Traveler's Journal

Far from home ... in Oregon
Bonnie Henderson

"Why Frenchglen?" was my husband's question as we pulled up in front of the 89-year-old Frenchglen Hotel in Oregon's high desert, a seven-hour drive east of our home in Eugene. The simple answer: to cash in a gift certificate from friends. But the more complex answer slowly revealed itself.

It was an hour until dinner, so we strolled a mile of dirt road in adjacent Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to an old ranch, its wattle fences giving way to gravity. Back at the hotel, we joined the other hotel guests ― bird-watchers all ― to gorge on meatloaf, vegetable casserole, salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, and marionberry cobbler. After dinner we walked the other direction, past low Bureau of Land Management buildings and a tiny white schoolhouse, stopping to swing at the playground. Back at the hotel, we collapsed early.

I woke at daybreak to a medley of bird sounds outside the screened window, then fell back asleep and dreamed of the ocean. The smell of bacon finally woke us for good. I reached for the bedside journal; it fell open to a prior guest's entry, perfectly answering my husband's question: "No kids. No dog. No phone. No TV. No cooking. No cleaning. I want to stay one more night."

INFO Frenchglen Hotel (8 rooms from $67, not including meals; 39184 State 205, Frenchglen, OR, 60 miles south of Burns; 541/493-2825)