Buffalo Bill’s Saloon – A Haven in the Hamlet

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Buffalo Bill’s

While there have been very few bars I’ve visited which have been disappointing in the five and one-half years on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns or Pubs, there are less than a handful in which a visit and the experience transcend that above all the others.

Lunch at the Central Pastime

Lunch at the Central Pastime in Burns

They simply radiate charisma and character – maybe it’s the combined personality of the regulars, the bar’s story or history, the tales of the staff and the bartenders along with the trappings that convey an ambiance that one wants to bottle.

Whatever the composition, it is an abstract presence that draws one in and makes you want to stay.

The Embers - on Main Street in Joseph..

The Embers – on Main Street in Joseph..

Such was the case with the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, the Embers Brew Pub in Joseph and Charlie B’s – an historic  Missoula, Montana bar and finally, the Stanley Idaho Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon.  (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/)

Charlie B's in Missoula

Charlie B’s in Missoula

You will note that these all are located away from the major metropolitan centers of the US.

They tend to be in the rural or  “frontier” regions and reflect what noted historian Frederick Jackson Turner articulated in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier on American History” – the Frontier Thesis.  More on this below…..

Well, I have good news for my Beerchasing friends in Portland.  You can experience this type of venue without packing up and embarking on a road trip to another western state or even having to head east across the Cascade range.

Jackson Street - great in th 60s

Jackson Street – great in the 60s

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The entrance to the Beavercreek campus…

Thebeerchaser’s high school alma mater is Oregon City High School – now located on S. Beavercreek Road in the more rural area south of Oregon City and only 18.3 miles from the Tugboat Brewery – one of my favorite pubs in the heart of downtown Portland.  (Okay, when I attended OCHS in the ’60’s, it was on Jackson Street right in OC proper)

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If one then continues south on this rural road another 2.9 miles – only about five minutes – you arrive in the Hamlet of Beavercreek  one of only four such jurisdictions in Oregon.  And at intersection of Leland and S Beavercreek Road,  you will come across the bar called Buffalo Bill’s (hereafter BB’s)  Note:  As will be referenced below, the bar has recently returned to its roots and is now officially named the Beavercreek Saloon.

1966 Oregon City Classmate at the entrance for lunch

1966 Oregon City Classmate, Dave Larson, at the entrance for lunch

In the 2010 census, Beavercreek had a population of 4,485 and consists of:

“……a small grocery store, post office, café, tavern, hair salon, drive up coffee, veterinary clinic, automotive shop, gas station, well drilling business, a grange hall and a newer fire department not far down the road.” (Yelp 4/16/15)

“In the summer of 2006, the citizens of Beavercreek voted to become Oregon’s first hamlet, a system of quasi-government which exists in Oregon. A final hearing by the board of county commissioners on the formation of the hamlet took place in September 2006, and officially recognized the community as the Hamlet of Beavercreek.”       (Wikipedia)beavercreek-hamlet

Now admittedly, on the outside, BB’s is nothing special.  It’s entrance is nondescript and it’s surrounded by a very large parking lot with scads of pick-ups and large SUVs – most of which are work vehicles rather than just recreational.

photo-jan-26-12-09-05-pmBut a step through the door is transformational.  You will see buffalo head and trophies from hunts of elk, antelope and deer hanging from the wall plus the skilled taxidermy of bobcat and brown bear along with interesting western memorabilia and farm equipment ranging from traps, old whiskey bottles, cowboy gear and numerous western pictures including one of  the namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody.   photo-jan-26-1-32-28-pm-2

And these items are not tacky knockoffs.  They are spaced to enhance the ample spaces which house a number of larger tables and booths.  For the sports-minded, they have a number of wide-screen TVs – including the NFL Ticket – but these don’t interfere with the ambiance. There is also a cool horseshoe bar immediately in front of the entrance which is where they have thirteen beers on tap.   photo-jan-26-1-32-41-pm

Although the lunch crowd was more staid, this Friday night was rockin’ and there were groups playing pool at the two pool tables, couples sitting at the bar and almost every table was occupied by the end of the evening – everyone appeared to having a good time.

