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Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

As much as I love unplanned travel, I knew before starting this trip that I was heading for Montana. Thus the wait until later in the spring than my usual departure. (Well that and my greed/savings/writing-material-and-cash-collecting from the restaurant world, but I’m trying hard to forget all that while on the road.)

So my intention was to head straight east after sending Dad off from Portland, to wander back along the Columbia River Gorge and continue on into Idaho, following the Oregon/Washington state border along the way. Even after I left the Portland airport, that was my intention.

However, I’m very unpredictable when I travel. And so, completely unexpectedly, I ended up nowhere near Idaho for several days. I pulled over to the side of the road, outside the airport, and thought for a few minutes. (This is when I usually jump out of the car, rummage through the trunk, pull out books and maps, run back and forth opening and closing car doors, and generally make a spectacle out of myself .)

I knew there was somewhere I’d always wanted to go in Portland, something I had missed on my quick I-5 drive-bys over the years. I turned the car around and headed back into the downtown area. It was a good thing I had lightened my car’s load by sending Dad and two suitcases off to California. My trunk was about to take on some extra weight.

I’ve heard about Powell’s City of Books for a long time, from many different people. I had to see it for myself to believe it. A city block full of books? It sounded too good to be true.

Now let me tell you that I can drive most anywhere in the country, racking up thousands of miles, taking roads I’ve never even heard of, and never get lost. But find my way through this multi-level booklovers’ paradise? Not a chance. It helped when I realized they have a printed map of all three floors, color-coded by section and efficiently organized by subject matter. But I still wandered around like a lost child. A child in a candy store, that is…

I went straight to fiction, fueled by my obsession for trade size paperbacks. Danger signals began to flash in my financial subconscious. They had everything, every author, every title, enough tempting choices to whittle my savings and travel budget down to nothing.

I didn’t go that far, obviously. But I wasn’t about to walk out of there empty-handed, either. I figured I owed to this independant bookstore, successful right along with the big corporate guys, to be supportive. You know what I mean, I did it for them.

First I stood in awe of the majesty of it all. Shelf after shelf, row after row, room after room. Powell’s primo policy of grouping all books together, new and used, made it easy to find whatever I wanted. Even within the used selections, there were varied prices, depending on (as I gathered by observing) the particular printing of the volumes and (perhaps) the condition of the books.

I grabbed a copy of Blue Diary, by Alice Hoffman and a copy of Sister Noon by Karen Joy Fowler (KK will approve of that choice.) I recently enjoyed A Map of the World, by Jane Hamilton, so when I saw The Book of Ruth, I had to add that, as well. I grabbed Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady, having fallen for her exquisite prose last year.

And then I saw others that looked intriguing, especially at used-book-discount prices. After all, how could I pass up such good deals? At this point a wise salesperson had pointed out the baskets provided for customers, so I adopted one and added City of Light, by Lauren Belfer and Cowboy, by Sara Davidson. (After all, I knew I was Montana bound…)

But…what about those books I’d read, but never owned? My handy Powell’s map could lead me to other sections of the store. What about Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones? (Though she later recants a few of her suggestions in subsequent books.) Or Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent? Or William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways? Surely it was time I had my own copies of these classics. Into the basket they went.

I don’t know the names of all the others, but I left Powell’s City of Books with slightly lighter shelves and gave the trunk of my car a little more weight for windy days on the highway. Surely I’ll find a way to read these all on my trip, don’t you think? And write, and edit pictures, and drive….

One thing is for sure. I’m glad I made the trip back into Portland and got to finally see this store. I didn’t mind dropping a few dollars (ok, and then a few more, and a few more) at an independant bookstore that is involved with community awareness, free speech issues, literacy programs, and generous donations to libraries and schools.

Don’t get me wrong. You’ll still see me at Border’s and at Barnes and Noble, as well as the smaller used book stores that I frequent back home. But I’ll probably be doing some online ordering too, as Powell’s has a hugely successful Internet business, surpassed in book sales, I believe, only by Amazon. This store certainly lived up to its reputation and I have to say this was an afternoon well spent.

And I believe “spent” pretty much sums it up.

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When I travel alone, I don’t do much in the way of sight-seeing. I tend to fall into a town, check into lodging, then drive the main streets, just looking around and getting a feel for the town. Then I try to find a small cafe or coffee house where I can write notes and maybe listen or talk to locals. If they tell me about something unusual in the area, I might head out that way to explore and photograph. Otherwise, I’m pretty reclusive.

