Since 1925 in Southern Oregon
Recently, Don and I had our first visit to Ashland and its historic hotel in the heart of downtown. The hotel is now Ashland Springs, but you can see the letters on the glass above the marquee. In 1925 was called Lithia Hotel.
They also enjoyed the therapeutic Lithia Spring Waters of Ashland.
Lithia Springs Hotel
At nine stories, the Lithia Hotel was the tallest building between Portland and San Francisco.
It looked like a big city hotel, minus the traffic and valet parking headaches. We headed around to the back, where we found ample free parking for guests.
You don't get free parking in big cities.
From the Back
From where we parked, the back of the building looked very dramatic in the afternoon sun. Not many hotels have such impressive backsides!
I grabbed my suitcase and took a peek over a fence, where I spotted a lovely courtyard, below. I read later, that the garden area once held a swimming pool, that was added in 1960, when the hotel became the Marc Antony... with its British theme.
It was about 3 when we headed into the sun-filled lobby.
While Don checked in, I took advantage of the quiet space and snapped photos.
I'm glad the owners who bought 20 years ago, did away with the British theme. There was still a formality, with the stained glass and the chandelier, but it felt relaxed.
There were lots of little things that made the lobby feel more homey.
The fireplace was cozy and there were some pieces of furniture and decor that added some fun. My favorite piece was the oval, marble top table in the center of the lobby. I kind of liked the oddly shaped pumpkin and the purple arrangement, too!
The British theme left years ago, but a new focus took over. I think the current Nature theme, is tied to the old hotel's connection with nature and the healing Lithia Springs waters.
There were little "wonders of nature!" everywhere you looked. There was a bold looking eagle on the front desk and nature prints on the wall. There was a whole case of bird eggs, nests and a stuffed bird.
The elevator even offered a nature lesson as we traveled upward.
I had a good time studying the elevator walls, which were covered with dried leaves and plants. That's a first!
I didn't get a photo of our door, which I often do. But I did capture an image of the curious thing, mounted on our door. I thought it was a brass door knocker, until I saw another door with a note clamped down, by the tiny hand. How handy! Another first!
Our room was cute as can be. It wasn't huge, but it was probably larger than the original rooms. Lithia Springs Hotel opened with 100 rooms in 1923. Now there are 70.
Lamps and Prints
The nature theme continued on our wall, with pretty framed herb art. I appreciated having 2 tables and 2 lamps in our tiny room.
I liked the soft colors and the French style bed cover. There was a surprise up by the pillows.
The gift was a little cloth pouch tied with ribbon. The note said it was "Lavender Bath Tea" and it smelled heavenly. It was made for hanging in the shower, or putting in a drawer. Much nicer and healthier than a pillow chocolate.
The rooms were small and every corner was put to use. The corner with the chair and lamp was so squished, it was sort of amusing. But I liked the nature themed lampshade and the view beyond the buildings was pretty.
The small bathroom had been remodeled with newer pedestal sink and corner shower. The original floor tile was nice.
After checking out our room, Don and I made a dash up to the Mezzanine to enjoy the complimentary tea time.
There wasn't too much going on, but we were happy to serve ourselves some tea and grab a cookie. We chose a table overlooking the lobby and did a little people watching.
Enjoying the Town
We may have missed Ashland's Shakespeare Festival season, (by one day) but we were just in time to see gorgeous fall colors!
Walking through Lithia Park in the late afternoon sun, was heavenly. Tasting the bubbling mineral water from the public fountains was not heavenly! It was stinky and foamy. Honestly, I almost threw up from laughing and gagging at the same time!
We peeked in the hotel's restaurant earlier. The multi-layered space was inviting.
The tables with cozy wicker and pillows, seemed very appealing.
But Don and I kept it simple by sitting at the bar. We ordered martinis and a scrumptious artisan cheese board. Our kind bartender gave us lots of extra bread, when I raved about it!
I stepped out early to check on the morning. I often do that to try to snap a hotel photo, free of cars and people.
There were no cars, but there was a truck. It was October and they seemed to be putting up Christmas lights already! I also noticed something I hadn't, the day before. Look at the sweet water fountain for pups. Yikes I hope it's not that bubbly stuff!
A complimentary breakfast was served upstairs and all the hotel guests seemed to arrive at the same time. Don and I were amused to see the room filled with people, all our age or older.
The crowded room had one table left and it had a sweet pumpkin and nice view. But we decided we needed to get away from all those old people... who kept reminding us of ourselves. We found a quiet sitting area, near the garden patio.
It was a bit too chilly for sitting outside, but we enjoyed the view through the glass. It was a lovely place to relax, before getting back on the road.
Our hotel stay was filled with lots of classy touches, without a huge price tag.
But I will always remember the peaceful feel of our hotel (except at busy breakfast) and the ease of strolling in and out, to explore the park and town.
More Snowy Than Scary at This Oregon Lodge
There was nothing spooky about the big lodge when we approached this past October.
The icy parking lot was kind of scary though. We weren't expecting snow in October.
Two Years Ago
I remember approaching the lodge 2 years ago, when we stopped for lunch on a trip. I was so excited to see the building that was depicted in exterior scenes, of the thriller, The Shining.
It was cool and sunny that day, but there was no snow. It was a little hard to imagine those frightening scenes that took place outside The Grand Overlook Hotel.
There was snow when we visited last month, but it was still too sunny, to be eerie.
We were at nearly 6,000 feet and it was in the thirties. The wind was whipping at our faces and the flags up on the viewing deck were flapping away.
