#48 Historic Park Inn Hotel in Iowa
Frank Lloyd Wright's Creation!
We can definitely add to our list of unusual overnights, after our stay at Park Inn Hotel.
We stayed in the only existing Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel in the world!
Mason City, Iowa!
One would think if you wanted to sleep in the only remaining hotel built by the famous architect of Prairie School Design, you'd have to go to a big city.
But, I guess it's fitting that this building style, inspired by the horizontal landscapes of midwest prairies, would be found in a modest town in north Iowa!
A Drizzly Stay
We arrived on a gray October afternoon. I so badly wanted to see the sunshine on the elaborate, yellow brick and terra-cotta facade.
Then again, the blah weather made it easier to imagine the years when this building wasn't the spotlight of Mason City. By the 1970's, the city hardly knew what to do with it. The hotel was almost torn down.
Back to Life
In 2010, the hotel reopened after a complete renovation. The Wright-designed City National Bank, (attached to the hotel) became the hotel's ballroom.
On the Thursday when we arrived, the ballroom space was being set up for the 8th Annual Iowa Independent Film Festival.
Was Frank Short?
I'm just under 5"3', so I didn't even notice. But after we checked in with Chaurice (who was the most delightful desk clerk we had during our 22-day road trip) Don just laughed at how claustrophobic he felt under the low ceiling.
I had to google F.LW.'s height and he was indeed on the short side. I think he actually liked annoying people who had to hunch a bit in some of his low spaces!
This 2-story room behind the lobby made up for the cramped front desk area. It had once been the hotel's dining room, but was now filled with reproduction Stickley Mission-style furniture as well as Arts & Crafts style lamps and artwork.
This lounging area was just plain inviting, especially compared to so many of the Victorian historic hotels we've tiptoed around! Not only was this space comfy, but the skylight made it refreshing. And the mezzanine above the lobby had a player piano tinkling away with some fitting tunes.
The 25 panels of skylight glass were all original. That's pretty lucky, since so many details in the building had been removed or lost over the years.
Another window that looked out towards the park, showed hints of fall trees through the muted greens and yellows of the glass. Pretty lovely.
Hall on 2nd Floor
I like to take hall photos and that's sort of silly. But I loved our hall. The carpet and light fixtures were very Wright-esque in design and the dark wood doors and trim were original.
But the best part was the sloping, funhouse feel I got walking down to room 215. I felt like I'd had a few martinis... or maybe I was on a ship out at sea.
Our cozy room was perfect. Yes, it was a bit narrow, but it was nearly twice the size of the original.
There are only 27 guest rooms now, but there were over 40 in 1910. No two guest rooms are alike in the hotel and this one was less than $100. It amazes me that you can have this experience for that price.
H P I
We saw the Historic Park Inn logo (with great Craftsman font) all over the room. That, and lots of geometric shapes.
As I explored and absorbed this wonderful place, I realized how little I know about FLW and his design! But the little kid in me wanted to count squares! Look at the squares on the rectangular pillow!
Cozy Room & Bath
We had 2 large square windows that looked over the hotel skylight. They also looked right into the windows on the opposite side of the hotel, so we mostly kept our shades down.
I spotted more squares on the light fixtures and desk chair. In the bathroom we had my favorite honeycomb tile as well as more logo... on the shower curtains and super fluffy towels. Even the bath soap had a little FLW shape to it!
I fit right in with my book "Loving Frank" (Fictionalized Frank) as I sat in one of the many cozy areas.
Don's 6'2" frame did not fit as he walked into the mezzanine area, which looks down over the lobby.
Hanging with the Gentlemen
In the basement we found Seth, in his vest and bow tie, tending bar at the 1910 Lounge.
This area was once the Gentlemen's Lounge and I seemed to be the only woman, but no one kicked me out. We had a great time learning about area from Seth, who is a Mason City native.
