Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ghosts in Baker City

For spring break this year, we decided to give the new (to us) minivan a workout and go on a road trip to visit friends in Boise, Idaho! I must say, both of us are liking the minivan for a variety of reasons:
  • It gives the kids (and us!) so much more room to spread out.
  • We have more room for luggage and less need for a cartop carrier.
  • We can listen to music in the front while the kids watch a DVD in the back (with headphones).
  • Heated seats!! And different heat/cool controls for driver and passenger (and kids in the back).
  • As a short person, I like sitting up higher in a vehicle. :)
Yes, I'm sure we spent more on gas, but aren't we all recently! Transporting a family of five in a minivan is still cheaper (not to mention better for the environment) than flying.

We broke up our drive to Idaho with a stop in Baker City, Oregon, a central historical spot for the Oregon Trail and the Gold Rush. We stayed in a wonderful old restored hotel, the Geiser Grand, and arrived just in time for the tour by a costumed guide (who turned out to be the mother of one of the owners). This hotel has been cited as a "unique hotel of the world" (Newsweek), "no finer hotel between Portland and Salt Lake City" (Sunset), "something out of a time machine tale" (New York Times), and a "19th century jewel" (Oregonian).

We all enjoyed learning about the history of the hotel and the area (even Chris, who we had to drag along on the tour), and the kids' interests were particularly piqued when the guide began speaking about the hotel's resident ghosts, one of whom haunts a third floor cupola room and targets female guests. Later on at bedtime, it really spooked the younger two!
Making himself at home in the hotel

After the tour, we set off down the street to have dinner in a pub. On the way, I stopped at a Sears to inquire if they had SD cards. I walked in, and two women jumped up to ask if they could help me. They were the only ones in the store. Very small town! We had a tasty dinner in Barley Brown's Brew Pub, in another historic building.
Blurry photo of Chris


Mike enjoying his hard cider

Me and Nick
Kieran and Nick,afraid of the ghosts

There was so much fussing about the ghosts that finally I got into bed with Kieran and put Nick in bed with Mike (Chris had a cot). Neither adult got much sleep. It turns out Kieran is a kicker, and since Nick is a cuddler, Mike nearly got pushed out of bed a few times.
In the morning, bleary eyed, we had breakfast in the original dining room of the hotel (from the Gold Rush era). Mike was excited to discover they offered gluten-free pancakes! (and whole wheat as well)
Kieran, nearly done with his eggs and hash browns

Chris opted for the caramel french toast

Mike eating his gluten-free strawberry pancakes--such a treat for him!

Nick with his enormous breakfast (that's right...nothing!)

With my huge stack of whole wheat pancakes
(I left half of the stack!)

 Before checking out, I wandered around the hotel taking photos. It's a gorgeous site!
The balcony on our floor, which overlooks the restaurant

The restaurant below

Original door hinges--gorgeous detail!

The library, which used to be a room for peddlers to show their wares

Looking out of the library
I LOVED these Italian chandeliers tinged with red!

Another view looking down from the second-floor balcony

A view of the first and second floors, and hint of the stained glass ceiling

Doorway to a room

View out our window

The chandelier in our room

Nick LOVED the bouncy beds!

Chris in his favorite spot!

Up the staircase

The beautiful and large stained glass ceiling

Original dining room

The cellar

On the tour, we went into one of the cellar rooms and saw two of the tunnels out of the hotel. In the Gold Rush era, the entire town was connected by underground tunnels, similar to Pendleton and Portland (which have their tunnels open for tourism).
Artifacts from the hotel's heyday
During the Gold Rush, the hotel was quite an unrespectable place, with a brothel on the top floor and plenty of gambling and drinking! When the current owners took it over, it was ruined and they almost "paved paradise and put up a parking lot." In its original version, the hotel had 100 rooms. Now it has just 30, and they are much larger and all have en suite bathrooms.

One of the original Geiser Grand lions, which used to be outside on the cupola tower...
Our guide pointed out that the cowboys used to use the lions for target practice,
and you can still spot a bullet hole above the lion's left eyebrow!

I loved this tin ceiling in the gift shop

Beautiful gift shop filled with Pendleton Woolen Mills products

Clock tower cupola (see the ghost in the window?)


My little cowboy in front of the hotel

I realized that I must be a true history buff...I enjoyed our stay in Baker City. If only it were not for the huge OBAMA bumper sticker I saw on a car, which upon closer examination read "One Big Ass Mistake, America!" Okay...so maybe I will not be moving to eastern Oregon!
Next we were off to the interesting Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which Kieran and I had prepared for by reading about life on the Oregon Trail.
View of the Blue Mountains from the center (a treacherous portion of the trail)

Covered wagons outside of the center


Nick's favorite part of the visit--climbing the wagons and
pretending to be a pioneer boy named Samuel!





As you can see, I was commanded to take many different photos of him posing!


Finally, we get to go into the center

Display of trail life
Really cool old typewriter on display

Native American papoose and mocassins


Back to take more photos of the wagons!

The center has a trail down to see the actual wagon wheel tracks, but we passed because it takes 45 minutes to climb down to see them (and an hour back uphill). Next, onto Boise!


  1. I loved the pictures Marie !! Good job ! Looks like a wonderful trip was had by all :)

  2. What great pictures. My in-laws live in John Day, and my BIL has a business in Baker City.

  3. Thanks, Laurie and Susan! Yes, it was the start to a great trip. Susan, have you ever stayed at the Geiser Grand?