Roadside Attraction

Today’s post comes from Wally, of Wally’s Intimida, home of the Sherpa Sport Utility Vehicle.

I give up!

As a salesman, I’ve tried to stay neutral about government so as not to drive away potential customers, but with this latest gas mileage move from the anti-SUV Obama administration, I’m declaring my political allegiance to anybody who is not a socialist dictator bent on destroying everything that is truly American about the American Car Industry.

And by “truly American”, I mean cars that are huge, stylish, luxurious, indulgent and wasteful. In other words, the Sherpa from Intimida. A landscape-altering vehicle designed to be the ultimate in extravagant travel, the Sherpa’s only understatement is its catch phrase – “It’s a mighty big car!”

That doesn’t even begin to describe it.

But the new decree that auto fleets will get 54.5 mpg by 2025 is out of reach for the Sherpa, which gets 5.45 mpg right now. Maybe we could get a decimal point variance? I don’t think so! Big Government is on a mission to ruin Big Vehicle by forcing everyone to drive a Chevy Volt.

So be it. But I don’t believe Americans will ever want to give up the thrill of sitting high in the driver’s seat of a car so massive, it towers over the very road it drives on. That’s why I’m now taking ground-floor partners in an ambitious new investment scheme to retrofit and re-purpose my incredibly backed-up inventory of Sherpas as mobile hotels.

I’m calling them SherpINNS.

Imagine it – SherpINNs lining the highway in every town along the interstate. For a modest fee you’ll be able to spend a night in the outrageous car you once might have driven from here to Poughkeepsie. We’ll put the king size bed where the driver’s position was and install a hot tub in the back seat. And all the usual Sherpa amenities will stay in place – the exercise room, observatory, the bowling alley, etc.

An America ruled by those who want its people to travel like the French will need lots of luxurious waysides to help it remember its greatness. Join me, won’t you? The initials S.U.V. will soon stand for Sorta Upscale Vacation. Coming to an access road near you!

Still Devoted to the Sherpa,
Your friend,
Wally.

Actually, Wally might have a good idea here. Spending the night in a quirky motel sounds like the sort of thing we Americans would enjoy – especially if there’s as much MO in the motel as you’ll get when the building itself is on four wheels. By re-classifying them from “vehicles” to “lodgings”, Wally might stand a chance of dodging the 2025 mileage requirements. But is he ready to install egress windows and smoke detectors?

Describe your stay in a memorable roadside inn.

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81 thoughts on “Roadside Attraction”

  1. Morning all! What a wonderful way to start the day, hearing Dale’s voice on KFAI!

    My favorite “quirky” inn was a bed & breakfast in a small town in Maine. We stayed 3 nights when we traveled to the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival a few years back. The room was clean but as the child said “very frilly” with plates all over the walls with pictures of kittens. There was a beagle on the premises, but we only heard it baying occasionally because it was against some state motel rules to let the dog and the visitors to fraternize. The owner of the b&b was a great cook and it was her mission to see that we got our fill of blueberries every morning. Blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry French Toast. Yum-o!

