Thursday, July 21, 2011

Got Any Last Words?

It was late afternoon and I'd driven many long stretches of attractive road with not a gas station or town, so when I rolled into Loyalton, I felt I should take stock of things and decide when and where to stop for the night. Pulling into a roadside parking spot was easy enough, right in front of the Golden ??? Saloon and Motel. Can't recall for sure golden what. I think it was Golden West. I remember it really wasn't the sort of thing you could picture, like a golden nugget. Probably golden west.

It was built just like the ones you see in movies with the stairs on the outside. This was too good not to check out. I'd never stayed at a saloon hotel before. Besides, my knee was complaining loudly all afternoon. I'd tell it, "that is not pain, it is only fear leaving the body", but it did not help much.

That was the knee that went south when I had a canoe on my head, braving the wilds of Seattle. I'm pretty sure that what happened is that a bear jumped out of a tree onto the canoe just as I went to step up that bank. Bears are obese and heavy, much because they get special treatment and no one tells them they can't have trans fats and such. If we don't address the ursine obesity crisis soon, the west will probably sink a thousand feet or so and that will make for lots of bad weather.

So, I saunter into this establishment, walk right up to the bar keep and said, "Gimme yer best sasparilla." Then I looked over at some side winder whose expression I didn't much cotton to and called him out. "Yer yella, I said, and if ya ain't you'll draw. Go on,or is ya part chicken too?" I really let him have it.

Well, turns out that sidewinder wasn't afeared a'tall. Why he drew a picture of the whole town, Salvador Dali style, with cars that curved and cows that smoked hookahs, before I could finish my sasparilla. Being a man of honor, I noted that this side winder was in his purple phase and not a bit yella.

Finally, in an effort to save face and hide, I arranged for a room. The rate was reasonable, relatively speaking, and I was beat. My knee needed icing and I had my own food I could fix in the room. My room was at the back corner of the place. This enabled me to park in the gravel lot out back and go up the stairs back there. The stairs land on a deck that goes across the back of the place.

You've seen cowboys in movies fight on such decks and break the rail, falling onto whatever is below. Sometimes they jump from there onto their horses. I checked it out and it seemed too high to jump on a horse without busting things I would rather leave intact, including the horse's back.

From that deck a door leads to a hall that runs perpendicular to the deck. My room was first one on the right. A very strange woman was across the hall, but she made no trouble. I do not think anyone else was taking advantage of this inn that night.

In the morning, after a relatively restful night--my nights were not all that restful for a long time for various reasons--I gathered my things and headed down to the car.

When I was about two thirds of the way down, a voice behind me says, "hehe, know how many steps there is to a gallows?"

The guy came out of nowhere. I didn't see him in the hall when I left the room, or on the deck. I turned around and guess I gave a quizzical look, half saying, "Wha..?"

He said, "count 'em, see how many steps this is". And he half chuckled, half grunted.

"Thirteen!! That's how many steps they build for you to walk up to the gallows!", he suddenly volunteered. I had drawn the connection a split second before that and turned to grin at the guy. The Golden West Saloon and Motel has thirteen steps up to the second story rooms.

"Hha heha", him, with that semi-laugh again.

"Haha, you're alright!", he says.

"Yes, I am", I replied as I headed to load the car.

I thought I had a phone pic of the saloon. Maybe on the FLIP cam. I'll get around to it. This is taken somewhere but I do not know where. From the speckles, it was looking through the bugs on the windshield. I figured a pic at this point was better than nothing, even blurry and undefined.

This character looked like the archetypal old miner, old codger, old timer, all rolled into one. A wide brimmed floppy hat, and the rest I can't say. I suppose it was some kind of felt or canvas cowboy hat. I don't know. Old codger headgear.
Women can look at someone and know not only the material and color of clothes, shoes, accessories, but the brands as well. This guy was old codger western fashion. And he had just a bit of a limp, of course.

While I was loading the car he wandered off and appeared to go down the road. He was out to the road and out of sight.

As I was beginning to pull out, he appears at my passenger window out of nowhere, so I ask if there's a good breakfast place in town. He recommended what'sername's bakery across the street---and I must say he was right. If you go to Loyalton, stop in that place across from the saloon.

He'd actually startled me because he was gone just seconds prior. I lowered the windows and boom, there he is with his head almost inside the car and a silly grin. He talked in the voice you expect from old western miners and side winders. I was beginning to see myself as Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western.

After the whatsername's bakery discussiojn, he says, as he looks me in the eye with one of those old codger wacko stares and a hint of a grin, "Got any last words?.......before ya go". The pause between the two phrases was dramatic and effective.

Now that did catch me dumbfounded. I just looked at him doing my best to muster my inner High Plains Drifter. "Can't say as I do." There are few times in life when a phrase like that actually works for a city boy. In this case it just flowed as if I talk that way all the time. Plus it was the truth as I knew it at that moment.

My pal seemed almost pleased and almost disappointed at the same time. "Well, I guess not then, other than good bye."

Good bye, I said.

"We'll be seeing you." Not really the most comforting parting words he could have uttered.

****I searched the net a found a reasonable representation of my Loyalton pal:


  1. i need to take a trip like this...

  2. I had to look up Loyalton after reading this. Finding where it was still didn't answer the question of how you got there. Mister, you are great at finding places that only pretend to be on a map.

    Great story.


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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
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