Mrs. Cohn Zohn and I just returned from five days in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival. What a wonderful town. We go there every year. On the way home, we stopped for two nights at the Benbow Inn in Garberville, a place we’ve been staying at for about 35 years.

Have you ever been there, at this lovely “castle” in the redwoods? It was built about 90 years ago, designed by the same architect who designed Jack London’s Wolf House. The grounds, abutting the Eel River, are gorgeous and the dining room is among the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever been in, and the bar is like something out of “The Great Gatsby.”

OK, that’s the background. Now the story. On Saturday night we were in room 204, the room we usually get. At midnight we were awakened by loud noises. We looked out the window and saw flashing lights. It might have been a flying saucer. Mrs. Cohn Zohn called down to the front desk and asked what was going on. Turns out the inn had problems with the sump pump, not that I know about sump pumps. The Benbow had called in a septic service to fix the problem. The truck was loud. It came back at 2:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., by which time Mrs. Cohn Zohn and I were sleep-deprived zombies.

We went down to the front desk and told what had happened. If the septic truck was coming back that night, could we have a different room?

The manager, John Elliott, said the septic problem was fixed but he wanted to make things up to us. He moved us from 204, a small room, to “The Cottage,” a large room with a balcony overlooking the river, a Jacuzzi tub, three sinks, a shower, a four-poster bed Henry VIII would have killed us for. Not only that, the bellman was out sick so John schlepped all our luggage to the cottage.

They say service is dead. Not at the Benbow Inn. Each time we go there, we fall in love with the place and each other all over again.


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  1. Streetglide

    Played a gig there many years ago. Big fun, our honky tonk band rockin’ the free world. Love the place…

    July 9th, 2014 6:19 pm

  2. Jack Orion

    Never eaten at that inn. We stay at the Burlington campground each August, the kids love swimming in the Eel. There’s a great Mexican restaurant in Phillipsville, and the general store in Myers Flat sells 12-packs of Olympia for $6.

    July 9th, 2014 6:20 pm

  3. Dr. Feelgood

    Yes, many years ago, the year Houston beat the Knicks in the NBA Finals, I know because we watched the finals in our room.
    There were some disappointments-
    My wife had visited previously and she was looking forward to a lake/pond/swimming hole that she availed herself of previously, There was no lake/pond/swimming hole. Is there one now?
    So, we tried the Eel, a once mighty coaster river. We had to walk quite a distance just to find a spot deep enough to wade in. That’s sad.
    We didn’t get a room upgrade.
    Still, it was a nice enough place, I’d maybe go back.

    July 9th, 2014 8:09 pm

  4. Johnc

    Sounds like a great place to stay.
    I have been to Jack London’s Wolf House site a number of times. As you know he never got to live in it as it burned down before he moved into it . All that is left today are the stones which frame the house, but drawings and diagrams abound. It must have been magnificent.

    July 9th, 2014 10:50 pm

  5. Rob

    Albert Fall, the architect, and Jack London were neighbors and friends in Oakland as youngsters. Fall also designed the French Consulate on Jackson Street in San Francisco and a number of architecturally significant homes in Piedmont and hills of Oakland that are still standing. He designed Benbow some years after the fire gutted the Wolf House. By the way there are Saturday and Sunday tours to the Wolf House in Glen Ellen. One of the volunteer tour guides is a newsman–KCBS Executive Producer and Associate News Director Todd Smoot.

    July 10th, 2014 8:49 am

  6. Brady

    Benbow Inn is an absolute gem in every way. Our family tries to at least stop by there every Christmas season.

    Glad to know that you enjoy it, too.

    July 10th, 2014 8:34 pm

  7. Rob

    The New Year’s Eve Celebratation at the Benbow is the best.

    July 11th, 2014 8:24 am

  8. Dan

    I pass by it on my way to Ferndale. I’ll remember to stop by on my way next month.

    July 11th, 2014 8:45 am

  9. Real Neal

    Glad you living life big Lowell.

    July 11th, 2014 11:26 pm

  10. Real Neal

    Well I meant “your” I’m off to South Fla.They don’t call it Gods waiting room for nothing.

    July 11th, 2014 11:31 pm

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