Sunday, April 29, 2007
The "A" Bar And Motel
Ever had the pleasure of spending the night in a bar's upstairs hotel room? I have.
In 1989 Lovely Wife and I, along with Numbers One and Two Daughters, flew to Utah to visit Big Brother and his family.
The big plan was to drive up to see Yellowstone National Park. We arrived at Salt Lake City in the afternoon, Big Brother came and got us from the airport and drove us to their home in Ogden, Utah.
We sat and rested a bit, caught up on each other's lives, loaded up their new Toyota 4-Runner, and headed up the highway, hoping to make it to West Yellowstone, Montana to spend the night.
We ran out of light, and Big Brother ran out of energy, so we stopped at a lodge along side the highway to try to get a room. He and I went in, and stood behind a man checking into the lodge. He was telling the checker-inners there that he had come from West Yellowstone, and had been stopping at hotels all the way, that this was the closest room he could get to the city. West Yellowstone was full. The people checking him in told him that the room he was getting was their last.
So we walked out, and started back down the highway on which we had come, stopping at any place with rooms. Finally, my sister in law started ragging on my brother to FIND someplace, as if it was personally his fault that all the hotels were full.
The next place we were approaching was obviously a bar. Big Brother pulled in anyway and the place had a small vacancy sign up, and he and I went inside to check things out. The name of the place was the "A" Bar and Motel.
Northwestern Idaho looked to be cowboy country. The predominant mode of dress was western, much like in Texas.
Big Brother and I go into the bar, and all these rough looking, cowboy dressed folks stop what they're doing and watch us. In our shorts, and loud colored shirts, obviously vacationers, we asked if they had any rooms open. The bartender doubled as the hotel checker-inner, and miraculously had two rooms available. So we asked for them and paid up and got out of there.
Good thing that between us, Big Brother and I would have tipped the scales at about 500lbs back then. Back then the people seemed a bit hostile, but over time, I just figured that we looked like a couple of crazy tourists, and none of them would try anything.
We went out and informed the women folk that we had two rooms. They were underwhelmed, because how good could a room above a remote bar in Idaho be?
We all climbed out of the 4-Runner, grabbed all our stuff, and headed up the stairs on one end of the building. The door into the motel part opened onto a long hall with doors to the rooms on either side of the centered hallway. We each went to check out the rooms, and to every one's surprise, they were absolutely spotlessly clean. Bathrooms and everything.
We did all of the things you do to finally get the kids down to sleep and finally all us adults fell into exhausted sleep ourselves.
The next morning, Number One Daughter, then about three and a half years old, woke up, and then Lovely Wife and Number Two Daughter followed suit. They tried to wake me up, but I resisted valiantly.
Lovely Wife and Number One Daughter left to find a coke machine, and a short time later, they both come into the room, wake me and Number Two Daughter up and tell us to come, and for me to bring my camera.
I roll out of bed, get ready quickly, grab my trusty Canon AE-1 and follow.
I'm led down the stairs that we had climbed to our rooms the night before, but instead of heading out front, they lead me behind the bar/motel.
What we had no way of knowing beforehand, and couldn't see in the dark, was that the "A" Bar and Motel sat on one bank of the Snake River in Idaho.
I walked around the corner, and the views that you see in the photos I've placed in this post were what we saw when out back behind the bar.
Number One Daughter had run ahead of Lovely Wife after the big Coke hunt, and ran around the building. Lovely Wife followed her to drag her back and was stunned at the fields of pastel colored wild flowers from around her feet, and extending all the way to the mountains in the distance.
We spent a little time stomping around out there, me taking photos, and Lovely Wife just soaking up the scenery, and Number One Daughter throwing rocks in the river. Number Two Daughter was only 10 months old and was busy just being held.
Anyway, we dragged Big Brother and family around there to show them the view before we headed on up the road to Yellowstone, but eventually got going.
But I will always remember the inauspicious beginning of our stay at the "A" Bar and Motel, and will remember the magic of the beautiful next morning, standing on the banks of the Snake River, and looking at more wild flowers than I had ever seen, and still have not seen it's match until this day.
Sometimes what starts out with a dubious vibe, can end up being a huge blessing and cause for joy. I'll carry the feeling I had standing there looking at miles of wild flowers and that gorgeous river forever.
That first photo is of the sunset that evening as we headed north to Yellowstone. I asked Big Brother to pull over, and am still glad I did. He seemed a bit put out to have to stop and start again just for taking photos, but he eventually got used to it on this trip. The colors are real. That is a straight 35mm slide scan with no manipulations in Photoshop Elements. God's better at colors than I am anyway.
The other photos are of the flowers and the snake river that I took that magical morning.