Film and Billiards
It was a chilly, wet evening so we decided to stay put. In the lounge we chatted with Seth and Chef Kurt, who dashed in from the kitchen a few times to check on the football scores. We also learned about the Film Festival from a local writer and festival worker, who stopped in to take a break from setting up in the ballroom.
Then, we chatted with another Seth, from Chicago, who had directed one of the films being shown at the festival. We didn't squeeze in a game of "billiards" which I'm sure wouldn't have allowed ladies back in 1910.
Up For Dinner
We headed upstairs to 1910 Grille for dinner. We enjoyed some of Chef Kurt's Portabella Risotto and a tasty sampler of wines.
My photo is blurry because I rushed. (The place was too classy for touristy I-phone snaps.) The atmosphere was lovely and the food was excellent. FLW would have approved!
Good Morning Ladies
We had our complimentary breakfast in the area that was once the Ladies Lounge. The ladies had no billiards, but they had a balcony with a nice view of the grassy town square.
I let Don join me for coffee, since I enjoyed the Men's Lounge the night before! I loved the square saucer and HPI napkin, but the breakfast was a bit skimpy. I don't think FLW would have been impressed. But then, maybe he wasn't a big breakfast eater.
Rain or Shine
The morning was as moist as the day before, but I'm so glad we didn't let the gloomy weather keep us from taking a walk. Not only did we see The Stockman House, also designed by Wright, but we strolled through the Glen Park Neighborhood. (Many architects who worked with Wright while building the hotel, were commissioned to build homes nearby.)
And then of course, we had to walk across the "Music Man Footbridge" in honor of Meredith Willson, who was from Mason City. This town inspired Willson's "River City" when he wrote "The Music Man". Funny to picture Mr. W. being about 8 years old when FLW was overseeing the construction of our hotel!
The obvious answer is that we stayed in a hotel built by the most famous American architect. But besides that, I will always remember this hotel as being out of place.
Not only did the hotel seem too special to be tucked into this small town in Iowa, but the people didn't fit the Iowa image either. For that reason I was left feeling like I hadn't cracked the mystery. I have such a strong urge to go back and observe and learn more... especially on a sunny day!
#47 Our Barn on the Farm
Family Farm in Postville, Iowa
On October 1st, Don and I drove just outside Postville, down a gravel road to have our night in a barn!
My Iowa Dream!
I lived my first 10 years in Iowa, but my father was a college teacher and I hardly have a memory of a farm. It has been my dream to go back to Iowa and stay on a farm!
When our car tires crunched over the gravel drive, the farm pets were first to notice.
After a few kitty sightings and a sweet greeting by Rover the lab, we met our host Donna.
Donna and Rover took us to our barn. It was perfect!
We knew we weren't going to be staying in a hay loft. The barn was created just a couple years ago. But Donna and Dave built this barn using the wood from their neighbor's 100 year old barn, when it had to come down.
Most barns don't have porches. But being a big fan of barns and a fan of porches, this was going to be my dream stay. Never have I stayed in a hotel, B &B or Inn, with a view like this! Ahhh, Cornfields!
This was luxury living as far as barns go. I've never seen a barn with kitchen and fireplace. It was homey-rustic, with everything we needed!
A Corny Bathroom
The wall around the bathroom door was made from old barn wood, showing some of the original red paint. Between the slats was yellow & green, corn-print fabric. I was glad to see a modern toilet and a shower curtain as nice as any Marriott's.
But the sheep's water troth made for some amusing showers! The rectangular sink could have been 100 years younger than the desk it was built on. And all I could do was laugh at my image in the yoke framed mirror as I washed my hands!
Up in the Silo
The silo from the old barn couldn't be saved. But at least we knew this new one, which enclosed the spiral staircase, was plenty sturdy.
The Dales thought of everything. They even had a small nightlight under one of the steps, to make it safe. The view from above was pretty fun!
We had 3 options for sleeping up in the loft. On one side there was a queen bed with picket fence headboard.
