Saturday, August 3, 2013

Crazy Mountain Inn treats guests to rustic rooms, stellar view, tasty pie

The family run Crazy Mountain Inn makes ends meet over the rainbow in the small Montana town of Martinsdale.

Guest house, cafe in the middle of nowhere
offer guests opportunity to go back in time

 Scenery surrounding Crazy Mountain Inn is serene and green.


GLISTENING in the rain, the Crazy Mountain Inn looks like a setting from an Agatha Christie novel.
She could be perched high upon a cliff, or set back deep in the woods.
But she's situated a couple miles off Highway 12 in Martinsdale, about 30 miles from Harlowton, Montana, under the majestic shadow of the Crazy Mountains.
Family style cooking and casual atmosphere attract the Cosgriffe clan.
The rooms are basic, the bathroom is down the hall, and "air conditioning" comes when you open your window or plug in a fan.
But the rooms are comfy, the scenery is spectacular and the meals
are satisfying and bountiful, with desserts that attract people from miles around.
Crazy Mountain Inn is of another era, a throwback to the 1950s, the days of "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It To Beaver."
You expect someone to offer you a plate of homemade cookies, or a piece of warm sour cream lemon-cream pie.
And she does!
Connor, at right, enjoys a family supper at Crazy Mountain Inn.
PROPRIETOR Cheryl Marchi operates the 1906 building, with a staff of family and a couple other workers. Her husband Peter is involved in ranching and water projects in the valley, so Cheryl is the "hands on" part of the ownership.
She's lived and worked in several other states, including Georgia, where she spent part of her youth, and says Martinsdale has been a good, safe place to raise their family.
The rustic inn's setting includes paintings, antlers and hard wood floors.
She admits to having plenty of "deferred maintenance" issues with the inn -- paint is chipping, framing around the windows and doors needs shoring up and there are leaks and squeaks, drafts and other problems.  Nothing that a good five- or six-figure overhaul wouldn't fix!
But for now, Cheryl says, the inn struggles to make ends meet in a town of less than 100 people.
Weekend visitors going to the nearby lake or vacationers from out-of-state make up the clientele, which also includes hunters in the autumn.
If you're looking for a five-star hotel, this is not the place.  It does not pretend to be.
Instead, it is a folksy, family-friendly ranch style inn with good, solid home cooking in the restaurant, friendly folks to welcome you with no requirement of a deposit!
The inn's large downstairs bathroom.
The rooms are upstairs and are unremarkable -- basic beds, a chair and extra blanket if you like. There is no elevator and our nearly 84-year old cousin, Sally, braved the stairway with her cane and uttered not a single complaint.
The Crazy Mountain Inn's upstairs hallway.
  The three  small dining rooms   are adorned with antlers and hides, throw pillows and oak and pine furniture, all comfortable and welcoming.There's a small, private room if you want to celebrate alone and have your meal separate from others.
IF YOU'RE accustomed to having your own bathroom in a hostelry, be warned.  You'll share, here. (One bath is located upstairs and one downstairs. Wait your turn for the toilet or shower.)
The charm is in the friendly atmosphere and good old-fashioned service and home cooking. Area folks come to the Crazy Mountain Inn cafe from miles around -- there aren't many options, it's true. My late uncle, Harry Cosgriffe, loved to drive with his wife Peg from their nearby ranch in Two Dot for a supper treat, or Sunday breakfast out.
The cafe counter doubles as the hotel's check-in station.
So the place is visited by nearby ranching families, and people in Harlowton (30 miles away) and in our case, relatives from Georgia, California, Virginia and Massachusetts, plus our Montana contingent from Nye and Billings.
The suppers include steak, burgers and fish and chips, and the fabled, much loved pies.
THE BEAUTY and serenity of the area speaks for itself, its own "course" on the menu while you're dining and gazing at nature's best.
Breakfasts include traditional bacon, egg, toast and hash browns, along with oatmeal with walnuts and raisins, brown sugar and thick cream.
The nearby lake is an attraction, along with the Bair Museum,
featured in the recent, July 31 post of "whereiscookie".
CRAZY Mountain serves some of the best food in Montana. Esquire magazine called it "home of the world's best chicken fried steak." Montana Magazine found Crazy Mountain Inn's pie best in Montana.
During our weekend there, the restaurant hosted hungry hiking couples, hunters arranging their fall stays and families looking for an evening without cooking themselves. Homemade soups include a hearty vegetable, the steaks are done to order -- medium rare for us.
Rick and Jane and their grandkids, Connor and Elliana, meet labpups.
The inn is rustic and casual -- our family was invited out back to meet a litter of  Labrador pups. It's a laid back, kid friendly kind of place.
BUT OH, my, the Atlanta sis brought a lemon cream one to cousins and they raved, too!  The pie is the "frosting on the cake" after a day hiking or absorbing the art and antiques at the nearby Bair Museum.
Besides breakfasts and dinners, other meals can be arranged. Rooms run about $45 to $62 and can accommodate up to four persons. Summer hours are Thursdays through Sundays, until 7:30 p.m.
The inn and cafe take checks and cash only and will close a couple months after hunting season. 

COMING UP: A look at a typical weekend high in the northern Rockies of south-central Montana, where the deer and the antelope play.
Opening night, 1987, of the "new" ABT!
And we explore the evolution of the 1931 Fox Theater in Billings to the 1987 opening of the renovated Alberta Bair Theater, the  region's largest performing arts showcase. Plus a study of one woman's attempt to integrate death and her beloved departed into a healthy, full and forward-looking life.
Remember to explore, learn and live.
And visit us Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

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