Ashland Oregon in 24 Hours

Ashland Oregon in 24 Hours

After leaving Klamath Falls we headed west and unfortunately closer to the fires but also closer to a more happening town. As is typical with my summer road trips we breezed into and out of Ashland Oregon in 24 hours but we had a blast while we were there. Ashland Oregon is known for its annual Shakespeare Festival is supported mainly by the lively arts and restaurant scene that built up over the years to the festival and the local college.


First things first we checked into the Ashland Springs Hotel which was built in 1925 as the tallest building between Portland and San Francisco. It is also reportedly haunted though we noticed no odd happenings or bumps in the night other than the fact that all of my pictures look slightly redish pink because of the smoke from the fires near by.


The hotel is on the National Registered of Historic Places and as such was renovated in a more historic style that it had existed in its prior life as the Mark Antony Motor Hotel. Very comfortable and cozy rooms.  We didn’t spend much time lazing about as we only had a short amount of time to explore. It was clean, comfortable, the air conditioning worked great and the staff was extremely friendly.



The room came with free breakfast but due to the pandemic is wasn’t as robust as it would have been in different times. Retrieved in one of the ballrooms you were however free to eat anywhere within the hotel and we chose the balcony overlooking the lobby which was very pleasant and great for people watching.


We spent most of the day shopping since we knew we had to hit the road the next morning pretty early to make an important lunch date. My favorite stores in town were the book store (big surprise) Bloomsbury Books and a home store called Jupiter Row. The entire downtown is stuffed with cute shops, boutiques and great food choices. Back behind the main street is Ashland Creek which flows out of the 93 Acre Lithia Park which includes an outdoor music venue, hiking trails and a Japanese Garden among other features. This creek front area has a walking path where most restaurants have outdoor seating and there are often arts or farmers markets lining the area.


The creek while quite small packs a punch, there is higher than normal levels of lithium in the water due to natural geologic features, and there have been a number of studies done on the general mental health of the residents of the area showing a marked uptick in happiness.


After we went in nearly every single shop and walked around the park a bit we decided on a British Pub for dinner. The Black Sheep is upstairs in a building on main street, and decked out pretty much exactly like a British Pub should be, dark, cozy, lots of TVs blaring soccar games, lots of beer and delicious cozy food.



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Exploring Klamath Falls Oregon During a Pandemic

Towards the end of the summer of 2020 I was starting to get really itchy to travel, we had finished settling in to our new house, the pandemic seemed like it would never end (still doesn’t) and I was ready for an adventure. So we decided to explore some new parts of Oregon. We were already a couple hours south of home due to the horseback wine country trip, so we hit the road and continued south. I never thought I would be exploring Klamath Falls Oregon during a pandemic, but last year was weird for a lot of reasons.


We sped down I5 for a couple of hours and then hopped over the cascade range and figured we were “this close'” to Crater Lake we may as well take a slight detour, it had been years since either of us had been there. Turns out it was the beginning of one of the worst fire seasons in Oregon’s history and the smoke was so bad they were turning people away at the park entrance. Disappointed but ever optimistic we turned around and continued south to Klamath Falls.


Klamath Falls is a great jumping off point for any number of outdoor activities, but as it turns out when half of the towns services are shut down for a pandemic and the other half due to air quality there isn’t a ton available for adventuring tourists. So had it been a normal year this post would have likely been a lot more interesting but we had fun all the same. We came in mid day, thoroughly enjoying the views of the lakes as we drove in, and by thoroughly I mean we enjoyed imagining how beautiful it would have been had we been able to see much of anything. The temperature was inching upward of 100 degrees so we went straight to our hotel so we could get our things out of the car. We ended up staying at a pretty standard non-descript hotel. It was clean, safe and comfortable. After getting settled we drove over to the downtown area hoping to hit up a few local boutiques and find somewhere for dinner.