The sun was working on the icicles and the wind was doing a job on the 750-pound "snow goose" weathervane!
Entrance to the Head House
I grinned as we climbed the steps to the iconic stone entrance. It wasn't really the movie connection that I was excited about. To me, it's the lodge's connection with WPA that made the place exceptional! There was so much to see.
The carved panel in the huge door was just one artistic contribution made by hundreds of artisans, involved in the construction of Timberline. I couldn't wait to take it all in.
Starting at the Bottom
We checked in at the desk, on the lower level, then had a look at some of the displays about the hotel's construction period, from 1936 to 1938.
80 years ago, skiers must have been pretty excited when the grand lodge opened. They would have lounged on these "snowshoe chairs" in front of the fires. The curling andirons were impressive... made from recycled railroad rails!
The hexagonal fireplace continued up through 2 more levels. The "first floor" had ample sitting space around the fireplaces and near the windows. The upper floor had dining and bar tables, near the Ram's Head Bar.
Lunch With View
On our summer visit, Don and I had lunch on the circular balcony near the bar. We had a stunning view of Mount Hood, with just enough snow for some August snowboarders.
Mount Hood In October
This time, we stepped out the back door and I posed very quickly for a photo with a much whiter, Mount Hood. I look pretty relaxed here, but I was gritting my teeth and telling Don to hurry. It was freezing!
Our room wasn't quite ready, so we did some wandering before settling in.
We checked out some of the murals and mosaics that were created by artisans over 80 years ago.
Doors and Windows
It's amazing to look at the completed hotel and to realize this was all created during the Great Depression. Hundreds of skilled and unskilled laborers, craftsmen and artists worked for nearly 2 years.
On our first visit, I made Don pose so I could show the amazing size of this door. This time, I studied the ironwork. The door knocker looked like something out of a haunted fairytale.
Some of the whimsical door and window shapes just made me smile. Don and I remembered the cute, pointy door from before. We were sad the little tavern was not open this time.
Not only did the lodge project provide jobs, but it made use of recycled materials.
These wonderful carved newel posts (new term for me) were made from discarded utility poles. There were 19 different ones in the hotel and all of them had been smoothed and shined by appreciative guests. Just how many hands in 80 years?
We didn't make good enough use of the Barlow Room, but it was one of my favorites.
This room made me feel like I was stepping right into the movie, Sun Valley Serenade. I wanted to wear a cute little Sonja Henie sweater outfit and play some pingpong... on the wooden table!
We didn't hang out and play games, but I was happy just studying the sweet details that surrounded me.
The linoleum mural panels had a dreamlike quality. They gave me the same feeling I get, when I pick up an old worn, but loved family Christmas ornament.
Our room was down a hall, with cozy paneling and another marvelously shaped door at the end.
We even had a wooden Privacy sign. Much better than those plastic things.
We had 3 doors, including the closet and bathroom. All had intriguing locks and handles.
Our little room had lots of cozy wood and a cute retro phone. The window faced the front, so no view of Mount Hood for us.
There was a sweet little desk if we needed to write letters. There was indeed stationary in the desk, next to an ice scraper for the car! We didn't end up needing that or the tiny (sinfully out of place) TV.
Clean and Comfy
The queen bed was surprisingly comfy. I liked the wool blanket accent.
The bathroom wasn't huge, but the pretty tile was spotless and the towels were thick and soft.
View of Mount Jefferson
Our room view would have been a little better if we'd been on the floor above.
We could see Mount Jefferson from our room, so I'll say that counts as a view! These photos I have to say, were not taken from our room.
The best view of Mount Jefferson was from the stone terrace on the second floor. I checked on the view a few times in the evening and morning.
It was a little too chilly for more than picture taking. But it was fun seeing the flags. Evidently, the flags represent the countries of the international staff.
Where to Sit?
In the evening, Don and I wandered a bit, in search of cozy seating. We passed on the chairs, with woven rawhide seats.
There were a number of cute little nooks with couches or writing tables.
By the Fire
Seats by the fire were in demand, but there were 3 fires burning, so we lucked out.
I didn't get a photo of the fire tender and his cart of wood and tools. It's practically a full time job keeping the fires going.
For a while Don and I sipped wine and enjoyed a few snacks, while watching people coming and going.
These interesting chairs had built in side tables, which were pretty handy!
Morning at Timberline
Morning came early, since we had some kind of pacing, floor-walker above us from 5 am on. (Another good reason to book an upper room) But I was happy to get up at dawn and explore a little.
Long before 7, there was a table set up for coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The fires were burning and a few little girls dressed in p.j.s were having a wonderful time with their Teddy Bears.
I was pleased to meet 3-year-old Heidi. who posed with me briefly.
Heidi was lounging behind the front desk when I first spotted her. The young man working the desk said he remembered when she first came to the lodge 3 years ago. "She was as big as her head is now. She stepped out into the snow and disappeared!"
Breakfast in the Cascade Dining Room
Heidi wasn't allowed in the dining room, but Don and I headed in happily.
We had forgotten that we had booked a room & breakfast package. It was a nice surprise.
We didn't sit next to the fire, because there wasn't one. We were told the winds were blowing in the wrong direction and it would be too smoky if a fire was lit. We did have a great table by the window, though. More views of Mount Jefferson!
Sometimes breakfast buffets are a disappointment, but we had some fun options.
