Should We Stay or Should We Go?

We were making the most of a smokey August in Trout Creek, Montana, last summer. Eventually we started making jokes about our situation…. like, “Is that smoked beef out in the meadow?”


A lot of people wouldn’t have found much to do in Trout Creek, especially with the smoke around, and we noticed plenty of RV neighbors coming and going after only a night or two. But we like it like this — the quieter, the better!

We watched the smoke trails on the distant hills…


…read all the posted notices along the roadsides…


…kept a wary eye on helicopters ferrying water from river or lake to the hills…


…learned about the different fire restriction levels, thanks to local businesses and restaurants posting these flyers and leaving them on tables:


The RV park had excellent wifi, but in this neck of the woods, TV by antenna was impossible (we don’t have an onboard satellite), so we rented a movie every day to watch that evening, picking up the latest information about the fires from the women at the restaurant, motel, gift shop, movie rental business. They were serving the firefighters dinner every night and hearing the same updates.

We didn’t eat there, preferring the drive into Thompson Falls where Minnie’s Montana Cafe had our attention…


…from our first meal there — scalloped potatoes and ham, baked in individual crocks…


…to Minnie’s mouthwatering chicken pot pie…


…to this delicious macaroni and beef soup…


…and taco soup so good we went back just for that (tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, cheese, with corn chips on top):


Just when I was ready to back off on all of the heavy comfort food, macaroni and cheese appeared on their special board. Well. Have to try that, you know. And though it looks overwhelmingly cheesy, it turned out to have a great balance between the “mac” and the “cheese.”


Of course a place like this has to have great desserts, right? The chocolate cream pie was hard to resist more than once…


…and the orange chiffon cream pie was amazing:


Where else can you have an excellent, home-cooked meal, and buy your fly fishing supplies at the same time?


Though we enjoy trying local restaurants, and returning to places like Minnie’s when the food is so good, we balance those meals with Bob’s awesome at-home cooking. So not only are we always on the hunt for a great restaurant, we also keep an eye out for local grocery stores, like this out-of-the-way market between Trout Creek and Thompson Falls, run by Mennonite and Amish women…


…and local farmers’ markets, like this small weekly event in Trout Creek, where baked goods ruled…


…and where we found a delicious apple crisp, made the old-fashioned way, in a cake sheet for just $5! Yep… it was so delicious we’d devoured half of it before I realized (the next day) that I hadn’t gotten a photo of it yet.


So we made ourselves comfortable, ate too much, hiked and explored when breathing was easiest, and thought about our next destination. We’d made reservations there, too… but how were the fires going to affect those plans?

We were back to what had become our question of the summer: should we stay or should we go?

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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6 Responses to Should We Stay or Should We Go?

  1. Hells bells, with all that great food, who cares! As you and Bob chose, I would’ve stayed until the flames were torching my food-fatted butt! Those Minnie’s meals look amazing. I’m having to wipe my laptop keyboard off with a paper towel as I type/drool! Oh, and as always,

    • Ellen says:

      I’m sure I gain a pound when I eat the meal, gain another when I write the post, and gain another when I re-read it online. No wonder so many “stay fit while traveling” articles are popular!

  2. BTW, did I send you a copy of Mac mystery #3, Deadly Dunes? If not, please let me know asap! I have ebooks in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf. As always, HAPPY TRAILS!

    • Ellen says:

      Mike — Would love to see the new Mac mystery (pdf works best)! I’m up to my eyeballs trying to get some things taken care of (including final revisions on “Yuma Baby”) but would shove stuff aside to see what Mac is up to. Thanks for thinking of me!

  3. Small farmers market but great food. Good Find!

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