Like most Oregon towns, Klamath Falls is full of beautiful historic buildings which I am always a fan of. The town was founded in 1867. The original inhabitants of the area were the Modoc or Achomawi natives, its proximity to a large watershed and natural marshlands made it a good settlement place in an otherwise fairly dry part of the state. The Applegate Trail (one of the many trails that make up the Oregon Trail) passed through the area. In 1906 some of the marshland was drained for agricultural purposes and later some of this land was given over to veterans of World War 1 and 2 for homesteading. Timber and cattle were two of the largest industries in the supplying funds to build some of the more impressive historic homes in town. Our personal favorite was this Queen Ann style home build by John Goeller  in 1904. It has obviously seen much better days, which is a shame.


The downtown area was clean and well kept, if not entirely deserted. All the shops and restaurants were closed due to pandemic and air quality. Though there were quite a few really fun looking second hand and antique stores we were dying to go into. The city of Klamath Falls had suffered a fairly significant series of earthquakes in the early 90s so much of the downtown has since then been restored but unfortunately many of their historic buildings were lost during this period.


The Williams Building was one of my favorites. IT was built in 1926-27 by Jamison Park of Parker and Bamfield in the Italian Renaissance style and the bas relief style highlights the two main industries of the area. I believe it is now a pizza shop among other businesses.


After wandering around and taking way too many pictures of buildings we settled on eating at a Mexican restaurant that calls a beautiful historic bank building home. It was also the only place in town open for dine in eating. But lucky for us it tuned out to be quite good. Part of me was thrilled to get to eat inside such a gorgeous building and happy that the building was in use. And part of my was a little disappointed in the repairs which involved a lot of dropped ceilings and zebra hides tacked up the walls. It’s always an adventure isn’t it.


After dinner we returned to our room for the night and the next day we headed off to Ashland Oregon for our next adventure. I would have loved to visit this town when things weren’t quite so shut down, but in travel things are never exactly how you expect. So it’s always important to enjoy what ever adventure comes your way. I still had a great time exploring Klamath Falls Oregon during a pandemic.





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Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country

Horseback riding through Oregon’s wine country is not something I ever really thought I would end up doing, but as it turns out it is the best way to go wine tasting. As long as you don’t drink so much you can’t stay on your horse.

Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country – Locations
To ride horseback and taste wine you do need to book a tour. I am sure there are some regulations somewhere that would allow you to BYOH (bring your own horse) but I have zero information on that and lets be honest that is probably extremely difficult to coordinate between local land owners, tasting rooms, locating places to tie up your horse while you are inside and just general traffic laws of the area.

We chose to take the Dundee Hills tour through Equestrian Wine Tours . Our tour was only about 3 hours total, which was perfect for a newer rider. But if you are experienced and looking for a full vacation trip then it looks like these folks offer 5 day tours in the Oregon area, as well as many other destinations around the world. If Dundee Hills isn’t what you are looking for there are tours here offered in the Hood River Area which is quite stunning.

Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country – Dundee Hills
As I mentioned we  booked through Equestrian Wine Tours and couldn’t have been happier about the entire experience. We got to visit two tasting rooms in the Dundee Red Hills and rode Tennessee Walkers between three tasting rooms making a full circle. The tour was long enough to feel like you got a good value for the cost, but also short enough that you could still walk the next day. First time horse riders beware, your bum will hurt. It was also very user friendly, I hadn’t been on a horse in more than 25  years and with just a short 5 min run down of how to get on and how to keep them moving in the right direction we were off and up through the vines.

Amber, our tour guide was incredibly patient and kind regarding all newness in handling horses and also very knowledgeable about the area, the wineries that we visited and all the other random topics I wound up chatting her up about.  We started out at Winters Hill Estate where you would normally get to taste but due to restrictions around occupancy we couldn’t get in that day. Winter’s Hill Estates is the meeting place, as well as a stop on the tour. But since we weren’t tasting there we just got right down to business. After our short survey of experience (we both had none) Amber chose the horses based on temperament and ease of handling for each of us, helped us get up on the horses and provided a quick tutorial on how to handle them. I was given Gigi for the day who was the larger of the two but very gentle.