Or we could have made our selves cozy under the quilt in the smaller "wagon wheel" bed. A cat walk away, was another sleeping area with a full sized bed.
Exploring Every Nook
It was obvious that Donna dnd Dave had fun putting this place together!
There were fun details like the curtains made from an old quilt, and the book nook with a little door, filled with farm and cabin books for kids.
There were also mystery pieces of farm equipment, that I didn't recognize... turned into wall hangers and containers to hold games, or even lamps.
The stools at the game table, were more familiar. Milk cans with tractor seats!
Rain had been predicted, so I was thrilled that we had time outside! I couldn't get over the corn! I wandered along the edge of the field until I got a good glimpse of some cows!
Don spent a little time with his uke and a sleeping, white kitty on the porch.
I spotted cows lounging under a tree. Then I had a fun staring contest, with a sweet white cow, standing in the haze of the dusty dirt road.
Next, I spied a tractor on the gravel road! This wasn't just a Disney version of a farm after all. And then Don and I hiked down a dirt road and enjoyed the quiet... except for a woodpecker!
I packed a lot of silly stuff for this 22-day road trip and my "farm apron" was included. I had hoped I might get to do at least one farm chore during this stay. Donna did indeed humor me and she let me collect eggs with her. It was a hoot going in the coop and watching the hens feast on their dinner while we gathered up the brown eggs.
Donna pointed out how the chickens like to crowd their eggs into 1 or 2 areas. "I think they spot an egg and figure it's a safe spot and then they all go for it. They end up getting cracked sometimes."
Eggs Put to Use
In the morning Donna carted a couple loads of breakfast goodies to our kitchen able!
There was a wooden box with dishes and placemats, drinking jars and cold chocolate milk. In the "cooler" we had all the hot stuff along with a list of where all our homegrown and homemade goodies came from!
There was an egg, potato and cheese bake in one skillet and crispy bacon in another hot dish. We had baked apples and a giant puff pancake served with pure maple syrup. All washed down with a a big pot of coffee!
That we stayed in a barn was plenty. But the whole experience from animals to corn made the stay perfect.
We made use of as much as we could during our short time. Next time... a campfire in the pit, maybe? Or milk a cow? It was pretty ideal the way it was!
#46 Hotel Blackhawk
Our evening at Blackhawk was the halfway point, of our 22-night road trip.
We spent a little more $ for this stay, but we were ready for some luxury.
Not So Luxurious
This historic, 11-story, brick & white terra cotta building was not looking so luxurious just a few years ago. After many up and down years, (there were even plans to make it low-income housing for the elderly) the hotel suffered a fire in 2006.
The fire wasn't caused by a faulty wire, or even a smoldering cigarette. The fire started on the 8th floor when a meth lab exploded. Demolition work began in 2009 and after a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Blackhawk opened in 2010.
I loved seeing parts of the hotel that hadn't changed, since the opening in 1915. I wondered who might have looked out the impressive windows, in the past.
Jack Dempsey, Carl Sandburg or Herbert Hoover, maybe? All have been guests.
The new additions weren't bad either. At night, the modern entrance which faced the river, had the hotel's name projected onto the building. The fountain had a pretty cool flame, although my camera failed to capture it.
When Mr. and Mrs. Obama and the girls stayed here in 2011, they probably entered though the revolving door, of this entrance.
Arriving on a Tuesday, meant we were checking in with lah-dee-dah business folk, who weren't a bit impressed with the grand lobby. I took it all in, like a happy tourist.
The grand 2-story atrium was once again open. It had been closed in for years, to make room for extra meeting space.
Clean and Fresh
Gold is not usually my thing, but I loved all the gold and white. Everything looked fresh and clean.
There was a huge arrangement of fresh flowers on the center table and bowls of fresh fruit, at the lobby desk.
We've actually seen a lot of lovely stained glass in historic hotels, but this one seemed bolder and brighter than most.
