Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 38, October 1 2014

 Click here for a printable edition of The Yachats Gazette, Issue 38


The Yachats Gazette was pleased to speak with Linda Hetzler, owner of the Drift Inn, located on Highway 101 in downtown Yachats.

TYG: Where did you get the idea to build a full-blown hotel?
Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a number of years. I actually wanted to buy the old Landmark building and kind of have a interesting, cool, little boutique hotel, because it has really interesting bones and structures and little funny spaces. But it had a lot of problems, and I didn’t have that much money to give to that. So when this fellow that owns the old clinic building wanted to sell me his building, I wasn’t really sure exactly what I was going to do. I looked into shops, [but they] don’t make it around here very well, you know, little stores selling things; people come and go a lot.

TYG: Although the two shops [on this part of the street] are doing really well, though.
Yes, the Mercantile does well because I have a lot of things in there. And I have Stacey [Smith], who does a really excellent job.

TYG: And Dark Water seems to be doing pretty well.
Yes, and she has an internet, online thing. She’s had the online thing for years.

TYG-Graphic Design: Oh, the Alice in Wonderland store?

TYG: Together, those two are doing quite well. Pirate’s Bounty Boutique—she moved, but it wasn’t because she wasn’t getting enough business.
TYG-GD: Too much business!
TYG: She needed a bigger space—I think that’s why she moved out.
[…] So when I started talking to people about what to do there, some people really liked the hotel idea. I actually tried to open into a hotel over here a few years ago, and the neighbors didn’t really want me to do it and fought it quite strenuously. But this time, when I [made the proposal]—well, it helped that I had a lot for parking.

TYG-GD: You’ve just built a U-turn around that one house?
Well, it’s a circular kind of thing.

TYG: Are you going to destroy that one house?
Well, in about three years we’ll take the mobile out, and we’ll have it be parking.

TYG: Really, so long?
Well, I have an employee that’s living there. It’s hard to find places to live around here that are affordable. It might take a while to get all of the rooms up and going anyway. Because I’m just going to phase them in. I’m not going to just all of a sudden have all those rooms. I have a couple up here [above the Drift], and I’ll put a couple more up there [in the upper story of the other building] maybe in a year or so. In the meantime, we’ll start work on the other building.

TYG-GD: So you’re going to put in rooms, but keep the retail space downstairs?
We’ll keep Dark Water, but the other space that’s empty right now, we’re going to turn it into rooms with shared bathrooms.

TYG: Oh, kind of like a youth hostel thing?
Well, less expensive [than the other rooms], but still really nice. In fact, I was just talking to these bikers—there are a lot of bicyclists that would like to have that kind of thing.

TYG-GD: Access to showers, but not cost an arm and a leg… and better than camping.
TYG: So how many rooms is your new hotel slated to have?
Well, it was approved for 15.

TYG: 15? Not bad!
But I might only have 13. And it might take a while to do all 15. I’m just going to see how things go. The empty space [above the other building] that nobody is living in right now, we’re going to divide it in half, and have two spaces available for rent.

TYG: So, I had an idea while I was looking at your parking lot. I was wondering… perhaps you should build rooms above the parking lot.
That’s always an option, too! Maybe down the road… You know, all the building I’ve done here: the money that I make I just reinvest. So it takes a while to build up.

TYG: Of course! You wouldn’t do this immediately. Unless you found a fortune! I’m guessing it would be about a $100,000 project.
You got it! That’s about right!

TYG: I’m okay at estimating project costs… [laughter] Okay, so, when would you like your hotel to open?
Well, we’re actually going to put a sign out front, adjacent to our existing Drift sign—we’re going to have a Vacancy/No Vacancy sign. We have the rooms rented out right now as a vacation rental. So we’re just going to convert those to be part of the hotel. So those are already up and running, and they’ve been booked all the time. We hope to have two more rooms ready to go in by Thanksgiving.

TYG: I’d like to review your hotel sometime by staying the night.
There you go! If you wanted to see them, there are people in there right now, but if you came tomorrow I could give you a tour.

TYG: Who do you think will be your target customer group?
We’re targeting a broad range of customers. We’re looking at the lower end for the bikers, you know, the people that don’t have a lot of money.

TYG: Yes, that’s what I would do if I opened a hotel. And since I’ve played a lot of online hotel games, a lot of them have targeted customer menus. I generally target most of the customers, or at least as many as I can, so you can have a “Kid’s Free Weekend” or a “50% off Seniors Week.”
Oh, I see. That’s a good idea. My friends who are bicyclists have given me some clues about how to target customers in their bracket.