We  set off through the fields between vineyards and then rode up through the vines which was quite the adventure because all three horses love to munch of grape vines so keeping them moving forward and not actively eating literally every step of the way was relatively challenging.  You either get really used to taking charge of a horse, or really stuck with a horse that refuses to move. Gigi and I only had two run ins with the vines solved not at all with my ability to control a horse but rather because she got a vine stuck in her bit and was busy working it out the entire way to our first official stop.

Our first tasting was  White Rose Estate which is one of the prettiest tasting rooms I have been to in the area, which is saying something given I lived in the area for close to 20 years and visited quite a few. Before we even got to sit down a woman who had way too much to drink given it was 11am came stumbling out of the tasting room declaring we were the most beautiful women she had ever seen and insisted on taking several pictures of us. Most of them turned out blurry. I would share them because they are pretty funny but I don’t share personal details of my friends and family here to protect their privacy.

After that adventure we got to sit outside enjoying the view, chatting with our server and sipping some really excellent Pinot Noirs.  After drinking more wine that I probably should have for being so new to horseback, and having difficulties getting back on my horse even with Amber’s help (not because of the wine but because  my legs were already fatigued from riding) we were off to our second stop which was Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie. Yes I do mean Francis Ford Coppola of  Hollywood, I will touch more on this vineyard in future posts. I did not end up drinking at this vineyard but we did have a really nice cheese plate and a gorgeous view after a good amount of time we saddled up and headed back to Winters Hill Estate. I have been to this tasting room several times and really love it for its homey feel and nestled in views of the valley. After wrapping up there we still had some extra time since we couldn’t taste at Winter’s Hill so we got an extended horseback tour of the vineyards, looping around the properties the long way and getting to see more of the valley views.

I would whole heartily endorse this trip regardless of time of year or weather. Amber told us stories of people who have ridden in rain and were laughing the entire time. And I will most likely being booking again some time this year with some other family members as it was too fun an experience to not enjoy ever again. Even if you aren’t drinking the views are incredible, the tour so much fun and getting to experience a vineyard on horseback is truly magical. I 100% endorse horseback riding in Oregon’s wine country.

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Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was known as Vista Hills Vineyard, a 20 year staple in the Dundee Hills producing award winning Pinot Noir wines. In 2018 The Family Coppola acquired the vineyards and existing tasting room changing the name to Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie. In the acquisition it was my understanding that the employees of Vista Hills Vineyard were retained containing the company commitment to take care of the individuals and land that make great wines.

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – Francis Ford Coppola
Why yes I do mean THE Francis Ford Coppola, director of Godfather among many other movies. In the 1970’s Coppola and his family bought land in Rutherford, California with the proceeds from the first Godfather movie. And between the years of directing the second Godfather movies and Apocalypse now they produces their first vintage as a family affair under the name of the Inglenook Winery.

Later he created a family friendly winery and play area in Geyserville, California. At the site of the former Chateau Souverain Winery he displays many of his movie memorabilia and Oscars along side the swimming pools, restaurants and various other activities at The Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Wineries and movies are not the only businesses under his umbrella though he has owned theaters, restaurants, cafes, resorts and literary publications through out the years.


Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – The Winery
Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was already producing high quality award winning Pinot Noirs which the region is known for when acquired. By keeping the staff the winery managed to maintain said quality and experience to continue to produce the same level of quality throughout the transition. My favorite however is their Rose, a limited edition wine that sells out very quickly.

The tasting room itself is perched on the top of the hills of their own vineyards overlooking the Dundee Hills and surrounding valleys. The house newly remolded offers a nice mix of woodsy comfort that blends with the surroundings and subtle refinement fitting of the wines. The tasting room being a former home, is built in the daylight basement style of the 70s so when you enter from the parking lot level you are on the main floor but once you pass through the tasting room to the deck you are on the second floor overlooking the valley. The lower level is a slightly stark room housing a car from one of Coppola’s movies and gigantic doors which open up to a lovely little patio and outdoor fire place. The tasting room flights as well as wines by the glass as well as an excellent cheese plate.


