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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Washington to Texas Day 2 --The Geiser Grand Hotel

I am so glad to be "reliving" the Great Trek again--that 2000+ mile journey that my family took last month to get Amy and the boys back to Texas while Chad is deployed. We drove from Olympia over the White Pass into eastern Washington, then south to Oregon. When we made the trip up to WA, we stopped by necessity in Baker City, OR to gas up. We were amazed to learn that Oregon is a "full serve" state and doesn't allow any self-serve gas pumping! As we drove through town we noticed the Geiser Grand Hotel on the main street, and we agreed that if we ever came back this way, we'd make a point of staying there. Amy was tasked with routing us back to Texas, and she remembered that we wanted to stay there and got us reservations. What a wonderful place!

The Geiser Grand Hotel is truly remarkable. According to the website, Sunset Magazine says the Geiser Grand is "the finest hotel between Salt Lake and Seattle," and I wouldn't argue with that at all. Built in the 1890's and catering to miners who had struck it rich in the gold fields near Baker City, the hotel had a reputation of grandeur and sophistication that lasted well into the 20th century. But, in the post-depression/post World War II '40's and '50's the hotel fell onto hard times. According to the notes in the hotel brochure, the cast of the 1969 movie Paint Your Wagon (Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg et al) stayed at the hotel during filming, after which it closed. The hotel fell into disuse and disrepair, and was to be demolished. Thanks to a group of ardent historians and preservationists, the money was raised, and the hotel returned to it's former grand state in 1998, and it has been doing well ever since.

The lobby of the Geiser Grand:

We were all so impressed with everything about this hotel. As you can see from the photos below, the rooms were enormous (ours was the "economy suite" of course) with 14 ft ceilings, several large windows, two sitting areas, and best of all the most comfortable beds we would sleep on the whole trip. Yes, there was a chandelier to light the room! There wasn't a thing we could have asked for that wasn't provided.

After we got settled, I took the camera out and took some pictures of the lobby and the 2nd floor mezzanine. The restoration folks had done a superlative job of restoring everything. The first floor dining area was very spacious, and the 2nd floor has a closed-in area for group meetings. The real showpiece of the area is the stained glass skylight. You can see it from both the first and second floors.

This is a close-up of the chandeliers that light the dining area and mezzanine. The colors in the crystals are so bright and clear, it's hard to imagine they've been around since the 1800's.

This is the table where we ate breakfast. The boys had strawberry pancakes (their favorite meal of all) and we ate eggs benedict, stuffed french toast, and eggs bacon and pancakes. Then we got packed up to head south to Utah.

Before we left I tried one more shot of the Geiser Grand. This is in the morning with the sun rising behind the hotel. The night we stayed here was the most elegant and luxurious night of the trip. I will remember this place for a long time, and I highly recommend the Geiser Grand to anyone traveling between Washington and Utah. It is worth driving to!

Next, the beautiful rock formations and historic places of western Utah. You will be amazed at the beauty in that state. Till next time...

Best regards, Mike Z

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