

    Freakin’ Micky D’s … That clown is going to give me nightmares.

  4. 4
    Evan Fishkin says:

    Now I realize why Rand never wanted to go to McDonalds… This explains so much.

    Still not explained though, is the requirement for circling “The Bible” in the Obama photo. That makes no sense to me.

  5. 5
    molly says:

    Get off your damn high horse, roseburg is a very clean and respectable town. It may not be all the in a bag of potatoe chips, but I would rather raise my family here than in some ghetto ass town. Make fun of roseburg all you want, you’re an ignorant idiot.

    • 5.1
      Mark says:

      First, I would like to say that my horse is not high. And overall, Roseburg is about as ghetto as it gets. When I go on a bike ride I actually watch for syringes. Not joking. Wouldn want to get Hep C changing a bike tire.
      And recently, there was a dead cow found west of Roseburg With meat removed.
      Most people who think Roseburg is great are sometimes rude and crude. Maybe afraid the truth will get out. I wont elaborate on the gang stalking.

      Roseburg News Review Dead Cow Found With Meat Removed
      http://www.nrtoday.com/news/4123701-113/cow-trooper-information-removed

    • 5.2
      Violette Frost says:

      Hey Im FROM Roseburg (Actually a small country village named Melrose about 8 miles out) and I went to Roseburg High School and I can tell you this town will suck the life out of any person that tries to do anything
      artistic or original, Conservative people love this place because it makes them feel safe, but statistics prove out that for the population, Roseburg has a drug arrest and crime percentage the same as New York City. Other than the community college this place has NOTHING that I could ever find a reason to stay for. I moved to Eugene the home of the University of Oregon and went to school as soon as I was done at Umpqua Community College there.. My relatives would always ask me when I would come back to visit if I was ‘smoking any pot’ up there………just another thing….when they have class reunions only a quarter of the 375 people that graduated the year I did show up! If it was that great why don’t more people come back to reminisce about the good old days??? CAUSE THERE ARENT ANY. Nuff said.

  6. 6
    Everywhereist says:

    Dear Molly: It’s “potato.”

    Man, the Roseburg school system must be awesome.

  7. 7
    Yvette says:

    As someone who unhappily lives in Roseburg, I can agree to how horrible it is. However, about Obama’s birth certificate and the Bible thing? That’s because these things are necessary, because people in Roseburg honestly believe that Obama is from Kenya and is an evil Muslim. I wish I was joking, but it’s true.

  8. 8
    Melanie2U says:

    I grew up near Roseburg, so I embrace the quirkiness! You can take the girl out of Oregon, but you can’t take Oregon out of the girl! After living in large cities, we have settled in a small town (like Oakland, OR) and love the small-town, everyone knows everyone way of life. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a great place to raise kids, and it’s for me! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing. Also, I have Cheese Garden burned into my brain…thanks a lot…

    • 8.1
      Everywhereist says:

      I am so glad that you actually GET my sense of humor, and realize that this homage to Roseburg was written with love. I do so enjoy stopping there, eating ice cream, and gawking at EVERYTHING. That town is magic.

      • 8.1.1
        Josh says:

        You’ve only been there once or you stop there often? Because in the article you made it sound as if neither you nor your acquaintances had ever been there and now you write, “I do so enjoy stopping there”, the present-tense of which makes it sound as though you’re familiar with the area.

        Roseburg is just another small Oregon town, trying to stay above water. Either your sense of humor in this post is on some level of subtlety that is undetectable by the human senses or (and I suspect this is the case) you’re Yet Another Hipster jumping on the already-overloaded bandwagon of hating on small conservative-leaning towns.

        I have some mixed feelings about being a very liberal person from a very conservative area, but I’m by no means embarrassed about my hometown and after reading your post I’m disheartened by the strong vibes of “ha ha shame shame” that it gives off. This is a poor first encounter with Everywhereist. I think the “dysentery free” comment was what sealed it for me; I’m glad that you didn’t go to Chi’s because you probably (definitely) would have been even more unnecessarily harsh with it. Roseburg as a town doesn’t necessarily get hurt by a smallish blog like this, but the small, family owned businesses within don’t deserve that kind of treatment. (Never mind the racial insensitivity of making fun of the name. Wait- are YOU from Roseburg?)

