Saturday, February 14, 2009

September 15th, 2008 - Pendleton, OR - Part VI

This chapter is also known as Failure, Yet Again!

Not that it really ended up too bad, and we not only saw it coming, but were OK with it, but waking up the next morning in The Rugged Country Lodge, it was still a bit of a bitter pill to realize that we'd once again put a good amount of effort, time and money prepping for another failure. Of course, we still had to actually go to the bank and talk to Kris, but we were pretty sure that nothing would come of it.

We got up and greeted the surprisingly brisk morning, and ate some decent, but unimpressive breakfast in the Rooster Room, and checked out. It was still a bit until our meeting, so we parked at the bank, and wandered around downtown for a half hour or so, anxious and nervous, despite being pretty consigned to our inevitable outcome.

At 9am sharp, we wandered to the bank just as Kris was unlocking it. She introduced herself and shook our hands, guiding us into a conference room. Kris chatted with us for a while, telling us that she had been quite excited to meet us, and had been working on our project since we talked. She knew we had virtually nothing in the way of a down payment and had arranged for a gentleman to come in and talk to us about helping finance the RCL, what some people refer to as Angels. I suddenly got a little nervous that this might actually go through. Kris seemed incredibly confident in the Angel, and was really excited to look over our plans. We explained our intent to add some romantic themed rooms and she told us that she had visited a few like that in a different city and loved it, she got even more excited as we elaborated on our future plans to overhaul the website and the image of the Lodge, turning it into a locals spot as well as quality lodging for travelers. Just as we were about to go further into detail, showing her the business plan we'd written up, the Angel arrived.

Sweeping into the room, he shook our hands firmly and sat at the head of the table. He introduced himself and what he did, which was essentially be the bag man for investors, a kind of local Small Business Loan Association, and proceeded to mention the people he worked for, or knew. Now Pendleton is a pretty small city, around 16,000 people, and apparently the people he named were pretty big wigs there, but to us, they were just names, and while we tried to seem impressed, it wasn't easy. Shockingly, he went on for another 10 minutes, name dropping in a vastly important manner. Finally, he got to the nitty gritty and explained to us that he'd looked into the Motel, and that it looked like a great property, and he was interesting in assisting with the financing. We would just need to gather up our credit report, business plan, $70,000.00, a couple of worksheets, pack some bags and we'd be on our way to owning a motel! We kindly asked him to back up a bit, just in case we misheard him, $70,000.00 you say? The Angel nodded solemnly. "You do have at least that much, don't you?" he asked. Across the table, Kris' eyes were huge, she had obviously not seen that number coming either, and she seemed like she was pretty pissed off. "No, not even close to that, sir" we said. He looked at us and said, serious as a heart attack, "Well, you probably know someone you can borrow it from. Borrow it from your parents." Clearly, he was under the mistaken impression that Lindsay's parents who own a little local record store, and my mother, a divorced kindergarten teacher, made ridiculous amounts of money and could easily peel a thousand C-notes off of their rolls to help out their kids. Maybe my mom should have taught school in Pendleton! We tactfully and somewhat incredulously informed him that we really didn't know anyone that could help us, that's why we were talking to him. Kris, seeing our obvious gobsmackery, quickly started closing things up, gathering the Angel of Death's paperwork and handing them to us, telling him that she wanted to talk with us about our options, and we would most certainly be getting ahold of him soon, as she could clearly find an extra 70k chilling in our offseas account, don't you worry none, you betcha!

After the Angel swept out of the room, the papers on the table rustling like leaves in his wake, Kris deflated. Clearly she had thought him to be our savior, a cowboy in a white hat, bursting in with guns blazing, spurs jingling, and moneybags overflowing and instead he came in, twirled his moustache diabolically and foreclosed on the family farm. She apologized profusely, and attempted to fill us with hope that she would find a way for us to get the property, promising to get in touch with us and explain our options. We were told to not give up hope!

We never heard from Kris again. Really, as we climbed back in to Strontium, to begin the long drive back to Pocatello, we felt sorry for Kris and the Cowboy Angel. Kris, because she had been SO CERTAIN of our success, to the extent that some of the papers I glimpsed in her hands looked pretty clearly to be preliminary purchasing worksheets, and instead the Angel had been exactly what we assumed he would be. A businessman, not an Angel. A Businessman is never going to go out on a limb and loan two "kids" thousands of dollars for a business, regardless of their vision and drive. We knew this and it's the main ROUS we've struggled with since day one. We don't have rich parents (Though Lindsay's dad is named Rich...) and we don't have some secret Ace up our sleeve. All we have is our vision, some management and hotel experience and whole hell of a lot of drive, motivation and energy. All we have to do is find someone that believes in us and those qualities to do them right, not in the almighty dollar.

As we drove home, we also started feeling really sorry for the Businessman. He was someone that was clearly successful, well off, but at the same time, he seemed kind of sad to us. He placed such a large amount of importance on dropping names of big people in the city, and then seemed kind of crushed when we weren't awed by them. We love little towns, absolutely LOVE them, but Pendleton had a strange feel to it, like instead of this crazy little western town in a valley like it was, it seemed like some odd subdivision full of gossipy housewives.
We tipped our hats to Pendleton, and The Rugged Country Lodge (or the Silver Rose, as we had considered changing its name to...) and headed towards the rising sun.

If you ever pass through Pendleton, Oregon you should stay at The Rugged Country. The staff is friendly, they have fresh cookies in the lobby, and as long as you don't read the mildly creepy "About Me" letters in the room book, it's utterly charming! You can visit them here.

If you're looking for a genuine bed and breakfast, you couldn't choose a better one than the Riverwalk B&B.

Other points of interest in Pendleton:

The Underground Tour - An absolute GEM. I'll have to do a post on this later, I love it SO much!

The Pendleton Woolen Mills - They have a great store and museum here. Eventually I'm buying a nice wool greatcoat from them. They'll last forever.

The Wildhorse Resort and Casino - I couldn't begin to tell you how to get there, but I've heard they have some good grub!

As we drove home, we stopped at the Hungry Redneck Cafe again, and ate our fill of some excellent diner food and a berry pie that was almost as good as their strawberry. We also formulated our plot for our next step, something that had slowly climbed its way into our consciousness over the last couple of days..... Something exciting, and a little closer to home.....

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