TYG-GD: You have a website, right? Are you going to have a hotel website?
Yes. I’m meeting with Lisa Gray on Tuesday. I’m going to revamp my existing website.

TYG: Also, I was thinking with the bicyclists, maybe you could have free bicycle parking or tuning.
Well, we’re going to set up a stand for them to put their bikes on, and we’re going to have air available for their tires.

TYG-GD: Oh, that’s a great idea! So who else besides the bicyclists, then? Just a general target? How long do you intend the stays to be?
Right now, on these [the vacation rental rooms], we have a two day minimum, because they’re kind of full-blown, with kitchens and everything. I think for the rooms in the other building, right now they’re apartments, and we’re going to keep the kitchens, but we’re going to divide them in half, so the room will just kind of have a balcony and a bedroom, and the ones in the front will kind of be like a studio.

TYG-GD: Personally, I really like the idea of the Drift Inn [coming back to its roots]—it’s been called the Drift Inn forever! Where did that come from?
Well, historically it was called that and when I got it I called it “Inn” because that’s how I thought it was spelled, but I came to find out, after many years of having it and some research, that it was “Drift In” with just one “n.”

TYG-GD: That’s funny! So now you’re turning it into the “Inn” with two n’s… that’s awesome!
TYG: I’m guessing I know why they called it that… “Drift” meant the stray pieces of logs, debris… and that would be the people!
Linda: [laughter]
That’s right!

TYG: What I mean by that, is that all groups are welcome!
Linda: [still laughing]
There you go, that’s right! All you who the tide washes ashore, are welcome to drift on in!

TYG-GD: Is there anything else you wanted to tell the community about the hotel and your vision for it?
I’m really interested in eclectic kinds of things, and having things be unique. I don’t want to have rooms that all look the same. I used to spend a lot of time in hotels when I was young; it was all very cold and sterile. I like making hotel rooms that are kind of fun, and interesting. I really enjoy science, and I worked in the woods, and so I thought it would be fun for people—especially when it’s raining—for them to have something to do that would be science-oriented. So in one of the rooms I have a microscope, and little slides of different creatures that you can look at, and there are books on all kinds of natural history [subjects]. There are [framed] bugs on the wall… and it’s going to continue to evolve. I had to get it together really quickly so it would be ready for the summer. But the more things I find for people to do while they’re here in the evenings, or when it’s raining…

TYG: What I was thinking is that you could have themes for each room! The Red Room, the Green Room…
That’s kind of how it is. The [room] upstairs, I call it Darwin’s Study. And the very top one is more like the Captain’s Room—there are collections of things from all over the world, as if the Captain had been all over, collecting.

TYG: Or you could have the Parlour Room, for example. That would be ultra-luxury room. Or the Transportation Room, maybe. [laughter]
That’s right! Trains and boats and motorcycles and cars…

TYG: Yes! Plus, I think if you want kids, you’ll need a playroom or something.
Oh yes, most definitely. […] I’ve got five [of these kayaks] that people who rent these rooms can use. If they don’t have racks, I’ve got wheels, and they can walk them over to the beach. […] I’ll maybe get one more that’s a double kayak, so if people have a kid and they don’t want their kid to be in the kayak alone, they can [share it].

TYG-GD: Wow, I had no idea! Are there any other perks for staying at the Drift Inn that we don’t know about?
Linda: [laughter]
Well, I’ll probably be bringing some bikes down, but I haven’t gotten around to it. We’ll have a little shed to put them in and keep them out of the weather.

TYG: You should go to Green Bikes [in Waldport] and get some bikes!
You know, I should look into that, because the Green Bike people wanted us to have an outlet here.

TYG: $5 for a perfectly good mountain bike!
I know, they’re an amazing resource.

TYG: And there are a lot of local trails around here! And you could have someone host bike tours once a week!
Yeah, the problem is just finding somebody to do all this work! There are so many great things that people could do here. So many great businesses that people could start, so many activities that people could participate in… 

TYG: Yes! I think that if you started to make not just a simple hotel, but an amenities hotel—like a resort type of thing—then you’d instantly be in big business.
Well the kayaks have been a good draw—people have read about it. But you’re right—it’s really nice to offer people things to do.

TYG: Yes, amenities like a little library/reading room. I think once you get the hotel set up, and rooms above the parking lot, and turn these rooms into amenities, I think you’ll have a lot of money coming in.
So, do you think it would be better to do rooms above this parking lot [on the old clinic location] or the other parking lot?

