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August 28, 2010

More taxidermied meese than you could shake a dead marmot at

I've been a bit off the grid lately, as I prepared to leave Portland and go eastward, ho! to Minnesota. The past weeks have been a blur of saying tearful goodbyes, gorging myself on as much Lovely's Fifty Fifty ice cream as my gut could contain, and discovering long-lost gloves. My ma flew in last Saturday and got right to work stuffing our woefully underpacked apartment into cardboard boxes, despite my frequent attempts to distract her with a cone of Lovely's salted caramel, which was, after all, only a twirl, leap, and a sashay away....

We somehow got everything packed and cleaned by Monday morning. After giving Fatty Fat Cat a final hiss we hit the road.


We spent an uneventful night in Missoula, and had a lovely breakfast that morning at Food For Thought. That was followed by a truly terrible meal at a Cracker Barrel somewhere in eastern Montana, and by nightfall we had almost reached our destination of Belfield, ND. On Sunday I had researched hotels in Dickinson, ND, our traditional post-second-leg-of-the-journey resting place, but they were all full. I looked at our options for Belfield, the next town over, and was delighted to see a vacancy at the family-owned Cowboy Inn. I immediately called and an 11-year-old-sounding lass took my reservation for Tuesday night.

Bleary-eyed and stumbling, we made it to the inn's main office minutes before their 9:00 closing time. We produced our surname and confirmation number to the proprietress, who found no record of our reservation for that night in her computer. We had been booked for Thursday night instead. And now they had no vacancies. "Zounds!" we exclaimed at each other, along with a few other choice words. We dragged ourselves to the only other prospect within miles, the Trapper's Inn.


An entire menagerie of taxidermied animals was pinned upon the lobby's walls. A bobcat sneered at us from behind the front desk. Rows of buck busts stared down upon us in betwixt a trio of gigantic moose. The back section of the gift shop was cordoned off to make room for a lifelike scene of beaver, grouse, and yet another deer.


These creatures were not for sale, but there was some particularly beautiful antler art that was. The piece below was an especial favorite of mine:


Thankfully our room did not include a single critter-- not even bedbugs, which my dear m'ma was quite concerned about. We took our breakfast in the inn's restaurant, which was populated by stuffed pheasant, grouse, and even a swan. Old iron traps were artfully strung along the wall like a garland. I asked our waitress where all this poor fauna came from, and she told me the entire lot had been shot and killed by the inn's owners and their family members.

We certainly weren't in Portland anymore...

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