Monday, October 1, 2018

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 85, October 1 2018

Click here for a printable version of Issue 85 (.pdf)

Interview with Gretchen Hetzler

The Yachats Gazette met with Gretchen to discuss the construction and changes on the Drift Inn properties.

The new Drift Inn building, location of the former laundromat
Gretchen: So, [we have a] new building, which used to be the old laundromat. We decided it wasn't going to be very cost-effective to run a laundromat, because the water costs in Yachats are very high. So upstairs will be four rooms, four individual and unique rooms. Each place has its own bathroom. I think there will be two rooms with a king bed and two rooms with queen beds, and each has a tiled shower and sink. Downstairs, the front entry will be sort of a hang-out space. This is technically a lodging house, so there will be a hang-out space/check-in for guests.

TYG: Are there stairs inside?
Gretchen: There are not stairs inside. It's separate levels. Everything is accessed from the sky bridge for the upper levels. So the downstairs will be this sort of hang-out area with cool art, and couches maybe, and a check-in space. The next room back is a kitchen/laundry facility.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: So the kitchen will be for the guests?
Gretchen: Yes. It might just be a food storage area/kitchenette place, not a full place to cook. It mostly serves as a laundry space, but it will be a kitchen space as well. And then the closest room to us [TYG were sitting in the courtyard off the side of the Drift Inn] is going to be a game room.

TYG: Ooh!
Gretchen: [It will be] for guests and customers alike: we're going to have shuffleboard, foosball, and whatever kind of cool games we can fit in there that make sense and that you can play with.

TYG: Probably too small to have a pool table.
Gretchen: Yes. It is a little too small for a pool table. But we have thought about it, because you know Lester used to have a pool table in here, before we had the place.

TYG-EA: What about a boxing ring?
Gretchen: No, I think that might be a little pushing it. [laughter] There may be some liability.

TYG-EA: It would be very authentic.
Gretchen: And nostalgic, yes. So the back room will be a game room. Currently it's storage for the Mercantile, but we're sussing out some other storage options out back for the Mercantile, because they definitely need it. So we'll have the four rooms, the kind of hang-out area/check-in, laundry/kitchen, and then the game room. And I believe the game room is going to be open to everyone, diners as well as hotel guests. So it's more of a B&B/lodge that we're trying to create, more than like a hotel, because we don't want it to be so impersonal.

TYG: And there are so many hotels in Yachats already. 
Gretchen: We just don't want to create that feeling—we want it to be more of an oasis, a getaway, family-oriented.

TYG: What kind of length do people stay if they're living here?
Gretchen: You know, we've had people stay months at a time. It's not necessarily the most affordable option, but there is that opportunity to do it. We had a gentleman named Art who stayed with us for a long time, over a month and a half, and a woman stay here for over two months, I believe.

TYG: That's awesome!
Gretchen: Yes! It's definitely some people's prerogative to do that. But it's not cheap. [laughs] 

TYG: This is not a place where people would normally stay long-term, or they would rent a house.
Gretchen: Right, but like our "Pedal Out" rooms are $50 a night. It is affordable for some people to do that because it's minimal: you have small rooms, and you don't need a lot. So if you don't need a lot and can manage that, it's not too bad. So all in all, when all's said and done, we'll have twenty rooms.

TYG: Wow! 
Gretchen: Five of those are the hostel-style rooms, the "Pedal Out" rooms. The rest of them vary between more of a typical hotel room to fully-furnished two-bedroom apartments. Like the one above here is called "Eagle's Nest," and it's a fully-furnished two-bedroom apartment. So we have a variety of stuff going on.

TYG: And then of course there is also the sky bridge system itself, which is still pretty new.
Gretchen: I know! It's really cool. The plan is, I believe, [to install] a dumbwaiter or some sort of elevator to get house-keeping supplies up and down and whatever else we deem worthy, I suppose, like house-keeping carts and supplies.

The roof over the Drift Inn patio, as well as a view of the sky bridge.
TYG: Wow, so a big elevator then!
Gretchen: Well, big enough to haul a person and/or things. It's probably going to be electronic. Because I can't imagine a hand-hauled dumbwaiter for that kind of thing. Although if you have enough pulleys, it distributes the work and you don't need it.

