The first day of our road trip from Salem (Oregon) to Fort Collins (Colorado) was a nice and easy (and familiar) one - we drove to Burns, which is about 4.5 hours southeast of Salem. This enabled us to stop for a short hike in Sisters, a quaint and touristy town in Central Oregon. I was familiar with a trail from previous visits and managed (eventually) to locate it from memory.
It was hot and dusty, but it was great to stretch our legs and enjoy some nature. We sniffed ponderosa pines (an activity that never occurred to me before I met Roland, but which has certainly enhanced my life) and collected a bunch of fragrant sage for the car. Then we continued on through stark, empty, beautiful landscape to eastern Oregon.
Just before entering Burns, we noticed a cool old building along the road and braked hard to pull in and check it out. We took lots of photos and I peered in some windows, but it wasn't entirely clear what its original or current functions were. But then, the door opened and we were invited in!
It turns out this is the former office headquarters of the Edward Hines Lumber Company, which was established here to log ponderosa pines in 1929. The town of Hines was built to support the lumber mill, which thrived in the 1930s and 40s. The office building was fully renovated by the Watson family as a bed and breakfast and opened in 2020. And closed in 2020. And opened in 2021. It's called the Hines Pine Mill House.
Our guide was co-owner Holly Watson, who showed us around the building and told us all about its history and renovations. It is such an unusual building for a B&B, which is part of what makes it so cool.
Breakfast is served in the former staff dining room. You can relax in the former lounge area for the lumber mill workers. And the furniture is reminiscent of the mill's heyday in the 1930s and 40s, including some cool Le Corbusier chairs (1928-30) in the main lobby.
The owners live upstairs and there are only four guest rooms, giving it an intimate feel. Holly showed us one of the smaller rooms and we got a glimpse into quite a grand one, as the guests happened to emerge and welcomed us to have a look. We may have to stay here the next time we're in Burns.
But... as cool as the Pine Mill House is, it is hard to do better than the Central Hotel, our home for the night in downtown Burns. Built in 1929, it was extensively renovated by Jen and Forrest Keady and reopened in 2018.
This hotel is just the coolest and we were thrilled to be back (we first visited on a family trip in 2019). It has been renovated so beautifully, with hand-made woodwork and ironwork everywhere.
There is a huge patio outside with fire pits, a taproom, and bathrooms with chandeliers (all bathrooms should have chandeliers). They often host food trucks as well.
Inside is a whiskey library, event spaces, stone walls, and hallways filled with historical photos. (And right outside our door was a gorgeous portrait of a Highland cow, which warmed my Scotland-loving heart.)
When I booked the hotel for this trip, there was only a small room with a bathroom down the hall, but I dropped Roland's brother's name (who stays there frequently while in Harney County for work) in an email to Jen and we were eventually upgraded to one of the nicest rooms in the hotel. It's good to have friends (and family) in high places.
Our room, the Whiskey Suite, was huge and so nice, with a separate sitting room, huge shower with exposed stonework, and incredibly quiet A/C. The modern windows block the street noise almost completely. And yet it was still only $145, thanks entirely to its location in Burns.
After checking ourselves in using a door code, I took some photos outside in the lovely evening light, then we relaxed in our sitting room. We were told to text Jen and Heather with any questions (I love that they are fans of texting, like I am) so I inquired about whether the taproom would be open that night. We had noticed it was closed but were hoping for drinks on the patio.
Jen replied that someone will come over and open it for us! She also gave us some food recommendations, then Heather chimed in to offer us a free pizza, which she would bring over for us shortly. What?! Turns out her family received the wrong one and no one would eat it. Well, we were only too happy to help.
So we ended up enjoying pizza and drinks on the patio with Jen, Heather, Heather's daughter, and Jen's beautiful dog. I may have taken too many pictures of this dog, if such a thing was possible. But it is obviously not.
We chatted about their hotel, our trip, their families, and laughed a lot. Then Roland and I went for a twilight stroll in downtown Burns under a full moon. It was a lovely way to spend an evening and a great start to our trip.
Up next: a long drive to Salt Lake City, with an awesome waterfall along the way...