The Drive-In – Condon, Oregon

A few weeks ago I talked about the Condon Hotel which is a darling historic hotel in Condon Oregon. While we were there we obviously needed to eat dinner. There were a couple restaurants that we wanted to eat at, one was closed and the other was out of to go boxes. Third times a charm took us to The Drive-In, which is on the south end of town across the street from the newly built city park which was also having  a farmers market that we had wandered around earlier in the day.

We chatted with the owner a bit while we waited for our burger, which we split with a large order of curly fries and a chocolate shake. He had mentioned that they had recently opened but they were busy so I didn’t get the chance to get too many details about how new or the history of the building they occupied. It was clearly built as a drive in, and was very popular with the locals.

They had an extensive menu with some really fantastically inventive burgers. We chose one that had a slice of ham as well as the burger. It was incredible! If it weren’t a 10 hour drive from my house I would go there for dinner every week.

We had a wonderful time sitting there waiting for our food, not only chatting with the owner but the locals that came and went for their dinners as well. I love getting to witness this kind of small town community and caring. They do not have a full website but a Facebook page with their hours can be found here. I would highly suggest stopping in if you find your way out there. Though as I write this in August they are currently closed as they are feeding the firefighters in the area trying to keep the wildfires from burning any more farms and historic homes. Once again, small town caring and community, it’s so wonderful to see.

Additional Information:

  • 433 S Main St. Condon Oregon
  • 11am to 7pm
  • Closed Sunday
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Hotel Condon – Condon, Oregon

Condon Oregon was established in 1893, named by the first post master David B Trimbel after Harvey Condon whoes firm first sold the townsite lots in 1884 after having acquired the land from a local homesteader. The town was once the last southern stop on the Union Pacific line that ran down from the Columbia River. And like most towns in Oregon when the trains stopped running the people stoped coming.

The hotel sits on the main street of town, which thanks to an 1998 initiative has been listed on the National Registry of Historic places and has enjoyed some refurbishment money. Some new businesses have opened up including a number of excellent restaurants, a gift and bookshop as well as the theater and of course Hotel Condon.

Hotel Condon was first opened in 1920. It has been updated with modern amenities and offered complimentary breakfast as well as a wine and cheese reception in the evenings. Our room was just lovely, bright and clean. Updated with comfortable furniture, wi-fi and television. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine and cheese, which we ate outside as it was such a wonderful evening. Then we got burgers to go from down the street and hung around our room. I would highly recommend the hotel, even if it weren’t the only place in town.

White River Falls – Tygh Valley, Or

White River Falls was a hydroelectric plant that supplied Sherman and Wasco Counties with power from 1910 until 1960. Much of the damn and associated hydropower bulidings and equipment are still standing at the base of the valley, which you can see in the picture below.

The waterfall itself is about 90 feet, and while in the summer the water flow doesn’t seem like much, in the spring it has enough volume to have earned the nickname of ‘The Niagra Falls of the West’.

The park is free for use, the upper park includes the parking lot and a lookout as well as a series of placards explaining the history of the dam. We did not hike down due to the heat and timing but the trail leads off from the upper lot, down along the cliff, past the hydro building and back along the river. The trail then goes onto state land and private land. There are quite a few resources out there discussing both history and usage of the area, this site World of Waterfalls covers it nicely.

I would very much like to go back in the spring to experince the waterfall at its height and also in more friendly weather to hike down into the canyon. It was a very beauitful spot, and just off the main highway from Maupin so if you find yourself in the area with a little extra time I high suggest the stop.

 

Friend, Oregon

Friend Oregon is by most writes a relatively intact ghost town. It has a graveyard, a school and a store. However, it is also on or near someone’s property! When we drove down to take pictures and explore the little town we were greeted by a pack of dogs. Farm dogs and likely very nice but we weren’t willing to test the theory by exploring on foot. So all we saw while there was the store front.

A very cool building and an excellent example of early 20th century architecture which is so common here in Oregon. My favorite part always being the use of large windows. My dream house would probably look similar. Large wall to wall windows and a big porch for reading outdoors.

Friend was named after George J Friend, the post office which was established in 1903 was done so on his old homestead site. The town was the end terminal of the Great Southern Railroad so at the time it was a very busy spot. But the railroad stopped operation in 1936 and with it the town slowly died.

Antelope, Oregon

Antelope like a lot of small rural towns in central Oregon, is just that small and rural. Mostly unknown these days, its heyday having long since passed since the railroad stopped running, buildings mostly left empty save for the few  souls who enjoy the solitude and low-cost of living.

But unlike most towns, Antelope was the center of a large federal investigation in the 1980s when a group purchased a large plot of land just outside town and little by little things got very out of hand.

Antelope was originally a wagon route connecting the Columbia River shipping route with Canyon City in Central Oregon. The town continued to grow until 1900 due to increased traffic thanks to the railroad. In 1981 the Rajneesh group purchased a ranch outside town, continued pressures between the group and the locals escalated until 1985 which ended in the group vacating and the town being left again to the locals. Sadly because of the conflict many people had moved away. So what was once a small but busy down with a opperating school and a cafe. Is now just a handful of houses and a post office.

When we visited it was very quiet, we poked around a few of the old buildings. Being mostly interested because we had been watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. We also wanted to make sure we weren’t disturbing any locals so we mostly just picked our way around the school and drove through town a couple of times snapping pictures.

It is a very cute little town. It is sad that because of that conflict it has turned to ruin. It would have been nice to see more life returning to it. I hope next time I get a chance to drive through this part of the state, which is gorgeous and I highly recommend the road trip, that it has a little more pep in its step so to speak.