I wasn't able to find out if this was the original stained glass, or if it was lost when the atrium was closed up. New or old, it was a nice addition.
More Royal Gold
The gold trimmed staircase and accents in the well known Gold Room, looked worthy of someone very special. I'm not sure if any Royalty ever stayed, but one of my favorite British actors was a guest in his later years.
Cary Grant was here with his wife, in 1986. He felt ill and was unable to appear at the nearby Adler Theatre. It's not clear whether he died in his room, (901) or in the nearby hospital. It's sad to think I was walking through the last place, where Cary Grant walked before his death. I kept an eye out for his ghost.
Our Room.. not on Cary's Floor
Our room was not on the same hall, as Cary Grant's room. In fact his room doesn't even exist anymore. During renovations they shuffled space and his room is no longer available.
I'm pretty certain that our room was nice enough for a movie star. Cushy and spacious, modern and comfy. We don't usually get all that with our stays at historic hotels.
Room with a View
It was hard getting to the big windows behind the bed, but there was a good view of the Mississippi. I love a river view! What I didn't expect, was a view of the bathroom, through another window!
Shutters and TV Mirror
Maybe if Don and I stayed in classy hotels more often, we wouldn't have been so tickled by the shuttered bathroom window. That kind of goes along with the bathroom trend I've been complaining about lately. Lots of glass doors in hotel bathrooms!
So the shutters were interesting, (no glass of course) and the bathroom TV cracked me up. I've seen TVs in bathrooms before, but this was the first TV built I've ever seen that was built into a mirror. I was sort of like a dog noticing a mirror for the first time. I wanted to keep touching those people on CNN to see what would happen.
We didn't need to leave the building once we checked in. There was too much to do.
Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge!
How could we not visit the bar and lanes, in the basement?
The club was hopping when we first arrived. We had to wait a while to make use of our free bowling voucher!!
Martinis and Dinner
We actually saved the martinis for the lobby bar, which was having a half price special.
Then it was dinner in the Bix Bistro, just off the lobby. My very "whippy" pumpkin bisque, was almost as yummy as the chocolate torte that we took up to the room. The dessert was just one more freebie perk, for hotel guests!
Making Use in the Morning
Don and I were determined to get our money's worth out of our hotel. By sunrise, I was working out in the fitness center and Don was swimming laps in 3rd floor pool.
There was a great outdoor deck with lounge chairs and a river view. Wish we'd had time for a coffee out there!
My notables are usually quirky things or funny things.
But mostly I will remember this hotel for being the perfect balance of historic charm and modern luxury. Oh, and maybe that bowling alley. That was pretty memorable. Our first hotel with a bowling alley!
#45 The Rockcliffe Mansion
I've always wanted to stay overnight in a museum!
Don and I had our chance last September, when we stopped in the historic river town of Hannibal.
Above the Mississippi
When John Cruikshank built this residence for his family in 1900, it was indeed grand.
It looked down on treetops, church steeples and roofs, as well as the Mississippi River.
It was a bit nerve wracking just getting to the mansion. We drove through a somewhat seedy area to find Bird Street. Then we found the limestone bluff and wall beside the entrance.
We made the narrow turn in through the gates and wound up the drive, wondering about some of the boarded up houses below. Was this area safe?
Georgian Revival Style
We parked in a nearly empty gravel lot and wandered to the entrance. It was as impressive as I remembered from a visit 25 years ago.
The 13,500 square foot mansion was situated on a lovely lawn near a trickling fountain... but there was something a bit eerie about the peeling paint and the quiet. What were we getting ourselves into?
We entered through the front doors and stood sort of gasping at the enormous staircase and the eerie beauty of the formal entrance. Was anyone there? What were we supposed to do? Then Juan, the owner appeared.