Frederick Jackson Turner -

Frederick Jackson Turner –

Now as mentioned above, Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis asserted that:

“….the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character…..This  produced a new type of citizen – one with the power to tame the wild and one upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality.  The forging of the unique and rugged American identity.”  (Wikipedia)

That night, I had the pleasure, at dinner, of spending two hours talking to a fascinating guy – the owner – Patrick Whitmore.   I think JF Turner would have enjoyed meeting Whitmore too – born and raised in Beavercreek – and hearing about his life since graduation from Molalla High School in 1957 since he epitomizes the individual embodied in Turner’s work.  More about him below.

Our crew that Friday night.

Our crew that Friday night.

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

One of the great attributes of BB’s is the food – quality, quantity and price and perhaps a quote that night from Patrick, reaffirming my sentiments about his character.

 

Two of our party ordered salads rather than the hamburgers which captivated the rest of us.   We had already made comments about the prices being so reasonable – for example, a 1/3 pound cheeseburger with a bunch of fries for $9.00 – (A happy-hour – burger is $4.50……)

But then our server, Christal, brought the salads – one was a cobb and the other a chef and a collective gasp broke out – literally! They were gigantic and filled with good stuff – all for the price of $10.50 and 9.95 respectively.  One of the guys in our party who is a small businessman, asked Patrick rhetorically, “How can you make any money when your prices are so low and your food so plentiful and good??”

Enough for a convention of vegetarians....

Enough for a convention of vegetarians….

Patrick’s immediate rejoinder was, “Well, we may not be making a lot of money, but we’re making a lot of friends.!”  (He was correct about making friends that evening and I think beyond that Friday and he is also a savvy businessman).

The enthusiasm for the new venture was pervasive with staff as well.   We had excellent service by Christal and the bartender.

People enjoyed the French fries and Patrick commented about how he personally inspects the potatoes based on his farming experience to ensure the quality.

And what did our host have that evening?  One of the new specials on the menu – steak and lobster – that and prime rib are Friday and Saturday night specials along with “all-you-can-eat catfish” every other Thursday for $9.95.  The other Thursdays feature bacon-wrapped meatloaf for $14.95.  I noted that when it was time to settle up, Patrick paid for his dinner rather than have it “on the house.”  His cousin, Jerry, told me that this was to be fair to his partner in the venture.

Steak and lobster - but not on the house....

Steak and lobster – but not on the house….

Now, you can also choose to have breakfast or lunch at Kissin Kate’s Cafe, adjacent to and connected with BBS.  The corned beef and hash looked pretty inviting and the breakfasts get very good reviews:

“Homemade breakfast, my husband loves their Corn beef hash. Denver omelet, light and fluffy. Great food and a must try.”  (Trip Advisor – 1/23/16)

Power breakfasts....

Power breakfasts….

As I mentioned previously, I had lunch there the same week with three of my classmates from Oregon City High School – the class of 1966.   All of us also were pleased with the reuben, turkey wrap and burgers we devoured – and the French fries still passed the test with flying colors.

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation - Larson, Benski and Daiker

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation – Larson, Benski and Daiker

The aforementioned also gives me a chance for a quick “shout out” to OCHS for it’s 94% on-time graduation rate last year – top in the state.

A follow-up story by the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, entitled, “At Oregon City High School, teachers showing students they care has made a huge difference – When Actions Equal Words” also told a compelling story about the community of teachers and students led by Principal, Tom Lovell.  

Principal Tom Lovell

Principal Tom Love

“Oregon City’s on-time graduation rate rose by 5 percentage points to reach 94 percent, including 91 percent among low-income students. That’s an accomplishment unmatched by the 40 other big high schools in the Portland area.”