Historic Balch Hotel – Dufur, Oregon

I had been wanting to stay at the Historic Balch Hotel for years, but given its location to myself it was always just too close and just too far away to drive out for a single night. Luckily this last year my mom and I decided to embark on a central Oregon road trip and I knew that without a doubt we would be finally getting to stay here.

Dufur is a small town in North Central Oregon, only a few miles south of The Dalles. It sits on the east side of Mt. Hood. I woke up extra early the night we stayed so I could try to get some pictures of the sunrise reflecting off the snow and clouds around the mountain. But it was a whole mess of private property between me and the view so I didn’t get a chance to get as clear of a shot as I had hoped.

The town was established in 1893 by Andrew and Enoch Dufur. The Dufur family were reglious refugees in early America, fleeing one of the many Huguenot conflicts in France around the time of the French Revolution, likely right before Louis XVI signed equal rights for Protestants in France. Andrew was educated at Pacific University in Forest Grove Oregon.  In 1872 the brothers purchased the land that is now Dufur.

The Balch Hotel was built in 1907 by Charles Balch. It was the height of luxury at the time with hot running water and electricity. Made popular by business men and individuals passing through town to and from The Dalles or beyond due to the Great Southern Railroad station in town at the time.

The hotel itself is a charming little place and beautifully maintained grounds. They are often host to small wedding parties, and concert goers as they offer coach service to Mary Hill Winery in The Gorge. They have a fully functioning dining room, dinner was delicious and breakfast is complimentary. They do not offer modern convinces like televisions but they do have wi-fi. As well as a fully functioning spa, and several lounge areas with a large selection of tea and books.

 

 

 

Painted Hills – Prineville, Oregon

I may have already mentioned this, but my husband and I are horribly lazy campers. We have both gotten to the age where we love being outdoors, and we also love sleeping in beds and having a flush toilet.

So when our good friends invited us to Prineville Oregon to go camping and hike the painted hills we groaned a bit. And then they told us there were camping cabins at the Prineville State Park. There may have been a cartoon shaped hole in the office door as we dashed to the computer to book our trip.

**Second Painted Hills site as you drive into the park**

We drove down after work, so we were both pretty tired and very thankful when we rolled into campground to a well lit cabin. The heat was running, the cabin was clean and there was a full sized bed, with a bathroom and a shower. Now mind you it is a foam mattress covered in industrial rubber, but it was a bed and we were so thrilled we didn’t have to try to set up a tent in the dark.
The next morning we woke up to one of the most glorious views I have ever experienced.

**Drinking coffee while looking at this doesn’t suck**

We made coffee for the others, left our door slightly ajar and hiked along the ridge of the reservoir until the others we ready to go.  We drove out to the Painted Hills State Park just before noon, knowing it would be a little over an hour. We really didn’t know what to expect, other than we all thought it would be an actual hike. Turns out it is more like a couple view points that you walk up to. We did all the “hikes” in the park in a couple hours, sat and chatted for a bit and then drove back for dinner.

**First Painted Hills site as you drive into the park and the most photographed**

Since we were there for Halloween we had made sure one of us had rented the deluxe cabin with a dvd player and tv. I brought a bunch of horror movies, and we all sat around the rest of the evening watching movies, eating and chatting. It was actually one of the better Halloweens I have had.
The next day we again hiked part of the ridge, and then down into the basin of the reservoir. We all had breakfast together and then drove back home.

**I was honestly very sad to leave this little cabin**

We had planned on hiking Smith Rock on the way back since the Painted Hills hikes while beautiful weren’t very strenuous but we hit an accident on the way out of Prineville and killed a bunch of our time. Instead we just drove back, enjoying the high desert views, and the full view of the cascade range before making our way back into the Willamette Valley.

Questions:

Have you ever been down to Prineville or Painted Hills State Parks? Are there other things in the area that you would suggest seeing?

McMenamins Hotels – Oregon

I am sure locals to the Portland Metro Area have a lot to say about McMenamins franchise as a whole. Some love them and some hate them. It is just one of those things.

I have no strong feelings either way on the restaurants. The food is fine, the service is usually fast and the interiors are pretty interesting. The thing that my husband and I really like though as the destination hotels. Particularly the Edgefield, Kennedy School and Grand Lodge locations.

Edgefield will always be my favorite. With cheap beautiful rooms, several bars and restaurants, a golf course, spa, music venue and theater it is really an mini vacation just outside the city. I have spent several birthdays there, playing golf and using the spa. They also have a large outdoor music venue that I have enjoyed several concerts at.


**Sunset on Grand Lodge table tops**

Kennedy School was our go two for a long time, it was near our house. And with several bars, billiard games, a soaking pool and a theater it was a great place for date nights and with hotel rooms if you couldn’t drive home, you could always check in and get a delicious breakfast before going home. We had our VERY informal rehearsal dinner here and had our wedding pictures taken in one of the court yards. A couple months ago a friend and I even stayed over so that we could go to a Bowie cover band and then not have to drive all the way back out of the city after the show.

 

**Kennedy School Views**

The Grand Lodge is new to us, but is currently the closest location to our house. With a hotel, spa, soaking pool, theater, and disc golf course we wind up spending a good deal of time down there. We haven’t managed to make it there for a movie or even Frisbee golf. But we did walk around a medieval festival this spring and I can usually be found sitting on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee or a drink while reading a good book.


**Grand Lodge’s porch**

All the hotel locations are great for weekend getaways, there is plenty to do, you never have to actually leave them and everything is relatively well priced. I love staying for special events, since we now live out of the city it is really fun to stay at one of the hotels so we don’t have to go back. Or even for a special even like New Years, with inclusive design you can have a drink, walk around, try a different bar and then just wander back to your room. No driving needed.