TYG: I think that both could work! Although I think that since the [ex-clinic] parking lot is so much smaller, it could be an amenity thing. The big parking lot up there, once you have the mobile home out of there, then you make that your actual places to stay.
Well that sounds good. I hope you include some of your ideas in this article! Because I think those are fabulous ideas! And maybe in a couple of years you can come work for me!

TYG: Maybe, as an architect!
Yes! Or be in charge of the amenities, like designing those spaces. […] You know, when we turned Heceta into a bed and breakfast, we had the high school kids. They actually did all of the architectural work for modifying that building.

TYG-GD: Really? Were you part of that?
I started it, it was my project.

TYG-GD: So before the Korgans took over?
Yes, I hired them. Because it was so successful that I couldn’t do my Forest Service job, and do that, so we hired them.

TYG-GD: When did you stop with the Forest Service?
In ’98.

TYG-GD: What were you doing for the Forest Service—were you a Ranger?
I did all kinds of things over the years—I worked for them since high school. I built trails and did timber sales, and when I retired I was head of Special Uses. So Heceta was under a Special Use.

TYG-GD: Wow, that’s fascinating!
So I already have experience in kind of setting up hotels.

TYG: Well thank you so much!
Thank you—it was very good chatting with you!
TYG-GD: I think I’ll call this “Interview with Two Yachats Tycoons”! [laughter all around]

Interview with Max Glenn

The Yachats Gazette was pleased to speak with Max Glenn during a recent early morning interview.

TYG: Shall we get started?
Sure! I’m ready! Allen, I feel honored to be interviewed by you. I am so amazed at what you have created with the Yachats Gazette. It’s a real contribution to our community!

TYG: Thank you! Where did you live, and what did you do before you came to Yachats?
Well, Allen, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I’m a fifth generation farmboy. My grandfather homesteaded in Indian territory in Oklahoma, in Cherokee Strip, in September 1893. They all lined up on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, and they fired a gun at a designated time. My grandpa was a young man; he and some other friends got fast horses. So they went real fast across the border to get there. The best land in Oklahoma is along the northern border. There were sooners, or squatters, they called them, who had come in ahead of time. The further grandpa rode south, past those squatters who were in there early, it got real sandy. He decided he didn’t want that, and came back 10 miles from where he started. There was a man who had more than 160 acres, which they could homestead, and he rode over and said “You’ve got more than 160 acres.” And the man said: “I’ve got a Winchester that says I’m going to keep it.” And Grandpa says: “I’ve got a Winchester”—a gun, rifle—”that says I can have 160 acres, and you can still have your 160 acres.” So I know that my Grandpa wore a white hat. He was a good guy, because Mr. May, this other man, I remember him stealing meat out of my Grandpa’s smokehouse, and then he died in a penitentiary. My sisters and I still have some of Grandpa’s homestead, and my daughter has bought some of that original land too, in Oklahoma.

TYG: Wow, that’s interesting!
That’s where I came from, I was raised on a farm, I’d never been more than 25 miles from home until I got to show my livestock in the county fair, and district, and state. Then I got to go to the American Royal, in Kansas City.

TYG-Graphic Design: The American Royal?
It’s a big cattle show. It was awesome. I was a sophomore in high school. One of the kids’ mothers drove us up there. We got into Kansas City at night, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen: so many lights on the hillside, and all! The next morning, when we woke up, it was the worst slum I’d ever seen! [laughter] But you know, I learned a good lesson while I was there. I had an Angus steer that I showed, and after I showed my steer I was up in the arena watching the show, and there was an old man sitting next to me. He had very little hair, and his skin—you know, when people have been out in the sun a whole bunch it looks like leather?—this old man, his skin looked that way, and the top of his head looked that way. He said, “Sonny, what brought you here?” I told him about my steer, and he expressed a little interest in me. And you know who he was?

TYG: Who?
He was Mr. J. C. Penney, himself. And JC Penney, in Oklahoma, in the plains, was the first big chain that sold clothes and all different kinds of things—kind of like Fred Meyer’s out here, you know. He was the owner of that. And the lesson I learned from him was that people that have already made it are just as common as me and you. He was just so friendly and so common. It’s the people in life who think they are somebody, and try to impress everybody that aren’t there. If you’ve already made it, you don’t have to worry about impressing people. That was a good lesson for me to learn. [laughter]

TYG: What was life like, where you lived?
What was life like... Well, it was on the farm, so we lived by the rhythm of nature. We woke up as soon as it was daylight, and I had chores to do: I helped milk cows by hand, and then the crops… The thing that has helped me all of my life was to learn about the rhythm of nature and know that everything is connected. Everything in creation is connected, and I’m just so grateful for all the lessons that I’ve learned in 79 years just being a lot of different places.

