TRAVEL HERE: TIMBERLINE LODGE, MOUNT HOOD, OREGAN
Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today we’re going to Mount Hood.
Memorable Mount Hood
Mount Hood majestically dominates the surrounding landscape. Perhaps you remember several weeks ago I mentioned seeing Mount Hood from Panoramic Point in Hood River. It was also visible from our Sam-Hill-related visits in Washington State and it stayed in view throughout our drive to White River Falls. Mount Hood is so tall that it keeps its snow-cap all year, which means year-round skiing.
Though you can’t miss Mount Hood if you’re anywhere nearby, I’m sorry to report you can omit Timberline Lodge as a place to spend the night. I looked at the pictures online and read its history in my travel guides. I was convinced we had to spend the night there, but I was wrong.
Timberline Lodge was one of my splurges. Usually when we’re just passing through and need a place to sleep, I get as
cheap a room as I can. I want to be safe and comfortable, but I don’t worry about thread count and amenities. The cheapest room I could get at Timberline was $175 and we had to sleep in twin beds, but I was so excited about the lodge that I went for it.
Darkness was falling as we turned up the mountain towards Timberline. I was disappointed the lodge didn’t seem as picturesque as the photos on the web, but I blamed it on the lighting. I felt a little bit like I’d arrived at Count Dracula’s. A rock-paved stairway led to the arched door entrance. A darkened hall opened onto a lobby decorated with stone and timber. Furnishings were smallish and the roof seemed low. No crackling fire welcomed us to the lobby, but it had been a warm day. I followed signs to a registration desk which reminded me of the lodge at the Grand Canyon. My hopes grew. I’d enjoyed the Grand Canyon accommodations.
After getting our key I asked where the room was and the instructions were a little more lengthy than ‘up the elevator and to the right.’ We decided to scout the route before dragging our luggage with us. The lodge is built around centralized common areas. There’s an elevator between floors, but the common areas are a few steps above the halls with the elevator and guestrooms. The common areas are lounges, some with bars and/or restaurants. You get the feeling you’re the evenings entertainment as you trudge through dining guests to get to the hall with your room – and then you have to go down the stairs to the guestroom level again. Now add luggage and it’s a real hassle.
I’ve heard of hotel rooms the size of a closet, but this was the first time I’d stayed in one. Granted, I have a fairly large walk-in closet, so it could have been worse. My husband stood in the middle of the room and touched the walls. We discussed seeing if they had any other rooms available, but it scared me to think what the next price point might be, so we returned to the car for our bags.
Then there was the issue of food. Timberline has a variety of venues available, but (at least in June) the hours of operation didn’t have much in common with when we wanted to eat. We ended up having dinner at the Rams’ Head Bar. The view was out of this world and the food was OK, but the service just might be the worst I’ve ever had in my life. On a humanitarian level, I sensed the waitress was having some sort of personal crisis and I felt sorry for her, but someone should have given her time to pull herself together, not sent her out to subject diners to her neglect.
While I’m on food, let me complain about breakfast. When we were ready for our morning meal the famous Cascade Dining Room was the only place open. The fragrance of bacon smelled heavenly, but we were driving to Crater Lake and didn’t have a lot of time. We couldn’t stand to pay $15 for breakfast when we didn’t have time to linger over the buffet. So we passed on that and found a McDonald’s.
The inconvenience of the dining hours spilled over into the other amenities. The swimming pool and exercise room were also time restricted, so we missed out on them, too. I’d made the reservation hoping for an indulgent respite. That’s not what I got and the rustic interior reminded me more of a horror movie than a hunting lodge.
What I Did Like
However, the stay was not completely without it’s charms. I mentioned the view from the Rams Head, well the slow
service encouraged chatting up our fellow diners. One couple was on hand to keep an eye on their daughter, whose class was there to celebrate their graduation from eighth grade. We were completely charmed by the parents and by the eighth graders who were having a grand old time of it all.
As we bustled about the lodge in the morning, I noticed something odd going on in one of the corners of the lobby. A little nosiness revealed a crew was getting ready for a catalog shoot. Bill had a little business to transact on his computer, so we were in the lobby for the wi-fi. It afforded me the opportunity to observe the creative process at work and gave me some of my best moments at the lodge.
So would I stay at Timberline Lodge, again? The answer is, sadly no. If nothing else, schlepping my luggage up and down those steps was a real deterrent, but I was not happy about missing my daily exercise or the dining hours either. If you decide to stay there, bite the bullet and get a larger room. The twin would probably be OK for your kids, but it’s tight for fully grown people. I’m not exactly a big person, but I could barely maneuver in the bathroom and I couldn’t get all of me in the shower at the same time. I’d also stay more than one night. With the crazy hours they keep, it would take more than one day to enjoy everything offered. What I would do (without question) if I’m ever in the area again, is make sure that if I leave enough time to enjoy the breakfast buffet in The Cascades Dining Room. I have this sneaky feeling that if I’d stayed for breakfast my whole attitude might be different.
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