He was giving the final 4:00 tour to a couple from Georgia. Juan stood at the base of the stairs when he invited us to join the tour. That was the very spot where Mark Twain stood on a raised platform to speak with a group, on his last trip to Hannibal in 1902.
Taking it In
I couldn't stop grinning as I took in every detail of the 30-room residence.
We moved from the airy, pink & green music room, to the men's study. Dark woodwork and heavy Persian carpets.
Mrs. C. liked white painted wood, Mr. C. insisted on having electric and gas lighting. Looks like they both got what they wanted.
Giggling through Bathrooms
I was having a hard time keeping a straight face as our Georgia couple made giddy comments over Mrs. C's sitz bath and Mr. C's wooden, square toilet seat. Mr. Georgia seemed equally fascinated by the fact we were spending the night in one of the rooms that night.
"And y'all are going to be the only guests?" He said, shaking his head. I wasn't sure which seemed more strange, the idea of being the only guests in this mansion, or sharing the mansion with a couple like Mr. and Mrs. Georgia. I decided I was glad we'd be the only guests.
Evening at the Mansion
Our tour ended and the Georgia couple departed.
Juan officially checked us in and invited us to relax on the porch where he brought us a tray with wine, fruit and cheese. We chose the shady porch near the carriage entrance, since the sun was pretty warm.
An hour earlier, we had really questioned what we might be getting into. Not only had we heard stories of Rockcliffe being haunted, (Mr. C. died in his bed in 1924) but we were to be the only guests.
Our host, would also be staying in the house. Would he be ready to protect us from the sketchy neighbors in the houses below? But what if our host was a Norman Bates type of host...?
No Norman at Rockcliffe
In truth, by the time our tour ended, we had warmed up to Juan. He had a passion for the place and he happened to have a quirky sense of humor that appealed to Don and me.
We were happy when he joined us with a glass of wine. We spent an hour talking about travel and road trips, his life growing up in Cuba ...religion, immigration, family stories... What a fun time!
This is the dramatic, divided staircase we took to the second floor. But then we had to take the servant's staircase to the third level where our room awaited.
The Sage Room
If we'd spent a little more money, we could have stayed in Mr. C's room. We would have had a fireplace, ceramic Roman tub, square wood toilet seat AND the bed where Mr. C. died. (At least I think)
But, we were on a road trip budget and happy to sleep in a less deluxe room, where the servants once slept. Actually it was a sweet, cozy room with a full size bed. The servants who shared this room wouldn't have had a bed this nice.
We actually had the entire third floor to ourselves. There were 2 guest rooms, which had been servant's quarters. However, only one is rented one out at a time. We also had a sewing room, a ballroom and a classroom!
The ballroom was a tad spooky at night. It was filled with a hodgepodge of things from a spinning wheel to a mannequin. In the early 1900's it would have been kept empty for formal gatherings.
A Place for Kids...in Later Years !
The classroom was a sweet space where the governess educated the Cruikshank kids. The map, Juan explained was not original.
For 43 years, the house was vacant after Mr. C died. Hannibal kids, in the spirit of Tom and Huck would dare each other to break in the house and race to this very room. A piece of the map proved they weren't lying about their bravery!
I woke at 6 and couldn't stand the suspense.
What would morning look like? How about the view? I tiptoed outside and caught the sun after sunrise.
I got to watch longer than I should have, since there was a hazy sky.
I couldn't stop wandering. Every direction showed a beautiful image.
I walked down the drive to Bird Street and peeked at the houses that had seemed creepy the evening before.
They looked a little weary, but they no longer seemed intimidating. I hiked up a pathway towards the mansion.
I peeked next door at the house that shares the hill. Years ago, the white house had to be moved aside (on logs) when the Cruikshank house was built.
Later the Cruikshank daughter moved into the white house and then her mother joined her. I wondered about who lived there now.
I took in one last view of the garden and Hannibal below, before heading in to get ready for breakfast.
Dining with Mark Twain?