        Kinda sickened by this.

        Josh

        • 8.1.1.1
          Everywhereist says:

          Dude, when I finally open up The Cheese Garden restaurant, you are SOOOOO not welcome.

          Wait … that’s mean, huh? You can come. The only people unwelcome there will be the lactose intolerant.

        • 8.1.1.2
          jocelyn says:

          thanks Josh, couldn’t have said it better myself. Chi’s has been here a really long time and do not deserve to be judged from the outside.

  9. 9
    LaJuana Williams says:

    I was delighted to read your comments about Roseburg. After living in eight different states and two foreign countries I decided Roseburg is where I want to call home. I enjoyed your comments because it will tend to keep people from overrunning the town and that’s a major goal for us. It’s situated in some of the most beautiful country imaginable. Pristine forests, beautiful rivers, lakes, waterfalls and you can visit these without having to compete with crowds to find the perfect spot. Our art festival puts the ones I’ve attended in Dallas and other major cities to shame. We have festivals all summer long, free music on the half shell with renowned musicians, graffitti weekend where old cars come from all over the country to join in the festivities. I won’t even mention the duck race. We could use some more restaurants although there are some amazing little places if you know where to go. For major shopping trips we do venture to Eugene or Medford. But glad you came by and glad you left. We like things the way they are.

  10. 10
    Rick says:

    Hey. I don’t know why everyone takes everything so serious. Your article was hysterical. I live in Roseburg, and I like it here. But why can’t anyone take a joke? You can laugh about your hometown and still like it.

    Anyway, just letting you know not everyone in Roseburg is offended by your humor. I rather enjoyed it.

    • 10.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Thanks, Rick. I actually know great people from Roseburg and quite enjoy the town. Sadly, the response to this post (including some rather scary emails from folks) has me thinking I won’t return anytime soon. But perhaps I’ll reconsider. You guys do have some excellent ice cream joints. :)

  11. 11
    Heather says:

    This is interesting to me because I’m trying to decide on which Oregon town to move to and Roseburg was in my top 5. Fortunately after reading your post about it (thank you btw!) and reading these comments I will be scratching Roseburg off my list. What a bunch of small minded, defensive people! Astoria, on the other hand, gets glowing reviews from you and has the most adorable houses. And Goonies! ‘Nough said.

  12. 12
    Nicole says:

    I live in Roseburg. I have for 5 years because I wanted to live in Oregon after living in a midwest state. I do have to say that the town of Roseburg and its school system are not toprate. That is a nice way to put it. I DO enjoy the nature surrounding Roseburg – Amazing. Also, you are located in a great central location – an hour to Eugene, an hour and a half drive to the coast, over a couple hours to Portland. There are NO good restaurants here. The ones the locals say are great actually suck, but you are not going to run into a lot of foodies here. Getting an overdone piece of meat from the Sizzler is like French Laundry to Roseburgeans. In fact, I’m wondering where you bought your ice cream cone which was so good because DQ is the best i’ve found here. As much as Roseburg promotes its Umpqua Ice Cream, it’s just basic supermarket/generic quality. I actually like Tillamook – much better quality and simply tastes better!

  13. 13
    Jan says:

    It’s sad and hurtful that you could stop by Roseburg for a few hours, eat some food and pass judgement on a town that for me, holds many happy memories. Let me ask you a few questions…..Did you bother to visit the beautiful grounds of the large Veterans Hospital? Did you bother to take a drive outside the city to some of the bucolic farm country? Did you visit the small Douglas County Museum? Did you even drive past and admire the stately Courthouse grounds on which I watched Robert Kenneday give his speech for the Democratic bid for President in 1968 only two months before he was assasinated? Or did you visit the site of the “Blast of 59″ that devastated much of the downtown? Probably not. But for someone like me who grew up and lived through all of those events in Roseburg…your cynical “diatribe” serves only to show your ignorance. Roseburg may be a small town, but your observations are small-minded.

  14. 14
    Bridgette says:

    This was the best review my boyfriend and I could have possibly found! He was thinking of relocating for a position there from Denver, as of course to all of us larger town folk, a small town seems so enticing. Not only do we greatly appreciate your humor and understand that it was all in good fun, (effing hilarious) we have now come to understand that for some of us there will always be a basic need for gelato, French-Asian fusion cuisine, and mixologists. Thanks for reminding us that you may take the kids out of the big city, but the inner hipster snob will most likely always remain, just trapped in a teeny, tiny, town. (Ahhhhh!)