However, with Dad along, I knew staying cooped up in the room writing or sitting for hours in cafes was not going to work. I tried suggesting a few things we could see in the area and when I mentioned the Mt. Hood Railroad, I knew I’d hit the jackpot.

Dad is a long-time railroad fan. We grew up with a huge train set mounted on pulleys, which could be lowered to take up most of our large sunroom. (These were in the New York days, in Chappaqua, before we moved back to California.) I remember painting miniature buildings and helping attach tiny bits of green shrubbery around the landscaping areas of the set.

The Mt. Hood Railroad travels between Hood River and the small town of Parkdale, passing some pretty spectacular scenery. They have Dinner and Brunch excursions, but also a regular, more economical, basic trip, which takes approx. four hours, including a one-hour stop in Parkdale. This is the one we decided to take.

We barely made it in time, having first worked our way through the Columbia Gorge Hotel’s complimentary “World Famous Farm Breakfast,” a five-course feast of fruit, oatmeal, baked apples, biscuits, apple fritters, eggs with trout, salmon or a bacon/sausage/pork chop combination, followed, believe it or not, by a stack of pancakes. Whew.

We did somehow manage to roll ourselves out of the breakfast room and up to the train station, where we embarked on the winding journey along the rails. We passed several small towns and many fruit-packing warehouses. Tall stacks of crates towered in meadow areas. The railroad is an important link for transporting fruit from the Hood River Valley to the Columbia Gorge area.

Riding in enclosed Pullman cars from the 1910-1920 era, we enjoyed the trip up to Parkdale and disembarked to explore. Some passengers brought picnic baskets and spread their lunches out on wooden tables near the Parkdale station. Others ordered lunches on the train, to be ready upon arrival in Parkdale. We chose to wander the streets (really just one main street, as is typical of tiny towns) and found a good lunch at the Elliot Glacier Public House, a casual eatery and pub. Dad had chili, accompanied by some of the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted. I chose the salad bar, still overwhelmed by the earlier breakfast at the hotel.

Being the offseason still, not many of the town’s shops were open. There’s a small museum there – The Hutson Museum – but we didn’t have time to go in. Also a cute ice cream parlor and cafe, The Whistle-Stop, though it was not open that day. A few antique shops and a gift shop run by the railroad itself. Hats, souvenirs, etc.

The hour passed quickly, the sound of the train’s whistle signaling the five minute warning to return to the train. We rode back enjoying the views from an outdoor observation car. I also climbed into one of two small cupolas in the caboose, which offered a higher viewpoint, though in a very small, enclosed viewing area.

From the Mt. Hood Railroad station, we picked up the car again and drove east about thirty miles to the Maryhill Museum of Art, a chateau-esque structure of concrete and reinforced steel.

Before arriving at Maryhill itself, we made a short side trip to a replica of Stonehenge that Sam Hill built as a World War I memorial. I thought it was interesting, though a group of visitors holding some sort of celebration or ritual on the center altar made it difficult to get any pictures. Dad, having been to the real Stonehenge, wasn’t as impressed. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for authenticity. On we went to the museum.

Built by Sam Hill over a period of years beginning in 1914, Maryhill (named after his daughter) was intended to be a private residence, with surrounding farmland to be used as an agricultural community. The community never materialized and close friend and dance pioneer Loie Fuller convinced Sam Hill to turn it into a museum. It was dedicated in 1926 by Queen Marie of Roumania, but remained unfinished until, after much help from Alma de Bretteville Spreckles (San Francisco Sugar heiress,) it opened in 1940.

The downstairs level houses an impressive collection of Auguste Rodin’s works, as well as a display of Native American Art. Upstairs are various exhibits, including a current collection of chess sets. I was especially taken with a Theatre de la Mode collection, which I returned to twice before leaving the museum. As my mother was an avid and knowledgeable doll collector, these miniature wire models of french fashions both took my breath away and also brought on some emotional feelings. My mother would have loved to see these. I sat there for a long period of time, hoping by some magic that she was seeing them through my eyes.

We spent some time wandering through the museum’s sculpture garden, then made our way back to the car. It was a full day and we were now hungry again. We drove back along the Washington side of the gorge, through the towns of Bingen and White Salmon, and back into Hood River.

We had dined the night before at a fabulous restaurant called Abruzzo’s (Perciatelli noodles with chicken, sage, prosciutto and a light cream sauce for me, some kind of special that I don’t remember – notes trapped in other laptop – for Dad.) Very small, great decor, excellent food.