Every job that I had, every call that I had for responsibility was always bigger than me. I always wondered, “Why me?” I can look back afterwards, and see that my unique skill set was used in that particular situation. I was going to be an Ag[riculture] teacher—I showed my livestock in state fairs. I had a full scholarship to Oklahoma State University—the other OSU. And it’s orange and black too! [laughter]

TYG: Really? Seriously?
Yes! I like to fool people, because Marie [his wife] is a Duck, and she has a green Duck hat. So I wear my green Duck hat, and then I have a vest like this that is orange and black, so I wear that and it confuses people. They think I’m a Beaver. [laughter]

TYG: When in reality you’re not a Beaver, you’re a… what’s the name of the Oklahoma team?
Cowboy! I’m not a Beaver, I’m a Cowboy… [laughter]

But: I had a full scholarship. [pauses] I need to go back and talk about my Grandpas. My Grandpa Glenn, who I told you homesteaded, one of the first things he needed to do was to find a cemetery. They found the highest hill around—it was flat land generally, but there was a little bit of hills—so the highest spot around they made a cemetery, so they could bury their dead.

TYG: Really? That was the first thing they did?
Well, one of the first things. The first thing he did was build a dugout—my father was born in a dugout, before he built a house. So the dugout was the first thing he built, I’m sure.

TYG: Yeah, really. Because why build a space for the dead before you build for the living?
Max: [laughter]
That’s a good question! Then he got his neighbors together, and they started a church. Grandma fed lots of people—any stranger, or anybody come by, there was this great big long table where everybody would eat. The way he made money was to cut posts. It was along the river, where he could go to get trees—there weren’t a lot of trees around. He would cut trees and make posts, and then haul them in his wagon to sell, so that’s the way he made money. Then he built a house, and he was one of the first ones to build a house! So that was my Grandpa Glenn. And when strangers came to have a meal, when they left, they always knew two things: they knew that he was a Christian, and they knew that he was a yellow dog Democrat.

TYG: Yeah, Democrat in the old sense. Was he a slave owner?
Oh, no no no no, no slaves.

TYG: Oh, wait, that was 1893. That was way after. I’m sorry, Max!
And Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907. But my other Grandpa, who was the educated one on my mother’s side of the family, he didn’t homestead. He came just after the homestead. He surveyed the land and laid out all the [plats]. He was a surveyor. And he built the first school, and he was the first teacher in that school! My two Grandpas lived half a mile apart, so I would go out and stay on the farm.

TYG: You’re lucky! My closest relative who’s not immediate family lives down in California. And my other Grandma, and my Grandpas, live on the East coast.
Do you get to go see them?
TYG: Ah, occasionally. One of them I’ve never actually met.

TYG-GD: Max, I wanted to ask you from which country your grandparents came originally.
Well… I was born on my great-Grandmother’s birthday, and she had a twin brother, and we were born on St. Patrick’s Day! And somewhere I have some pictures of little Max standing, holding a cake with one candle on it, with Grandma Hyatt and Uncle Nate standing behind me. Next year, same picture, there are two candles on the cake, and little Max a little bit taller… Uncle Nate died when I was on my ninth birthday, and Grandma lived to be about a hundred. So… Scotch-Irish. And the reason I was named Max, and not Patrick (because of St. Patrick’s Day), was because my father was a boxing fan and Max Baer was the big champion at the time I was born, in 1935.

I was born in a little town, and my father worked at a gas station and carried gas. Then we moved to a little town nine miles away in a different county, and Dad ran the Co-op station there. We had a farm, but he didn’t move to the farm because he was of draft age, and could be drafted to the army. A lot of farm kids could get deferred from the draft, but he didn’t want to be a “draft dodger,” so he waited until after the war before we moved to the farm.

TYG: Yes, I was thinking that would be World War II.
World War II. When we moved back to the community that I was born in, I was in the fifth grade when we moved back, and I still remember kids telling me—and it still hurts—that “Our folks told us not to play with you, because you don’t go to our church.” When I was in high school, they were still preaching in German, and it was a German community. My family was not German, they were Irish. What I realize now, later in life, is that it was a very close-knit German community. The parents and the grand-parents went to another little German community, just like it, up in Illinois, near Peoria, Illinois, to choose the mates for their kids. So my classmates didn’t have boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. Their parents and grandparents went and chose the mates for their kids. So I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me, when I couldn’t get a date with these girls. But I look back at it now, and I understand: it was a little religious ghetto, and I was on the outside. There was nothing wrong with me!
So I was a charter member the first year we had vocational agriculture in our high school, my freshman year. Have you heard of Future Farmers of America? That’s a big thing in rural states. I was a charter member of FFA, showed my livestock, became president, and learned a lot of leadership skills in the FFA.