    P.s To all the locals, the humor wasn’t meant to be cruel! I’m sure small towners everywhere would find a few hundred things to say about crazy-ass-ghetto-chic-yet-slightly-hippie city folk, too. Just sayin’.

  15. 15
    Janet says:

    The awful thing is that I live in Roseburg and came across this blog because I searched for mannequin head. (I need one for my online business.) I wish I had an answer to your question of where to we locals will buy them. Foiled again!

    For anyone considering moving here – don’t fall for the tourism posters. Visit for a bit, and you will see why you should choose almost any other town in Oregon. Except Salem.:)

  16. 16
    Adam says:

    I used to live in Roseburg and I have to say that most of your comments are spot on. All I would say is that the city and surrounding areas are very pretty. Nice centrally located town to stay for tourists visiting that part of Oregon. Diamond Lake and Crater Lake are just a few hours away. It has a pretty decent Animal Safari.

    If you are thinking about moving to Oregon, please do your research. There are very few jobs and the ones you may find do not pay much. Very little shopping, schools are below par, not many good places to eat, etc.

  17. 17
    Lorelei says:

    Believe me, that Roseburg as well as all of Douglas County are good places to avoid. The major economy is Marijuana growing and Methj manufacturing. Less than half tthree county population has even completed high school. The population declined by 30% between the 2000 and 2010 Census. If you travelers had really observed the downtown area is mainly attorneys and drug rehab as well as numerous closed businesses. Pretty much the minimum fines the Nazi judges give will be $1500 for even spitting on the sidewalk. Two Roseburg cops like to extort sexual favors from pretty women. Especially their motorcycle cop. I really suggest you remain on Interstate I-5 between Medford and Cottage Grove. tHERE IS NOTHING AT ALL OF INTEREST OR BENEFIT IN EITHER rOSEBURG OR dOUGLAS cOUNTY. aND THAT COMES FROM A RESIDENT THAT IS EAGER AND WILL BE SOON LEAVING HERE.

    • 17.1
      Mark says:

      I have lived in Roseburg for many years and I can attest to the fact that there is something here that is hard to define and extremely odd. I think that if Stephen King moved here, the town would scare him away. I have met sizable groups of people who seem to have shifting (or multiple) personalities. I mean everybody in the group.
      So a group of people might meet you and befriend you, then the whole group can switch on you and you have to watch your back. Ive heard some stories of police corruption, but havent had any problems myself with police.
      Well….except when I tried to talk to them about someone I knew who was involved with some things. A detective told me that he didnt have any time to talk to me because he had crimes to solve. He also acted a little nervous, I thought.

      The worst problems I have had here are with the medical facilities. After I got sick and had to go to the hospital, the local clinic I was going to told me that my recent medical records had disappeared.

      A long time ago, the assistants at a local clinic started making crude (sexual) jokes about me because I had blood in the urine. I was very ill (weak) and didnt think it was funny. Then, later, they refused to give me copies of my blood work. So my review of the medical groups here would be that they are quite unreliable at best.

      I dont want to suggest that Roseburg is unsafe to stop, visit, buy gas or food or get a room for the night. Its probably just as safe as the next town to visit. But deciding to move here should be a careful decision. Anyone thinking about moving here should take in all the info they can find, and make a careful decision.

  18. 18
    JG-PDX says:

    I DARE you to go to Klamath Falls. Will make Roseburg look purely magical.

  19. 19
    Jordan says:

    I stumbled onto this blog on accident and am in all honesty a bit disappointed. I moved to roseburg when I was 10 and left when I graduated high school but now, six years later, am about to move back. I wish you had done some research before visiting. The streets were most likely deserted because it was 104* and locals take full advantage of the incredible rivers that surround our town. Whether its going to river forks park to utilize the rope swing or colliding rivers to jump off the boulders, the rivers are amazing and have been featured in almost every outdoor magazine. The area in which you photographed is not the best. But every town has a downfall. I am happy you didn’t eat at chi garden, I have no idea why that place is still open. The locals as well as those who speak badly of the town are part of the issues that plague the town. People in roseburg are sometimes small minded, unmotivated, and lazy, but there are quite a few who want the town to flourish, who want to give back to the town, its just hard to find many people who will step up into a leadership role. If you left the arm pit of the town you’d see the beauty of it. Next time you visit I encourage you to stop at the art school, take a stroll through the gorgeous grounds of the historical VA hospital, maybe take a dip in one of the umpqua rivers or enjoy listening to a concert on the lawns of the half shell. Roseburg may not be 5 or even 3 stars but if you like the outdoors and you enjoy relaxing in the sun then you will create some great memories!

