On our upcoming summer trip, we searched far and wide for the best lodging options in and around the national parks. At our first stop, North Cascades, we selected Totem Trail Motel for its proximity to the park, rustic feel and reasonable price. After making our reservation by phone (the only way) the friendly owners told us they would mail some area information. Just expecting our confirmation and maybe a brochure, I was surprised to find a giant yellow envelope stuffed in my mailbox one day. Inside was a current National Park newsletter, a scenic highway guidebook, a North Cascades park map (with added handwritten notes and directions), and a two page handwritten letter detailing our reservation and other attractions they think we would like in the area. Homemade ice cream and organic berries just down the road? I know where we’ll be after our hiking: Cascadian Farm. These personal touches are why we love staying at family-run places off the beaten path. You don’t get that at the side-of-the-interstate chain hotel. Makes we wish we were staying at Totem Trail more than one night! The next day however, we will be off to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to revel in the fantastically over-the-top “Flamingo Beach” themed room at the Flamingo Motel, another unique accommodation we found.