The Glacier Freeze Smoothie was an exciting way to start the day. The tricky salami slicer was a little scary for me! We ate well, then enjoyed a late check out and more fireplace lounging!
Don and I have stayed at many state and national park lodges. This one ranks pretty high for coziness... which is what attracts us to lodges.
Besides being warm and cozy with all its stone and timber, the lodge staff was also warm and welcoming. I'm still unclear about the ownership of Timberline, but it felt like things were run well.
Mostly, I will remember the views and the amazing WPA creations that filled the lodge. I have a feeling we will be back!
Christmas Celebration in Oregon
The 10-story, concrete and brick hotel was built in 1927, as the New Heathman Hotel. There was much fanfare at the grand opening. The modern hotel was expected to be even more high end than the first Heathman, built just a year before, about a block away.
Fun at the Door
The 50-dollar valet parking fee was a little steep, but we were getting a well dressed doorman, after all. He wasn't dressed in the Heathman's, traditional, red, beefeater's uniform. But, I kind of liked the new Portland look, with green jacket, gold knit cap and turtleneck.
Our doorman was able to give us a little scoop about the bronze statue near the entrance. Zelda the bulldog, was wearing her own little beefeaters costume. Her job was to remind folks that Heathman's is a pet friendly hotel... and to offer water from her bowl to passing pooches. The real celebrity dog, of Zelda Wisdom was born in Portland and evidently visited the hotel on occasion.
Bowler Hats and Beer
After we passed through the revolving door, we headed through the lobby towards the curious map mural. The Double H, check-in desks were quite fun, with little hat stands, holding black bowlers.
One check-in stand was more fun than the others. It held a metal tub of iced beers. We were invited to grab one, or come back later.
While the 6 of us gathered and got checked in, I took a quick peek at the holiday decor. The lobby's tree sparkled, right between two glowing pillars. The stairway heading from the mezzanine down to the library, was filled with greenery and lights.
The view from the stairs was pretty snazzy. It was a Saturday afternoon and Heathman's traditional Russian Tea was finishing up. There were silver tea services, tiered trays of pastries and lots of people decked out for the holidays. (Decked out for Portland, not New York)
Heathman's Headwater Grill was empty at 4:00, but it was full a couple hours later. The chef is one of Portland's best.
I loved peeking at the sleek Grill and imagining the Aloha Room from years ago, when the square columns were painted blue and an impressive mural of King Kamehameha covered one wall!
We're used to a lot of double letter stuff, coming from Texas. Seems like every ranch you pass is a Double R or Double D, with a branded looking image on the sign. I spotted plenty of double H images in Heathman Hotel, from fireplace screen to door handles. I should have had my daughter pose with a few. Heidi's initials went from HZ to HH, when she married.
Extra Perks at the Gym
Don and I made sure to have a look at the gym, since we'd heard there was a speed bag. That's something Don is actually quite good at. Unfortunately, the bag was a little deflated so he wasn't inspired. I however gave the climbing wall a try... since the music playing in the gym encouraged me, with Girls just want to have fun...
We were given 3 rooms on the 10th floor, none of which was 1003, which is evidently the most haunted. (Something about a suicide!?) The elevator doors opened to a nice piece of art. The hallway was filled with more art. Nothing looked a bit haunted.
Our room was not huge, but it was freshly remodeled with a giant TV and comfy bed. The window offered a view of Broadway, with Christmas lights, here and there. Portland Theatre's neon sign, festively reflected off the glass building across the street. I wish I'd taken a pic.
There were lots of Heathman packages with food and champagne that we could have purchased. However, we didn't see any packages for "Celebrate your son's recent passing of the California Bar!" So we iced down our own champagne and had a little surprise toast with "the kids" a couple hours later.
Odd and Small
I had to get a photo of the artwork in the corner, near the window. I would love to hear the stories, behind each of those curious faces.
There was art in the bathroom also, but it was hidden behind the door. In fact the bathroom was so small there was no room to brush your teeth, unless you closed the door. Clean, lovely and new, but very small for such a nice hotel.
At 5:00 we gathered in the lobby, for complimentary cocktail time. I can't even remember what the special holiday beverage of the day was, but we had a fun time clinking glasses and catching up. We were excited to spend the first night of our Christmas holiday, at the festive hotel.
Moving into the Library
At one point, I peeked in at The Library and realized the tea crowd was gone.
With no guests, I could get a better look at the place and imagine the 2-story room, back when it was called the Tea Court Lounge. Back then, there were no books, but it looks like there was a mighty fine organ.
View From Mezzanine
The mezzanine was part of the hotel long before any renovations. Now the upper walls are covered with art. But the view from above was extra fun, with chandelier, more art and holiday decor.
Sitting in the Library
Our small group moved into the library and found a perfect spot by the bookcases.
I grew up when people whispered in libraries and certainly no one drank cocktails. So we broke a couple of my childhood library rules. However, there was something so peaceful and relaxing about the space, we weren't tempted to misbehave. I was too busy looking around to act up.
Behind me, I noticed a collection of lovely teapots displayed on the steps.
There was a real library table, with lamps for reading.
Across the room was the wall of windows and art.
The sun had already set outside, but the glowing (fake) windows warmed the room. I didn't learn about these 3 stunning pieces of art, but I did read that there are at least 250 original pieces of art in the hotel.
The library collection began over 30 years ago. Today there are about 3,000 books, all signed by the author. I had a little fun with the sliding ladder. I behaved. Chali checked the shelves until she found a book she recognized. "My dad has this one!"