  20. 20

    WHOA !! I did a double take on this article about Roseburg. Did not appreciate it’s content and even after reading it twice, found nothing in it worth writing about. I might suspect you were drinking or stoned as you found humor in everything here ( a common factor to being intoxicated and or high ) …. I would be curious as to what town you live in ~ maybe you could share so we could come find you among all the other idiots that live there with you !!

    • 20.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Hi Sherill!

      I’m sorry you didn’t appreciate the content, which was intended to be a lighthearted commentary on the quirkiness of small towns. I nevertheless feel that you coming to “find me among all the other idiots” is vaguely threatening, and perhaps a bit of an overreaction in relation to the offense of which I’ve been accused. Do you often threaten to hunt down people whose views differ from your own?

  21. 21
    Robert says:

    I think Jordan hit it on the head with “People in Roseburg are sometimes small minded, unmotivated, and lazy. . . its just hard to find many people who will step up into a leadership role.” I’ve lived in Roseburg for nearly 2 years and nowhere have I been able to find a sense of urgency about ANYTHING. I had to file a complaint with the FCC to get cable internet installed at my house. It took 6 months to CLOSE on my house. In order to get the septic system repaired prior to closing I had to drive out to the house of the guy who was going to do the backhoe work because he never answered his phone. (He was on the front porch smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer when I arrived). When the locks failed on our office I discovered that none–not a one–of the locksmiths in town has an answering service or answering machine. WTF???? I’ve had a job opening posted at work and nobody that I’ve interviewed is even remotely suitable–and I’ve given several applicants second interviews hoping they could improve on the first marginally successful interview. Nothing so far. While the scenery and outdoor activities are indeed wonderful, the culture of laziness that permeates this area is unacceptable to anyone who wants to actually accomplish something. Trying to accomplish things in Roseburg is like waking up every morning to discover you’re Sisyphus and you’ve got another day ahead of you of rolling a boulder uphill. Until Roseburg changes its culture and becomes more dynamic, it will remain a backwater town with little hope for an economic revival.

  22. 22
    Dillon says:

    I enjoyed both your commentary and your humor. I am thinking about moving to Roseburg and found this post looking for more authentic and substantial info than what I was finding on official websites. I am not sure if your observations or the wealth of comments were more revealing. Maybe I can relate to your commie/pinko/hipster relationship with small town America, having had similar experiences (and even a memorable encounter with a mannequin/doll in a window that was so terrifying conversation stopped and we stood TRANSFIXED). In any case, I am undeterred. What you and your commenters had to say about Roseburg confirmed the vibe that I was getting, but I am still excited to check it out!

  23. 23
    Lady says:

    Recently moved to the area. Wish I had seen this article first. My husband said it is a pretty area since he had seen it before me and I moved in area unseen. It is pretty. However. There isn’t even a major bookstore here :/ I can’t seem to find any other mommy friends and the heat is killing me. I think we will be moving out of here ASAP.

  24. 24
    Dot says:

    I have lived in Roseburg for 35 plus years, all my childern were born here, my whole family lives here. Roseburg may not be the best little town in the world but we are proud of our town. So when some one from out of town disrespect us we get our dander up. Just because you didnt like our town doesnt mean its ok to tell everyone that our town is disfunctional. We have a lot of things happening in Douglas county…search for them before you down us!!!!!

  25. 25
    William Buck says:

    I am an Ivy League graduate recently retired who spent the past 35 years in NYC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles respectively. My wife and I found a beautiful 100+ acres ranch just outside Roseburg and love the natural beauty surrounding us and our horses. I enjoyed your insightful snarky sense of humor. Just remember life is a beautiful gift. We don’t all have to enjoy the same journey.

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