Baker City motel operators and RV park owners were busy Thursday welcoming guests to their full houses.
All rooms are booked at the Sunridge Inn, Baker City’s largest motel, in expectation of Monday’s solar eclipse.
Wyatt Pifher, front desk manager at the 156-room Sunridge, which is part of the Best Western chain of motels, said most rooms throughout the community are sold out for Aug. 19, 20 and 21.
“We’ve got some porta potties and are talking about setting up for RVs and tents,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be crazy.”
The 156-room total includes bringing three rooms that had been used for storage back into service as soon as possible, said Suraj Prashar, Sunridge manager.
The Prashar family purchased the Sunridge Inn last year. The family also owns the Super 8 Motel and Motel 6 (the former Always Welcome Inn).
The Sunridge is expecting several large groups of visitors, said Ashley McConniel, assistant general manager. Fifty-four people touring from Germany will be staying at the Sunridge along with another European group of 24. Four from China also have reserved rooms at the Sunridge, she said.
The motel, restaurant and bar will be fully staffed and are well-prepared for the influx of people who have reserved rooms for the eclipse.
Two guests who booked their rooms in advance and spent Thursday night at the Sunridge weren’t at all interested in the eclipse and instead were being greatly inconvenienced by all the hullabaloo.
Ben Prins, 77, and his wife, Sharon Prins, who celebrated her 76th birthday on Monday while visiting Frenchglen in southeastern Oregon, traveled from their home at Grants Pass to Lakeview and then to Frenchglen and the Steens Mountains and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge before heading for Baker City.
They planned to spend Friday and Saturday at Joseph and then go on to Hermiston on Sunday and then to Redmond. But they changed their minds about traveling through Central Oregon because of the eclipse traffic.
They may end up at Fields on their return trip through southern Oregon because there was no room available at Lakeview on Monday, the day of the eclipse.
Regardless of the inconvenience, the couple said they are enjoying the trip.
“It’s an adventure and the weather has been perfect,” Ben said.
The couple celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Aug. 11 before heading out on their tour of Oregon.
“We’re on the other end of the spectrum,” Ben said of the couple’s attempts to avoid being part of the eclipse craze.
The A-Frame RV park on North Cedar Street, which has about 80 spaces available, was doing its best to accommodate visitors Thursday afternoon.
“Were expecting to go completely crazy and we’re already halfway there,”John Dollar, who owns the business with his wife, Michelle, said Thursday afternoon.
See more in the Friday Aug. 18, 2017 issue of the Baker City Herald.