What we didn't find on the shelf was the erotic romance novel, 50 Shades of Grey. None of us had that book on our radar, so we weren't exactly looking for it. However, it probably was there somewhere, since I learned later that the book mentions the Heathman Hotel about 18 times. I guess a few scenes from the movie, were filmed in the hotel, also. Hmm? Maybe it's time to read that fine piece of literature.
One of the best parts about the hotel was the location. Even though the weather was cold and damp, we wandered down Broadway and enjoyed posing with the 75-ft Douglass Fir, in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
A Good Night in Downtown Portland
We ended up walking to Portland City Grill and having an appetizer dinner on the 30th floor. I wish we had experienced the hotel's restaurant, but we might have missed this beautiful view. The drizzle just added to the scene. I pretended it was snow.
The Heathman gave our family a perfect start to our 4 days of celebrating. The decorated downtown location, got us in the holiday mood. The rooms were cozy and comfy. The doormen and library gave us just enough formality and class, to make our stay feel special. Most of all there were hints of Portland that welcomed us... from quirky art to welcome beers, to beret wearing guests with dressed up doggies!
A good visit.
Forest Grove, Oregon
The sight of this building was indeed grand, when we arrived on December 22. It was especially impressive to have a blue sky background, since we'd driven through some rain to get there.
Once a Masonic Rest Home
Don and I parked and walked towards the rambling structure, built as a Masonic Rest Home in 1922. In 2000, the complex reopened as one of the many, creative hotel properties, owned by the McMenamin brothers in the Pacific Northwest.
Before reaching the main building, we spotted the Children's Cottage. It opened in 1926 and housed about 30 orphans. That sounds like a good plan to me, but evidently the elderly lodge residents had a "less than harmonious" relationship with the children. The orphanage closed, a year later.
Lots of Green!
After driving through farmland and vineyards to reach the lodge, it was fun seeing the soaring pines, on the grounds. The Christmas greenery that decorated the buildings, was welcoming. The gardens and pathways looked a little wintery, but I could imagine them in summer, with flowers and leaves.
We headed towards the main building with its formal, Ionic columns. The strict exterior gave way to a warm and cozy interior. The sweet little sitting room off to the left, smelled like Christmas! We don't often smell live Christmas trees and wood-burning fireplaces in Texas!
Just past the check-in counter, we spotted a cozy bar and another decorated tree.
The Ironwork Grill
Just past the tree, we peeked in the hotel's main restaurant.
The colorful Ironwork Grill was quiet at 4pm, but lively by the time we dined at 7:30. It was fun to know guests could eat in the very same dining room, where lodge residents ate meals for over 70 years.
"The Aged and Infirm Masons"
The original residents belonged to the fraternal Masonic Lodge organization. I know little about Masons, but they definitely provided for their own. Even the orphans, wives and widows of Masons were cared for.
Here is a photo we spotted in one of the halls. It shows some of the aged gentlemen who ate their daily meals in what is now the Grill. It was fun to spot some familiar details, from windows, to pillar decor.
After checking in, we did a little exploring on the way to our room. Each wing, had its own sunrooms and sitting areas, with comfy chairs and library tables. But where were the old wicker rockers?
Compass Room Theatre
Just off the lobby, Don and I followed a long, 2-part ramp to the second floor. I'm guessing it was original, for folks in wheelchairs. I wish I'd gotten a better photo of the amazing mosaic wall, at the landing.
As we traveled further up, I smelled popcorn! The Compass Room was getting ready for its afternoon movie showing. I was tempted to follow two grinning little girls as they headed in with parents, to watch the recently released, Mary Poppins movie!
Finding Our Room
We had no time for movies, since we were expecting a visit from our daughter and son-in-law. We headed up to the second floor to find our room and unload bags.
The dimly lit hall, had the feel (and a bit of the smell) of the old institution. Luckily Don and I are fine with that sort of thing. I loved the blending of old and new. Original pipes, light fixtures and woodwork, along with decorated walls and colorful artwork.
The Gerry Hysmith Room
We found our modest room at the end of the hall. A corner room is always a perk, with two window views... but our bed blocked the second window. Instead of gazing at the view, we read our wall instead. The room was named for a woman who once lived in Grand Lodge. We learned a bit about her.
Questions for Ms. Hysmith
It was a little eerie having Gerry's face gazing down at us, while I read the words on the wall. I learned that Gerry was one of the residents in later years. She liked to write, so I imagine she could tell good stories. I wish I could have asked her to tell me some secrets about life at the lodge. I'm guessing there weren't many women living at a Mason's Home, so she probably had some strong opinions about that. I asked her. But she didn't answer.
Little Has Changed
I don't think too much has changed in the accommodations, since Gerry lived at the lodge. We had a radiator by the window and pipes above the bed. There was a nice little nook with sink. Just like the elders long ago, Don and I had to go down the hall to find the restrooms.
Once we opened the thick drapes, the room felt much brighter! First of all, we could actually open the windows and that was refreshing. I loved the holly bush, just within reach!
And what incredible trees! The lowering sun added a little drama to the scenery. I'm guessing we were looking at some of the pines that survived the Columbus Day Storm in 1962, that uprooted 20 trees on the property.
My Marble Bathroom
Most of the 90 guest rooms at the lodge, now have private baths. But sometimes, Don and I are up for a bargain room, with the shared common bath experience. Lucky for me, the Ladies Room was just steps from our room and robes were provided. Even better luck, I had the whole marble bathroom to myself every single time. The showers were huge! Maybe, they were made to accommodate wheelchairs?