I met Tom last summer when he agreed to meet with me to provide some statistics about the school that I could use for our 50th reunion – a great and charismatic guy – I can understand why he and his team have achieved the results. 

Kelly and Patrick - plans for the future..

Barbara and Patrick – plans for the future..

Besides making major changes to the menu, they have also updated their computer system and it was interesting hearing Patrick and his friend, Barbara Brooke, who is the General Manager, talk about some of their future dreams for the place.

 

These include having an expanded selection of beers on tap, a new web-site, remodeling and changing the name back to the original “Beavercreek Saloon.”  (I have a feeling that the photo of Buffalo Bill will still be present……).

A permanent fixture.....

A permanent fixture…..

And since it is a compelling story, a little bit more about Patrick Whitmore.   After high school graduation, he completed an apprentice course in sheet metal work and left the family farm to work for Boeing in Seattle.

Seeing the manner that many of the workers were treated by the big corporation when the economy went south, after twenty years, he decided he wanted more control over his own destiny.   He and a friend returned to Beavercreek and grew potatoes (one reason he takes particular interest in the quality of BB’s French fries.)

They soon needed a structure to house their product so they built a pole barn with a sheet metal roof – one that Patrick’s neighbor wanted replicated on his property.  He and his partner formed a successful construction company and did work for Clackamas County.   The scope of their work expanded and ultimately led to the formation of Morrison Construction which does residential and commercial construction including apartments and condominiums.

Jerry Calahan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

Jerry Calavan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

This Beavercreek native, turned entrepreneur, has also been involved in a number of other enterprises and is active in civic affairs as well.  You will also be able to find him and Barbara on the slopes of Mt. Hood during ski season in their “spare time.”

photo-feb-03-7-50-45-pmThey have enthusiastically set a course for their new vision and take a drive in the country to check them out.  I typically quote from some of the more interesting reviews and comments on social media when writing these narratives, but given the changes that have occurred in the last six months, they will be largely omitted this time due to the short transition. Let’s finish with the two below which I think sum up the situation aptly:

“If you make it out to Beavercreek stop in – the food’s really good, service was excellent with a friendly atmosphere… I heard that it was under new management and wow it really shows.”  (Facebook 10/22/16)

“Great place. Super fun. The new owners are a breath of fresh air. Ill be back !!”  (Google two months ago)

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Unfortunately, we left before the karaoke started at 9:00 (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), but it was a great cap to the evening to hear the disc jockey warming the crowd up with Alabama’s “Down Home”   BB’s also periodically features local country-western groups with live music.

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Buffalo Bill’s Saloon and Kissing Kate’s Cafe

The Beavercreek Saloon

21950 S Beavercreek Rd           Beavercreek, OR 97004

 

Beerchasing in Idaho – Part II – Stanley and the Sawtooths

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While those of us who live in Oregon are enamored with the beauty and variety of scenery in our state, a six-day summer road trip from Coeur d’aline to McCall and then to Stanley, Idaho convinced us that Idaho is not far behind.   2016-07-12-16-18-52

And Thebeerchaser was pleased that Idaho has some excellent and colorful bars, taverns and brew pubs that warrant visits by those traveling in the state – it’s nickname is the Gem State  more on that below……

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Our  initial stops in Coeur d’aline and McCall were documented in the last post dated 8/26/16 see the link: https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/08/26/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-i-and-the-dirty-shame-saloon-in-yaak-mt/

We followed the beautiful Payette River Scenic Byway much of the way from McCall to be greeted by the breathtaking Sawtooth Mountains surrounding Stanley.

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The Stanley Post Office

Our two and one-half day stay at the Redfish Lake Lodge – six miles south of  Stanley  –  was far too short.  Stanley, with a robust year-round population of 63 according to the 2010 US Census (down from 100 in 2000) is still a bustling community that describes itself as “A Playground for All Seasons.” 