TYG: You became a president of the FFA?
I was president of my local chapter of the FFA. Then I ran for state vice-president, so I was vice-president of all Oklahoma FFA when I was a senior in high school. And I was also president of all FFA in northwest Oklahoma. We had contests, like parliamentary procedure contests at state level, and we had cattle judging contests, and wheat judging contests, and crop judging contests… I got involved in that. That’s the way I compensated for the little ghetto, and not being part of that, so I could become somebody outside of my community.

TYG-GD: And you’re still participating in boards and leadership and all kinds of stuff, aren’t you! [laughter]
I asked Marie yesterday […] what I should [talk about during the interview]. She was excited for me […], and she said “Well, you need three elements.” [laughter] “You need three features about your life.” So I wrote these three down:

Number one for me is helping others and inspiring greatness in others. That’s my number one passion.

TYG: That’s a good passion!
And my second is kind of like it: to support, to mentor, and to empower persons and communities that are marginalized by society, [such as] minorities, and women, and poor people. And the third one is connecting and empowering people to make a difference in our world and in the lives of people around them.

TYG: Those are some great goals!
So those are my three elements.

TYG: When did you move here?
We moved here—we bought a house—in July of 2000. We were living in Anniston, Alabama, and my bride Marie was raised in Oregon. She’d been gone for 50 years, and wanted to see if this was still her roots. So we got a campsite at Beachside State Park, for three weeks, and came to see. We weren’t 10 miles out of Portland airport, and I knew this was her roots. She was breathing better, and you could tell. So we bought a house, and moved here from Anniston, Alabama, the next summer.

TYG-GD: Are you glad you did?
Oh! I’m really glad we did. One of the amazing things is the power of the ocean. I like to tell people… One of my favorite things is to be a volunteer at the Yachats Visitor’s Center; every Friday I have the morning shift. So I tell people: you don’t choose Yachats—Yachats chooses you. […] People here are from many different places, and have done many different things.

TYG: How has life has changed since you came here?
What I have seen is more and more people being attracted here that connect with the spirit and all of the things of the universe. And I don’t understand it—maybe you’ll be the one to figure it all out! I don’t understand how everything is interconnected, how the Creator made this fantastic thing. I choose to call that Creator “God,” but other people call it “Spirit,” and other people call it other things. But I know there’s a Creator, and I know that there’s a power in the surf that connects all of that. So people are attracted here, that have that awareness and that knowing.

TYG: I think I might know how that connects… It’s what drives life here! Fisheries, salmon catching… it’s what drives life here! That’s why visitors come, that’s what pulls our community together.
And people love Yachats, and that ties us together. So I guess my response is, to how I’ve seen life change: I’ve seen more and more people identify this core thing about our community, the interconnectedness and awareness of all creation. My friend Karl Evans—he’s the intellectual one—he found the word “Yachats” in Sanskrit writing in 1200, and the meaning of Yachats in that Sanskrit writing was “Where the healers gather.” I know, from my own experience and my own background, that that is the true meaning. So Yachats is where people like your Dad, and others professionally, and others who just understand the connectedness and all of that [gather].

TYG: Although I often feel like I don’t belong.
Yeah? I know that feeling. But you know, there are people here who have a bigger understanding, and that’s how I see you. You have a bigger understanding of the world and of connectedness. As you interact with people, the way you ask questions, you help them. I saw something in you that was very special, Allen. Remember the night we had the academy presentation, the guy from NOAA [Commander Rick Brennan] was here? And remember the questions you were asking? After your first or second question to him, he knew that you were somebody special!

TYG: And then I got a private tour of his ship!
And he knew! And I knew, because I’ve been watching you since you were four years old! You have a special place here, and you’re one of those special people.

When I moved here, I asked, “What do I need to know to live in Yachats?” And I was told, “Put your suit and your tie away and save them for your funeral.” [laughter] So you can be talking to somebody at the post office, and it may be a homeless person, and it may a multi-millionaire: you don’t know, and you don’t care. We’re all the same.

TYG: Thank you so much, Max.
I’m happy to share with you!