This is the dining room where I imagined Mark Twain dining, during his visit 112 years ago! Maybe his spirit was joining us for breakfast... but 8 am may have been too early for old "Sam".
Our Own Feast
It was fun to imagine the Cruikshank family dining in this beautiful room, as we sipped our coffee in gold rimmed cups, by the light of the Tiffany lamp.
We started in on some yogurt with berries and a plate of fresh fruit.
And then the French toast, bacon and sausage arrived. Juan didn't join us for breakfast, but we did visit a while. Then he offered us a peek at the latest project.
We climbed the stairs, one more time. This time we went past the second floor, with this great view from the balcony. We climbed higher than the third floor...
The Widow's Walk
Juan showed us the latest renovation, on the flat roof at the very top of the mansion.
The small white structure will soon have new windows installed, looking out on the widow's walk that surrounds it. What a fun view to enjoy, before we departed!
We slept in a museum! That's really what it was. There are lots of bed & breakfasts that try to preserve the original feel of a home or building. But there are always some framed prints and knickknacks and doodads that just make me wince.
I'm not any huge authority on Victorian furniture or Art Nouveau design, but I can sense when something feels authentic. This felt like the real deal. Not sure how often you get to sleep in the real deal!
Don and I have such a long list of places we want to experience, that we rarely revisit hotels. But in September, we headed back for another stay at Rockcliffe Mansion! The drive up looked different. I didn't remember seeing the street-lamps, 4 years ago.
As we approached the beautiful mansion, we could see they were in the midst of exterior renovations. That's a good thing. We want this place to be around forever.
Just the Same
We were so glad to see the familiar interior. The Turkish room was Don's favorite. It looked as amazing as we had remembered.
I had fond memories of the porch and visiting with Juan. This time we had wine and cheese with Warren, as well. We felt right at home!
Third Floor Changes
Once again, Don and I booked a third floor room. This time we had the newly renovated Governess' Room.
The ballroom down the hall, also had undergone a facelift. The ceiling and wallpaper in both rooms was just amazing. So many designs and angles. Just beautiful!
Our third floor bathroom had been remodeled since our visit. It had a wonderful vintage tub, sink and chain-pull toilet.
The window was pretty sweet, with lace curtains and decorated window sill.
In the morning Don and I had a decadent breakfast in the gracious dining room and heard some amusing stories from Juan and Warren about the recent wallpaper and streetlamp projects. Don and I were relieved to see that Rockcliffe was in good care.
Before taking off, Warren steered us towards the third stair, where Mark Twain once gave his talk. We should have quoted a famous line or two, while we posed for a photo.
What a fun revisit! Maybe Don and I will surprise ourselves and really break our 1-stay habit, by returning for a third visit!
#44 Pere Marquette Lodge
CCC Lodge Near Grafton, IL
Long before Don and I began searching for unusual hotels, we fell in love with this lodge. In October, we revisited.
This cute little cottage-looking entrance, hardly matched the rustic log and stone structure of my memory.
Just As We Remembered
This is what Don and I were both eager to see! It had been a few decades since our last stay.
We were glad to see there weren't many changes. The grand open space was still filled with log beams and comfy lodge furniture and the giant chess board! The only new addition, was a sort of odd collection of "patchwork leaf quilts" hanging from the beams.
All we needed was cold weather so we could enjoy a fire in the massive 50- foot limestone fireplace.
No fire, but we could still enjoy the big green chairs!
And More Chairs!
I had forgotten how many sitting areas there were! There were rattan chairs gathered around a tabletop game of shuffle board.
And there were wicker chairs surrounding tables, with checkerboards and clunky puzzle games.
In truth, when we arrived at 3pm, there was hardly a free chair for sitting. The annual "Apple Festival" was just ending and the whole lodge was crawling with kids in face paint, clowns twisting balloons... booths of fall crafts, kettle corn and pumpkins... and a live band! It took a little while, before the lodge became peaceful again!