No Porch Time
Since our room was at the end of the hall, we had easy access to the porch. I love porches, but it was a little chilly. I also love curious porch additions. Was that a playful slide, or a fire escape for wheelchairs?
Around 4:00, Heidi and Jamie arrived from Portland, to enjoy some McMenamins fun. We started our fun at the cute little cottage style building, just across the lawn. It was named in honor of the McMenamin brothers' mom.
By the Fire
We passed a roaring fire pit on the patio and took a seat inside, by the fireplace. 4:00 was the beginning of Happy Hour, so we went for it.
Beneath the ceiling covered in old album covers, we settled in to make drink decisions. Jingle Juice? Christmas Vacation? Mason's Cocoa? They all had good names.
There were drinks with cocoa and candy canes, Schnapps and spiced rum. I was pretty darn happy to see 4 different Wee Drink options, for $4. each. Yay for my tiny little mason jar with ginger syrup and rum!
Off to Wander
After warming up with drinks and fire, we were off to explore the hotel basement.
Earlier, Don and I had explored the space when it was eerily quiet. The mosaic columns and painted pipes revealed many surprise faces and images.
At the base of the stairs we found a water fountain and lots of small tables and chairs that made me think of an elementary school. Later on, a musician livened up the area with his guitar.
Art and Doors
Before 4:00, all the doors were closed, but there was lots of art on the walls to study.
What is Behind the Doors?
The Women's Room was obvious, but the Doctor's Office made me wonder. Later when we wandered with Heidi and Jamie, the office door was open and we found a bar with a pool table and other games. Years ago, this room had been a dentist's office for the residents.
Coming to Life
All the doors were open when we wandered at 5. We wandered a bit and stepped inside Bob's Bar, named for the McMenamin brothers' dad. From there, we traveled through small rooms, connected by arched openings. The cozy spaces were fun, with their original porcelain sinks and tables tucked into corners. But we were ready for something less claustrophobic.
If only we all had swimsuits, we could have skipped the bar scene and spent some time visiting in the saltwater soaking pool.
We did at least find the somewhat hidden pool, after spotting a sign painted on cinderblock, in the basement.
Billy Scott Bar
I developed a love/hate relationship with this sweet bar, named for a rest home resident who had been a poet. It was just down the hall from our room, on the 2nd floor.
The lovely little space was a delightful sitting room with large windows and a toasty fireplace. In the morning I grabbed some complimentary coffee from the closet-like bar in the corner. At night, we 4 let the bartender serve us some cocktails to take with us, while we did more hotel exploring. At bedtime, I liked the bar less, when sounds of roaring laughter, traveled down the hall, into our room!
Off to the Attic!
With our drinks in hand, we set off to explore the attic. Wandering with drinks, is something the staff actually encourages. "It's like adult Disney World!" We were told. So with our drinks in hand, we set off in search of the attic.
There were doors to the attic at each end of the hall. The old gentleman and woman painted on the doors, seemed to be standing guard.
The stairway, with blue walls and tiny stars was just the beginning. When we reached the hallway, with its slanted ceiling, it became even more fun.
Art, Crazy Lights, Window Nooks...
It was like a little fantasy world up there in that attic! We wandered down a couple of halls, admiring the Dr. Seuss-ish lighting and framed art. There were comfy little reading chairs, in alcoves... all too dim for my weary eyes.
Searching for Secret Rooms!
The real goal was to find the two secret rooms that we had heard about. That was extra tricky because there were actual hotel rooms up on the attic floor and not all guests probably wanted us testing their door. But Heidi felt confident when she found a curious panel with a fierce-looking tiger. She pressed on the wall and suddenly we were inside a dark room with glowing mushrooms.
The second room was found and we found ourselves wandering through some kind of cave, with glowing stalactites and stalagmites.
We made it through the cave to some stairs, that were cleverly lit with glowing strips. We found ourselves coming out a door on the second floor, that was locked from the hall. What fun!!
After our oddball "bar-hopping" and wandering, we 4 had dinner in the Ironwork Grill. "The Kids" set off for Portland and Don and I grabbed the couch for a while before heading to our Gerry Hysmith room. That was when we discovered the sound issues and found ourselves tucked into our tiny room with no TV to drown out the party sounds down the hall. Luckily the bar closed at 11 and the sound stopped promptly.
We stayed in an historic Masonic Rest Home, filled with festive decor and happy people. By the time I'm 90, there will be a lot of Baby Boomers in search of safe and helpful places to live out their years. Hmmm. I'm thinking this might be what we all need!!
Other McMenamin hotels are in renovated, historic buildings. Kalama Lodge was built just a year ago, but its location is what makes it unique. Where else can see ships in one direction and trains in the other? Where else can you walk over a bridge and visit the small Northwestern town, with a name that sounds Hawaiian?
Lelooska Totem Pole
I knew the history of Kalama, WA was linked to the Columbia River and the Northern Pacific Railway. But it wasn't until we saw the nearby totem poles that I was reminded about the Pacific Northwest Native American culture in the area.
These totem poles were carved in the early 1960's by Chief Don Lelooska who lived in town, just across the tracks. Recently, the 140-foot pole was lowered due to safety concerns. It still is the tallest totem pole in the world, carved from a 700 year old Western Red Cedar.
Christmas and Beer
In the lobby we saw a few things that had no tropical flavor at all.
