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A Tropical Mexico Connection via Sisters Oregon

Bill & I never tire of the conversations we have with our guests.  It’s a good portion of why we enjoy being innkeepers as much as we do–the genuine connections we can make with our guests enrich our lives and theirs too.  Take, for example, this little story:

It’s always slow in March in Joseph Oregon because the weather isn’t the best for outdoor activities, but a couple returning home to Sisters, Oregon, decides to spend the night with us on their way home.  As it turns out, TR and Jenny McCrystal own a restaurant in Sisters called Jen’s Garden.  It’s an “intimate cottage cuisine” setting with food inspired by the South of France with 5-course, 3-course, or a la carte menu choices.  We have a nice time talking about the restaurant, about Sisters, about Central Oregon, and all is fine.  I make a mental note that we will definitely plan for dinner at Jen’s Garden the next time we visit Sisters and to mention this same restaurant to other guests headed that way.

Tropical Mexico in Pomona California in 1972 as a small restaurant Over breakfast, somehow I mention my alma mater, Pomona College.  Often one or more guests will recognize Pomona College as one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, but I cannot remember when I heard a guest say, “Yes, and I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona.”  Turns out TR McCrystal was a Cal Poly hospitality program student studying restaurant and hotel operations.

But here’s where it gets even a little more odd.  Knowing that he’s a restaurateur, I added, “I’ll bet you never had dinner in Pomona at a little pink restaurant called Tropical Mexico.”  His eyes widened.  “Trop Mex!” he exclaims.  “Yes, a great place for college kids to go and the dishes–the mole, the menudo, everything I can remember–top notch.”

How serendipitous is this?  Here we are, the restaurant owner and the innkeeper, talking about a place each of us remembers from decades and lifetimes ago.  What we each remembered were sweet, college year memories.  As I started to write this blog post, I wondered if Tropical Mexico was really now just a memory; that it isn’t the hole-in-a-wall restaurant it used to be.  Surprisingly, it’s still there (and with a web presence). Tropical Mexico has changed and grown significantly from that little pink bungalow I remember from the late 1970s.  But TR and I made that connection across the years and across the miles.  

Will TR and Jenny remember us?  Probably.  Will I remember them?  Undoubtedly.  It’s these kinds of intimate happenings you probably won’t discover staying at a hotel–one of the beautiful little connections about the bed and breakfast experience.

No Joseph Oregon Car Show in June 2014

Oregon Mountain Cruise in Joseph Oregon is the second weekend in June

Oregon Mountain Cruise in Joseph Oregon is the second weekend in June

News flash!  We just learned yesterday that the popular Oregon Mountain Cruise classic car show in Joseph Oregon will take a break for June 2014.  This particular event is one of the big kickoff weekends of summer since it holds the 2nd weekend of June slot right after the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts

From the cruise’s website:

It’s been 25 years since a group of family & friends from all over the northwest joined together to organize and host the “Oregon Mtn. Cruise Car Show” in Joseph, Oregon.  We regret to inform all our cruisers that after 25 years, we have decided to take the year off in 2014 to re-group, re-energize, re-organize and for some much needed rest.  WE WILL BE BACK JUNE 12-13, 2015.  Have a great summer and hope to see you in Joseph, Oregon in 2015.

Living in a remote area like Wallowa County Oregon means that we live in an absolutely beautiful place, but it also means that there aren’t all that many people here to volunteer for the many events that take place during the summer months.  We’re glad that the Joseph Oregon Car Show organizers got the word out so early about their change in plans so the rest of us can plan accordingly. For those of you planning your 2014 Eastern Oregon vacation you’ll just have to plan for another area car show instead.

And for our Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast guests who booked their guestrooms for June 2014 around this event, please contact us (if we haven’t yet contacted you) so we can make adjustments to your reservations.  Our phone: 541-432-0230.

The silver lining to all of this?  We know, just like the Bronze, Blues & Brews festival every year in August that took a one-year break a few years ago, that the Oregon Mountain Cruise will come back bigger and better than it was in the past!

Never Too Early For Wallowa Lake Wedding Planning

A field of marguerite daisies at the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast in Joseph OregonIn the depths of winter there are people getting engaged and thinking about a summer wedding at Wallowa Lake or in Joseph Oregon.  How do I know?  Because, when I take a look at the analytics behind our Joseph Oregon bed and breakfast blog, there are people searching for terms like “joseph oregon wedding” and people reading blog posts I’ve written about where to get married near Wallowa Lake or where to get married in Joseph Oregon.

So here we are, nearing the end of December 2013, and already we’re seeing quite a few bookings at our Oregon romantic getaway for summer 2014.  Wedding nights in the Mirror Lake Suite are going to be popular this year.  And housing the wedding party or wedding guests in our other three guestrooms is gaining traction as a popular idea too.