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  2. i believe i have written before about the bad doug. we were in yellowstone on a family getaway and decided to get outside the park and check the tetons etc. we found this spot on the internet where the owner was a noted nature and wildlife photographer who had recently added b&b to his propert with the addition of 3 or 4 quansit huts that were nice12x35 rooms with beds and dressers and all the stuff you need in one of those curious round ceiling configurations. we put the suitcases in the room and went to dig out the food to have our afternoon/early evening snarf. well doug… the propriater of the establishement had a throw the scarf over the shoulder kind of way about him and he proclaimed that he really ought to have rethought this whole b&b thing because there was no reason for him to be there except the fact that we had booked a room and disrupted his time in the mountains being a photographer. he had miscelaneous minibike and boy toys all over the property, jeeps with the hoods open, dirt bikes and mini bikes with parts hanging off of them and a son who was a snot nosed little twit who red around and around and around the worn dirt track in the yard of the property, the eating area was a screened porch in the middle of the property and as we took up residence doug joined us with a bottle of southern comfort in his mitts and a slur on his lips. he said he hoped we didnt mind that he had decided to have a drink with his buddy the neighbor who had come over to welcome him back and as the two of them sat and pulled swigs off the bottle, dougs wife came in with a mousy apology and hoped we would forgive her husband. we were eating a sandwich chips and some fruit and nuts and doug was evidently feeling the munchies come on with his buzz and he began eating the food off from my kids plates saying things like i hope this doesnt bother you, we always share our food around here as he stumbled and elbowed the picnic table in the enclosed foodery he had sucked us into. we finished and went back to our room and quietly reloaded the suitcases into the car and got the heck out of dodge. he came over and said he sure hoped we would enjoy ourselves at his great spot here and fell into the bushes. we turned and shook our heads at the bad dougs quansit village and dirt bike track as we wound our way back to the tetons beauty and calling and away from the 2 hour predetermined mistke that taught me a bit about booking lodging online. a sherpa would have been fine. the hot tub would have hit the spot and the bowling alley would have been the perfect diversion.
    dale on the radio is a nice way to begin the day.

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    1. How do you get it out here in wilds of EP? All I received (with antenna) is static with Dale’s voice interspersed. It was nice to hear his staticky voice, though.

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  3. Good morning. I have been able to briefly hear Dale this morning, but the internet connection here is not good so I’m not hearing him now. I am at a resort on Lake Kabetogama which is a very nice place to stay. The resort is right on the edge of Voyageurs National Park. When you go down to the dock and put your foot in the water you are in the park.

    I will tell you about this place even thought it a resort, not a roadside stop. The name of the place is Grandview Resort and it is owned and operated by some people we know. It’s a great place to stay and we are having a wonderful time exploring the park.

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    1. i had a weekend for an opening fishing at age 18 on a giant house boat on kebetogame with the boys all those years ago. i dont think we ever got off. got on at midnight friday night and navigated our way out into the lake from the dock in the midst of a pitch black evening with more than a little slurring involved and had a fun weekend of fishing cards laughing and lore before our return to civilization on monday morning.what a nice place.

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      1. We heard about some young guys who got arrested for getting too wild in one of those house boats. They were using a chain saw which is not allowed. I’m sure your party didn’t do that, tim. We had a great time doing some canoeing and taking a boat tour. I
        have to get packed up so I will not give any details and will be on the road soon.

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  4. remember back in 1974 when the gas crunch hit and someone proclaimed that the average mile per gallon should be 25 and the auto inductry told us it was impossile to achieve numbers ike that, i look forward to 54 mpg. wouldnt it be nice. i used to drive the old vw bus and it was my mini sherpa. i did have the egress window and the couch bed fridge dining room table food shelf closet with hanging space and drawers for clothes. toilet and stove and music music muisc. it got whatever it got for milage and i would stop for gas if it was over 29.9 per gallon. a taks was about 4 dollars. i had 600 dollars to get all the way out to california via canada and back and would have made it if it hadnt blown up in the dang middel of the trip up in vancouver. today at 54 mpg the 5000 mile trip would be 400 dollars in gas again vs 200 gallons (25 mpg) at 60 dollars total. what a world.

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    1. Going to the Fair w/ the Teenager these days means spending some time watching her climb in and out of all the various cars up on the hill. It was interesting to see the “energy saving” mileage that some of these boats are touting – my little Saturn gets the same mileage now w/o any batteries or solar panels!

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    2. On of the things that is now required when going to the Fair w/ the Teenager is watching her climb in and out of all the various cars up on Machinery Hill. It was interesting to me that several companies are touting the great mileage their new energy-efficient cars can get. Interesting because it’s the same mileage we’re currently getting in our little Saturn. And we don’t have any batteries or solar panels or anything!