TYG: Or a counterweight.
Gretchen: Right.

TYG: That's harder under load, though.
Gretchen: Multiple pulleys would make a little more sense, right. So that's what's going on! We're always working on changing, moving things around.

TYG: Awesome! I'm glad to see you got a safety feature for the fireplace. 
Gretchen: Yes. More than anything, though: It directs the smoke up.

The fireplace with its new hood. In the background, the wood chute.
TYG: I was also quite worried during the summer about having that thing catch fire. It's not so bad now.
Gretchen: Well, the fire department approved our little fire pit. It works out pretty well. We regularly water our plants, so everything's pretty moist. And we've got the driftwood/redwood tables, and they're actually selling pretty well. They're big slabs, and people are actually ordering them. We have extra ones for sale.

TYG-EA: So, this whole patio area, with all the pathways and elevated structures, reminds me of a model railroad layout. 
Gretchen: [laughs] Yes?

TYG-EA: So how did it come about, to turn this into this wonderful multi-level, multi-function sort of Tinker-Toy space?
Gretchen: That's really just a combination of Tom, my step-dad, and my mom's sort of creative mind-workings [Linda Hetzler is Gretchen's mother]. We saw a necessity for handicap accessibility, because so many of our hotel rooms weren't accessible from a wheelchair. So they decided to create this sky way [from the rear parking area to the main upper level of the Drift Inn]. We knew if we did that, a lot more of our rooms would be more easily accessed.

A view of the Drift Inn patio, with the Drift Inn on the left, and the new building on the right.
TYG: To be fair, if I remember right, it was a little bit arduous to get up there because of the steep staircase. 
Gretchen: And that staircase fell apart, so it just moved the process along.

TYG-EA: So was there an early master plan?
Gretchen: No, it's just been a slow evolution. "Okay, this is what we think we want to do next, let's give it a shot and see how it works out." Then the other structure, the one that goes along the back side of the old laundromat building, is metal fabricated at Halco Welding, up in South Beach.

TYG: I can't be the only one to have observed this, but it used to be that the [pipe serving as a wood chute] used to lead directly on top of the wood pile, which meant that any water would run straight under.
Gretchen: However, there are holes drilled into the pipe so that the water goes down a little bit, but it really just goes through, and waters the garden. Tom's very smart like that. He built it then went, "Wait! This is going to need holes."

TYG-EA: At what point did you decide to make this a covered patio?
Gretchen: We had actually thought about it years ago. The shed that's out in the parking lot now, next to the Mercantile, was essentially where that redwood table is now. It's a pretty big shed. So that had to be moved, and a new deck had to be built in order for the deck to be covered, and make it work for the space. We had always intended to do it, but we weren't really sure how we could do it.

TYG: I like how you have all the pieces mixed together—it works really well. As much as you have the pieces slightly not in alignment, it works.  
Gretchen: So all of the redwood slabs and all of the wood except for this pressure-treated wood up here was bought from a local artist wood cabinetry/wood worker guy, who had kept the wood for a long time. He was going to build a pergola, but he just never did. So he sold that to us, then all of the slabs—he had quite a few of those. So it's kind of cool that we—not necessarily recycled, but used wood that was existing.

TYG: And then you've got this, which I've never seen before.
Gretchen: It's a banana tree! And it's thrived since we put it in the pond and moved it a little bit—it's really gone wild. It's really neat. I run into it a lot.

TYG: I've seen banana trees full-grown, or close to it...
Gretchen: Some varieties get very tall, and others don't—we're just going to have to see.

The Publisher and his side-kick. Banana tree is on the right.
TYG: I always wanted to build a house in the woods and leave at least one tree standing in the middle of the living room, and also have an actual stream running through it.
Gretchen: Yes! My husband really wants to build tree houses. I think he'll do that someday. He really has a lot of ideas about tree houses.

TYG-EA: When do you expect this to be done?
Gretchen: Thanksgiving, probably? That would be our ultimate goal, but you never know. Originally we had hoped the outside of the building would be done in August, but then it took a whole other extra month. So now it's mostly just interior work, which is good timing for the weather. So painting, sheetrock, wiring the satellite... We're hoping by Thanksgiving. Alright, I have to get back to work...

TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Gretchen: Yes! Happy to do it.