We wanted to try something different tonight, so strolled through downtown Hood River and ended up at the 6th St. Bistro. This is a very cool little cafe, commited to recycling all glass, paper, aliminum and other materials, composting coffee ground and vegetable waste and puchasing organic and naturally raised products. Here we shared a salad of mixed greens, pears, spiced walnuts, and dried currants in a maple vinaigrette, followed by a red coconut curry with chicken, zucchini, shitake mushrooms and toasted almonds. The salad was 7.95 and the curry 11.95. We were in culinary heaven and got out of there for under 30., including drinks (Diet Coke for me, of course, and a glass of wine for Dad.)

Back at the hotel, Dad rested in the room and I sat downstairs in the lounge, listening to live music and jotting down notes in my journal. It was a very peaceful and relaxing evening. No wedding guests carrousing in the hallways. A chance to relax and enjoy, to rest up before our final full day together. We would head toward Portland the next day, where Dad would fly back to San Francisco the next afternoon. I would then continue north.

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After a quick stopover in Bend, OR, we continued up Hwy 97 to Madras, then turned northwest and followed Hwy 26 through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. An easy drive, with beautiful scenery, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves approaching Mt. Hood.

Having researched almost every lodging and dining facility throughout central Oregon, we headed for Timberline Lodge. What a magnificent building. Had we not already had reservations elsewhere for that evening, we would have checked right in. Timberline Lodge was built in 1937 as part of the Works Progress Administration. It was hand-crafted by local artists, using local materials, and features amazing stonework and woodwork. The hallways and lobby areas are filled with artwork and historical displays. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was there to dedicate the building when it opened.

This is an all-year lodge and, as we found at Crater Lake, there was quite a bit of snow. More than once we were passed by cheerful visitors on skis, returning to the nearby Wy”East Lodge after a run down the slopes.

Though we didn’t stay the night, we did manage to get into the dining room for lunch, where we had soup and salad and looked out the window at the winter scenery.

From there, we backtracked a few miles on Hwy 26 in order to pick up Hwy 35, which wound north through the Mt. Hood National Forest, dropping up into the town of Hood River.

Now, I have to admit that it’s probably becoming clear that I have an obsession with lodging. I suppose I always have. I love the feeling of getting away and being able to pretend for a night that another place is really your own. That aside, much of the freelance travel writing I’ve done over the last few years has been about lodging, especially historical lodging. This is why I often change locations daily, in order to gather more for my “I have stayed there and this is what it was like” list.

In addition, being a starving freelance writer most of the time (the two definitely go together, regardless of how glamourous it may sound) I specialize in places that are relatively low-budget. I actually prefer this, since I think it’s a cool trick for most people to find a way to escape without breaking the bank. I really have a passion for finding lodging that’s a great deal and passing that information on.

Having now explained that, it will make sense when I say what a treat it was (using Dad being with me as an excuse to splurge) to stay the next two nights at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Sigh. I doubt I can do the place justice. But it’s exceptionally nice, a very elegant and classy place. And the location can’t be beat, situated on a bluff overlooking the Columbia Gorge.

The hotel is built on the former site of the 1800’s Phelps Mill. A hotel by the name of the Wah Gwin Gwin Hotel was built there in 1904, but torn down in 1921 when Portland lumber baron Simon Benson replaced it with the current building. Though it opened with high acclaim and attracted many celebrities, the Depression years hit hard and it was sold and used as a retirement home for many years. Restoration efforts in 1977 turned it back into the luxury accommodation it is now.

We got a decent rate for a room on the garden side. We shared the room, but it was half of a suite, so there was an attached hallway with a bath off to one side and a closet to the other, which included a small refrigerator (stocked, of course, with honor bar things to raise the bill, but I brought in my own Diet Coke from the car, as always.

The rooms are not large, which is common for historical hotels. But they’re immaculate and comfortable, with luxurious sheets (honestly, I think this is becoming my favorite amenity.) The gardens are beautiful, so we didn’t feel slighted over the big spenders on the river view side.

The hotel offers a complimentary champagne and caviar reception in the downstairs lounge from 4:30 – 5:30. I don’t do either of those bubbly or salty things, but Dad enjoyed a glass of champagne while we sat on the outdoor patio and admired the river. There’s a great area of rock paths along the edge of the property and also a waterfall alongside the building. Pretty breathtaking.

