Before I get started I wanted to share a picture of the view right outside Howard an Linda’s campsite. Once they walk through the trees down by the lake this is what they see. Pretty cool!
Ok back to the story. I left off with us finishing paddling Trillium Lake, and we all decided to head to Timberline Lodge for lunch. Several people had recommended the lodge for fine dining, and since we all love a good meal we decided to splurge and try it out. We decided to hedge our bets though and go for lunch since the prices were crazy expensive and at least they had a lunch buffet with a fixed price. Since we have been disappointed numerous times in the last several years with dining out, I told H&L it was totally up to them if they wanted to stay and eat there. Linda wanted to check the lodge out anyways since the exteriors for the movie The Shining were shot there, so we all decided to decide once we were on site.
The drive up was pretty, and the temperatures dropped from 81 degrees to 67 degrees with the relatively short 6 mile drive. I was surprised by how much activity was going on up there on a Wednesday, but since there was still some snow, several people were skiing or snowboarding. That was an interesting change going from paddling in barefoot to seeing people in full snow outfits, and that’s part of the fun of living out here in Oregon.
I have never seen The Shining (I am not a scary movie person), so the outside didn’t do much for me, but I did like the fact that it was an historic hotel and the circular, multiple story fireplace inside and some of the carved wooden banisters were pretty cool. We wandered our way through the hotel and eventually found the Cascade Dining Room which had a lunch buffet. As soon as we walked in we noticed that the windows all had plastic sheeting on them and men were actively working on the facade outside. We all kind of looked at each other and briefly talked about whether we should leave, but since we were really hungry we decided to stay.
The construction didn’t really bother me that much, I understand they have a limited season to work on this kind of stuff, but right after we sat down the banging started. This wasn’t just painting or screwing things in, but sawing and hammering that was so loud we frequently had to stop our conversation. Towards the end there was sustained drilling noise that reminded me of being at the dentist and I actually put my hands over my ears. It was pretty ridiculous, but don’t take my word for it, Lee shot some video to share with you.
We all laughed though about the “ghostly figures”and random banging noises though and honestly if the food had been great we probably would have been fine. Unfortunately that was not the case and not only was the food mediocre in some cases it was downright inedible. Howard and I split a brownie, for instance, and we both took a bite and spit it out. Linda asked, “How do you screw up a brownie,” which was an excellent point and gives you an idea of how the menu was. There was a very small selection and only a few items were any good at all. I liked the roasted carrots and the yukon garlic potatoes, but the roast beef was super bland and the “salads” they provided were all pretty unappetizing.
And just to be clear here, it’s not that I didn’t “get” the food. We have all eaten in many high end restaurants and it wasn’t that it was too fancy, it just didn’t taste good. The best thing on the bar was a waffle iron to make your own waffles. They tasted pretty good, but the only toppings provided were butter and syrup. My biggest disappointment was the desert section. Of the 7 different mini deserts I tried, I only liked one. I think the thing that bother us all the most was that the buffet cost $25 dollars a person. Lee had a soda which was $3.50 and my ice tea (which was quite good) was an additional $4. At the end of the meal, Howard asked for an ambiance discount and amazingly the waitress gave us $5 off. It never hurts to ask for that sort of thing, although I rarely do, and we all felt a little better when we got a discount. Still I think this was all important enough to focus an entire blog post on it, because several people I work with are talking about going their for anniversaries, etc. From all accounts you can easily drop $100 on dinner for two at the lodge, and I want to make sure people are coming close to getting what they are paying for.
The only good thing that came from the experience, is we all laughed quite a bit and we will forever have a story to share. hopefully we will all meet up in our 80’s someday and talk about that time we ate at that god awful haunted restaurant! Next up is back to nature, with a hike to Little Crater. That was much more fun and cost us exactly $0, which tells you something. In the last four years, nature has rarely disappointed us and generally costs very little. Restaurants almost always disappoint and are pretty expensive. we really should just stick to nature!
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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks You can preview the kindle version on Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes. It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.
Wow, that is exactly why we don’t eat out much too. Especially fine dining. It sounds like you made it up in memories to look back on and laugh!
Makin’ memories…they last for a lifetime:o)) Fun reading about the 4 of you doing just that!!!
I’m really sorry that your experience wasn’t better. My wife and I were married there in 2001; they put together a wedding package that was wonderful and not particularly expensive. The Kohnstamm family (long-time operators and saviors of Timberline Lodge) used to be renowned for wonderful customer service. For example, a member of our wedding party could not sleep, and went to the fireplace at 2AM. One of the staff brought her hot chocolate and a blanket, and sat with her for quite a while until she returned to bed.
Restaurant prices there, I agree, are outrageous, especially for what you get. We do stop to visit on our anniversary every so often, though; it is such a beautiful place, and has such a rich history. Nearly every fixture and furnishing in the building was hand made by otherwise unemployed craftsmen during the Great Depression. That tradition is maintained as the original items wear out. It’s hard to imagine such an effort being undertaken today.
We’re glad you had a chance to visit one of Oregon’s gems!
I’m glad you filled us in on some additional history of the place. Appreciate the different perspective.
An interesting bit of Timberline history.
I hate when you are in a beautiful place, spend a ton of money and the food is not good! Huge pet-peeve of mine! Sorry you had that experience!