Update, Jun 2010 – sadly, Sandra and Clay retired and sold the inn earlier this year; the new owners do not plan to run the place as a B&B. All the best to Sandra and Clay, and many thanks for the two perfectly romantic stays we spent with them.
Sometimes, amazing things just fall into your hands. We had to make our way from Portland down to Lake Tahoe a couple of weeks ago, and needed a staging post to split the journey up into two (very long) days’ drive. I grabbed a map, found a town about halfway between the two places, looked it up in a guidebook and booked a night in the first likely-looking B&B.;
I wish I’d booked a whole week.
The Chetco River Inn (21202 High Prairie Road, Brookings, OR, 97415 – email email@example.com, tel. (541) 251-0087) is an utterly charming bed and breakfast in the middle of one of the Pacific coast’s temperate rainforests. These forests are magical: so damp that the all the trees are festooned with mosses and sharp-tongued ferns, they teem with wildlife. To reach the inn, you’ll need to drive 20 miles down a narrow road, un-metalled in places, with dripping trees overhanging the roadway and the pristine Chetco river bubbling alongside. The inn itself is perfectly positioned in glorious isolation by the river, and is popular with botanists, with hikers and with fishermen, who arrive for the salmon run in the autumn and stay over the winter for the steelheads. If you are lucky, you’ll find fish fresh from the river on the inn’s dinner table.
We arrived just in time for supper, and Sandra and Clay, the owners, were waiting for us at the inn with their Scottie dogs and a vat of steaming French Onion soup. We found ourself enjoying this and a beautifully prepared, enormous prime rib with a fishing group, who shared their wine (Oregon’s Pinot Noirs are particularly good, and we had a great time sampling them) with us in return for some of the microbrewery beer we’d brought down from Portland. Sandra’s freshly made banana ice cream was a rich and custardy end to the very generous meal.
We’d booked the cottage at the inn, a separate building only a few years old with accommodation for four. (These photos are taken about twenty paces from the cottage’s front door.) This lovely little cabin will sleep two downstairs, where there is a large jacuzzi and well-stocked bathroom; and two in a wonderfully comfortable king-sized bed up on a mezzanine level, overlooking the living area and kitchen. We had the place to ourself, and had one of the most romantic evenings we’ve ever experienced, falling asleep to the light flickering from the log stove which heats the cottage, and the sound of the dripping trees and night birds.
The weather in the Siskiyou National Forest is always wet but wonderfully atmospheric, with rains for most of the winter – temperate rainforests do not freeze in the cold months, and you’ll find surprisingly warm, sunny days in the middle of the coldest months – and mists in the cool summer. We got up before dawn for an early breakfast so that we could watch the steel-grey, winter light rise over the river, the clouds boiling and rolling off the forest. Sandra and Clay prepare a breakfast of legendary proportions. A sugar-dusted, maple syrup-soaked Dutch baby pancake, sausages, delicious home-fried potatoes and gallons of good coffee and juice set us up for a walk along the riverside. In a couple of hour’s gentle stroll along the shingle we’d seen an otter, an elk and a simply astonishing selection of birds. (Sandra informs me that the otters are surprisingly tame, and that summer guests who swim in the river, which is the United States’ cleanest, will often find the otters swimming alongside them.) A short drive away you’ll find Oregon’s exceptionally scenic Pacific coast, where the beaches are often deserted, while a little further south are the giant redwood forests.
This place is paradise. I’m already planning our next trip.