The weather only got worse as we headed west from Missoula to Salt lake, yet it held off snowing, remaining chilly, wet and grey.
This guy didn't mind, perpetually stuffed and dry in his glass case. It is such a western practice, not only to practice taxidermy, but to encase it and place it in a public place. We visit an emperor penguin every year at Little America, just before exiting (or just after entering) Wyoming.
Large decorated animals are now ubiquitous in every city from coast to coast. This one is in the Billings airport. There are also herds of painted bighorn rams scattered throughout Billings proper. I believe you can make one out, just beyond the mosaic horse.
My new lodgings. Well, perhaps not new, exactly.
An interesting rope ballustrade along the stairs leading to...
My room. I'm not sure what the condition of the hotel says about my standing among the Great Plains Writers. I imagined the greats staying in places with clean carpets while I thought it wise to keep my shoes on. When I went to the dinner on Friday night, however, everyone I met was incredibly nice. I had excellent conversations with Cherie Newman (from Missoula public radio) Tom and Jennifer, Corby Skinner, Russell Rowland and Swain Wolfe. Craig Johnson, author of Wyoming based mysteries came to my rescue as I arrived in Billings with nothing but my luggage, a hotel address and a sense that I was to appear on a panel on Saturday. He shepherded me to the MSU event and gave me some basic information about what was what and where. THANK YOU CRAIG!
After the awards dinner we went to Corby Skinner's "castle" and enjoyed more conversation and wine. Dang, I just remembered I left my whiskey glass at the dinner! (Actually, it was a very small beer glass, but doesn't a generous whiskey sound better?) Perhaps Corby can provide me with another.
The good thing about the Dude Rancher is that it is right next door to the library, and while I couldn't get anything but a fluctuating bead on the internet in my room, I got to sit at the library, (with a beautiful 1960's spiral staircase) and work on my blog.
I went looking for my venue in preparation for this afternoon. I didn't have a list of events and so asked the woman at the front desk who ripped a piece out of the newspaper and motioned me toward the street. I, predictably, went the wrong direction. I kept walking though, powered by pure hope that the building ahead was the UniversityIII. It LOOKED University-like. It was the Billings clinic.
I turned myself around, walked all the way back, got directions from the library, found the place, and found Lou Taubert's ranch outfitters. At Crest Hill Elementary School I had a crush on Robert Taubert (great rhyming name) He is Lou's son. I put my name in for a drawing. The winner (chosen this afternoon) gets a pair of 400.00 boots!
I had breakfast for lunch here. The place specializes in soups and cheese sandwiches. I bypassed the western special; velveeta on white bread. Welcome to the world of my childhood. I had chipotle jack on multi-grain with tomatoes, avocado and tomato pesto. Some things have changed.