The Historic Wing
We hiked up a flight to room 222, in the Historic Wing. There have been lots of renovations since the lodge was completed in 1940. We like old, so we didn't want a room in the new addition. Sadly the only thing that hinted at old, were the windows.
It was nice having an updated flat screen TV and a decent bed, but I was kind of hoping for some log beams or some of that big chunky lodge furniture. Or how about a picture on the wall. I think they forgot?
But the windows were great, offering a view of the Illinois River along with a warm fall breeze!
And we had the added treat of champagne and chocolates, as well as a $50. voucher for dinner. I'll admit, our package was more about numbers than romance. We were on a 22-day road trip after all. We just did the calculating and this was the best deal.
The room wasn't as rustic as I had expected. But the checkerboard table with checkers, felt very lodge-y.
The bathroom was very Motel 6-ish, but it did have a Keurig coffee maker. That's a surprise, for a State Park owned lodge. We never expect frills.
Then and Now
Don and I stayed at Pere Marquette, in the fall of 1985. I remember sitting in Adirondack chairs on the back terrace. It was a little cooler and we had the place to ourselves, staring out over the sloping lawn to the Illinois River.
Don didn't need a sweater, when he drank his Schafly Pale Ale, this time.
The Adirondacks have been replaced by metal tables, with umbrellas. I missed sitting in those old wooden chairs, but the view was just the same.
And this time we were able to catch the sun going down.
I did a little posing with the sunset, on the very log where we propped our feet, years ago.
Dining at The Lodge
On a Sunday evening the dining room was packed with families feasting on fried chicken and other lodge favorites. The place was thinning out when we arrived for dinner, after sunset. We could tell the staff was ready for "Apple Festival Day" to be over.
I was eager to try the Goat Cliff Soup, I'd heard about. Our server nearly sneered as he told me there was no such thing. Maybe that just means Soup of the Day? I was afraid to ask again. I ordered pot roast and Don ordered salmon. Both were tasty and the seats were so comfy. We wanted to linger forever. But we took the hints from the yawning staff and moved along.
On Monday, Don and I woke rested and ready to go. We had hoped to head down this wonderful log-filled hallway to the indoor pool and exercise room. We were needing to burn off a few calories, on our 22-day road trip.
I stopped at the desk to ask when the workout room opened. "Really? 8:00?" I sort of whined, "I was hoping to be done exercising by 8." It was clear there was no flexility with opening the little room that held all of 3 pieces of equipment! So Don and I skipped our exercise and went for breakfast.
The dining room was pretty empty in the morning. I needed a strong cup of coffee to focus on the menu. It was cleverly written as a quiz, about historical explorers. (Remember, this is a State Park) I chuckled about this to the waitress, who didn't seem amused as she snatched our menus and hurried off with our order.
Don and I made it a point to amuse ourselves by asking our server questions, every time she came to our table. I don't believe she ever had 2 feet on the ground at once. She answered every question with one sentence, as she moved away from our table. I'm not sure why she was in such a hurry? There was hardly anyone there.
Exploring the Dining Room
After we finished breakfast we wandered a bit.
I'm sure our waitress felt like a mother who was ready to shoo her kids outside to play after breakfast. I messed with the well and surprised myself with a blast of water.
Admiring the Fireplace
We spent a little time studying the stone fireplace with all the harvest decor. I hope our waitress didn't hear me complaining.
I love real pumpkins and wheat, but I get really tired of cutesy scarecrows and fake leaves. You know you've been on the road for 9 days when you start getting picky about things like that.
Let me end with some photos from our morning walk, before we checked out.
Pere Marquette is an absolutely beautiful State Park.
This is a State Park Lodge, not a hotel. I griped a little about this and that, but in truth I loved the park feel.
The prices were more park than hotel and the historic limestone & timber building was more park than hotel. We are lucky to still have places like this and I'm so grateful that we were able to return!
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!