In addition to traditional tasting rooms services they also host yoga classes in the basement from time to time which I have had the pleasure of attending. As well as rental for special and private events. I was there once when they were getting ready for a dinner with Francis Ford Coppola and his family but sadly didn’t get to sneak a peak of any of them.


The winery also participates in the Equestrian Wine Tours which I went on not too long ago, which was a complete riot by the way. And entirely beginner friendly. All in all I would say Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie is one of my top 5 wineries in Oregon thanks to the kindness of staff, setting, delicious wines, and variety of fun special events they offer.



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Travel At Home to New York City

Travel At Home to New York City

Today we are going to travel at home to New York City. I don’t know about you but the call to travel gets greater as our travel restrictions continue for longer. I have been wanting to go back to New York for a while, the last time I went there I couldn’t drive and digital cameras hadn’t been invited yet. As such all the photographs in this blog post have been borrowed but links to each source is provided as well as credit given to the appropriate photographer.

Travel At Home to New York City – Books
Finding books set in New York City is relatively easy, I am currently reading the Timothy Wilde series by Lyndsay Faye if you are all interested in early New York, murder mysteries and politics this is a great series to dig into. The Alienist series by Caleb Carr I have heard is very good but I haven’t gotten to them yet. Edward Rutherfords New York is a fabulous historical fiction on the place, the characters are mostly fictional but his ability to weave fiction in a way that really teaches the history of a place is unmatched. And Rules of Civility by Amor Towels is one of my all time favorite books. You could always stick to the classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, The Bell Jar, Bonfire of the Vanities, Forever, The Thin Man, This Side of Paradise,

Some perhaps lesser known but quite fun reads are The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, A Well Behaved Woman by Theresa Ann Fowler, the Bright Young Things series if you are looking for something really light. The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a really fascinating story about the patent lawyer who was mixed up in the fight between Edison and Tesla. The Diviners series by Libba Bray is a fun series if you are into young adult fiction, similarly the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. I also really enjoyed Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes, The Witches of New York by Ami McKay, as well as The Dollhouse and The Address both by Fiona Davis.

I could keep going but the truth is there are far smarter people out there who spent a lot of time compiling lists that I needn’t repeat. Wikipedia has a list of books that take place in New York based on time period. The New York Public Library has books marked out by neighborhood. The exact genre you are looking for is but an internet search away. But please tell me if you come across any worth reading, I am always looking for new suggestions.


Travel At Home to New York City – Movies, TV and Theater
If you are interested in theater there is a Broadway streaming service here, for $8.99 a month you can watch all the shows you want, just add a fancy outfit and you are practically there. If you don’t want to spend money there are also a few free shows linked here.

As for movies filmed in New York City, well I think no other city on earth has been host to more movie sets. New York New York being the first ever film shot on location was of course shot in New York. If creepy movies are your thing Rosemary’s Baby is one of my favorites, but Black Swan and the new Joker movie are also filmed there as well as the Exorcists. For Sci-Fi there is XMen, Captain America, The 5th Element, The Hulk, I Am Legend. Movies like Gangs of New York and Annie Hall are almost exclusively about New York City. And then there are the classics like The Godfather, West Side Story, The Apartment, All About Eve, Read Window, Taxi Driver and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Or the real classics like Sleepless in Seattle, The Devil Wears Prada, Trading Places, Coming to America, Elf, Fame, and Ghostbusters. The list could go on for a quite a while.

Plenty of TV shows have been filmed in New York as well if you are looking for something a bit more on the binge side of things. Gossip Girl is of course top of the list, say what you want about the show, they actually do a really great job of showing off the city. But shows like 30Rock, Sex and the City, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Boardwalk Empire, Jessica Jones, Ugly Betty and Beauty and The Beast were all filmed on location and all do an excellent job of highlighting the city in their own way. There are of course quite a few more if you are looking for other genre’s or have already seen those.

