Near Gore, Oklahoma in July 2012
Most hotels that call themselves a "resort" don't end up on my notable list. But Fin & Feather is so oddly memorable, I'm forced to add it.
F & F sits high up, at the south end of Lake Tenkiller, just west of the Arkansas border. When we lived in Tulsa, our friends would talk about annual family reunions at the resort. Don and I decided to stop by while on a road trip, to check out the place that we'd heard about for years.
The Notable Entrance
In the 1990's, the Harts used to chuckle about the dated resort. But they loved the place. When
we approached the office, I had to smile at the cement urns and birdbaths. I wanted to experience the place just as the Harts had described. I was glad the resort hadn't just completed a major renovation.
Just inside the glass doors, I spotted the bustling office and gift shop to the left. While Don checked in, I headed to the right and took a seat in a snazzy little area. "Just perfect for a little meeting with my Garden Club friends!" I thought. If I belonged to a garden club...
I will admit, I did detect a musty odor, with a hint of skunk. But sometimes you have to put up with smells of the past in order to enjoy a vintage atmosphere. As for the skunk... well, the picture windows revealed a lot of nature out there. I'm sure that smell was temporary.
Feeling Like a Lady
The mint green door, flowered wallpaper and "marble" statue made me feel like I was in a place where ladies are treated with respect... when their hubbies return from fishing!
Having lived in Texas for 15 years I was ready for a restroom door that didn't have a cowgirl or Senorita image on the door. I decided, this little corner of the office building was picture worthy!
As I relaxed a bit, I had time to look about. The "patio furniture", with glass tables and flower arrangements reminded me of my Aunt Marguerite's sunroom on my last visit in 1990.
Aunt Marguerite liked the feminine touch. She drove a purple Cadillac. She also had the money to up the classiness a bit. She would have replaced the droopy peacock feathers in the giant vase.
1960 is barely old enough to get me excited.
But it was fun to imagine this property 55 years ago, opening with 20 cabins and a small cafe. We headed down the drive to find our accommodations in an slightly newer addition.
Up the Stairs
This building may have been a little younger than 60 years old, but our room at the top of the stairs had the same musty smell of old carpet and tired air-conditioners.
No big deal, it's a lake resort after all. I have no photos of the room, but it was spacious, with dated decor and a nice view of the lake in the distance.
Don and I were pretty drained by the sweltering heat that day. We had spent much of our day outside, visiting the nearby Cherokee Heritage Center, absorbing history about the devastating Trail of Tears that ended in Oklahoma.
We needed something to help us transition into this very different world and something to cool us down. We fixed some ice-cold gin & tonics and strolled the grounds with our thermal mugs. The metal umbrella over the picnic table made me grin!
Where was everyone? The pool was empty, so all the families must have been at the lake.
I could picture the Hart Family reunion taking over this glass covered pool area. I'll bet there were a lot of swim caps in this pool when it first opened.
Fin Bin Rules
We strolled along until we came to the the building that housed the "FIN BIN" recreation room!
Oops! "G-rated" and "No Alcohol".
We felt like the bad kids at summer camp as we entered the Rec Center, nonchalantly carrying our mugs of... aaaa...Mountain Dew?
At the Lake?
Once again, things seemed a little empty. But it was quite a sight to see this gigantic recreation area with such a mixture of styles.
There was a stone covered water fountain, beside a retro coin operated scale. The '70's fast food style seating was beside a flashy, carpeted wall! And beyond that wall was a sea of pool tables and arcade games! A kid's dream!
I wasn't sure about the Skate at Your Own Risk sign. There was a rental station, but I'm not sure where the skating happened. Maybe you could skate from the ping pong table to the pool tables? Pretty curious.
Evening at The Fin
Actually this photo was taken in the morning from our window, not evening. I didn't have my camera when we strolled to dinner at the newly remodeled restaurant, called Soda Steve's. I wish I had photos of the curious "island themed" dining room and some of the foods (like ice cream nachos) that we saw being devoured.
There was an awkward vibe to the place, since many of the tables were occupied by a quiet family reunion. The women all wore long denim skirts and and long ponytails with puffy bangs. I'm not positive, but I think this hints at some fundamentalist religion. I am sure that they were a very proper and mannerly group, in contrast to the sunburned, voraciously hungry family crowds that entered a little later.
Food at Soda Steve's
We had been lured years ago by this blue & white cookbook gift, given by the Harts. We had always been tempted to try out the resort and it's fun and fattening foods. As we dined on our burgers that evening, we became aware that the menu had changed a bit since Chef Steve came on board.
We didn't get a chance to meet him, but we got to know him, since we were surrounded by plentiful photos and write ups and videos that shared about his travels to third world countries on mission trips. Hmmm?
"The Fin" as regulars call it, doesn't fit any category on my list. It's not a retro motel or an historic inn. It's more of a family retreat and maybe that's why we felt a tad out of place. We were just two.
If Don and I had come years ago with our kids and the Hart family, we would have had a blast. In fact we still would, with our grown kids... mostly because we all like each other! But since we had no family to "play" with on this visit, I'm glad we got to wander and enjoy (with our R-rated cocktails) and imagine the past!
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!