The search for idyllic proportions
Tucked away some 40 miles east of Eugene, the small rural community of Oakridge stakes its claim as the “Mountain Biking Capital of the Northwest.” The town is surrounded by the Willamette National Forest and has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
In 2009, Lynda Kamerrer and her husband searched the Oakridge community for a place to start their dream business. When they were shown an historic Masonic Lodge built in the 1950s it seemed like the perfect match. With a bit of reconstruction, the building was transformed into Oakridge Hostel and Guest House, complete with private or shared guest and bunk rooms.
Although the hostel’s size is more in keeping with traditional bed and breakfast accommodations (five guest rooms are available), guests will be pleased to find wireless internet access, full gourmet breakfasts, herb and flower gardens, spacious grounds, and numerous biking trails located a few miles from the hostel’s front door.
Lynda’s business model followed an entrepreneurial pathway in her quest to bring new travelers to the area. Although the remodeled lodge and hostel-styled accommodations were admired by enthusiastic locals, Lynda pondered how she could convince potential guests that tiny Oakridge was a not only a rural gem but a destination to explore.
An invitation to play, stay, and cook
Lynda helped lure road cyclists to the area with rides that highlight low-traffic paved roads winding across the Willamette National Forest. Although bike trails through the forest were a known entity to most mountain bike enthusiasts, Lynda wanted to encourage road cyclists to stay at the hostel and pursue their sport.
In addition to cycling and strumming, Lynda also incorporated the idea of culinary tourism into her business plan and created “For the Love of Mushrooms Foray,” a fall event centered on wild mushroom harvesting. After guests partake in a mushroom hunt, local Sous Chef Benjamin Naldony of King Estate Winery demonstrates how to cook the fungi into delectable meals. The foray participants are then treated to a four course dinner featuring mushrooms paired with local wines.
Lynda’s vision of a vibrant event-oriented hostel has become a success and at the same time, drawn new life to the small community she loves. This August, the Third Annual Ukulele Festival will set the town and its visitors strumming. Workshops will be held on the most basic skills, like in the “So You Wanna Learn the Ukulele” workshop, to full-on jam sessions for the experienced player and performances at the open mic. The festival runs Friday through Saturday, August 3 – 5, 2012.
On the first weekend in October, a road cycling event called “Over the Top Bike Ride” takes place with hostel sponsorship. The three day ride runs two groups of cyclists in opposite directions for 70 mile per day stints. All meals and snacks, first aid stations, luggage transfer and mechanical support are provided for participants. The ride takes place on a route populated with natural hot springs and old growth forest. The elevation gain is approximately 3300 feet per day so there’s plenty of downhill coasting on the last day of the ride.
For more information on this vibrant and picturesque hostel, visit Oakridge Hostel and Guest House’s website at www.oakridgehostel.com, by Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and by telephoning 541-782-4000.