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    3. I went to a bass fishing school once. My partner was an odd kid who recorded every little thing that happened to him on a mini-cassette recorder, keeping a sort of diary. When I asked where he lived, he said, “Wherever my van is parked.” One day he complained about the van’s gas mileage. Without his bass boat his van got 13 mpg, but when he towed the boat it went down to 7 mpg.

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  5. We once stayed in one of the cabins at Custer State Park in SD, and ate supper at the main lodge. After supper, we had to walk back to our cabin in the dark, right through a herd of buffalo. They just ignored us, but it was somewhat disconcerting to almost walk right into one in the dark, moonless night. They were so quiet you didn’t notice them until you were almost right up to them.

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    1. Those buffalo are so used to people. We had one walk rit up to the car many years ago. It had a pine twig hooked behind its ear — like a Hawaiin flower.

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    2. I wonder how “used to people” bison get. They are a pretty cranky critter. I knew a guy who was killed by one of his bison. Another guy I met kept a bison herd. He had several friends in the herd, bison he would embrace and kiss. One of them put a horn through his abdomen and threw him several feet in the air. He later insisted she hadn’t meant to hurt him, but I decided that my future would not include kissing bison.

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      1. i saw bison horror stories every year in yellowstone who thought they were so cute they would pose together and …. dont mess with the buffalo

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        1. Sometime in the early 60s, the Danish government tried to reintroduce the muskox to west coast of Greenland where it had been hunted to extinction. Several muskoxen that had been raised in the zoo in Copenhagen were flown to Søndrestrømfjord, and from there they were transported about 200 miles north into the low mountains along the coast. In a matter of a few months, two of the muskoxen had worked their way back to the air base; they liked to hang out on the runway of the airport, and generally made themselves at home in relative close proximity to the 1200 people who lived there. One evening an airman, who had had a few too many drinks at the NCO club, came staggering outside with a glass of beer in his hand. Much to his surprise, one of the muskoxen was loitering near the club. In his inebriated state, the airman offered the muskoxen a sip of his beer, which the beast ignored. Not deterred by this, he poured the beer over it’s nose. Big mistake. He did live to tell about it, but with just one swift move of its head, it’s sharp horns had rendered him incapacitated for quite some time. Muskoxen look like a huge, docile and slow beast, but as most of us came to realize, they are definitely not slow. Most of us knew to keep a respectful distance. I suspect bison are pretty similar.

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        2. No, tim, that’s up to the humans to figure out. Personally, I would not come within 1/4 of a mile from them, and then only if there was somewhere I could escape to safety.

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  6. The Sherpinns remind me of the Train Motel in Sioux Falls. I never stayed there, but those railroad cars seemed so fascinating.

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  7. The most memorable place I’ve stayed in was the Everest Motel in Marathon, Ontario. We stayed in a hotel that wasn’t really intended for the traveling public. It was a kind of residential hotel for 200 drunk Canadian young men who worked in the local pulp mill. And when I say “drunk,” I mean that in the two days we spent there every resident we saw was totally wrecked or comatose, sitting at tables in the dining hall, face-down in spilled beer. I wondered if it was possible some of them were at risk of drowning in the spilled beer, for they were “lights-out” and unaware of anything.

    They weren’t even aware of the curvaceous little woman who was entertaining that night. She was what Canadians call a “shaker” and what we know as a stripper, although she had another line of business. She would dance a set, throwing off the little clothing she wore, then she’d sit at one of the table nude except for a lumberjack shirt, her legs demurely crossed, while she negotiated dates with any of the customers who could stand well enough to walk upstairs with her. After her upstairs trysts, she would come back down to dance.

    On the first night we were there, a Canadian kid was heckling her, lobbing coins while she danced. She obviously had previous experience with hecklers. The first item of clothing to come off was a thick belt with a massive metal fastener on the end. She was twirling that round her head when she dove off the stage and began whaling away on the kid, carving up his face with that belt buckle. The crowd howled and dove on the two of them. Waitresses were leading her back to the dancing stage when they forget to hold tight, and she launched her second attack on the kid. I never saw a more one-sided fight. The kid would have been seriously damaged–perhaps permanently disabled–if the crowd hadn’t surged forward to separate them again.