Our first night there was a little chaotic, unfortunately, because there was a wedding on the lawn outside, followed by a reception inside. I was probably a little tired from driving, but was a little irked later that night by what I assume were inebriated wedding guests slamming doors late at night. Our luck to be on the same floor.

It would be better the second night. I finally fell asleep, prepared for the day of sight-seeing that was to follow.

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Our tentative itinerary covered 724 miles over six days. We would drive half of those miles the first day, leaving the San Francisco Bay Area around 10AM. This plan was to allow more exploring and photography time on the remaining days of the trip.

We made one lunch stop along the way at a Black Bear Diner. The food isn’t gourmet fare, but it’s decent and not terribly expensive. In addition to picking up an order of blackberry cobbler to save for later (you never know when the midnight munchies will strike,) we had fun taking pictures of the carved wooden bears. This was really my reason for stopping there, as I had only pictures taken two years ago, with a lower resolution camera.

To be honest here, I have to confess we stopped at not one, not two, but THREE Black Bear Diners, in order to find all the bears I remembered. My father is obviously a very patient man.

We arrived in Jacksonville, OR around 6PM and checked into a historic hotel that has long been on my wish list: The Jacksonville Inn. This is a highly acclaimed accommodation, built in 1861 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their regular rates are fairly expensive, but they offer an excellent corporate rate. I had been able to book two rooms for less than the regular price of one.

We unloaded our bags quickly and then zoomed up and down California St., Jacksonville’s Main Street equivalent, catching a few photos with the last of the sunlight. Hunger caught up with us before long and we returned to the inn’s absolutely charming outdoor patio for dinner. My choice: Chicken Marsala. Dad’s choice: Bouillabaisse. Both excellent.

Like most historic hotels, the guest rooms are upstairs and the common areas down below. In addition to the outdoor patio dining, the inn has an elegant dining room and bar on the lower level, as well as a gift shop and huge wine stock. The entire building is beautifully restored and immaculately maintained.

We turned in for the night, with Dad in a spacious, back corner room with two exposed brick walls, a very large bath and a primo close location to the table where coffee would be served in the morning. (Note: I considered this a very cool thing that they did here, putting the coffee out on a table in the upstairs hallway, as opposed to having guests come downstairs to fetch it.)

My room was halfway down the hall, with a smaller bath, but I chose it between the two because it had a writing desk and a comfortable “feel” to the furniture arrangement, something I never can explain. Why the writing desk mattered, I have no idea, since inevitably I end up on the bed, pillows smashed behind me and laptop on my lap. The rooms all have phones and televisions hidden in drawers and armoires, so there are modern amenities to go along with the feel of history.

I slept really well. The bed was super comfortable. I woke up early and tiptoed down the hall to find not only coffee, but a plate of biscotti. This before a full breakfast – included in the room rate – which was served a bit later in the dining room.

I really liked this inn and will definitely be putting it on my list of favorites. It was a great first night, a good beginning for the trip.

Jacksonville itself is an interesting, historic town, built up as a mining community after gold was discovered in the local area in 1851. It flourished until 1884, when the railroad opted for a route through nearby Medford. Local activity moved that direction, which turned out to be an advantage to history buffs, as it helped preserve the town from continued development.

Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966, Jacksonville is one of very few towns in the country to hold this honor. This distinction helps preserve the town as it was in its heyday and offers visitors an opportunity to take a trip back in time.

We checked out, took more photos, and then headed up to Crater Lake. As we climbed in elevation, small patches of snow started to appear alongside the road. By the time we reached the lake itself, it looked like winter. Huge snow banks behind the snow plow stakes. One look at the lodge explained why it wasn’t open yet for the season. (I had checked into staying there when planning the trip, but it opens May 26th.)

Besides getting winter-ish photos, the tall snow banks made it easier to hike out a little closer to the lake view for pictures. Those “Danger – Do Not Go Past This Sign” markers were pretty well buried under snow. It was worth pushing my luck a little. I’m happy with quite a few of the pictures.

The lake is gorgeous, a beautiful blue, every bit as beautiful as I’ve been told. Very peaceful (especially without summer tourists around.) Dad said in “the old days” the lake was said to be bottomless. The National Park website informs that sonar readings were taken in 1959, setting the deepest section at 1,932 feet. Deep enough for me. I’m even more glad I didn’t fall in.

I adored the lodge, of course, being partial to historic buildings. It was built in 1915 (actually over a period of time, between 1911 and 1915) and has a long history of falling into disrepair before being rescued in the 1990’s with a fifteen million dollar restoration. Since I couldn’t see the inside, I guess I’ll have to find a way to go back.

