September 5, 2008

You’Ll Find Bed, Bath and Way Beyond at These Lodgings

By Jacky Runice

If, in your official capacity of family travel planner extraordinaire, you're eliciting yawns and sighs and glazed-over eyes at the question of "mountains or beach this year?" relax the pinched look of irritation and go at it from another angle - from the inside out. Choose an unusual place to lodge and see what you can discover all around it.

Even though 21st-century kids aren't well versed in the Wild West, young varmints might get a kick out of a stay in the Pioneertown Motel built in 1948 to house film stars who were making movies on the Pioneertown set.

Back in the day, you could have seen Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Duncan Renaldo (who played the Cisco Kid) and Gail Davis, aka Annie Oakley, on celluloid. The rooms are a time capsule of the era with Western decor and the elevation (4,200 feet) means horseback riding and hiking are doable. The motel is 30 minutes from Palm Springs, Calif., and a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park. Even Fido can have a woof over his head here (translation: it's pet friendly).

Take a gander at or ring (760) 365- 4879.

Speaking of man's best friend, you can get to know a pooch's innermost thoughts and feelings because you'll be sleeping in a beagle's head at the Dog Bark Park Inn. The bed-and-breakfast guesthouse is inside the World's Biggest Beagle - and the country is particularly crazy for beagles after the breed's recent Best in Show win at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Enter the body of the beagle from a second-story deck and walk up to the canine's head where you'll discover a loft room with a snug alcove in the muzzle. Note decor courtesy of Dog Bark Park chainsaw artists, too.

The structure is really two beagles, Toby and Sweet Willy, Toby being more of a decorative 12-foot-tall statue. Sweet Willy officially serves as Dog Bark Park Inn.

The entire experience recalls bygone days of family driving vacations when you would fill the tank, have some vittles and bunk in a motel that looked like a shoe or a duck. Everything else might have changed around us, but expect hospitable hosts in Dennis J. Sullivan and Frances Conklin. Dog Bark Park is in Cottonwood, Idaho, which is near the Lewis and Clark Trail, Hell's Canyon Jet Boat Tours ( and many different white- water- rafting experiences ( Continue your nostalgic adventure with a drive-in movie at Grangeville's Sunset Auto View, open late spring through early autumn.

Meet Toby and Sweet Willie at or call the humans at (208) 962-3647.

Older kids and teens who act like Neanderthals will feel right at home in a one-bedroom cave carved 70 feet underground from stone that's 65 million years old.

Kokopelli's Cave Bed & Breakfast is a cliff dwelling in New Mexico (near the Mesa Verde National Monument and Four Corners area) that offers spectacular views of dappled Southwestern sunsets over four states. The entrance is right in the cliff face and you must walk down a pitched path on steps cut into the sandstone to reach it. Since the cave is not easily accessible, consider this one if your children are a little older.

Kokopelli's "digs" consist of a 1,650-square-foot, one-bedroom cave home complete with carpeting, kitchen with microwave and washer/ dryer, Southwestern furniture, waterfall-style shower with hot and cold running water and a hot tub.

Take a look at or call (505) 325- 7855 for reservations.

Outdoorsy types who spend time with their heads in the clouds will be crazy about the Out'N'About Treesort in Cave Junction, Ore. The family-oriented "treesort" offers 10 different types of treehouses from which to choose, some more appropriate for families with little ones and others that the older kids will love.

Check out the Swiss Family Complex (a pair of tree houses connected by a swinging bridge) and others at treehouse/treesort/prclst.html.

During the summer months, the place hums with families climbing platforms, forts, a floating ship "piratree," swings and swinging bridges, flights of stairs, ladders and a ropes course with a 160- foot-long zip line. Enjoy the freshwater swimming pool, campfire site and barbecues. The property backs up to a national forest, and staff can set you up with raft trips, horseback riding and hiking in some magnificent country.

Call (541) 592-2208 for details.

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