Stanley has a colorful history as described in a Winter – 2010 Sun Valley Guide article entitled, “The Spirit of Stanley:”

“Every resident over 70 remembers by lore or memory when the main street offered gambling, fighting and dancing every night of the week in three clubs within 200 stumbling feet of each other.”

Outdoor enthusiasts in the spring and summer take advantage of hiking, kayaking climbing, cycling and boating.  The fall and early winter months host hunters, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers – that is until the weather becomes “extreme” given what the year-round residents assert is the coldest location in the U.S. I wanted to see how much of this was true and some basic research revealed it is no exaggeration.  Frosts can occur at any time of the year. There are on average 290 mornings in the year with frost (10 of them in July) and 60 nights that reach 0° centigrade. (Wikipedia)

According to a website https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/coldest.php the statements are not puffery.   For example, “On any single day, the mountain town of Stanley, Idaho is most often the coldest place in the states outside of Alaska.”  From 1995 to 2005, it was the coldest place in the US outside of Alaska for 398 days – more than any other location.

As the young (25 years old), female Mayor, Hannah Stauts stated:

“Last winter (2009), it was 35 below for 39 hours…..Those without a wood stove or propane heat watched their toilets freeze and crack.” (“The Spirit of Stanley”)

The center of town.....

The center of town…..

And if one stands at the corner of Wall Street and Ace of Diamonds, Stanley’s main intersection, you won’t observe stock brokers heading for skyscrapers, but a bunch of Suburus, pick-ups and jeeps parked in front of the several bars, restaurants and hotels which were all bustling when we were there.  2016-07-12-20-18-01

 

 

I was enthused that Janet could join me on this return trip – the first visit was thirteen years ago on part of my sabbatical from the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, when I took  an unforgettable road trip through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana.   And thanks to Brian “Brain” King, one of my Schwabe colleagues, who urged me to spend time at the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon (SRAGWS)  – one of the two dive bars that inspired me to start Thebeerchaser blog when I retired in 2011.   garth-randgun

Brain King in his Idaho duds......

Brain King in his Idaho duds……

Brian, when he served as corporate counsel in Boise, spent time in Stanley and told me on my 2003 trip, “You need to stop at the Rod and Gun Club Saloon and say hello to the owner and notable musician, Casanova Jack,”  And Jack did have a reputation throughout the west having at one time sung with Marty Robbins and his band.  And the bar has a colorful history: “Tall Mary, at 6-foot-4, ran the Rod and Gun Club with Casanova Jack, and a French woman served whiskey and great hot sandwiches all night long at the Kasino Club.”  (Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide)

While visiting Stanley years ago, Brian even took the stage and was lead vocal on “Blue Suede Shoes” with Jack.  Of course Brian’s perfect pitch on such country–western classics as “She was a Bootlegger’s Daughter and I Love Her Still,” or one that is a favorite of legal clients everywhere, “If the Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know it was Me,” made him a natural to accompany Jack on stage at the bar.

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Brain and colleague, Cheryl Rath, drinking Tecate at Billy Rays

I’m sure that Casanova Jack did not care that Brian was a lawyer  or that he would eventually co-author a scholarly environmental law book entitled Fundamentals of Environmental Management with stimulating chapters such as “Air Emission Inventory and Analysis” or “Ozone-Depleting Chemicals (ODCs).” (Environmental lawyers are not a real popular group in Idaho….)

No, notwithstanding his legal skills and erudition, Brain is a down-home – dive bar kind of guy.  I found that out in our last Beerchasing journey when he was downing Tecate Beers in cans at Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar in NE Portland.  (See post dated 8/9/16 https://thebeerchaser.com/category/uncategorized/dive-bars/.

Brian would not reveal the details of how he was refused service in one Stanley bar when knowing the state nickname, he innocently asked the bartender to “Show me your gems…..”

