They were two impressive leather chairs, languishing in shadows where the stairway twisted between floors in an elderly Montana hotel. Adjacent to them, sharing royal red and gold carpet, an upright piano waited for a song.
Their town is small, set amid historic and geographic hot spots; you have to want to be there, and there were few guests the night I stayed. No one ran their hands over the smooth, time-worn arms, no modern bottoms felt the deep satisfaction of sinking into the cushions. The piano remained silent.
But, for a few precise moments, as evening peered through a tall window and I paused in the hallway, the glow of forgotten grandeur reappeared, and history sang softly in my ear.
The little town of Bluff, Utah, is one of my favorite places in the Southwest—I could devote an entire trip to the area and discover but a fraction of the surrounding landscape. Add in friendly people, a variety of lodging (or camping), a good coffeehouse…and it’s pretty hard to beat.
Recapture Pocket is a small area about ten miles away from town; half on paved highway, half on a bumpy sometimes-4WD-track. Get directions at the Bluff Fort Visitors Center before you go out.
The magic of steam locomotives is kept alive in many places, and none are more accessible than the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, Nevada. Your ticket to the museum includes the grounds and the shops, where you’re (mostly) free to roam, and imagine, as I did in September.