Back in the summer of 2003, a friend of the family visited us in Wallowa County all the way from Concrete City – Patterson, New Jersey. While camping in the Eagle Caps for the first time, wide-eyed Jimmy Nawicki awoke to God’s grandeur and penned his famous (in our circles) ‘Rugged Country’ lyrics. The male part of the Lodge’s partnership voted for ‘Rugged Country Lodge,’ remembering with a smile Jimmy’s song, while the female half wanted ‘Dream Soft’ to appeal to the more feminine side. And, after all, this sure is rugged country.
Rugged Country Lodge was built sometime in the 1950′s and was first known as the Pioneer Motel. When the current owners purchased it, the tired little place was being run as the Budget Inn and badly in need of some TLC.
Christmas Eve of 2003, Community Bank, headquartered in Joseph, Oregon, presented a deed for the motel property to Providence Academy of Classical Christian Education, a private classical Christian school in Lostine, Oregon. The bank had repossessed the neglected motel property from its former owners before donating it to the school.
Unfortunately, that winter, Pendleton experienced one of its coldest, and all of the motel’s plumbing and pipes had frozen before Providence Academy had a chance to winterize the property. Undaunted, a few naive personal investors decided to plunge ahead with the Rugged Country Lodge project anyway. We agreed to lease the motel grounds from Providence Academy and after a major and lengthy renovation, the all-new Rugged Country Lodge opened its doors to travelers in July of 2004. It has been a labor of love and an experience we wouldn’t trade–despite all the remodeling surprises along the way!
Hmmmm, that is quite another story and space wouldn’t permit. Besides, we wouldn’t want people to know just how naive we were! The old saying “ignorance is bliss” is definitely true! Needless to say, countless hours were spent in trying to create a “home away from home” for the weary traveler that reflected what we wanted when we hit the road (and we do that a lot.) We wanted a place that exuded a warm yet peaceful atmosphere where our guests would become like old friends, returning many times; almost more like a bed-and-breakfast than a motel. We have always been thrilled by the prospect of finding just such a little family-owned place when we travel-–but seldom do.
Each detail was painstakingly researched for months and months and lovingly thought through—right down to the lavender on the beds, the Moran prints on the walls and the Albert Bierstadt butterflies done on quality archival watercolor paper in the bathrooms. We also hoped to retain as much of the vintage charm of the place as possible (including the original black tile in the bathrooms) while weaving throughout the themes of nature and the earth—so entwined in this corner of Northeast Oregon.
May our little motel be a place of peace and refuge for you, weary traveler, and may we see you many more times….Dream Soft!