North Bend, OR
This colorful place, was our little home away from home, for one night in July.
The 5-room motel, is in Oregon's Coos Bay County. It sits right on Route 101.
Don and I made reservations a month before. It looked like the perfect stop on our travels south, along the Oregon coast. When we crossed the McCullough Bridge we knew we were 1/4 mile from the inn. But, I was a little too delighted by the retro welcome sign.
I failed as navigator and Don drove right past the cute little motel.
We went around the block and slowly pulled in. We were early, so there were no problems finding a parking spot. If only we'd been driving a Tesla, we could have charged up, for free.
Near the office, I noticed there was bike parking also. (and bikes for borrowing!)
We headed for the office door, hoping our room might be ready early. I was eager to meet Rik. I felt like I already knew him, after our 30 minute conversation when I made reservations in June.
Itty Bitty Office
We buzzed and it took Rik a moment to answer. This is Rik's home too, so we felt a little bad arriving before check in time. But Rik greeted with an enthused elbow bump. (unclear how much was pandemic and how much was an injury that had to do with a torpedo... a long story)
Rik talked a mile a minute, just like he had a month before on the phone. He was overjoyed that we were so giddy about renting the Tiki Cha Cha Room. "You will just love it, my Angels!" He told us he had a turntable with music waiting for us. Don showed Rik his favorite Exotica Tiki Music playlist on his phone.
Itty Bitty History
I studied the small office/shop. There were tiki mugs and tee-shirts. There were lots of local goodies for sale from soaps to coffee. And there were framed portraits!
I loved knowing that Rik had a spotlight, on the original owners. It was fun to learn that the inn opened as "Itty Bitty Motor Inn" back in 1950. Kitty (in photo) had wanted a bigger name. (Trade Winds, I believe) Kitty's family teased that name was too big and it should be Kitty's Itty Bitty... When Rik bought the biz in 2015, the inn had another name, but he brought back that wonderful name.
Signs and Murals
I haven't had luck finding old photos of the motel, in the 50's. I wonder if they had a neon sign. Today's colorful sign and arrow looks retro, but not mid-century.
The murals are fun. You can see chickens painted on the roof of the VW van. Rik has no pet bears, but he referred to his chickens a lot.
"Tonight, I'm going to watch some B-rated movies and play Bingo and hang out with my chickens ..."
I thought it was just playful babble, but he really does have chickens.
#1 The Tiki Cha Cha Room
Out of the 5 themed rooms, 2 of them were Tiki-themed.
I chose Room #1, from photos I saw on the internet.
Don and I stepped inside and placed our shoes (as instructed) on the towel that Rik had left by the door. That could seem odd to some, but it was also a reminder of how clean Rik keeps his rooms.
I loved the little entry way with microwave and fridge and bar. Then we stepped through the bamboo to see the room.
There it was! The bamboo design, painted on the ceiling!
It was that fine bamboo ceiling that made me grin, when I searched the website photos.
There was also a creative bamboo touch on the wall, behind the beds.
Room #1 was the only guest room with 2 beds. The extra single bed came in handy for bag holding. And I might mention, there were rainbow/unicorn sheets underneath the comforters!
We didn't get a chance to see the Star Trek Room, Oregon Trail Room or the 70's Room. But I'm convinced our room had more bonus decor than the others.
Look at the mosaic, fruit bowl art! And how about those swooping diamond shapes, holding the clock and "candles"!
This table held more fun stuff. The lamp and nut/candy dish were classic. The tiki figure and rotary phone were 60's vintage. The Growler bottle was all about 2021! And that's a photo of Rik up there, reminding us to borrow that growler and get it filled with beer.
Again, the Tiki Cha Cha Room was fresh and clean. That's always extra appreciated, when you step into the bathroom. It was an extra treat to find locally made oatmeal soaps.
The retro tile and clamshell toilet lid, made me smile. And those were some fine wooden accent-treasures, on the wall.
I liked the divider wall, which opened into the micro/fridge area.
There was a built in bookcase and I found a book or two that intrigued me.
The bar/ counter, was handy. It held tiki glasses and a candy dish, offering a couple tootsie roll pops. Rik brought us some freshly ground coffee and we enjoyed a cup later.
Rik was very excited to share some of his favorite albums. The Exotica music was ready to go, when we walked in.
Don and I turned on the music and the room filled with flutes, drums and jungle sounds. We put on some tropical shirts.
Ready to Go!
Don has about 10 tiki shirts, but he packed one of his tamer shirts.
I left my flamingo dress back in Texas and went for a flowered shirt.
Off to See Rik
Rik heard we'd packed festive shirts and insisted we stop by the office, with our shirts and empty glasses. He had a few options on tap. Don went for a Mocha Stout and I had Cranberry Hard Cider. Thanks Rik!
We spent about 30 minutes gabbing in the office. Rik told us some pretty hysterical stories about a few famous guests who have enjoyed stays at the Itty Bitty. It's hard to picture celebs like Woody Harrelson and Kurt Russel choosing a place like this. But Rik has created a one of a kind getaway. He's also pretty good at keeping things secret when celebrities stay. It was fun to learn that Itty Bitty was rated #1, of the Top 10 budget hotels on Yelp!
Tips from Rik
I wish I'd had a tape recorder while we talked. I needed to take notes. Rik's enthusiasm was infectious. Whatever he suggested, we felt excited to try. Maybe because he called us "My Darlings" and "My Angels" a lot. He was much younger than us, but he seemed like a persuasive, favorite uncle.
We took Rik's suggestion and headed for Chuck's Seafood to order some of the fresh and odd seafood options. He sent us off with a cutting board and knife.
We did what he said. We bought octopus jerky and oysters sticks and all the good fresh fish that the locals buy. "You need to take it to the beach with a bottle of wine!" It was a fun, Rik-led adventure.
Rik also told us about The Liberty Pub, which was in walking distance. He said it was a local favorite, especially on Wednesdays, for the Irish Music. He raved. So we went that night. Good food and good music!
And a month earlier when I booked, Rik and I swapped motel stories over the phone, for a half hour. I was excited to tell Rik we had booked one of his recommendations. The Curly Redwood! Oh I love an enthused inn host, with tons of good ideas.
Our memory of the Itty Bitty, will be such a combination of our sweet Tiki Room and our sweet and curious host.
We weren't the coolest and hippest of Itty Bitty guests. We won't make it into Rik's stories. But I know he appreciated, that we appreciated... his place and him!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!