Just to our left in the lobby, I could see the brewery through the glass. (It wouldn't be a McMenamins property, without beer) I was happy to see there was a little Christmas happening at the lodge. The tree was festive and the Grinch (looking through the window) was humorous.
Finding Our Room
The staff at check-in was friendly and enthused about the new hotel. We were told we'd love our room. We headed to the third floor and found room #306. All rooms are named and ours was called, Pioneer Room. The knotty pine walls made me think of a pioneer log cabin.
The Old Hickory furniture and lumberjack fabrics, felt cozy and lodge-ish. We opened the door to the balcony and felt a blast of cold. No worries. There were 4 cozy lap blankets, right beside the door.
Our room's name really had little to do with pioneers and cabins. It was named for an actual hotel in Maui.
When the McMenamin brothers were young, they stayed with their family at the Pioneer Inn, in Lahaina. They must have had good memories, because the old hotel inspired the design of the Kalama Harbor Lodge. The colorful hotel painting (over the couch) made me long for a trip to Hawaii!
Good to Have
It was a treat having a couch, as well as a table with chairs. It was an even bigger treat having our own bathroom. Some of the McMenamins hotels have shared, European baths... down the hall.
Cozy at Night
I loved the mix of styles. The thick curtains and pine walls, felt like a cozy cabin in the Northwest. The tropical feel of the painted headboard, made me feel like I was tucked into a boat or hut. I of course loved the little red bird... as did Don.
The corner porch had two sets of comfy chairs. There were dividers for privacy, but I don't think anyone else was sitting out watching the boats go by. I made use of a blanket.
Besides the river, there were other things to look down on. The riverside pathway and fire-pit were pretty quiet, on a chilly weekday afternoon. But at night, the fire was lit!
Early Next Morning
Wet and Cold
A light rain stung my face, but I couldn't complain. I was running by a totem pole...
And... I got to see trains moving down the railroad tracks. I got to see the little Alhes Point Cabin, which houses a cozy bar for the lodge.
Breakfast in Harbor Lounge
When I finished my brief run, we headed down to the Harbor Lounge and served ourselves some coffee. We took a seat on the couch, beneath a giant outrigger canoe. Soft classical and jazz music filled the homey space. We ordered an omelet and shared it right on the couch, kind of like we were having breakfast in bed!
Music at Night
That night the same lounge was transformed into a relaxed music venue. A couple, sharing one guitar, sang in the corner by the wood burning stove. Locals and hotel guests took over the couches and comfy chairs, sipping cocktails and coffee.
With a 2-night stay, Don and I had time to explore. The 40-room lodge wasn't huge, but there were a few stairwells and floors to wander. We found surprises when we took the stairs... chandeliers, painted stars, artwork and creepy pipes with faces!
Rock & Opera!
We suddenly found ourselves inside room lit by a black light. (I never knew the laces on my tennis shoes glowed in the dark!) Sounds of Grateful Dead filled the tiny room. I attempted a photo of Don with Jerry Garcia. I posed with Pavarotti, when the music changed to opera!
Room # 2
The grooves in the walls made it hard to spot the second hidden door. There was no blue light to signal us. Don finally found the moving wall and gave a push.
We were not alone in this room. Zach the Brewer, had set up a special beer sample station. The newly created brew was named, "Hidden Unicorn Glitter Beer". Zach used a light to shine into the cup so we could see the swirling sparkles... barely.
Luckily Zach gave us a hint that there was yet another secret room, off of the room we were in. In the swirling artwork, we found an image that looked like a button. When we pushed the button, we found ourselves in a room filled with eerie images and glowing lamps. What a total hoot!
The Cloud Lounge
On the top floor, (not far from the secret glitter beer room) we enjoyed a drink in the Cloud Lounge. There were plenty of clouds outside the window, but also a great view of the river. No one was outside enjoying the deck, but I imagine it gets a lot of use in warm summer months.
On our second night we had dinner in The Pub. It was dark, so we didn't care that all the tables and booths near windows were taken. It was so crowded, that we were actually thrilled to find 2 stools at the wonderful bamboo bar. We shared a gigantic Kalama burger and a house salad. The menus are similar in all properties so there were no surprises, but the food was hot and tasty.
One of the coziest places on the property, is the little cabin just a quarter mile down the walkway. It was fun walking the lamp-lit path for a drink on our first night. The place was tiny, but we lucked out with 2 seats at the bar. We had a memorable chat with a Portland baker and our wonderfully chatty bartender, Amanda.
Coming from Texas, we're thrilled to find wood burning fireplaces. It's also added entertainment watching the staff deal with the fires. Some were more skilled than others!
The inside fireplace kept us extra toasty on a cold night. I loved the whimsical mask. I checked out the deck fireplace, the next morning and had to chuckle at the angry mask, wearing a wreath.
New hotels don't usually impress me. They usually have a lot of kinks to work out and they also lack history and charm. I was glad we ended up absorbing some of the local history, after all. And it was a nice change to sleep in a freshly created space, with new linens and paint and furniture... that looked old and cozy. We liked our hotel oasis! We'll have to try it during a sunny season, next time!
Overnight in An Oregon School
Back To School
This is how the sleek, one-story school looked when it first opened, in a remote area 8 blocks from the Portland city line. Young children attended the school until the mid 70's.
This is how the building looked when Don and I arrived in August. A quarter century before, the old school sat vacant, with threats of demolition. The neighborhood, that had grown around it, fought to keep the building. The McMenamin brothers, who have rescued many historic Oregon properties, stepped in.
