May 7: La Grande Drive In, La Grande OR

La Grande drive-in marquee

photo from the La Grande Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 127 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took only two hours of I-84 driving to go from Parma ID across the border to the La Grande Drive In in La Grande OR.

The La Grange Drive-In was built in the early 1950s. According to their history page, the current owners bought the La Grande in 1953.

A 2008 article in the Baker City Herald talked with La Grande manager Edna Henderson about the damage it took from a windstorm during the previous off-season. “We rebuilt three-fourths of it,” she said, adding that it took about four weeks to rebuild because workers had to work around the weather. Back then, the La Grange hosted an average of 225 cars per weekend.

The Observer of La Grande wrote about the drive-in at the opening of the 2013 season with its new digital projector. “For some moviegoers like Theresa Curtiss, the drive-in is one of the only ways to pass the time in La Grande, but is a good way to have a relaxing night. ‘There’s just nothing else to do except the drive-in now,’ she said.”

It was great to chalk up another movie experience on a Sunday night, and I also got a break after three straight viewings of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. On the other hand, the movie was one I’d already seen, the latest Smurfs installment. Oh well!

Miles Today / Total:  131 / 13974 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Smurfs: The Lost Village / 59

Nearby Restaurant: After checking out several interesting restaurants in La Grande, only to find them closed on Sundays, I settled for Denny’s. This one had a bar attached, which is pretty unusual, and pushed a variety of hamburgers for lunch, which is pretty standard. I like being able to get a full breakfast in the middle of the day, especially when my previous hotel’s continental version was a bit light. What can I say? Denny’s worked.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I didn’t have breakfast problems at Sunday night’s hotel, the Best Western Plus Rama Inn. First came soup and cookies in the evening, followed by sausage, bacon, and scrambled eggs with breakfast the next morning. In between, I had a comfy room with good wifi and a fridge. I was happy with my choice for the night.

Only in La Grande: According to Wikipedia, La Grande was home to a huge sugar beet refinery built by Oregon Sugar Company in 1898. The region was never very productive for sugar beets; in 1908, the factory only operated on 28 days due to low yields. The factory, “a mistake from the beginning and soon recognized as such”, was shuttered in 1912.

Next stop: Milton-Freewater Drive-In Theater, Milton-Freewater OR.

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