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Gerry Frank knows Oregon - and wants to share with others


COURTESY: GERRY FRANK - GERRY FRANKHere’s one for the car glove-box. Oregon travel guru, Gerry Frank, recently published the third edition of “Gerry Frank’s Oregon” ($19.95, oregonguidebooks.com), his bestselling travel book with Cannon Beach’s iconic Haystack Rock on the cover.

If you need to know where to watch whales, go tubing, or find authentic pit barbecue in Bend, it’s here.

Field trips close and far include insider details and reliable pointers about where to stay and where to eat along the way.

Native Oregonians rely on Frank’s trusty guide to reacquaint themselves with their favorites towns and scenic attractions, and new residents trust it to just get acquainted. It’s all here, from folksy attractions like Bruce’s Candy Kitchen and the Pendleton Roundup to Pronghorn, an upscale resort in Bend.

The book’s 700 entries have been updated and include many new discoveries. There’s “Gerry’s Exclusive List,” of course, which names the best places to eat and stay in Oregon, and sections organized by geographic region: Greater Portland, Willamette Valley, Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, Central Oregon, and eastern and southern Oregon.

A fourth-generation Oregonian, Frank leaves no stone unturned. “My family settled on the riverbank in 1857 before Portland was called Portland,” he’s fond of saying. A newspaper columnist for The Oregonian for the Sunday travel section for the past 29 years, this man-about-Oregon says the most important thing in the journalism profession (and travel guides, too) is still accuracy.

Turn Siri off and trust the book to get you where you want to go. When he’s not on the road, Frank extends old-fashioned hospitality to customers at his Salem restaurant, Gerry Frank’s Konditorei.

“I greet everyone personally, when possible. Cakes are our specialty, of course, but we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices, too,” he says by phone from his Salem home, the town he’s lived in since 1954.

The heir to the Meier & Frank department stores, Frank built and ran the Salem Meier & Frank Department store for many years.

This new edition includes a few personal photos, including one of Miss America 1954, Evelyn Ay, who, along with many Miss America winners through the years, attended a fashion show at Meier & Frank. His favorite places to stay when in Portland?

“The Hilton, you know my father raised the money to build it!” he says. “Well, I like The Nines, too, which was, of course, once Meier & Frank.”

When I mentioned that I missed Meier & Frank, he said he gets that comment a lot from people. Founded in 1857, Meier & Frank was sold to the May Company in 1966 and became, many years later, Macy’s.

Frank spent a quarter of a century as chief of staff to the late Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, and the book includes a photo of Frank awaiting the arrival of the Hatfield’s first child along with two sets of expectant grandparents.

The vintage business Frank misses most in Portland? Yaw’s Top-Notch, a popular restaurant founded in 1926 in Northeast Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood once known as “the house that hamburger built.”

As well as being an expert on Oregon, “Gerry Frank’s New York: Where to Find It, Buy It, Eat It” has sold more than 1,200,000 copies in 19 editions, and is popular among native New Yorkers. Manhattan still beckons, he says. Over 90, Frank has no plans to slow down.

“I was in New York six weeks ago, and I’m going back in a couple of weeks,” he says.

Where to stay in New York? Frank most often stays at the iconic Essex House on Central Park, the one with the original red neon sign.

“I walk around the city when I’m there,” he says, “to keep the book going.”