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Monday, January 21, 2013

Affordable Luxury: The Pseudo Bike Touring Edition

The Grand Lodge.
I am not what you would call “a man of many luxuries”. Maybe it’s my working class upbringing, maybe it’s my disdain for conspicuous consumption, or maybe it’s because I’m broke all the time. (I think the last one has the biggest influence on it.) But I’m not a man without any luxury. Every once in a while, I like to enjoy myself. But thanks to my spendthrifty ways, I end up doing it without spending lots of money.

Take, for example, April and my New Year’s Trip. We spent a night at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, and three nights in the cabins at Stub Stewart. You might think we spent a bit on this trip, but each of us only spent $55 for the four nights. Yep, that’s right, $55. Not a misprint. Of course we spent more than that on food and booze, but our lodging rate for four nights per person is less than what many normally spend for one.

How did we do it? The Grand Lodge is a historic property, a former Masonic group home, that was converted to a hotel plus restaurant and bar by the McMenamins brothers. For those outside the northwest, the McMenamins shtick is to take over historic properties and convert them to some sort of lodging/restaurant/movie amalgamation. And they manage to keep prices affordable in the process. At most McMenamins properties King sized rooms start in the $70 range, not too bad for what it’s worth. But the Grand Lodge has the cheapest rates of ‘em all, most likely because it’s not as much of a destination as the others, or in a particularly desirable location. Bunk rooms are $40 plus tax, and full size rooms $45 plus tax. We initially booked a bunk room (a private room with two bunks) but managed to get upgraded to a full bed when we arrived, no additional charge.

Once at the Lodge, there is quite a bit to do. There’s little bars scattered throughout the property. We spent most of our time at one that had a nice reading room with fireplace. There’s also the main restaurant, a theater, and a soaking pool that’s free of charge to guests. It would be the greatest thing ever if it wasn’t outside! (It was cold that night, what can I say?)

And the cabins. The cabin rate at Stub Stewart for the off season is around $40 a night plus fees. We divvied up the costs on the first two nights at $10 per person, and for the last night it was $12. Of course, we didn’t have the same amount of privacy that we did at the Lodge, in a cabin that sleeps 5. But that was all part of the deal.

The cabins are spartan, but provide the basics: beds, tables, chairs, light, heat, and electric outlets. All you need to bring is bedding and ways to cook stuff. Most people brought a stove to cook outside. Ed being Ed brought a two litre electic teakettle. Because there's electricity, right?

It helps that these two destinations were not that far from Portland, close enough that Forest Grove was a MAX ride ($2.50) plus short bike ride from Portland, and from there a twenty mile bike ride to Stub Stewart. No car rental, no train tickets, no multi-day bike tour. Great for winter.
On the MAX.

I realize that we’re lucky to have these options in the Portland area, but there are cheap options everywhere if you know where to look for them. Anyone have any tips?

1 comment:

  1. That looks like an awesome trip. Makes me want to take a small weekend getaway with my bike soon. You're right there are always options for traveling cheaply, but damnnn $55 for four nights is absolutely ridiculous. In the states, couch surfing might be the only cheaper option to that!


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