Travel At Home to New York City – Virtual Tours
You can tour quite a few of the more famous New York City sites with this virtual tour. In the intro video you get to ride co-pilot in a helicopter tour around the city. In the other tours offered on the site you can swing the view point around and a virtual tour guide will explain details about the site.Through Google’s Arts and Culture application you can view a number of New York Museums like the MET, The MoMa, The Brooklyn Museum, The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Guggenheim.

Additionally  a few museums offer their on virtual tours via their websites, such as The Frick. And others offer access to other collections through interactive online content like The Whitney, The New York Historical Society, The New York Public Library and The New York Transit Museum. Google Arts and Culture also offers virtual tours of the High Line Park, and you can use Google Maps to “walk” around Central Park via the street view functionality.

Travel At Home to New York City – Food
When I think of New York City and food I think hot dogs, and pizza as well as bagels and lox. Not terribly complicated foods, but they can be difficult to pull off correctly. The hot dogs (in my opinion) have to have sauerkraut and deli mustard and you have to eat it standing up. The pizza has to be huge, flat, cheesy and dripping with grease. And you have to eat it again standing and folded in half like a taco. The bagels and lox is easier, though I haven’t been to New York often enough to be a true bagel coinsure. To my untrained palate an everything bagel, with cream cheese, thin red onions, capers, dill and lox is just about the best thing ever. If you want to follow a true blue New York food blogger Deb from Smitten Kitchen is the absolute best. And of course you cannot experience New York City without drinking the cocktail named after the famous Manhattan club, The Manhattan. 


I hope this series of resources can help scratch that travel itch and can carry you through lockdown just a little bit longer. Until next time I hope you enjoyed the travel at home to New York City.

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2019 Wrap Up

It is officially nearing the end of 2019 and the blog is taking a much needed vacation. We are off to Austria for Christmas with family and so I leave you with one final post, a 2019 Wrap Up of all that has happened this year. Winter 2019 Wrap Up The year opened with me deciding I should get off the pot and turn this blog into a business so I did all the necessary paperwork and started consulting for Beautycounter until I can start making revenue in other ways. 2019 Wrap Up Uncle Sam only lets business not make money for so long before you get shut down and I wanted to start out on the right foot. So if you have any interest in safer skin care products let me know. You can also support this effort by buying prints of my travel photos or my packing guide on my shop page. Below is one such photo which I took in January 2019 in Seaside Oregon during an unexpected snow storm. Seaside Oregon 2019 Spring 2019 Wrap Up In March In March 2019 we visited Silverton Oregon for a quick little local adventure to break up the winter blues. We tried to go hiking at Silver Falls but we were bested by the late snow fall. Silver Falls Oregon We instead toured the Gordon House which is the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon. And while it was unseasonably cold we did manage to keep our selves warm at the Oregon Garden Hotel. Gordon House Silverton Oregon In April we took a short trip down to Ojai California for a family event and got to stay at the gorgeous Ojai Valley Inn. We wound up going back to Ojai in October to visit family and spend a more relaxed time there. One goal in 2020 is to do a full round up of all our favorite spots in Ojai. Ojai Valley Inn The big trip for the year up until this point was a week in England. We had grand plans that had to be paired down since we were only there for a week. But we go to explore a good deal and I entirely fell in love in England. Bath England For all the BBC shows I watch and historical fiction I read England had never been at the top of my list but it took no less than 3 hours for me to be entirely smitten and I was extremely sad to leave. We spent the majority of our time in Bath, where I finally got to see the Royal Crescent. Royal Crescent England We toured the Costwolds and it was every bit as gorgeous as is shown in shows. I could have scooped up any one of the small cottages in any random village out there and been perfectly happy. And perfectly poor, it is incredibly expensive to live in England. Costwolds England We also visited Bristol for a day, and I got to see a Banksy Mural in the place that the man is allegedly from. Banksy’s Girl With the Pearl Earing We made a cross country train trek to Dover and while it is a little rough around the edges I very much loved that town too, the castle was incredible and walking the White Cliffs of Dover was a dream come true. White Cliffs of Dover Our last day in England was spent at the Kew Gardens, a must see when in England and also a perfect location for our last night as the taxi ride to the airport is cheap and quick. No missing planes for us, though I wouldn’t have been too sad to have stayed another night or two. Kew Gardens England Summer 2019 Wrap Up Summer was a bit slower after a very busy spring. We visited family in Southern Oregon and I finally got to visit and shop at the darling town of Jacksonville. Jacksonville Oregon In June I celebrated by birthday with a live showing of my favorite podcast and a overnight shopping trip in downtown Portland. Crystal Hotel Portland Oregon I went on a quick road trip to South Eastern Oregon to finally experience some of the more remote features of this rather large state I live in. The high desert in Eastern Oregon is truly stunning and towns like Burns the heart and soul of rural Oregon. Due to the late snow we didn’t get to hike the Steens Mountain as planed but we did get to stay at the Frenchglen Hotel and see the Alvord Desert. Alvord Desert On the same trip we drove up into the Owyhee Mountains and spent the night entirely off grid in a ghost town. The drive was entirely worth the experience and going back for more than one night is the top of the list for next year. Silver City Idaho Fall 2019 Wrap Up The only trip we took in the fall of 2019 was back down to California to Visit family. We mostly spent the week relaxing in Ojai or hiking in the hills. Which as I mentioned will be a post coming next year. We did get visit Disneyland while we were down there which is always a family favorite. I hope you enjoyed this 2019 Wrap Up. And with that I wish you and yours a very merry holiday season. I will be back next year with updates from our time off.
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Jacksonville Oregon

