My husband, Bill, and I just returned from a meeting of the Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild board of directors. I'm currently serving as the state treasurer; Bill is a "retired" board member and came along for the ride.
So, what do innkeepers do when they travel? Stay at other B&Bs of course! To the casual observer it may be a little surprising that we think of our B&B as "home" too, but most innkeepers also live in their bed and breakfasts--not the same as a hotel with staff. Many beautiful (and unusual) homes have been converted into bed&breakfast lodging--preserving the building for others to enjoy.
We started off from Joseph, Oregon, with a 5-hour drive to Hood River. The scenery across Eastern Oregon and into the Columbia Gorge is incredible this time of year--autumn hues of golds, oranges and yellows mixed with the strong green of pines and other conifers.
Hood River is such a fun town, regardless of the weather. We stayed with VJ and Boba Jovanovic, owners of the Villa Columbia B&B. VJ&Boba are from Yugoslavia but have lived in the United States for many years. VJ is a builder--which is evident in their careful restoration and renovation of their 1911 classic Arts&Crafts home on Oak Street (the main drag through town). Bill and I thoroughly agreed that we'd love to pick up their house and transport it back to Joseph as the "Bronze Antler Bed&Breakfast Annex" but it's just not going to happen.
The next morning we picked up our Board President, Mary Pellegrini, at her home, the Old Parkdale Inn, about 15 minutes south of Hood River in the middle of fruit orchards at the base of Mt. Hood. She'd just finished up the breakfast dishes, walked the dog, and turned her inn over to a dear friend that would clean the guest room and close up the house in her absence.
And now for the long drive to the Crater Lake area. We cut down through the center of Oregon, stopping for lunch at the Black Bear Diner in Madras. I thought the food was pretty good--apparently some readers of Chowhound do too). The decor is quaint, the service was excellent, and it appeared from some of the plates passing our table that one will not go hungry in a Black Bear Diner.
The Prospect Historical Hotel-Motel & Dinner House is located southwest of Crater Lake National Park. Since it was early enough in the day, we decided to detour through the park and see Crater Lake. We had hoped to see some lovely fall colors, but instead were greeted with a small snowstorm (and here it is early November). Fortunately, our Tahoe is equipped to handle the snow and normal driving in Eastern Oregon allows for plenty of snow-driving practice!
Wallowa Lake in Northeast Oregon is beautiful, but Crater Lake can be spectacular. We were disappointed that the lake never once came into view. A fog bank shrouded the lake completely and we almost missed the turn to the southern rim visitor center. We felt particularly bad, however, for two vehicles we came across--with Alabama and Florida license plates. The drivers looked a little overwhelmed by the road conditions (we did see each later on the road at lower altitude).
Leaving the lake, we arrived 30 minutes later at the "closest bed and breakfast to Crater Lake" and the warm welcome from Karen & Fred Wickman, owners of the Prospect Hotel. This hotel was built in the late 1800s and has played host to a variety of celebrities over the years, including Theodore Roosevelt, Jack London, and Zane Grey. All four innkeepers driving in were housed on the second floor. Needless to say we accomplished our business, plus had the opportunity to let our hair down with Fred & Karen and the spouses/significant others who accompanied us.
Two days later we were on the road again, this time back to Parkdale via Milwaukie. Innkeepers can't resist the draw of Bob's Red Mill factory store. It's a wonderful place to stock up on large volume, high-quality products for the pantry. A few hundreds of dollars later we were back on the Interstate, heading to Parkdale.
Mary's bed and breakfast, the Old Parkdale Inn, is a bit south of Hood River on the way to Mt. Hood Meadows ski area. She renovated her kitchen and dining area this summer. Bill's bound and determined to redo our kitchen at the Bronze Antler after seeing hers. We watched the election results, toasted democracy, and went to bed.
Rather than drive straight home, Bill & I detoured into Washington. Guests of ours from Goldendale had recommended we stop at the Greek cloister north of town on the way to Toppenish. Approaching darkness, we found the bakery of St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Monastery. Greek pastries, spanakopitas and other food items are prepared by the nuns from scratch and sold in their shop to support the monastery's work. Bill declared the baklava delicious. We left with handmade incense and lovely Greek table linens for Christmas, and with the knowledge that we can order pastries from their website!
After such a good snack, we decided to overnight in Toppenish, a small town remaking itself as the City of Murals. Checking into a local motel (yes, innkeepers do stay in motels), we followed the desk manager's dinner recommendation to Zillah, where we dined at El Porton. I can't say enought about the Sopa de Mariscos, and Bill thoroughly enjoyed a selection of 3 different enchiladas. What was more amazing was that people kept coming in constantly throughout our dinner. A very popular place with the locals.
The following morning we returned to Joseph, Oregon, via the Interstate. Not an eventful trip other than the beautiful fall colors and a little bit of snow on Deadman's Pass. Winter is coming!
And home-again, home-again to our Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast. Madigan (our cat) waiting to rail us for leaving her to guard the house, and a great sleep in our own bed.