My Memories of Cooper School...
The smell of Kennedy School, conjured up memories of my grade school, built in 1899. I remember walking in those very doors. We had no bas relief decor and there certainly was no gong. But we could see our principal, Mrs. Tone, seated at her desk in the middle of the hall. And I can still smell the janitor's cleaner, with hints of sassafras!
Welcome to the Kennedy School!
Like all McMenamin properties, there's a lot of whimsical welcoming! At Kennedy School, I especially liked the Welcome Man, painted on an archway. I was also very fond of the painted kitty at the lobby desk. Lots of staff also greeted us, when we checked in.
So Many Halls
I loved all the reminders of the old school... long hallways and polished wooden floors. The ramps looked original. I could picture a film projector being rolled from class to class in the 1960's.
There were details that took me back in time, from light fixtures to wooden windows, radiators and porcelain drinking fountains.
Artwork and Photographs
The walls and doors were covered with colorful painted accents and designs. The hallways were filled with framed photos and paintings, that helped share stories about the school and those who attended over the years.
I was intrigued with the Punch & Judy puppet theatre, as well as the images of children dancing the Maypole. Evidently the Kennedy School still celebrates May Day each year, with some form of Maypole celebration.
Headed to Our Room
There are 57 rooms at the hotel, but some are in a new addition. I made sure to book a room in the original school house. Our door was right across from the water fountain.
One door led to 2 doors, since a large classroom had been divided, to create 2 guest rooms. We followed the chalkboard, past the old black phone. We opened our door, covered in cherry blossom branches and looked down another tiny hall, to our very own, welcoming chalkboard!
A Blank Slate!
I had been expecting a chalkboard, but I couldn't relax (or get giddy) until I saw that we really had one! I was excited about this blackboard, (as I think we called them) like some hotel guests are about spa packages or Chocolate & Champagne packages. And yes, there were pieces of chalk and a monster eraser, to hide all my mistakes!
Our room was my style of heaven. The huge window with a view of lush growth, made the room airy and bright. I wonder how many children sat with chin in hand, staring out that window, avoiding work?
Cherry Tree Room?
Some of the guest rooms seemed to be named for students or teachers from the past. I wondered about our room's name and all the cherry related words and images on our wall.
Then I read about the Nakamura Family, who once donated cherry trees to the Kennedy School. Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura moved to the Portland area from Japan in the 1920's. They raised 7 children, who all attended the school. Sadly, the family was forced to move to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho, during WWII. After a few years, they moved back to Portland and connected with friends and families in the area. Their trees still bloom each April.
Soft Bed and Sweet Words
I loved our curious headboard and the soft white spread. The words written above our bed and around the room, were poetic and peaceful.
No TV... Yes Bathroom
We didn't miss having a TV. I'm not sure any of the McMenamin Hotels have them. I should have spent some desk time, writing a little Haiku. But I was pretty caught up with the fun of the chalkboard.
Our private bathroom was big plus, that I didn't take for granted. Our other McMenamin stays have involved common bathrooms, so this was a treat.
I tend to go overboard with a theme. I was so excited with the idea of staying in a hotel that had once been a school, that I packed my own school supplies. I even made Don listen to me read a few pages of Dick Jane and Sally. Which meant, I read about 8 words in the book.
Who Drew This?
I had some drawing fun, but did leave a tiny space on the board for Don's artistic expression. I refused to think about math with my chalk, so it's obvious, which contribution he made.
Entertainment Around the Hotel
While we waited for our daughter and son-in-law to meet us for the evening, we explored some of the other options besides food and drink. The salt water soaking pool looked relaxing. It was where the teacher's lounge used to be.
The hotel's movie theatre was housed in the school's former auditorium. It was dark in there, so instead I snapped a pic in the Theatre Bar, with chalk drawn images that looked like movie posters. Clever, but the movie options had no appeal to me.
Boiler Room Bar!
When Heidi and Jamie arrived, we headed to the 2-level bar that had once been... the boiler room!
There was a pool table and shuffleboard and jukebox, lost in the tangle of pipes and unrecognizable metal stuff!
A Jumble of Curious Junk
I recognized pieces of radiator holding up the banister railing. But I had no idea what the round, 10-ton-looking-metal-thing was, above the table for two. I hope it was well secured.
We 4 settled into a cozy booth and ordered some beer, brewed at the Kennedy School.
What had one been the girl's lavatory, is now the inhouse brewery. It's named for the surrounding, Concordia neighborhood.
Good or Bad?
Before dinner we wanted to sample one more of the hotel's curious pubs. The Honors Bar, with its opera and classical music, was luring me. But the youngins were excited about acting up at Detention. The bearded fella seated at the tiny bar gave us a little greeting, then we squeezed into a corner spot.
I was pretty excited to check out the Study Hall Cocktail Menu, that had a few options for lightweights. I'm not a big whiskey drinker, but I wanted the experience. The "wee old fashioned" for $5.00 was more my size.
By 6, the Courtyard Restaurant was pretty hopping, since it was the only venue open to families. The weather was perfect by that time, so we ended up eating outside, behind a giant Gaudi-style fireplace. Cheese burger, Veggie Burger, Western Salad and Thai Pizza... all decent.
Breakfast was peaceful too. Classical music and coffee was all I really needed, but we split an omelet and it was pretty delicious. It was nice to have sunlight pouring in the windows, so I could study the crazy light fixtures one more time. And how about Happy and Sneezy, above the bar! Or was that Doc and Sleepy? I'll check it out next time.