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to the Rod and Gun

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to the Rod and Gun

When I was first at the bar on Karaoke Night in 2003, I did ask if Casanova Jack was in and the manager told me that Jack had died in 1990.   The bar is now owned by his brother, Johnny Ray and his wife of thirty-eight years, Eve, who was also bartending while we were there.  Johnny Ray played the bass guitar and sang in Jack’s group and spent a good amount of time filling me in on his story and that of the bar.

Johnny Ray was born in Ogden and besides his musical and bartending career, was a truck driver for many years.   Fortunately, we did not visit in 2015, because they closed the bar for a good part of the year, while Johnny Ray “got a personal 100,000 mile maintenance check.”  He then quit cigarettes and also ended smoking at the bar – “I’m glad I made the decision rather than the government doing it for me.”   

A new friend and talented bartender.....

Johnny Ray – A new friend and talented musician and bartender…..

The( SRGWS) has a long bar and large room with a stage for entertainers and karoke. Johnny Ray is known as “Idaho’s Singing Bartender” and puts on a headset with a microphone so he can harmonize with the entertainers while he is bartending.

2016-07-12-18-52-22While Janet and I listened to wonderful  stories from Johnny Ray, a group of regulars that afternoon were sitting at one end of the bar talking with Eve and echoing similar disdain for the political establishment.  They were discussing the inability to purchase 22 caliber shells because the government is secretly stockpiling them at an unknown location.

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Instructions to one elected leader at the lower left….

The walls of the bar are filled with hundreds, if not thousands of one-dollar bills which patrons sign and are hung on the wall – I did one thirteen years ago and on this trip, stapled Thebeerchaser’s card onto another one which Johnny Ray promptly tacked to the wall.   One in particular I noticed would make both Republicans and Democrats blush at least a little.

We came back the next morning after having breakfast at the legendary Stanley Baking Company and Café because I needed some additional pictures and the bar was closed.

The bar is closed, but.... come on in!

The bar is closed, but…. come on in!

But after I knocked on the door, Johnny Ray, who was talking to one of his bartenders, let us in and chatted some more.   He is a down-to-earth and colorful guy and Eve, is also a fine lady.  If you visit Stanley drop in and say “hello,” with greetings from Thebeerchaser and look for my card on the wall.

We also dropped into the other bar in ‘downtown” Stanley – the Kasino Club, which was also a good looking and well-frequented bar with ample space for evening entertainment.   We wanted to say “hello” to Mikey – the friend of McCall Brewing Company’s Edgar and Louis, who we had met a few days before.  He is a bartender there, but both times we dropped by, he was not working.

The second hot-spot in Stanley

Kasino Club – the second hot-spot in Stanley

I also wanted to see it because I had heard that former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jay Waldron  on one of his rafting trips on the Salmon River ended up on the dance floor with no shirt and no shoes some years ago.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/03/29/jay-waldron-rugger-rafter-rider-and-lawyer-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Revelry at the Kasino Club

Revelry at the Kasino Club

After he realized his fellow rafters had abandoned him, Jay experienced one of the 0 centigrade nights on his mile and one-half trek back to their motel.  (He doesn’t remember why he ended shirtless and without footwear although it may have been because the bartender asked him to show her his gems….)

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The lines for the Stanley Baking Company and Cafe always start before it’s 7:00 AM opening and as we do at most bars, cafés and diners when we are traveling, we sat at the bar or counter because it is a great way to meet people.

This was no exception as we started chatting with personable, Becky Cron, the co-owner with her husband Tim, who we also met and was cooking their outstanding pancakes and waffles.

Becky, talking with Janet about her Oregon roots..

Becky, talking with Janet about her Oregon roots..

Becky, as did another person we met whose story is below, has an Oregon connection. She was from Eugene and started skiing as a teenager at Sun Valley.  In 1989, she decided to move to Idaho for the skiing and the outdoors and never returned.

She met her husband and they own the Bakery and are co-owners of the nearby Sawtooth Hotel – both very successful enterprises.   The hotel was built in 1931 and they renovated and reopened it in 2010.  In spite of how busy she was, Becky was very friendly and willing to chat with some visiting Oregonians.

