Monday, August 22, 2011

Kah Nee Ta

We aren't having a summer again this year. Last year we didn't have a summer either, except for like three days in July where the temps reached 100 degrees. Before and after that, nothing. So, like last year, I had to find some real sun to convince my skin that tanning bed bulbs are not the only source of color in my world. Last year at this time we went to Palm Springs for five days of 100+ degree heat; this year, because I'm a cheapskate and seriously am going to Cancun in December (God damn it), I chose something a bit closer to home: Kah Nee Ta.

I haven't been to Kah Nee Ta since either 1984 or 1985. I can't remember exactly when, because we made a few day trips out that way back then, but I DO know that the last time I did, I got so sunburned that my face swelled up like that kid in "Mask" and then it dried out and cracked like the Sahara desert and when it peeled, it peeled off in huge sheets of skin that would slide off my face and into my lap at the slightest crack of a smile. It was horrid.

So anyway, this time we decided to stay there a couple of days since I didn't go to North Dakota but still had some days off. We left on Friday about mid-morning and arrived around 2:30 or so. The place was packed. The resort's policy is a two night minimum, and they have pretty much no cancellation policy, but since it's reservation land, I think you pretty much have to put up with it. You know, since we raped them of their land and threw them on these reservations and introduced them to booze that kept them down for years and years until they started to sober up and realized that the white man likes to gamble and built a bunch of casinos and are turning the tables now. It seems like a pretty fair trade off, when you think about it.

Which is kind of what I had to remind Cece when the kid at the front desk kept telling us our room wasn't ready until EXACTLY 4:30, which coincidentally is the "guaranteed" time. We were kind of cranky because there were no chairs to be had at the pool (luckily when we got there another girl I work with was in the pool and had great chair positioning, so we were at least able to put our bags down and attempt to float on the air mattresses), we were totally unsettled, and just wanted to lay down. But all that is forgotten when you finally have all your shit together in one spot and you've cracked open an icy cold beer.

The chair game is alive and well in the high desert of central Oregon. We got so-so chair positioning at 6:45am Saturday morning (it doesn't even become mildly warm until around 9), but it was nice to assume the position knowing there would be no leaving the area until much later in the day.

People are always crazy friendly in a resort situation. It's easy to put out of your mind that these are the same bastards that cut you off on the freeway, steal your cart at the supermarket and are most likely Beaver fans. But at the pool everyone is your best friend, sharing their more expensive floaties and watching your Kindle when you have to go to the bathroom. There's nothing more relaxing then laying out all day, even if this WAS a family resort and there were 897 screaming kids in the pool. I think I still got tan.

We intended to do the Salmon Bake that night - we had a view of the venue from our balcony. It was billed as a showcase of Native American dance and rituals and then the barbecue and a bunch of food and fun. We figured we could skip the culture-y part and just go down and get the food part, but when the entertainment showed up at 5:15pm for a 4pm show and dressed into their native costumes in the parking lot, I don't know, the charm sort of fell away. Behind-the-scenes footage did nothing for the ambiance. We ate in the restaurant instead.

Where the busboy was talking about a wildfire that kind of lost us. Apparently there was a pretty good one going on outside between the lower part of the resort and the lodge where we stayed. But I think the busboy was kind of slow or maybe he just thought we knew about it and chose to have a fine meal while his living quarters were threatened. We noticed the helicopters and planes overhead when we left the restaurant, and it clicked..

It was something to watch, definitely. I mean, it was REALLY close. There were unsubtantiated rumors that the Village area was evacuated, and the Hamlets, where the staff is housed, was right in its path. You could see the flames shoot out over the ridge at one point, and every time a tree went up it was pretty frightening. We also learned a lot about firefighting in the desert. We watched the action for about an hour or so and then kept one ear open all night just in case of lodge evacuation. Seriously. It was that close.

Sunday morning we gave it a couple more hours in the sun and then hit the road. Traffic over the mountain was a bitch and by the time we hit the Marquam Bridge it was ridiculous, so being home was nice. It was good, quick weekend getaway that hopefully results in a lasting tan. It better, since it was the last tanning opportunity of the summer. The summer we didn't have.

I would recommend this resort based on it's close proximity and because it's pretty much always sunny there, and the fact that it's the high desert and I love that terrain. The service is lacking in some areas, but if you're laid back about it it won't get to you. Just remember who holds the cards and you'll be fine.

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