    I won’t describe the beds, the bed clothing, the showers, the rooms, the hotel supervisor, the pulp mill air or any of the other delights of the place. From what I’ve said, you can guess pretty well what they were like. :)

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  8. I would happily stay in any inn that offered Mini-sota Donut Ice Cream to weary travelers and to baboons who are weary of ice cream commercials. Today is the last day! Celebrity judging and announcement of final results at the Kemps booth at the Fair at 1. Voting at http://www.kempsnextflavor.com/ and https://apps.facebook.com/kempsfavs/contests/ ends at noon. Samples continue thru the Fair. I had another scoop of MsD yesterday and it was indeed yummy. Thanks for all your support and votes!!!!!

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    1. If memory serves, Beth-Ann was also a winner of a rhyming dictionary in a poetry contest earlier this year. Now this. I think you’re on a roll, Beth-Ann. Go buy yourself a lottery ticket.

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    2. A nice story about MsD on WCCO 6 o’clock. Beth-Ann looking cool and collected during the award. Nice prizes too!!! Congratulations!!

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  9. Spent a night in Atlanta once in a Knight’s Inn with my brother and his wife. I opened the door to our room, flipped on the lights, and was greeted by crimson (and I mean -blood- red) carpeting and drapes with royal purple velour bedcoverings. It was stunning in its gaudiness.

    A more pleasant experience happened in Winona. I was a ‘road dog’ for an insurance company and my territory was St. Cloud and south for the state. I used to frequent AmericInn’s and Comfort Inn’s, since they were generally the cheapest without being skanky. They’d just opened a new AmericInn in Winona along the river, so I requested my usual (top floor/away from ice machine/busness rate). When I walked into my room, I was very surprised to see that it included a small deck off the back, which overlooked the river. I spent the evening sitting outside, watching the barges go past. Very nice.

    We used to have our comic conventions in the old Thunderbird Hotel in Bloomington. We loved to bring in artists from all over the country and see the look on their faces when they saw the decor. One artist, who is now one of our regular guests, the first time he walked into the T-Bird, his eyes got big, his jaw dropped, and, without saying a word, he reached into his bag, took out his sketchbook and started drawing. After a while, he said, “Man, people won’t ~believe~ this place actually exists…”

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  10. Morning–
    When my kids were younger their idea of the perfect hotel was ‘Embassy Suites’ because of the buffet breakfast and glass elevators overlooking the open lobby. They set a high standard.

    Just last month out in York PA my sister reserved hotel rooms for the family. It. was. a. pit. “But it looked OK on the internet” she kept saying.
    The shower was about the most disgusting thing I’d seen in a while. I’m average height, but the peephole in the door was just out of sight; on tiptoes I could barely get my eye to it. The room across the hall seemed to be rented in 2 hour increments. I didn’t hear any sounds coming from the room but that door opened and closed all night long. Hmmmm…..
    Ah, but at the end of the road was a 24 hour diner that was wonderful! Good, quick, cheap.

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      1. I always wonder how many other people get their faces right up there close and their eyeball right up there close to the peephole, and how many times the maids actually wash the surface of the door….

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  11. I spent three nights in the camps outside Krueger National Park in South Africa several years ago with a client. At the first camp they told me that you were not allowed to leave your bungalow alone after dusk; in order to get to the boma for dinner that first night, I had to call the main office so they would send someone down to escort me. When I opened the door, there was the guide from the afternoon standing there with his rifle on his shoulder. This turned out to be how it worked at all the camps – gun-totting escorts after dark!

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      1. The casualness of all the precautions that you need to take to protect yourself from nature in that kind of wilderness was what was amazing to me.

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  12. To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, husband and I decided to have a nice dinner and an overnight stay in a B&B in Stillwater. The B&B was a lovely old home, built in the late 1800s by a local lumber baron for his daughter. The owners had done a very nice job of restoring and decorating it and had added some modern upgrades as well. The bed/sitting room was large and had a see-through fireplace that could also be enjoyed from the vantage point of the hot-tub in the bathroom. We checked in late in the afternoon to meet our hosts and pick up our keys and then headed out for a very nice dinner at La Belle Vie.

