Inn at Spanish Head

On a dark desert highway I was not.   On the grey coastal highway, windshield wipers intermittently clearing the watery blur of a rainy afternoon, I saw not a shimmering light but a promise of “walk in rate” at my favorite hotel, Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City, Oregon.  My home is less than two hours away but my head grew weary and my eyes grew excited as my husband’s morning send off “see if you can find a good deal and treat yourself” made it so I had to stop for the night.  Had I been home, the toddler who lives in my house would have been preparing for his nap or I would have been preparing for a nap and hoping he’d play along so I could rest.  

I checked my rearview mirror to make sure I wouldn’t be rear ended before I slammed on my brakes and waited to turn into the parking lot.  Wind, not cool wind in my hair, but the sideways rain filled wind that the Oregon coast is known for, made entering the quiet lobby of the Inn at Spanish head feel like I was entering an oasis.  

Phones were ringing and the single counter clerk methodically recorded the requests of those calling to make reservations, report leaky dishwashers, inquire about how to turn on the fireplace or television, connect to wifi or call the valet.  She pleasantly tried to meet my needs as I inquired about walk-in rates but after several minutes, she called for someone in the office behind the counter for help.   I worried that I’d spent more than the 15 minutes parked in a temporary parking space and hoped that the busy clerk was also the one who monitored cars so would be too distracted to have me towed. 

I’d hoped to use a Visa gift card to pay for the room so my husband wouldn’t see that it cost slightly more than the $60 midweek rate he thought I could get but they weren’t able to run the card.  Between phone calls and other customers, they tried and tried again.  By the time I was checked in, I knew the duo celebrated romance, as I learned that another guest was celebrating 50 years of marriage, but detested entitlement, as a local real estate agent demanded to know if a room has been cleaned.  

When we’ve visited in the past, I read my way to the beach and continued to enjoy my book as I’d  sit in the car until my husband had checked us in and was ready to move my book and other belongings to the room.  I don’t recall if the wait had been so long .  I believe my great grandmother enjoyed staying here long ago and I may have made the assumption that the original staff and reservation system were still in place.

This time by the time I reached my room, I had embraced a posture of  relaxed slowness and was ready to chill.  My home has turned into a hotel of sorts for millennials so being in a place where I was not only the young one but the guest was indeed special.  

The single BEST attribute of The Inn at Spanish Head is the view.  From every room I’ve stayed in, the ocean facing floor to ceiling windows make sitting mesmerized by the waves easy.  This time, my room faces south so I can see a stretch of the beach to where the Siletz River enters the Pacific.  Beyond, the houses of Salishan are enveloped in the mist.  An outcropping of rock, perhaps Otter Rock, looks like a sleeping platypus belly down  gazing out at the every changing cloud formations transforming the ocean’s color-fifty shades of grey or green or blue or brown.  

As the waves crash on the sand, I can’t tell if the tide is coming in or out.  Between the foamy waters edge and the sand dune, there is a narrow strip of hard packed sand.  About ten yards from the water, small sticks and seaweed form a lacy pattern down beach.  Between this line of treasures left by a prior high tide and the grass  are another 15 or 20 yards of deep sand with the occasional log serving a place where sand blown by the wind rests.  At the base of the hill bare, white logs and tree trunks are scattered like spilled dry spaghetti.  I wonder how many logs might be here. 

As a child, I viewed these logs as the renegades.  I grew up in a logging community where ponds next to mills were full of soaking logs.  They smelled of sadness and danger. 

On occasion,I’d see men walking on the logs, rearranging them with poles.  Other times I’d see barges moving the logs along the Columbia.  I assumed that every log that ended up along the beach must have escaped from the barge and made it’s way to the ocean.  The renegade log was free until it found a place to rest in the sun.  As a child, my family only visited the beach in July so the logs were always warm and happy.

I’d started my morning celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday at the Otis Cafe .  The Otis Omlette was delicious and the side of fruit was juicy and sweet and every piece tasted like, well, fruit.   Grapefruit slices, orange slices, pineapple slices, apple slices, grapes—YUM!!  We’d had a late breakfast and I considered my options for dinner.  I had two pouches of almonds, a banana, apple and bottles of water in my bag. I decided to make a trip to the grocery store instead of visiting the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.  The full size refrigerator and stove make it easy to prepare meals in your room but the room service menu was just plain fun to read.

The bed was comfortable and I left with the curtains so I could see the surf as I fell asleep.  On the patio wall, lights reflected as if from a pool and at 9:30 I stepped outside for the first time to see that there was indeed a pool below and the cover was off.  A sign in my room informed that in order to keep the pool warm, they keep the cover on and I had to request it’s removal if I wanted to swim.  I was delighted to see that someone had already done so.  I went down and enjoyed the deep end (8 feet) as a boy and his mom splashed in the shallow end.  Mist rose from the water and the jets were warm.  Outdoor pools on 40 degree nights can only be enjoyed if they are warm and this pool was perfect.

Since we became McMenamin’s Tripsters, we seldom stay anywhere else.  I’d forgotten that most places don’t leave stacks of books for guests so I read and reread the Room Service Menu and Guest Services directory to satisfy my non-fiction needs as I took a break from the books I’d brought.

By morning, I’d decided to treat myself to breakfast.   Delivered in less than 15 minutes, it was beautiful and looked delicious but the crab was dry, the honeydew melon flavorless and the hash browns resembled the ones I buy in the freezer section at the grocery store.   The seagull, begged outside my window as I ate so my attention was drawn once again to the view.  Anything tastes better if you have a great view.


With a noon check out, I was able to enjoy the peace and  quiet solitude as I watched the occasional walker meander down below.  I hope to carry this sense of calm back home and into the weekend.   I need an Eagles type acoustic guitar solo to serve as the soundtrack to this experience.

I will be back.  Next time I’ll bring groceries from home and my husband because he makes every adventure more fun!

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