Jacksonville Oregon is a small historic town just a little under 48 miles north of the California border. Situated near enough to Ashland and Grants pass that you could make a nice weekend visiting some charming old southern Oregon towns, or make it a longer trip and drive up to Crater Lake which is only a two hour drive. History of Jacksonville Oregon Jacksonville Oregon was officially founded by 1852, a small settlement that quickly boomed when gold was discovered in the area. It was also home the Oregon’s first Chinatown, populated with former residents of San Francisco who had moved up to the area following the prospects of gold. Sadly like most of Oregon’s historic towns, the mines ran out, and the gorgeous town centers that were built are left behind when the trains stop running. In the case of Jacksonville in 1884 the train bypassed the town entirely. Supplies were too difficult to bring in, and without the mining income most residents left. Jacksonville Oregon Today Luckily for us fans of historic buildings the town was never entirely abandoned. In 1963 a Portland Orchestra  Conductor was visiting the area in the hopes of locating a place to play music in the summer. A site was selected, on the land of former resident Peter Britt, for it acoustic qualities and beautiful surroundings. Ever since then the British Arts and Music festival or Britt Fest is held in the small town, brining some world class music to the small southern Oregon community. Visiting Jacksonville Oregon When I visited it was only for an afternoon and not during Britt Fest. I was there for lunch and to check out some of the superb shopping that the town has managed to maintain thanks to its appeal to the tourist types that like charming old buildings and quaint little shops. There isn’t a lot of parking in the small downtown, but plenty in the residential parts of town. There is also a historic trolley that will pick you up from the public parking lot and take you all over town. We strolled the town, went into every shop and had a nice lunch before taking off right around the time it got really busy. Just perfect for me. Since Jacksonville Oregon is such a small town it isn’t necessarily a destination on its own, especially if making the 6 hour drive from the Portland area, but is a must see if already in the area and will nicely round out a wine or hiking trip what ever flavor suits you best.
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Hot Lake Hotel

The last stop on our summer road trip through Eastern Oregon was Hot Lake Hotel. We didn’t stay there, though I know people who have. I just wanted to tour it now,  in the off chance the rumors of changing owners came true. I am so glad I did as the owner was lovely and accommodating, for a small fee which came with unlimited coffee we got a grand tour of the once hospital turned resort.  It gives off serious Miss Havisham vibes in the best possible way (if you don’t know who that is you best go read Charles Dickens novels now).