    When we returned to our room later that evening, we decided to light the gas fireplace and enjoy a glass of champagne in the hot-tub. There were a couple of small signs in the bathroom; one said that you weren’t allowed to use the hot-tub after 11 P.M., and the other informed us that the jets in the tub were on a timer that would automatically shut off after 30 minutes. We pressed the button to start the jets in the tub, grabbed our plastic champagne glasses and climbed in. We sat there sipping champagne and chatting, reminiscing about our wedding and whatnot for quite a while. At some point husband decided that we must surely have been in the tub longer than 30 minutes, and he climbed out. I stayed put, although I agreed that it seemed like a very long 30 minutes. As it neared 11 P.M. I got nervous that we’d be violating the deadline for using the tub, and I was certain that the steady hum from the tub could be heard in adjoining rooms, but we could not figure out how to turn the thing off. Husband got dressed and roamed the house looking for the hosts to ask for help, but couldn’t find them. Exasperated he returned to the room, at this point past midnight, and announced “Let’s go.” I asked “Where are we going.” “Home,” he replied. “Are you kidding me? We’ve paid $125.00 for the room, and you want to go home? You can’t be serious.” He was, but agreed that if I could figure out how to shut the tub off, we’d stay. I had been reluctant to press the button that had started the jets for fear that it might add more time to the automatic timer which obviously wasn’t working, but at this point I had nothing to lose. I was much relieved that pressing the button did the trick.

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    1. Great story! It reminds me of the “magic fingers” vibrating bed that my sibs and I enjoyed for at least 8 hours past the 15 minutes it was supposed to last. We have often wondered if it is still going 46 years later.

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      1. Wasband and I had a similar experience with a “magic fingers” bed in a motel. For 25 cents you were supposed to get a few minutes of “massage.” The bed was shaking with such vigor that it was impossible to relax, and as with your experience, Lisa, the damn thing didn’t shut off when our time was up. Had to unplug the bed to make it stop.

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  13. I haven’t stayed in a roadside inn since I was a little kid, but I’ve had some memorable times at the con hotel in Madison. The ultimate was the year the convention shared the hotel with a Scottish wedding. Over the weekend, members of the wedding party: got thrown out of a local restaurant for being drunk and rowdy, stepped into traffic and got injured by a car, stole an antique British flag that was on display at the hotel (part of someone’s collection), piped the bride and groom to bed with a full-bore Highland bagpipe at 3 AM, and somehow got onto the (flat, guard-rail-less) roof, which led to my roommate calling Security and the Security guy crawling through our window to access said roof. I’m kind of surprised I ever went back to that hotel or that convention, but it was gratifying to know we were so much less trouble to the staff than the mundanes were!

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    1. That must have been quite a wedding. I went to Madison once to represent my magazine at some kind of outdoor show. If my memory is right, I stayed in room 114 of some cheap downtown motel (possibly the one you used). All night long, at about one-hour intervals, my phone rang that night because drunks were trying to call girlfriends to talk them into joining parties at the motel. They kept calling my room because 114 was the information number IF you first got an outside line; otherwise 114 rang the phone next to my bed. The motel staff was well aware of this. When, hollow-eyed and cranky, I complained about my evening, the receptionist said, “Well, someone’s got to get room 114!”

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  14. I’m remembering a dive I named “Dogpatch” just off old Highway 12. The place itself wasn’t memorable, but the occasion certainly was – it was my one-night honeymoon following my first marriage. I was 19, pregnant, and had just endured a 9-person marriage “ceremony” in a Catholic church. Make that my parents, his parents, my brother, and his sister. We all went out to eat right afterwards and the unborn baby was kicking up a storm the whole time. I think Dogpatch cost us $25 for the night. Between the kicking unborn, the shady surroundings, and the shotgun wedding, this “honeymoon” night ranked about 2 on a 10-point scale.

