Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

In middle-of-nowhere Montana, these 8 words saved our bacon

Twenty years after the writer’s adventure, Saco, Mont., now has a motel.

Donnie Sexton

Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures.

The icy April night wind was whipping through the ill-fitting top in the MGB as my brother Paul and I aimed for a late night arrival in Saco, Mont.

On the second night of our eastward cross-country journey on U.S. Route 2, we selected Saco simply as an interesting name on a map. It turned out to be a sleepy intersection with one gas station, a bar and no motel. With both of us freezing when we arrived, the bar, Sonny's, was the only choice.

Story continues below advertisement

To say the conversation and pool-playing stopped dead as two obvious out-of-towners stepped in out of the night is possibly an overstatement, but "Two Buds and two shots of Jack, please" was clearly the right password.

The bar, full of tough-looking cowboys – mostly handlebar moustaches, denims and plaid down-filled vests – warmed to us slowly as we chatted, playing pool, telling them where we came from. Everyone had a Canada story to tell, and did we know cousin Ernie in Scarborough? Within the hour everyone was on a first-name basis.

At 1:30 a.m., with closing time approaching, the bartender, Sonny – balding, portly and only 35, simply chose to move the party. He invited everyone to his house for an early breakfast of steak and eggs – including the lads from Ontario. Sonny's awoken wife was only a little surprised to see us, and as hospitality seems to be deep in the genetic code of Montanans, she was quick to host the impromptu party.

By 2:30 a.m., steaks were served and more cases of beer opened. By 3:30, Paul went off with new friend Jim to his ranch to see to an expectant cow – Paul's role to help with the birthing if necessary. Meanwhile, I brought out my guitar and played every country tune I knew in the kitchen. Yep, cowboys love to sing.

By 5 a.m., Paul had returned, the calf was born, the hosts were snoozing, I packed up the guitar, we had thanked the five who remained upright, and Paul and I were back in the MGB heading for the nearest possible motel and an overdue snooze.

Share your adventure at

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to