We finally headed out and cruised northbound to Bend, OR, where we spent the night in a fairly blah place (they can’t all be fabulous, after all…) Just a stopover to rest up before continuing north again the next day.

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The drive west from Hood River, along the Columbia Gorge, is spectacular. Not the least of the natural wonders along that route is Multnomah Falls.

Fed from melting snow, this 620 foot cascade of water is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. Driving along the historic scenic route just south of I-84, it is impossible to miss. If the sound of the water doesn’t pull you over, the crowds of tourists will. I would not want to visit during the summer. In fact, their brochure advises against it, due to congestion and parking problems.

Being the off-season, this was a perfect time to visit. We had pre-planned reservations in the Multnomah Lodge for Sunday Brunch, something I guarantee we didn’t need after yet another Columbia Gorge Hotel “World Famous Farm Breakfast.” It was included in the room rate, so how could we pass it up?

Multnomah Lodge is another one of these wonderful solid, stone, mountain structures, though this particular lodge does not offer overnight accommodations. It does, however, have a restaurant with a view of the waterfall. We took advantage of our reservations to have a light lunch and sip coffee while admiring the view.

The lodge was built by the city of Portland in 1925, on land donated by Simon Benson (yes, the same Simon Benson who built Columbia Gorge Hotel.) The Forest Service took over ownership of the Lodge in 1943. It is run today, through a special permit, by the Multnomah Falls Co., Inc.

There are several hiking trails, including a meander to the top of Larch Mountain. An easy (well, at least short) hike of 1/4 mile will take visitors to the Benson Bridge. Dad opted to rest on a bench below while I hiked up to the middle of the bridge and, I imagine, made a spectacle of myself shouting down at him and waving hello.

There are many falls in the area and I have to say I enjoyed stops at two of those even more, due to the lack of tourists. After all, why shouldn’t I have these natural wonders to myself. Horsetail Falls was a favorite of mine, a 176 foot drop. Latourelle Falls was another one we enjoyed, accessible with a short loop hike that was very easy and incredibly scenic.

We continued west from there, passing the Bonneville Dam. We didn’t stop, as we were well past the sign when Dad mentioned it. I do wish now that I had turned back, as I think he was more interested in seeing it than I knew at the time. We stopped briefly at Vista Point, where we found the building to be under renovation and closed, but a circular pathway around it offered great views.

We continued along the scenic route until it dropped us off in Troutdale, which was extremely convenient, as this was where our lodging was for our last night together.

Ever since staying at Kennedy School in Portland a couple years ago, I’ve been a huge McMenamins’ fan. These brothers have done an amazing job restoring historical buildings in the Oregon and Washington areas, turning them into lodging, dining, pub and movie facilities. I’d like to stay at every one of them. Kennedy School was the first of their locations that I visited. This night I would add my second.

It seemed only appropriate to go from Columbia Gorge Hotel to the poor farm, and this is exactly what we did.

Edgefield Manor in Troutdale, just outside of Portland, was indeed the Multnomah County Poor Farm from the time it was built in 1911 until it became, in post-depression years, a nursing home. The goal was self-sufficiency for the poor who lived at the farm, growing food for their own meals, as well as for other institutions in the Portland area.

During its poor farm days, the estate comprised 330 acres. Now the remaining 38 acres serve as one of the McMenamin brothers’ most accomplished business endeavors. Not only is lodging available in every form from $20, hostel accommodations to $200. family suites (limit of 6 occupants,) but a restaurant, movie house, several pubs, a winery, a brewery that produces 10,000 kegs per year, and an 18-hole golf course are all there for guests to enjoy. Add expansive gardens to that and there’s a lot to explore.

We had booked a room there on the Hammerhead Package, something they offer at many of their locations. Hammerhead refers to one of their well-known ales and a coupon for two pints of the brew is included in the package, as well as overnight lodging, dinner and breakfast for two guests. Not bad for $109., considering what a room, two dinners, two breakfasts, and two servings of ale would run at most places. And this is a nicer than any ordinary place.

There are no phones in the rooms, as there are at Kennedy School, but there is a business center available for use (no charge.) The rooms are spacious, decorated artistically with stenciled artwork and eclectic furniture. We had a private bath, though many of the rooms don’t, relying on baths located down the hall.

The movie theatre is open to overnight guests at no charge, as well. We found ourselves right in front of it after walking the grounds and taking advantage of some photo opportunities – gardens, artwork, a wonderful red water tower, (Not many photo ops, as the light was fading quickly.) We used our drink coupons and settled in for a showing of Hildago – a fun, unexpected treat.

