Traveling on the fringes.
JORDAN, Montana- I like the Garfield Hotel. It is what an inn should be: friendly, comfortable, and feel like a refuge from the road. Its green shingles are inviting; its rustic wooden furniture and trimmings in the rooms give you the feeling of being Elsewhere — like a hunter’s lodge on some kind of northern wasteland safari.
I’m in Jordan, Montana. It’s easy to be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the place. Few have — including myself prior to arriving.
I pushed it for a couple of hours in from the Montana / North Dakota border along route 200 — a windy, spindly road that lacks any semblance of a shoulder with few turn offs. It was more of a chute than a road — once on there was no way off until pulling up to Jordan.
I’m not sure how many people live here. Maybe two or three hundred.
Official: 399 (2016).
It’s a one stop light town right in the middle of the Great Plains of Montana. There’s a town hall, a small grocery store, a gas station, two bars, and the Garfield Inn.
The bars are called the Rancher’s Bar and the Hell Creek Bar. I knew that I should have gone in to collect stories … but I gave myself a pass for one night. I was beat.
I regret the decision.
I’ve spent most of my adult life traveling on the fringes. Once in a while I find myself in some global cultural epicenter like Prague, but mostly I’m out in the proverbial Jordan, Montanas of the world — places like Jiangsu Taizhou, Zharkent, and Suchitoto. Few know about these places and even less care. But they are the places where real life is readily on show. You can walk around looking at people and places like window shopping in a big city. Your curiosity is easily satiated by asking questions.
These are the places where friends are easily made, where people talk to you …
… probably because there’s little else to do.