Reedpoint, MT
Anyhow, it was like, the third or fourth day into the trip -- after sitting 12 hours a day in the car, driving across boring Indiana, and boring Illinois, and boring Wisconsin, and boring South Dakota (the Badlands and Mount Rushmore were kinda cool, though) and endless expanses of range land in Wyoming, the sun so bright it was merciless... and coming into Montana, with miles of surreal, barren, uninhabited hill country, and then the scenery changing into something much more spectacular -- majestic mountains turning purple from the sunset, the first time this city gal had seen the Rocky Mountains up-close and in person. This was what I'd come all that way to see.

It was near dusk and I decided I'd better turn in for the night so I pulled off at the nearest exit with a LODGING sign. ...Reedpoint. It was this quaint little old Western town -- a collection of wood frame houses, some cool-looking grain silos with peeling paint and a saloon with a noisy party going on inside and a sign saying "Hotel Montana".

I drove around the little town and couldn't find any other "lodging" so I parked in front of the noisy saloon, weary and hungry and ready to call it a night.

As I staggered out of my car, , a well-dressed older gentleman decked out in 19th-century costume sauntered out from the swing-door entrance and approached me in greeting.

"You're on your way to Seattle, " he declared.

"How did you know?" said I.

"Oh, I know these things," said the man. "Would you like to see our bed and breakfast?"

It had been charmingly renovated with period furniture to resemble a turn-of-the-century Western hotel. Did those big fancy beds ever look inviting. I was sold. $60 for the night but I felt like indulging myself.

Downstairs, in the saloon, a birthday party was in full swing with a rockabilly band playing. I was famished and all I could think of was dinner. As I strode through the swing doors, still dressed in black like a city chick, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a cowboy dude fixing eyes on me. Well, he wasn't really a cowboy (he was wearing a ball cap), but hey, he looked the part. I sat at an empty table and ordered some dinner and a glass of beer.

The interior of the saloon was preserved in all its vintage glory -- with high ceilings, huge columns and carved wood decor around the mirror behind the bar. The waiter and proprieters were quite hospitable, introducing themselves and the locals attending, and explaining that the party was for a man from Chicago whose family came out there every year, they liked the place so much. Eventually the cowboy dude walks up and invites me to dance.

...Hey, sure, why not. I was tired, but not too tired to learn a few country dance steps.

We get back to the table and had another beer. Eventually we're sitting out on the porch of the saloon trading life philosophies...