Saturday, March 12, 2022

Last Blockbuster and the Timberline

We didn't loiter in Portland after last night's festivities.

We aimed our car at Mt. Hood and hit the road.

This America thing really seems to be taking off.

The difference in weather on the ground vs. in the mountains will never not be weird to me. Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest in the Cascade Range. Hometown hero Mt. Rainier is the highest.

Timberline Lodge was built during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration and dedicated in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Our first order of business was eating the Cascade Dining Room brunch buffet.

There were a lot of skiers around.

The Timberline stood in for the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in the 1980 film The Shining. This was extra fun because I just recently visited the Stanley Hotel in Colorado in which Stephen King was inspired to write the original novel.

The lodge is the only hotel owned by the US Forest Service.

There were giant fireplaces that were built out of iron railroad rails.

I already knew the hotel was special just by poking around on our own. But our kindly tour guide who definitely had a name made the place seem so much a part of the story of our nation that I got teary eyed at times. He talked about how the Great Depression was so bad that people wondered if democracy in this country would continue at all. FDR said that "If I prove a bad president, I will also likely to prove the last president." So the hotel was partly a project created to give people jobs, but the art in it was also sort of a propaganda project to show the virtue of working hard together to make the country great.

The hotel features the first fire sprinklers west of the Mississippi. Usually St. Louis wins every round of "west of the Mississippi" so this was a fun fact.

The banisters all had local animals carved into them and were made out of telephone poles.

I really like this Soviet worker sort of art style of the 1930s.

Roosevelt Chair
Wood: Fir 1937

"Here I am on the slopes of Mount Hood where I have always wanted to come." -FDR

Located in front of you is the chair built for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the WPA woodworking shop, under the supervision of Ray Neufer, for the grand opening and dedication of Timberline Lodge in 1937. Elegant in its simplicity the chair reflects the stately yet practical nature of the lodge and its surroundings. Furthermore the chair, and the WPA workers that created it, symbolize Roosevelt's New Deal policies which focused as much on creating work for the common individual as it did on building a timeless masterpiece. Although stricken with polio President Roosevelt always made a point to appear standing in public and as a result only sat in the chair one time.

I queued up some hype music to get myself pumped up for the drive to the last Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon.

While I was focused on our mission, Lydia really likes fry bread and Kalama's in Warm Springs had some signs on the side of the road. I don't know what I was supposed to do other than buy some.

When I saw they were selling it out of a trailer I knew it was going to be real good indeed.

I've wanted to go to the last remaining Blockbuster in Bend, OR since learning of its continued existence in the aptly named documentary The Last Blockbuster. Since it was in rural Oregon and I lived in Missouri it was one of those things that I never really expected to happen. But the magic of moving to the west coast is there's a whole bunch of west coast state adventures that are now within striking range.

I dug up a Blockbuster card I had in a drawer in Springfield from like 2010. I think they wipe your account after two years of inactivity though. I was secretly excited that I might have some $20k late fee from an embarrassing video rented in 1995 but alas I am not a wanted video criminal after all. 

In a round about way described in the documentary, the store ended up with a bunch of Russell Crowe movie memorabilia.

There were some other displays full of nostalgia that I recognized as well.

It's funny I probably cursed this company countless times for charging me bogus late fees, not having a movie I wanted, or charging outrageous prices for popcorn and candy, but now that the company is on its deathbed I felt compelled to buy some merch to keep it alive. 

Funnily enough the lady in front of us in the checkout line was just a normal local renting a video. I wonder what she thought of the tourists in there buying board games and Christmas ornaments.

The last $46 I expect to be spending at a video store.

Bend was also home to McMenamins Old St. Francis School so we whipped out or new bar passports and got to work.

McMenamins is an amazing company because it takes old abandoned historic buildings and revives them into something awesome that respects the legacy of the place at the same time.

The were some details in the sometimes creepily quiet halls that reminded me of my own Catholic grade school crucible.

This was super funny. The place had a secret bar called the Broom Closet that they made us go find on our own. We found the entrance but couldn't figure out how to open it. That broom to the far left ended up being a door handle. Sneaky sneaky.

We headed back to home base in Portland in some nasty nighttime weather.

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