It wasn't easy saying good-bye to our brand new Portlandians, before we headed back to Texas. But it was fun knowing we have reason to be out in the area again. Maybe we'll stay again and I'll pack some colored chalk. I can attempt to upgrade my art skills!
Yes! The chalkboard may be what I remember most!
A McMenamins Hotel Experience!
and transforming historic properties for years. We decided to spend a night at one of their hotels, just outside of Portland. The property had once been a Poor Farm.
"The Multnomah County Poor Farm" of 1911
I remember when Jennifer and I first pulled up to this amazing place, 7 years ago.
We knew the property had once been an institution for those in need, but that was just the beginning of what made the place so curious.
Hard to Imagine
This old photo shows the building over 100 years ago, when the facility opened as a welfare reform effort. The plan was to give refuge for the poor and ill. Those who were able-bodied, worked on the farm.
The institution was called a "poor farm" for decades. During the depression the farm held 600 residents, but the numbers dropped during WWII. The institution then became a nursing home, called Edgefield Manor, until it closed in 1982.
The Administrator's House
When Jennifer and I arrived 7 years ago, there were no rooms left in the main building. We took a guest room in the sweet 2-story house, that had once been the Administrator's home. We felt like young sisters again, sharing a room... with a bathroom down the hall.
Arriving With Don
Don and I arrived on a beautiful July day, for our Edgefield overnight. We were glad there were rooms available in the main building, even if we couldn't get one with a private bath.
Halls and Art
The interior was a little dim and stuffy, like I remembered. But the painted doors and murals lifted the institutional feel.
I remembered many of the colorful doors! Each guest room had a painted image, honoring a former resident of the poor farm/nursing home.
I hoped our room would have a colorful drummer rabbit or a farmer with bunnies, but our door had an image of a horse behind a door. I could barely even see the horse in the painting. I was briefly disappointed.
I didn't appreciate our special room until I read the words about Old Colonel, on the wall. Old Colonel was a horse, not a human resident of the poor farm.
A Loyal Horse
The words on the wall, told the story of the heroic horse, that once worked for the fire bureau, near Portland. When he retired from fighting fires, he did light duty at the farm, where he was reunited with one of his old colleagues. He and the fireman recognized each other, having worked together for 11 years. Sweet...
Our cozy room was missing a few things, like air-conditioning. But, I loved having an open window and a fan! I didn't miss the TV or phone. I was even okay with hiking down the hall for a bathroom. But the absence of a sink, took some getting used to.
After unloading our bags in the room, Don and I took off to explore the halls. I loved the little jack-in-the-box. It was painted, where wall meets the ceiling.
I also loved the tiny wall nook, that confused the eye. The woman, window and phone were painted, but the shelf and pamphlets were real.
A guest now and then might find some of the artwork creepy or even disgraceful. But most visitors are totally delighted to see how different artists, have playfully incorporated the images of former residents, into the art. There were stories and write ups behind many of the colorful murals. We needed a week to absorb it all.
Winery, Brewery and Distillery
After wandering the halls, we headed out to the grounds. 100 years ago, there were 330 acres of farmland, where residents worked to provide food for the institution. Today, there are fewer acres, but there are fruit trees and vegetables and herb gardens. The vineyards and brewery and distillery provide good beverages, but jobs as well.
Finding a Bite to Eat
There were so many choices for food and drink, inside the main building. But for lunch, Don and I wandered outside to the Power Station, that once provided coal-fueled steam heat and electricity to the property. We had a light lunch on the garden patio.
Black Rabbit Restaurant
The Black Rabbit is the hotel's main restaurant. I remember eating breakfast in a cozy booth with Jennifer. The pretty restaurant was closing, when Don and I were ready for dinner at 10:00, but we got a booth back at the Power Station. Eating late isn't the healthiest, but it turned out to be cheaper. They had a late night Happy Hour Menu!
One of my favorite parts of staying both times, was enjoying the many porches. Don and I actually made use of about 3 different ones. Most of the time, we had them to ourselves.
You'd have to have more than a night, or be a total drunken fool, to enjoy all the pubs and taverns. Just finding them was fun enough. Some were hidden inside the building and some were hidden underneath growth!
You also have to have time, if you want to to fit in a 2-hour movie. Jennifer and I had fun taking photos from the balcony in the movie house. Don and I also peeked inside when it wasn't movie time. That was actually good though. In the dark we would have missed seeing the gremlins near the ceiling.
Quick Soak at Ruby's
I got to enjoy the salt water pool on both visits. Don and I had to rush after dinner, to get there before closing. We changed and hurried in our cotton bathrobes to "Ruby's Spa" and hit the water by 10:45.
At 11, a voice in the pitch dark announced closing time. (luckily there was no whistle) The lack of light actually made the exit of pool guests pretty comical. We offered some cell phone light to one couple who had lost their flip flops. Before long, the guests were all headed down the garden path, towards the hotel... looking like a parade of ghosts in our white robes.
Ghosts in the Hall
Many of the robed guests continued to wander in the halls, studying the murals. It felt totally different than hours before, when day guests were visiting. It was quiet and cozy and dim. Then the robe-wearing ghosts in the hall, suddenly looked more like patients in a mental ward. That amused me.
My stay at Edgefield was every bit as fun, the second time as the first. I felt like I was floating around in a dream, with all the whimsical art and dim lighting. I love knowing that I didn't see it all. There are so many hidden surprises that I will just have to find next time!
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!