The Curly in Crescent City, California!
Even though Crescent City is on the coast, there's not a whole lot to see there. I never thought there would be a Notable Night option, in the small town.
Don and I have passed through Crescent City a few times, while traveling 101, between CA and OR. I guess we just flew right past the Curly Redwood Lodge, without noticing.
I learned about the 1950's motel last spring, when I called to reserve a room at another motel. I spoke to Rik at the Itty Bitty Inn, in North Bend, OR. We had an entertaining converstaion about our shared appreciation for vintage motels.
Rik's motel is awesome by the way. (#263 of Notable Nights) And Rik is awesome, for giving us the scoop on Curly Lodge. He loved the place!
On the Redwood Highway
I was excited about our stay at the retro motel, last July.
Don and I enjoyed the scenic drive up the Redwood Highway. We had reservations, so I was paying attention, as we neared the south end of town. I spotted the faded billboard and thought it might be from the 50's, until I noticed WI-FI, written in the corner.
I was delighted that we'd arrived before check in, so we could see the motel without cars. The exterior looked mighty spotless, with all the spiffy covered parking spots.
The north side of the horseshoe-shaped motel looked pretty fabulous, with its zigzag design. The picture windows were neatly line up, with opened drapes and centered lamps. Should have gotten a better photo!
We pulled up beside a red car, near the lobby.
That was my first good look at the smooth curly redwood exterior. I'd never heard of curly redwood, until my chat with Rik. It's a kind of redwood, with swirly-curly grain, rather than straight.
At 2:30, the lobby door was locked. There was a sign on the door reminding us to wear masks. We pulled our masks up and rang the buzzer. I like a cautious motel host.
Jay greeted us moments later and welcomed us into the immaculate lobby. More curly redwood and awesome mid-century decor!
What's the Story?
We've stayed at some unusual motels over the years, but this one really needs a bigger spotlight! It was built in 1957, using the 57,000 "board feet" of lumber, that came from this single curly redwood.
Above, we see Lucie and Tom Wyllie, posing with the tree they had cut down near the Klamath River, in 1952.
I was pretty giddy when I spotted the all the wavy wood, in the office desk.
This beautiful wood was used in panelling, posts and doors, throughout the motel, inside and out. All solid. No veneers!
I Spy Curly
Jay seemed a little surprised by my enthusiasm, but he eagerly turned on lights and closed some doors, to help enhance my photos. I loved the curly redwood mailbox on the desk... and then I spied the wastebasket.
Jay said a lot of the curly redwood pieces have walked off over the years. I think the guest rooms once had redwood wastebaskets, (like the office) until people decided they liked the wooden treasures, a little too much.
The office also had a lot of framed art, displayed on the paneled walls. The art of course featured redwood trees.
There were also a couple of amazing curly redwood tables... if you can zoom in and see the detail.
Jay probably wondered why we lingered so long in the office. But this was not your usual mid-century motel lobby. I needed to study the wood frame, with the illustration of a curly redwood. The tree was a timeline, showing all the history that took place during its life!
And I had to stop and grin at the retro pen holder, with the Covid announcement, which reminded me it wasn't 1957 anymore. Jay said they used to have those in the rooms also, but people walked off with them. Shoot, I'd love to buy that thing!
Off to the Room
We got our room key and Jay headed back upstairs to the family's home, above the lobby. We stepped outside and noticed a set of stairs beside a wall of curly boards.
I wondered if those were the stairs I read about? 11 people were killed when a Tsunami devastated Crescent City, in 1964. I heard that a fisherman escaping the rush of water, ran up some stairs at this motel. From the second level, he watched water and debris slam the lower half.
Can't believe the wood survived, along with the man!
We told Jay we were eager for a first level room, with wonderfully retro, covered parking. Some rooms like 12, were along a flat section without the tricky staggered doors or parking spots.
Jay said he'd give us one of the best. Ours room was towards the end of the U. Those rooms had their own parking, between flower planters. The doors opened to the side!
Out of 36 rooms, our room #1, was almost at the end. We backed in and enjoyed the thrill of no elevators, no lugging of bags. Easy as can be!
Silky Smooth at 64 Years!
How can this wood look so spotless after 64 years! The motel is my exact age and I wish I had such smooth and glossy skin!
I don't know what kind of maintenance goes into this wood, but the new owners, along with all those going back to the Wyllies in 1957, did something right. This is a damp, foggy, coastal town with more than 1 Tsunami in its history! This wood must take some special care.
The wide angle makes this photo a little warped, but it really was a great sized room!
I was so happy to see that most of the room hadn't been altered over time!
This little sitting area took me right back to some of the houses my family used to rent in the 1960's! That angled table, was just out of this world! The lamp looked right out of... "I Dream of Jeanie"!
I love vintage everything... but the new mattress and linens were appreciated.
Rik had raved about the curly redwood motel, with its spacious rooms and glorious wood paneling. The doors and wall in the desk area, showed the wood off well.
Rik reminded us to peek in the closet to see the original "no-steal" hangars, with words stamped on the metal ring. He thought it was pretty fun that there was a patent pending on that design, back in 1957!
Love the Lamp!
I was sad for Don that he had no beside table. Sorry, but I got the table and clock, because I always claim dibs, when older hotels have only one. He is very kind.
We both got to use the hanging lamp, though! Man I love that little push button thingy, above the pillows!
We had no tub, but the shower was pretty awesome.
If you look at the photo of the table near the picture window, you'll see this same mod shape! I call it the chopped off triangle look.
We've had better hotel views, but I was happy as can be with this one from our picture window! I even love the term picture window.
We could keep an eye on the rental car and watch cars pass by on the 101, Redwood Highway. We could also see two planters with orange flowers and of course the Curly Lodge sign.
Whenever we check into a hotel, I rush out to explore with my camera and search for a good happy hour spot.
There was a large span of grass inside the "U", with 4 Adirondack chairs just waiting for us. Fingers crossed that no other arrivals would claim!
You can see some sun glowing on my face. That was lucky, since Crescent City is known for having some gloomy, foggy weather. It felt lovely.
One More Pic
I put the camera timer on for this shot, to show off the zigzag building behind us!
We enjoyed our early evening, listening to sounds... a little car traffic, distant sea lions barking and the eerie sound of a fog horn, every 10 seconds or so!
At Sun Set
Here is an image of the motel/lodge with both lit signs.
This funny little motel turned out to be a comfortable stay, with some fun stuff right across the highway.
The location of our motel turned out to be better than we realized!
The crescent shaped beach, was just a short walk across the highway! The town might not have a sweet historic downtown, (destroyed in 1964) but there was some fun stuff across the road, near the water.
Taking Our Time
It was nice to have time to wander across the road and explore. We meandered the harbor and dined at the seafood cafe right across the street.
It was wonderful to leave the car under the carport and explore on foot. We even spotted Jay, walking with his kids. (I think) What an interesting little world, when you give it a chance.
For less than $100. we had a comfy, relaxed stay in a motel right across from the Pacific Ocean. We were also just minutes away from the Redwood National and State Parks!
I'll remember enjoying our drinks and popcorn, sitting on the lawn with the pretty weather. I enjoyed learning more about the crazy history of this place. And I got to know a little bit more about Crescent City. I have a little more respect for this small town, that sometimes gets called Tsunami City.
I'm so glad Rik shared his knowledge and I'm so glad Jay and his family are caring for this special place now. I hope the lodge can handle another 64 years, for visitors traveling the Redwood Highway!
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!