We arrive at the log-cabin-style Bozeman airport on the last flight of the evening. “If rabbits had an airport, it would be like this!” Eli shouts over his shoulder as he and Leo play wheeled luggage roller derby, weaving in and out of the stragglers walking toward the rental car area.
We turn into the parking lot of the Lewis and Clark Motel in downtown Bozeman at midnight. At first glance it looks like your typical rundown 1970’s kitsch–the real thing, not some groovy hipster version. It doesn’t take long for the visual to become far more complex. The lobby is a strange mix of Billie Holiday music, grandma’s living room, a casino and a Buddhist shrine. It smells of smoke and carpet cleaner – in a good way. It’s a sepia colored collage of mixed mediums.
We love it. Well, Leo and I love it.
We are greeted by Micheal-Ann and her most remarkable lilting voice. She ends each sentence with an upswing that emphasizes the last vowel sound of the second to last word. We are all hypnotized. Her co-worker is not.
The motel is famous for its banana bread which can be purchased by the loaf at the front desk. It’s made by the current owner’s mother who was the original owner. We eagerly request a loaf as we check-in. Micheal-Ann goes to the back office and returns with an enormous frozen brick of the stuff wrapped in Saran Wrap. To speed up the defrosting process, Micheal-Ann suggests that we cut slices and hold the bread in our hands for 10 minutes. We go to the room and proceed to eat half the loaf while it’s still frozen. Who can hold banana bread in their hands for 10 minutes?
The best banana bread ever.
As you might expect from a motel with sliding glass doors to the rooms, portable AC units, plastic cups and a paper strip over the toilet seat, our non-smoking room smells liked smoke. Eli mentions that he wishes he had a black light to find out exactly what kind of trail has been left in the room during the last thirty years. Leo and I advise against it.
The best part of our first hours in Montana – the laughter. We are so giggly that Leo, our most nocturnal family member, scolds Eli and me to be quiet so he can sleep. This is the beginning of our Life on the Verge Road Trip. Leo is on his way to becoming a man, Eli a teenager, and me an old woman.
Let the journey unfold.