Part of this trend might be due to some changes in lodging in the Wallowa Valley.  Joseph Oregon hotels?  Still aren’t any.  And the Wallowa Lake hotel is still the Wallowa Lake Lodge.  Here in Joseph, Belle Peppers Bed and Breakfast closed its doors to guests in December 2012.

What’s a bridal couple to do?  We have a few recommendations:

1.  Most important! Check your dates with the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce (541-426-4622).  If you want to plan your wedding around a major event like Chief Joseph Days Rodeo (always the last full weekend in July), then your wedding guests might have difficulty finding lodging unless they get busy now and book their rooms. Or plan your wedding near the big events but not during them.  And, from Memorial Day through the end of September, there’s something happening nearly every weekend in Wallowa County!

2.  Lock in your wedding venue soon.  See the categories listed on the left side of this blog post in the template area?  Click on “Wallowa County Wedding” or “Joseph Oregon Wedding” and you’ll get immediate access to a variety of blog posts that I’ve put together about potential wedding venues in this part of Eastern Oregon.  Some of these venues, like the blue barn, book out far in advance.

3.  Consider a trip out here to meet with florists, caterers, photographers, etc.  There are some wonderful local folks capable of putting on a spread of local foods, capturing lovely images of your wedding, providing fresh flowers, serving as a great rehearsal dinner location, etc., or even designing your personalized wedding rings (and you’ll need to plan a long ways in advance for that!)  Don’t think you have to bring it all from the big city!

4.  Don’t stress, but do plan.  And you’re welcome to give us a call here at the Bronze Antler B&B at 541-432-0230.  Bill & I are ready to help you however we can.  After thirteen years of owning and operating our Joseph Oregon lodging, we’ve gotten to see a few weddings along the way and are happy to share.

Professional Photography at our Eastern Oregon Lodging

Bocce court in the pre-dawn light at our Joseph Oregon lodging

Bocce court in the pre-dawn light in Joseph Oregon at the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast

Marcus Berg, owner & professional photographer at Unique Angles Photography, is returning to our Eastern Oregon bed and breakfast in early June to update our portfolio of high quality images.  Sure, we can always capture images on our digital camera or our smartphones and they’ll look fine on the Facebook page, but it’s also important for the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast to have high quality “dense” images for magazines and other print advertising.

We’re excited to have Marcus out with us for a few days.  I know it’ll be a lot of work.  A good photo shoot involves lots of preparation.  Beautiful flowers, a variety of props to dress up the guestrooms, a varied menu for food photography–and then there are things we can’t quite control like great weather for exterior photos.  The last time Marcus was here, he & I were up before the dawn to capture images of the bocce court in the north perennial garden of our Wallowa Lake lodging.  Little did I know that watering the bocce court the night before meant I’d need to quickly spray down the rest of the gravel walkways at 5 am!

If you have a chance, take a look at our website photography and send us suggestions on which photos you think should be updated,  What images should we capture that aren’t on the website?  What would best depict our romantic getaway Oregon style?  Send your ideas to info@bronzeantler.com and we’d love to incorporate your ideas.

Amenity Provided: Free and Secure Wireless Internet at our Joseph Bed and Breakfast

Wireless Internet Access at the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast in Joseph, OR, is provided by Eastern Oregon Networks, Inc (EONI)One thing that separates the bed and breakfast community from many other lodging options (especially hotels) is free wireless internet. There is no additional daily charge at most bed and breakfasts for wireless internet. And certainly not here at the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast!

Here at our Joseph Oregon lodging we just upgraded our internet service by making some changes to our existing infrastructure.  We did this to make our wireless internet service easier to access, faster, and to specifically address an issue raised by a guest in a review on TripAdvisor about our Eastern Oregon bed and breakfast.  The guest wrote:

[T]he WI-FI is too fussy. The coverage is spotty and the need to log on for each session is annoying. Also, there is insufficient capacity to watch the news or a movie. Since there is no TV at this location, better Internet access would be appreciated.

We originally installed a very secure login process to ensure that neither guests nor innkeepers would get hacked, nor would we be vulnerable to someone pulling up in our parking area, hopping on our wireless, and downloading inappropriate information.  But times have changed.   In response, we’ve now changed our security settings so that the guest uses one password one time only to cover all “sessions” here at our Wallowa Lake lodging.  The internal changes made to our signal routing have increased our download speed by about a factor of four.  And we are reevaluating the position of our router to maximize performance throughout the property (which is already very good inside the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast building).

One thing about living in a very rural location is that internet access isn’t the quite same as it is in more populated communities.  Could we have DSL?  Not currently.  Cable modem?  Not available.  And probably won’t be in the foreseeable future.  Our internet signal is entirely wireless–including how it is delivered to and leaves the property.    We met the criticism head on and look forward to this guest returning (the guest also indicated that it wouldn’t be the last visit to the Bronze Antler).  We want to demonstrate that we take constructive suggestions seriously.