Both dinner and breakfast were served at The Black Rabbit, the main dining room. It was very good, as was the service. A very noisy gentleman at the table behind us detracted a bit from the meal, but we enjoyed it anyway, though didn’t linger.

Already late (movie, dinner, the clock marched on,) we settled into the room where Dad promptly swiped my laptop to play FreeCell and I read until I fell asleep. It was a good last day together. We would have one more treat before I dropped him off at the airport the next afternoon.

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I know I really like a place when it’s difficult to leave and that’s exactly how I felt as I prepared to check out of the historic Weasku Inn in Grants Pass, Oregon. In fact, I found it so hard to leave that, after checking out, I set up my laptop in the Great Room downstairs, which bought me a few extra hours at this historic lodge before hitting the road again.

This must be how the many celebrities who frequented the inn during the 1930’s and 40’s felt. It’s just not an easy place to leave, especially if returning to the hustle and bustle of Hollywood life. Zane Grey, Bing Crosby and Walt Disney all stayed at the inn during this period of time. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were also frequent guests and, after Carole Lombard’s death, Clark Gable spent weeks in seclusion there.

I arrived in a somewhat frazzled mood, with a lingering headache from travel, and was not the most cheerful guest to arrive at a registration desk. But I was greeted cheerfully by the enthusiastic and friendly front desk staff. No employee blues here. And why should there be? The Weasku Inn place is a slice of paradise. My brittle road nerves began to relax immediately.

I had the good fortune of having the upstairs of the small lodge to myself for the evening, as other guests had reserved cabins. I took Room #5, just at the top of the stairs. It was rustic and elegant at the same time, with a twig headboard and oatmeal, honey and almond bath products. A side window looked out across the garden and down toward the river. Though the room had all the comforts of modern amenities – television, phone, hair dryer, iron – they were unobtrusively placed, helping maintain the historic feeling of the inn. With the other rooms vacant, I had the sense of having the entire lodge to myself. I had a cozy retreat upstairs, as well as a spacious main floor of common areas. It was ideal.

Seated in one of two Stickley sofas, in front of a massive river rock fireplace, I watched as other guests checked in and headed toward the Rogue River, where cabins sat on the edge of the property. Though the cabins were spacious, I preferred my smaller room in the lodge, as it allowed me to remain in the original building, surrounded by the same log walls that have been there since the inn was built in 1924.

After settling into the room, I ventured back downstairs, where a buffet offered complimentary chilled white wine and hors d’oeuvres. I fetched a soda for myself and built a small cheese and cracker feast, which I carried to a table in the Rainbow Room, named after Rainbow Gibson, who bought the inn from the original builders and owners in 1927. There, I jotted down some notes and looked out across the deck and through the many pine trees, joined periodically by local feline friends, all named after former celebrity guests – Zane, Walt, etc.

There were several restaurant options in the area, but I decided to take a run into Grants Pass, where I grabbed something quick from a grocery deli before returning to the inn to enjoy a quiet night in my room.

After an exquisite – and diet-destroying – continental breakfast the next morning, I wandered the grounds. From the lower level of the property I could look out at the Rogue River. The area between the river and the lodge itself provided rustic wooden benches in many corners, places to rest, read or write.

So many details at this inn added up to provide an amazing lodging experience. Pitchers of ice tea and ice water were set out in the daytime, wine, cheese and crackers in the late afternoon, cookies and milk during bedtime hours, not to mention the expansive breakfast buffet that awaited guests in the morning. Baskets of fresh fruit were available at all times. In addition, the accommodating hospitality of the inn was every bit as wonderful as refreshments, successfully striking the perfect balance between service and privacy.

I was surprised when handed my bill at check out to find that my only charge was the exact room rate itself. Not only was the usual sales tax missing, which the state of Oregon does not charge, but even the normally charged hotel tax was not on the bill. It turned out the Weasku Inn was just outside the county limits and therefore not required to charge a lodging tax.

As far as my personal preferences in lodging go, there was nothing lacking at this Rogue River retreat. Local calls were free. Movies were available from a video library, including, of course, numerous Clark Gable films. It was quiet and peaceful, filled with comfort, an easy place to relax and enjoy the peaceful side of life.

I left with a book on the history of the inn, a handful of cookies and a souvenir coffee mug. It was not an easy place to leave. But, as always, the road called.

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