State Twenty: Idaho

Giant Beagle B&B
The Dog Bark Park

Something you need to know about us is that we love (and we mean LOVE) dogs. Pups, mutts, hound-dogs, little, large, x-large, no matter, we’ll be wanting to roll around with them regardless of how much doggy-drool we’re covered in. And so what could be more appropriate for such a pair then a night of our honeymoon spent sleeping inside a 30ft beagle? Nothing, that’s what.

Known as both the Gem and the Potato State, Idaho was the last of the states to be penetrated by white settlers, and in 1805, Lewis and Clark declared central Idaho’s bewildering labyrinth of razor-edged peaks and wild waterways the most difficult leg of their epic trek. We had only one reason to visit Idaho: the Beagle.

Noble and absurd
A noble and absurd undertaking

After a drive past field after field dotted with beautiful barns we clasped our eyes upon the Dog Bark Park. Designed and built by Dennis J Sullivan and Frances Conklin (a wonderful husband and wife team of chainsaw artists) as the World’s Biggest Beagle, the bed and breakfast inn opened in August 2003 and has been giving “tail wagging satisfaction” ever since. The Big Beagle ‘Sweet Willy’ is surrounded by other works of chain-saw art including – naturally – a toilet shaped as a fire hydrant and a beautiful giant coffee pot.  We spent a while after we arrived talking to Dennis and Frances, who told us all about how they embarked on this absurd and noble undertaking, we bought a mini-wooden beagle and stroked their gorgeous (real life) dog Sprocket – all of which was absolutely brilliant; they are a wonderful couple and it was truly an honor to meet and talk with them.

And then to the dog, entering in Sweet Willy’s tummy – we saw a surprisingly luxurious bathroom, a play-room inside Willy’s head full of cute board games and a host of treats – including cookies shaped like bones – in the kitchenette. It was perfect – full of charm and love and we adored it.

Idaho countryside
Idaho countryside

Cottonwood is a weeny little place and whilst we were there we visited the mall – probably the tiniest mall we’ve ever seen – for a soda before driving up to St Gertrude’s Monastery for a moment of peace and repose.  For dinner that evening we took advice from Dennis and Frances and drove about ten minutes to Keuterville Pub & Grub. Completely unassuming from outside, the pub was a rural, rustic place full of local people with bear skins and antlers on the wall and peanut shells on the floor. Everyone seemed to know one another and the host was friendly – we ordered huge burgers, chicken fried steaks and tater tots: all was good, honest, home-cooked food. We talked and laughed with the local families also dining in the pub before heading back to the Beagle.

Sweet Willy's head.
Sweet Willy

Before sleeping we played board games, drank beer and felt extraordinarily happy. In all the hotels, motels and inns we’ve stayed at none had been built with so much love, none were quite so audacious. This place summed up everything we adore about America: big, bold, fun, put together with flair and can-do attitude. The next morning we ate well before saying goodbye to Idaho and Sweet Willy, whilst vowing to one day return.

Rate the State

Good for: duh, the Dog Bark Park!

Bad for: maybe too rural for some, we encountered lots of traffic jams.

Overall: 10/10 (the Dog Bark Park’s the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in).

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