Pancakes overflowing.....

Pancakes overflowing…..

And there was no question, the wait for their food was worth it.

The first evening in Stanley, we dined at the Redd Restaurant, a quaint diner – also with a small waiting line and Janet enjoyed a pasta dish while I  downed a scrumptious  bowl of lamb stew.

Redfish Lake Lodge

Redfish Lake Lodge

 

We stayed at the Lodge, built in 1929, for two nights, which had great rates and is in a beautiful setting.  It’s essentially a log cabin, has a spacious and popular dining room and a small, but very interesting bar.

2016-07-13-12-38-39 The next day, we took a boat ride to the end of Redfish Lake and went on a several mile hike along the ice-cold snow-fed streams running by the Lodge.   2016-07-13-13-30-44-hdr-2

Jen - in full control of her bar.

Jen – in full control of her bar.

 

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We met another colorful and unforgettable Stanley full-time resident – Jen Hettum – she referred to herself as “Crazy Jen.”  And Jen, a charismatic,  attractive and competent bartender, had that bustling bar under her thumb – she joked and chided each of the customers in a friendly manner and they loved it.  She was like a school-marm with a revolving classroom of hyperactive kids, who knew they better behave or Jen would rein them in.

Since the bar was so crowded the afternoon we first visited, I came back at 10:30 in the evening on a week night when the setting was more restrained and had a great chat when Jen after she poured me a Scotch and water.   When I gave her Thebeerchaser card and told her we were on a road trip from Portland, she immediately related her Oregon connection.

Former Portland Rose Festival Princess - now a Stanley resident

Former Portland Rose Festival Princess – now a Stanley resident

“I was a Rose Festival Princess from Franklin high school.   I came to work at the Lodge about twelve years ago and never left.”

She now has a ten-year old daughter and is active in Stanley civic affairs and takes her profession seriously.  In fact, the next week, she was attending a five-day national convention of “mixologists” in New Orleans, (Tales of the Cocktail) to which Jeff, the manager of the Lodge, was paying her way.

The bar was a reflection of Jen’s magnetic personality and as I sat at the bar, I watched a guy who was with several friends come over and compliment Jen and then ask her to come to a party with him after she got off after midnight. “Ain’t going to happen, Sweetie, but I’m flattered you asked,” she responded and then went to the other end of the bar to serve another party.

Of course, Jen, Johnny Ray, Becky and Tim all knew each other and probably socialize in mid-winter when Stanley essentially shuts down because of the cold weather.

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Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

2016-07-13-17-14-18To cap it off, we had an absolutely great dinner at the beautiful Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch (IMRM) about fifteen miles south of Stanley.   While waiting for dinner, we sat in rocking chairs on the expansive front porch with cocktails, admiring the beautiful mountains and forest.

We even got a bonus with a reading by Idaho author and Stanley native, John Rember, who read from his  memoir, Traplines – Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley.    Our server at dinner was one of the many wonderful young people hired at IRMR from all over the country.  She was from Boston and was starting college at the University of Chicago in the fall.

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Idaho author John Rember gives a reading

On my maiden trip to Stanley, I stayed at the Ranch and when I asked for directions to the SRAGWS, they replied, “We’re all going after dinner is done.  It’s Karaoke Night, why don’t you come with us.”   I told them that they didn’t want an old guy to bog them down and I would meet them there. When we later met, I bought the first round which loosened everybody up for a spirited talent night (even without Brian King…..)

The dining room

The dining room

After lamenting the brevity of our stay in Stanley, we left early the next morning after picking up two of Stanley Baking’s scrumptious and thankfully oversized cinnamon rolls.

We made the 552 mile trip home from Stanley in eleven hours with great Idaho memories.  Thanks, Becky, Tim, Johnny Ray, Eve and Jen.  We hope you have a great winter and will see you on the next trip.

Farewell Stanley...!

Farewell Stanley…!