Duo takes national tour of ‘Great Lodges’

November 23, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Kristi and Barry Feder take a reprieve during their trip to Crater Lake, Ore. Once they get to a national park lodge, the couple usually hikes, fishes, wines and dines, and makes new friends. Contributed

Under the mossy roof of Lake Quinault Lodge, Kristi and Barry Feder, of Issaquah, found a book that changed their lives, and ended up putting a lot of mileage on their car.

The book, “Great Lodges of the National Parks,” showed them dazzling views of lodges across the nation, and spoke of their histories.

The lodges had made their debut as a documentary on the Public Broadcasting Service, one that the Feders had seen.

“We turned to each other and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to go to each one of those?’” Barry, a dentist in Issaquah, said. “Not only do you get to stay in a lodge, some of them are quite rustic, but you also get to see national parks.”

The Feders are not a couple to save their fun for their golden years. Kristi, diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago, said it was better to do her bucket list now, instead of later.

“I had a good outcome with surgery, but it made us realize that waiting for retirement to start working on the list of all those things we wanted to do might not be the way to go,” she wrote in an e-mail. “You never know what might happen between now and then, so we decided not to wait.”

The couple later bought the second edition of the book, raising the number of lodges to visit to 26.

“They have character and they’re historic,” Barry said. “Most of them were built in the 1920s and 1930s and the architecture is phenomenal.”

Many of the great lodges in America’s national parks were built by railroad barons, whose tracks ran through the picturesque, yet wild, parks. Many of the lodges blend in or complement the scenery surrounding them, an architectural movement that was established by the time the National Park Service was established in 1916.

The Feders began their great lodges journey in 2009, and have already visited nine, taking them to Oregon, Montana, Canada, California, Hawaii and the Olympic Peninsula.

“To me, half of the fun of taking the trip is planning it and researching it,” said Kristi, who has written about some of her vacations for The Issaquah Press.

She usually drives, and pops in an audio book so she and Barry can listen to some great literature on their great lodges adventures. Their car is packed tight with hiking and fishing gear and golf clubs, and though Barry confessed he had yet to catch a fish on their trips, he said he still enjoyed getting out into nature.

Once they reach their destination, they’ll go hiking, on boat tours or walk around the property, meeting people and taking photos. At night, they’ll go to the lodge’s bar or sitting room and start a game of cribbage over glasses of wine.

The Feders take their “Great Lodges of the National Parks” books with them, and ask people to sign it like a yearbook.

An entry from the Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood read, “Thank you for schooling me on how to pour wine properly! Your cascade dining room server, Danielle,” accompanied by a picture of herself holding a glass of wine on a tray.

From Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley, Sous Chef Scot Reed wrote, “You ate cactus in Death Valley? What else is there? Enjoy.”

For their 40th wedding anniversary, the Feders visited The Prince of Wales Hotel, which opened in 1927 in Alberta, Canada, the only great lodge not in the United States. The hotel links Glacier National Park in Montana with Waterton Lakes in Alberta.

“It’s an absolutely gorgeous, stunning place,” Kristi said.

They drove, hiked, wined and dined, and basically “had a happy anniversary,” Barry said.

A deer followed them on one of their hikes, but eventually it parted ways toward the end, Kristi said.

Some of the lodges are open seasonally, or are so popular that Kristi recommended guests make reservations months in advance. It’s worth it, considering the uniqueness of each place, she said. At Furnace Creek in, for instance, they saw the desert in bloom, countless rabbits and even a coyote in Death Valley.

“It really makes you appreciate some of the natural wonder that the U.S. has that most people don’t take the time to go see, and that I think is a shame,” Barry said. “All of these should be on your bucket list, especially if you like to hike.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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