Monday, December 6, 2010

A Nice Place to Stay Along the Route?

Every year, Mrs Elliott and I drive down to the Sacramento area to visit family for the holidays. This year it's for the Christmas one, next year it will be for the the Thanksgiving one. We alternate.

While our destination is not so far away that we could not do the drive in one day, we prefer to take two. No sense getting tired and pressing hard out of desperation and ending up like one of those cars that pepper the winter landscape alongside the highways around here, turned-turtle after drifting right off the road and into the shrubbery.

Driving during daylight provides endless hours of scenery-seeing. This we find better than spending hours staring down the snowflake-filled tunnel created by the car's headlights in the dark. We also bring a book or two on CD to keep the part of the brain that likes stories active (Mrs Elliott has heard all my knock-knock jokes and just sighs and stares out the window when I unholster a few).

We got this trip mainly sorted out except for lodging. This is turning into a problem.

Every year we have the same discussion about where to stay midway. And so far we haven't found a place we like.

I'm asking for suggestions.

Fig. 2 Crappy brick-in-a-parking-lot corporate Motel 6-like place.
We'd like to find a non-corporate place that is cozy, quaint, and quiet. NOT a crappy brick-in-a-parking-lot Motel 6 or one of its wretched cousins. And I'm not so sure about bed and breakfast places, either.

My last two experiences were not encouraging.

Like that tiny but expensive room we stayed in in Astoria this summer. It was located at the top of a fearsomely steep flight of stairs. The mattress, the bedding, the pillows and the room smelled bad. The bathroom was a modern design -- for 1890. At some point antique goes past "quaint" and moves directly into "decrepit" territory and I reckon that loo passed its sell-by date in the mid-'50s.

We stayed in a BnB near Klamath Falls after last year's Thanksgiving. It was more comfortable, but the poor owner had just learned that his hospitalized wife's health condition was far worse than anticipated, so his mood was somewhat dampened. The mood of the proprietor sets the tone of the place. If the owner is cheerful and fun, the stay can be quite enjoyable. If the owner is morose or has a hook for a hand and habitually lurks within earshot all the time, the place can be a little less fun.

A stay at a bed and breakfast is a crap shoot, my friend. An expensive one. A young Anthony Perkins might show you to your room.

So the quest continues.

In Klamath there seems to be nothing but crappy brick-in-a-parking-lot corporate Motel 6-like places.

A place near Weed the Stewart Mineral Springs Retreat looks intriguing. I'd like to hear from anyone who has stayed there.

Of course we don't need to stay on Highway 97, we could swerve over to I-5 and try Ashland, but the places there seem to be either crappy brick-in-a-parking-lot corporate Motel 6-like places or twee precious wee bed and breakfasts.

We stayed one night at the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir.  It was . . . interesting. Dunsmuir is wanting in restaurant options.

Redding doesn't seem to have any place worth pushing through Shasta to get to. There's a Black Bear Diner off I-5 south of Redding that we somehow ended up in both going south and heading north last year. It was mediocre both times.

So, Dear Reader, if you personally know of a nice inn or hotel midway-ish between Bend and Sacramento, please leave a comment.


  1. HI! I recall former co-workers telling me about Shasta Mountain Retreat & Spa .. glowing descriptions. Might be worth looking into.

    Be safe, enjoy the drive ... happy holidays!

  2. You're too fussy, Jack. (Bet you've heard that before.)

    If I were you I'd just take that place in Weed and be done with it. Even if it ain't exactly perfect, a one-night stay isn't going to kill you.

  3. I'm /very/ fussy!

    "If I were you I'd just take that place in Weed and be done with it. Even if it ain't exactly perfect, a one-night stay isn't going to kill you."

    Nonsense. Place could be filled with hippies and smell of patchouli oil.

    Everyone has their own level of standards. When's the last time you voluntarily listened to popular music? Just because something's popular or ubiquitous doesn't make it good.

    By the same token, just because the majority of traveller up the I-5 corridor are a bunch of philistines who are perfectly happy with charmless accommodations does not mean I have to like the choices, nor that I should give up my quest to find that perfect spot.

    Demand the best. Never accept "good enough."

    That's what I say. YMMV.

  4. "Place could be filled with hippies and smell of patchouli oil."

    They don't call the place "Weed" for nothin'.

    "Demand the best. Never accept "good enough." That's what I say."

    He for whom nothing is ever good enough lives a life of perpetual frustration and dissatisfaction. That's what I say.

  5. Good point. What I meant was that in lodging, just as in cigars, wine, art, and beer, that which the mass market finds to be "good enough" seldom is. When given a choice, seek out the Good Stuff.

  6. When it comes to cigars, wine and art (and lodging) I can seldom afford the really Good Stuff, but I don't let that stop me from enjoying the Pretty Good Stuff.

  7. BTW the Railroad Park Resort looks like a kinda fun place.

  8. Well yeah -- sometimes Pretty Good Stuff is the best one can expect. It may turn out that the best available lodging options 'tween here and Sacramento are no better than "pretty good." But without looking, one will never know for sure. 'Tis hope springing eternal in Jack's breast that leads him on his quest to find something a cut above the average.

    The Railroad Park was kind of cool. We arrived well after dark on the night before the night before Christmas, without reservations. The place was pretty shut down, smothered in snow, yet the nice lady there took our credit card and assigned us a caboose to sleep in. Since we weren't expected, the riveted cast-iron car was dead cold. We fired up the heater and climbed back into the car to find a place for dinner. All we found in Dunsmuir was a fluorescent-lit diner. Burgers, soup, iceberg lettuce salad, fish sticks, etc. When we got back to the metal train car the temp inside had risen from about 35F to a positively tropical 41F. We shivered under the blankets until we fell asleep. Later that night, we woke up sweltering -- the heater had finally found traction.

    The park is plenty cute and unique and with a head's up the "room" would have been warmed for our arrival, I am sure. But, no disrespect to the park, we'll probably not stay there again mainly because there's no place in that town or nearby with decent food. A Denny's would be a step up. The D and D's "kitchen" would give that place a run for its money.


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