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Elinor Florence (Company name) Elinor Florence

Historic Hotel Heaven

Dear Friends: My husband whisked me away to the Historic Davenport in Spokane, Washington for three days in May to celebrate my birthday, because he knows how much I love historic hotels. Here are photos from one of our favourite getaway spots.

Every room features one of these lovely, comfortable beds. You can actually buy one through the hotel and have it shipped to your home! Here I am enjoying a morning Starbucks from the lobby, delivered by my loyal spouse who knows that he can’t speak one word to me until I have my first cup of coffee!

Spokane is a popular weekend destination for people in Western Canada. From our home in Invermere, it’s a five-hour drive with a stop for an excellent homemade lunch at Spuds Waterfront Grill in Sandpoint, Idaho. From there, it’s 90 minutes to the Historic Davenport.

This is where we checked in, at this gorgeous front desk.

“The Dav,” as it is affectionately called, was built by Louis Davenport. It was the most modern hotel in the United States when it opened in 1914, with air conditioning, central vacuuming, and an ice-water tap in every room. (The salad called “Crab Louis,” which I have enjoyed several times, was invented by Mr. Davenport himself). Over several decades, presidents, royalty, and movie stars stayed here.

But the grand old lady shut down in 1985. For fifteen years it remained shuttered and vacant. Then two local entrepreneurs, appropriately named Walt and Karen Worthy, bought the hotel in 2000 and gave it a top-to-bottom renovation.

Here’s a shot of the lobby, where we spend lots of time hanging out, drinking coffee and reading books, or having a meal in front of the beautiful fireplace at the far end of the room.

Below is the view from our room. The rest of Spokane, population around 200,000, is also quite charming. When many of these old brick structures were built, mining and forestry were in their prime. Later the city fell on hard times, but is currently experiencing a rejuvenation. (The upside of any recession is that cities don’t hasten to tear down all their old buildings, so many still exist downtown.)

One of Spokane’s most famous citizens is Bing Crosby, and this theatre named for him is just down the street from the Davenport.

Just two blocks from the hotel, the mighty Spokane River surges right through the heart of the city, complete with white rapids and waterfalls, parks and pedestrian bridges.

We had dinner at the Clinkerdagger Restaurant, located in the old Flour Mill overlooking the river, now converted into shops and restaurants. I couldn’t get a good photo, but there were about a dozen marmots playing on the green grass beside the river!

We also dropped into one of my favourite haunts called Auntie’s Bookstore. Indie bookstores may not have the volume of books found in the big chains, but they always have their own quirky personalities.

Finally, we checked out the movie listings and found this small independent art cinema called The Magic Lantern Theatre. There we enjoyed watching a Bollywood romance with subtitles, something we would never find at home!

This was our eighth or ninth visit to the Historic Davenport, and we’ll be back. Twice we have stayed there in November, in order to enjoy their fantastic American Thanksgiving buffet.

 

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MY VINTAGE CORNER

When I go anywhere fancy like the Davenport Hotel, I take my antique beaded bag. A friend picked it up for me several decades ago at a Los Angeles flea market, and I have used it ever since.

It’s a great topic of conversation when I open my bag and show people what’s inside, starting with these three mystery items.

The first is a tiny manicure set.

And the second is a wee sewing kit complete with thimble. My mother found both of these items in an antique store in England.

The third item was given to me years ago by my friend Margaret Estabrooks of Red Deer, Alberta. This tiny silver rod opens up into a cocktail stir stick! Sometimes I order a mixed drink just so I can ostentatiously produce my own stir stick from my evening bag!

I also keep a hanky in my bag, monogrammed with the letter E for Elinor.

And finally, my “Mad Money.” Remember how your mother used to tell you to take some money with you on a date in case you got mad and had to take a taxi home? I doubt if this dollar bill would take me anywhere today, but it’s part of my personal history!

Along with compact, lipstick, credit card, and cell phone, my evening bag is well equipped.

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MY WONDERFUL NEW WEBSITE

Ever since we returned from Spokane in May, I have been glued to my computer chair. I left my former website host and moved to a new host, Navigator Multimedia Inc. in Kelowna, British Columbia.

That also meant I was forced to repost every single blog on my website manually, including about 200,000 words of text and more than 2,000 photos! My daughter Katie helped me and together we spent about 150 hours on this project.

A special thanks to owner Greg Bauer and the rest of the team at Navigator, who could not have been kinder or more professional.

Today you are seeing my new website which looks almost identical, with some important improvements:

  • Under About, there is now a Frequently Asked Questions page.
  • For a peek into my pioneer novel: Wildwood: Read an Excerpt.
  • All 107 previous Wartime Wednesdays stories are categorized on the right side of this page, i.e. Women in Wartime, Stories From My Family, etc. I even created a category called Stories That Inspire. I urge you to read and share these stories of heroism as I don’t want them to languish here unread. My daughter said she cried several times while she was working on them!
  • You can also find categories for my current blog, Letters From Windermere. This is a friendly letter that I write each month to my subscribers talking about my vintage collections, my travels, and books. I’m always looking for new subscribers, so please recommend it to someone who might be interested. It’s easy to subscribe by clicking on the little black box at the bottom.

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RECOMMENDED READING

Secret Sky belongs to a genre that I rarely read. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m recommending it to anyone who wants to dip their toes into the paranormal.

It’s the first book in a series of seven, written by Jo-Anne McLean here in British Columbia about a woman with a superpower — she can fly!

The main character Emelynn Taylor discovers her incredible gift as an adult, joins a secret society of fliers, and has many wild adventures (including some steamy sex, so be forewarned).

It’s a very well-written series and I am now up to the fourth book. (If you do read this or any other book, please review it on Amazon or another online review site, as that really helps authors!)

To order a paperback or an e-book, click here: Secret Sky.

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Friends, I hope you are enjoying the long days of summer. We are so grateful that our skies have not yet darkened with forest fire smoke, which ruined the last two summers and practically destroyed our local tourist economy. Instead, we are receiving lots of rain showers which have turned our valley into a green and fragrant paradise.

We plan to spend the month of August at our second home in Qualicum Beach, B.C. I’ll show you some photos of my mid-century bungalow in my next letter From Windermere!

Fondly, Elinor

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