July 21, 2002
I know I really like a place when it’s difficult to leave, and that’s exactly how I felt as I prepared to check out of the historic Weasku Inn in Grants Pass, Oregon. In fact, I found it so hard to leave that I set up my laptop in the Great Room downstairs, which bought me a few extra hours at this historic lodge before hitting the road again.
This must be how the many celebrities who frequented the inn during the 1930s and ‘40s felt, especially if hesitant about returning to the hustle and bustle of Hollywood life. Zane Grey, Bing Crosby, and Walt Disney all stayed at the inn during this period of time. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were also frequent guests. After Carole Lombard’s death, Clark Gable spent weeks in seclusion there.
I arrived in a somewhat frazzled mood, with a lingering headache from travel. I was not the most cheerful guest when I approached the registration desk. But I was greeted enthusiastically by the friendly front desk staff. No employee blues here. And why should there be? The Weasku Inn is a slice of paradise. My brittle road nerves began to relax immediately.
I had the good fortune of having the upstairs of the small lodge to myself for the evening, as other guests had reserved cabins elsewhere on the property. I took Room #5, just at the top of the stairs. It was rustic and elegant at the same time, with a twig headboard and oatmeal, honey, and almond bath products. A side window looked out across the garden and down toward the Rogue River. Though the room had all the comforts of modern amenities—television, phone, hair dryer, iron—they were unobtrusively placed, helping maintain the historic feeling of the inn. With the other rooms vacant, I had the entire lodge to myself: a cozy retreat upstairs as well as a spacious main floor of common areas. It was ideal.
Seated in one of two Stickley sofas, in front of a massive river rock fireplace, I watched as other guests checked in and headed for their accommodations by the river. Though the cabins were spacious, I preferred my smaller room in the lodge, as it allowed me to remain in the original building, surrounded by the same log walls that have been there since the inn was built in 1924.
After settling into the room, I ventured back downstairs, where a buffet offered complimentary chilled white wine and hors d’oeuvres. I fetched a soda for myself and built a small cheese and cracker feast, which I carried to a table in the Rainbow Room, named after Rainbow Gibson, who bought the inn from the original builders and owners in 1927. There, I jotted down some notes and looked out across the deck and through the many pine trees, joined periodically by local feline friends, all named after former celebrity guests – Zane, Walt, etc.
There were several restaurant options in the area, but I decided to take a run into Grants Pass, where I grabbed something quick from a grocery deli before returning to the inn to enjoy a quiet night in my room.
After an exquisite—and diet-destroying—continental breakfast the next morning, I wandered the grounds. From the lower level of the property I looked out at the river from a rustic wooden bench. The area between the flowing water and the lodge itself provided many places to rest, read or write.
So many details at this inn added up to provide an amazing lodging experience. Pitchers of ice tea and ice water were set out in the daytime, wine, cheese and crackers in the late afternoon, cookies and milk during bedtime hours, not to mention the expansive breakfast buffet that awaited guests in the morning. Baskets of fresh fruit were available at all times. In addition, the accommodating hospitality of the inn was every bit as wonderful as refreshments, successfully striking the perfect balance between service and privacy.
I was surprised when handed my bill at check out to find that my only charge was the exact room rate itself. Not only was the usual sales tax missing, which the state of Oregon does not charge, but even the normally charged hotel tax was not on the bill. It turned out the Weasku Inn was just outside the county limits and therefore not required to charge a lodging tax.
Nothing lacked at this Rogue River retreat, at least in terms of how I like to travel. Local calls were free. Movies were available from a video library, including, of course, numerous Clark Gable films. The inn was quiet and peaceful, filled with comfort, an easy place to relax and enjoy the peaceful side of life.
I left with a book on the history of the inn, a handful of cookies, and a souvenir coffee mug. It was not an easy place to leave. But, as always, the road called.