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  15. I have fond memories of Cabin #8 between the Talmadge River and Lake Superior at the former Wonderland Resort on North Shore Scenic Drive, just a little bit north of French River State Fish Hatchery. I used to stay there on my early trips up the north shore. The first time I stayed there it cost $8/night. The most I ever paid to stay in Cabin #8 was $16/night. The cabin was the last one in a row of tiny, crooked cabins with their backs to the Talmadge River and facing Lake Superior. The floor was tilted; the windows were painted shut; there were black velvet paintings and calendar photos and a container of mismatched silverware. There was a tiny gas burner to heat one pan of water or soup and a gas heater that I was afraid to light. The cabin was very clean but nothing matched. The bed was lumpy and tilted. There was very little space in the cabin to move around in, so you had to sit outside on the wooden step or go down to the lake and climb on the rocks. I loved it. If I recall correctly, the owner’s last name was Bates, which led to many jokes. My old friend Laura and I stayed there together once or twice but I stayed many times alone. Wonderland Resort was sold and a Sherpa of a house now occupies the site. Cabin #8 either fell down or was torn down. It’s one place on earth I’ll always miss.

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  16. One motel that my daughters and I will always remember was or is in Wolf Point, Montana. It has twice been the subject of essays (by them) in high school senior English classes. This may have been twenty years ago. We were on a vacation with extended family – full car, not all getting along and so on. Too many six year olds, I think. We had been driving east across Montana (coming home), and it was getting to the time of day where we absolutely needed to stop driving and this was the only possible town for a long distance. The temperature during the day had been over 100 and early in the evening was still extremely warm.
    A motel that looked OK was already full, then we came to one on the edge of town that was not full. They told us they were remodeling. My dad, sister, and nephew got a room that was fine – well, fine with alkali water (eastern Montana). Our room, on the other hand, had a warped door. You could only open it if you also pushed it against the frame up high. (My younger daughter was not tall enough to open it.) The shower had been patched with duct tape. (Ewww, gross, said the older daughter.) The air conditioner stopped working about 9 pm, just in time for us to not be able to go to sleep. On the other hand, there was no other room (and no, sharing rooms with the other family members would not have been good for our health.)
    This was shortly after a night, I think, where a tent blew down on us. There may have been enough togetherness to last many of us quite awhile. On the other hand, we will probably NEVER forget this vacation!

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      1. Yes, in fact there are several others described by other people here. The sort of neat thing is that whenever we talk about this vacation (and it still comes up once in a while, especially if someone is traveling to Montana) we usually end up laughing, sometimes hard enough to cry or snort.
        A few years ago, my older daughter and I stopped in Wolf Point to see what it looked like in June in the daylight. It’s a pretty town if it’s not hot and dark and you have been driving too long. That is not what we remembered at all.

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  17. Evening gang.
    Well, we lost our old dog Maggie tonight. She was 13 years and 7 months.
    We knew she was sick and getting skinnier all the time, but even two days ago she was still walking all around and wagging her tail at me– even managed to catch a baby guinea for a snack on Sunday. But this morning she went out to the front lawn and laid down in the sun and gently passed over this evening.
    She was our bilingual dog. She was on her way to Mexico and only got 20 miles East of Rochester before someone said ‘No, that dog isn’t coming here’ and that’s how we got her. A friend taught us how to say ‘Sit, Lay down, and Good Dog’ in Spanish.

    That’ll do Maggie. That’ll do. buen perro

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    1. Ben, I’m so sorry to hear about Maggie (I didn’t know when I replied to your FB picture change). It’s so hard to lose a dear family member like her. It’s good to know that she had some good times in her final days. I’m sure that you and your family gave her a full, happy life.

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  18. thats the hard part of the circle of life isnt it? we love the getting born part and the living the life part but the being time to realize its over is always so hard. i’m sorry you and your family have to feel the pain of losing one of those special parts of life. peace

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