The very best part about being the caretakers of the Featherbed Railroad is that the coolest people in the world stay here and we get to meet them. In this case it was Bruce and Susan Armstrong and the circumstances for our meeting was their road trip across the US in preparation for writing the book Quirky Sleeps - Some of America’s Most Fun Places to Spend the Night.
This didn’t escape the Armstrongs as they planned a cross-country journey to visit places like the Featherbed Railroad. During the epic road trip they slept in jails, teepees, light houses, silos, tree houses, yurts, caves, Hobbit homes, tall ships and even a giant dog. Oh, and a number of places that feature retired vintage railroad cabooses including the Featherbed Railroad.
What prompted this journey is when the couple cut and saved an article that listed 10 unusual places to spend the night. Over time that file folder grew fatter and fatter and ended up becoming the book, which is really fun to read.
They ended up with a list of about 150 places that they visited in one incredible road trip over summer. There are 138 places in the book and they’ve stayed in more than half of them.
“The overwhelming surprise to us was that we thought we’d be roughing it and most of the places we went to exceeded our expectations,” noted Bruce Armstrong.
Other pleasant surprises including outstanding breakfasts, more interesting histories and more interesting people. Many of the other patrons were adventurous, outgoing people and if there was a place that you could gather people did and they talked and shared.
“As opposed to a regular travel motel, these places were very satisfying socially. You just had fun when you stayed there!”
A highlight of all these stays is that being an unusual place is one of the defining characteristics of why someone would go out and stay in one of these places - “the social aspect is great.”
I had to ask Bruce what kind of trips they’ve been on and he let me know that after they retired they decided that they wanted to do a lot of travel. How many trips? Four trips coast-to-coast, border-to-border within the United States.
“Our rules are no interstate highways where possible, no fast food.”
They drove from Naples, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska traveling about 200 miles a day. They spent six years traveling during summers on a boat and circumnavigated the Eastern United States.
Quirky Sleeps is the second book that they’ve written - their first is about circumnavigating the “Great Loop” and is called Coming Full Circle in 2010. Bruce mentioned that it’s read pretty widely by boaters but it sounds like something worth reading for anybody with a sense of adventure, frankly.
Even visiting a fraction of the kinds of finds that they have in the book would be an incredible journey. In addition to just the basic information on the places they visited, there are some great stories as well.
For example, the Dog Bark Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho was created by a chain saw artists whose business literally exploded and the idea of making a gigantic dog that sleeps four was the ultimate end result of that. Oh, and a bottle of wine at dinner.
Whether you’re planning an epic road trip yourself or just want to journey with the Armstrongs vicariously, or any combination in between, Quirky Sleeps is available at the Featherbed Railroad gift shop for just $18.95 (plus tax) and you can join the Armstrongs in their travels on their website.
A blog about happenings in Lake County.