History of Hot Lake Hotel
Well before any modern day structure existed on this spot of land just outside La Grande, Oregon the native people of the area were well acquainted with the  spot which is known for its mineral hot springs. The area was well documented by Washington Irving in his recordings of the Astor expedition in 1812.  And for many years leading up to the building of the hotel it was used as a trading post between natives and recent settlers and those passing through in search of gold. The trading post still exists on the grounds today and is included in the tour. 

The first incarnation of the Hot Lake Hotel was built in 1864 in the Colonial Revival style. At the time of the original construction the hotel operated as a multi business complex complete with post office, blacksmith, barber shop, spa, bathhouse as well as other small businesses.

In 1904 the original structure was demolished and John V Bennes (whose name is also attributed to the Geiser Grand Hotel) started construction of the Georgian style structure you mostly see today. With 105 guest rooms, 60 surgical bed and a 1,500 person ballroom.

When Hot Lake Hotel opened it opened as a luxury resort and sanitarium, advertising the healing properties of the sulfur rich water to cure what ever ails you. Unfortunately in 1934 half the hotel burned. The glorious beginnings of this luxury spa were not seen again as it was used as a retirement home, asylum and a nurses training station during WWII. The building was abandoned in 1991, even though it had been added to the National Registered of Historic Places in 1979.

In 2003 the building was purchased by David Manuel a rather well known bronze statue artist in the Pacific North West. He and his family worked for two years in order to open it back up to the public, and continue to work on it now. Today it operates as a bed and breakfast, spa and restaurant as well as a museum of native and munitions artifacts which is the private collection of Mr. Manuel.
Experiencing Hot Lake Hotel
It is important to remember when visiting Hot Lake Hotel where it started when it was last bought, and that the restoration work was done with private funds. This is not a billion dollar restoration project done by a team of professionals. This was a restoration project done with money raised privately and done as a family because they loved the building so much. As such you will see it is an eclectic mix of furnishings and styles.

As a part of a the tour or as a paying guest of the hotel you will be offered the chance to view a video put together by the owners detailing some history of the building but more importantly the history of the family and the work they put into the restoration. I would highly suggest taking them up on the viewing.

There are several floors of rooms, and each floor as seating areas both inside and outside. There are also several museum type rooms in the guest room section of the building that provide information regarding the surgical suites and exercise facilities that used to be on site. And of course there is the onsite spa, both indoor and outdoor pools offer up a cooler version of the mineral waters that exist in the area for your soaking pleasure. The cooler part is important to note as the small lake in front of the hotel that is fed directly from the underground hot sprints is so hot it will disintegrate bone, best not go swimming in it directly.

There have been rumors of hauntings, though I did not experience anything odd while there. The owners are reluctant to say much about it, but that isn’t surprising when you meet them. They just aren’t the type to suffer that type of rumor or gossip.  I did not stay at the hotel myself, it was just a stop off on the way home. But if I was out in the area for a night I most certainly would spend the night at Hot Lake Hotel. I do not mind the slightly rambling and mismatched décor. I am quite frankly never looking for a 5 start resort. Just a clean place to stay with nice folks running the place. The interesting history is of course a huge bonus.

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Geiser Grand Hotel

The Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City is a place I have been dreaming of visit for probably over a decade. A chance scanning of an Oregon travel magazine in a waiting room left me gawking at the interior shots and gorgeous stained glass ceiling of this hotel. I may have stolen the magazine from the waiting room (this was before I owned a cell phone that took decent pictures). So when I planned the road trip this last summer I knew this hotel was on the list, truth be told I planned the entire trip around three hotels I wanted to visit (Frenchglen, Idaho Hotel and Geiser Grand).

History of Geiser Grand Hotel
The Geiser Grand Hotel opened in 1889, designed by John Bennes in the Italianate Victorian Style. Bennes is responsible for a number of buildings in Oregon including 35 on the University of Oregon campus, as well as the Hollywood Theater in Portland and the Liberty Theater in Astoria (both incredibly gorgeous and still working theaters).
The hotel was build during the Oregon Gold Rush and as such saw its fair share of incredibly wealthy and incredibly shady characters throughout its history. In 1968 the hotel closed and in 1993 it was reopened after an enormous restoration effort which brought the hotel back to life with historic fixtures, paint colors and furnishings. Including an enormous research process to design and remake the stained glass ceiling which had long since been destroyed in a hail storm.

Hauntings of the Geiser Grand Hotel
For those of you interested in the paranormal the Geiser Grand Hotel has had numerous spectral sightings. Which include a young girl, a saloon dancer, a cowboy, a headless chef, and a lady in blue. A quick internet search will bring you all kinds of confessions of sightings and even information about a ghost hunters type crew that camped out set on finding definitive evidence of the hauntings.

For those of you not interested in the paranormal I can tell you without a doubt that I experienced nothing but a stellar stay and an excellent nights sleep.

Out Stay at the Geiser Grand Hotel
I was so thrilled to finally be experiencing this incredible historic hotel, I was on cloud nine the entire stay. It probably helped that I hadn’t had a decent shower in a couple days or a very great bed in the last couple days. I was beat.

I wandered around the hotel for a good while snapping pictures and seeing that all the hotel had to offer. A reading/game room, a gym, a dining room and a store were all on premises. And the store even had movies for rent that could be played in the room.
Once I had sufficiently went everywhere I could without risking  ejections from the hotel, we got ready for dinner. We chose not to eat at the hotel because I had found a steak house in Haines that looked like a hoot. But we returned with full bellies, dessert to go and settled in for a couple movies. This was the first time we had decent wi-fi all week so we picked a few Netflix movies and streamed them from bed.

The rooms are absolutely stunning, well decorated, large windows and gloriously tall ceilings make the rooms seem palatial. The beds and pillows were superb, I don’t think I have had a better nights sleep since. We had breakfast in the dining room and then set off toward Portland. All in all I give the Geiser Grand Hotel 5 stars, beautiful, historic, comfortable, interesting history, and no actual ghost encounters.

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Oregon Trail Center

Right off I-84 in eastern Oregon is the Oregon Trail Center. Providing visitors a variety of experiences related, well, the Oregon Trail. I have very little reason to be approximately 6 hours away from my home, but this last summer as a part of my ‘getting to know Oregon better’ quest I found myself way out east. And knew I needed to make a stop at the museum.
Overview of the Oregon Trail Center
The museum itself lies just north of Baker City, which in and of itself is not a very large town, but it does happen to be a very important role in Oregon’s history. A lot of wagon trains passed through this area. After long harrowing journeys families were greeted with wide open pastures and the unfortunate realization that they still had mountain passes to traverse.

The Oregon Trail Center is an incredible museum maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.  It offers sweeping view of the area, as well as life sized displays, films, exhibits, presentations and more.

The buildings and views are well worth the drive, sitting on top of a large hill in the middle of BLM land, you get the opportunity to experience an unobstructed view of the valley and Rock Creek Butte. You can also hike all over this area, BLM lands are open for recreation. The types of recreation are always clearly marked or communicated on the areas website if you have any questions regarding land use.

The facilities also have a very nice walking path down the face of the hill and out toward some mines that are set up for educational purposes. I being terrified of ticks, did not choose to go tromping through the open lands and stuck to the path being sure not to brush up against any long grasses. We saw plenty of ticks just walking by. So if you choose to hike through the pastures be sure to come prepared and always check for ticks after being outside.

My Impressions of the Oregon Trail Center
We had been driving for quite a few hours by the time we got here, and having left Silver City behind (sadly) I think we were both a little dazed. And for some reason I had in my mind that it would be providing research materials to look through in order to locate names and dates of family members that passed through the area but it did not. And that is okay, it is a lovely area with a wonderful exhibit.
There isn’t really anything in the area of the museum, hence the beautiful sprawling views. But just down the road is an excellent steak house Haines and Baker City is only about 10 minutes down the highway so it is an easy jaunt into town for excellent hotels, restaurants and other museums.
I thoroughly enjoyed by time at the Oregon Trail Center in Baker City Oregon. One I highly recommend if you are interested in Oregon history and find yourself in the area.

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