Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop. After The Dalles, Dad and I headed to Washington – Spokane to be exact. There is a big cat rescue camp in Spokane, Washington that is one of my favorite attractions I’ve ever visited. Basically, they take and rehabilitate large animals – mostly cats – who cannot be returned to the wild for whatever reason. Tiger cubs that were used for tourist photo traps, exotic pets that outgrew their homes, zoo animals that had never been in the wild, and more. For some unknown reason, Dad completely left this out of his blog posts. Go figure. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
One unique opportunity at this rescue is the chance to feed the animals – a lion, a tiger, or a bear. Not like a petting zoo or one of those places that sedate young cats for photos. These cats were large and caged. We were also in a large, clear, rolling cage with one small hole in the middle. A staff member would put meat on a skewer and then I got to push it through the hole in my cage, through the hole in her cage, and the furball in question would pull the meat (or grapes for the bear) off of the skewer. That’s right, I said I. I got to feed a lioness. Her name was Nala. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
Nala was surprisingly house-cat like in her behavior. The staff have strict rules while feeding the animals to ensure everyone’s safety. One of the rules is that all paws have to remain on the ground. If Nala put one of her massive lion paws on the cage, the trainer would tell her to put it down and she wouldn’t get any more food until she did. Now I grew up with cats and have had them for the better part of my life. They are ornery little buggers. Apparently, lions are no exception. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
I wasn’t allowed to look away from the cat (again, safety reasons) but the trainer would occasionally look at me instead of Nala to hand me meat or tell me or the crowd watching something interesting about Nala. Every time she looked away, Nala would put a paw on the cage. At the beginning, it was more of a menacing reach to get to the food. After a few times being scolded, it was very clearly just to disobey. Trainer looks away, Nala looks at her and sneaks one paw off the ground onto the cage, low enough maybe the trainer won’t notice. No, she noticed. Try again next time but a little lower. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
This went on the entire time I fed her. Honestly, it was hilarious. I see where my little Willowbee* gets it. Disobedience is bred into cats at the highest level. I’m just glad Willow can’t fit my entire head into her mouth or we might have to rethink our sleeping arrangements and her feeding schedule. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
From Spokane, it was a quick zip across Idaho to Montana. Somewhere along that trip, we stopped for Popeye’s fried chicken. My family grew up on Popeye’s for special occasions. The nearest Popeye’s when I was a kid was 2 hours away at a truck stop across state lines. For special occasions – like my dad’s birthday – Mom would throw me in the car and we’d drive down to get a family (maybe a two-family..) spread. My reward for riding along was always a large red beans and rice and a blue raspberry slushee (from the truck stop, not Popeye’s) for the trip home. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
So, when we saw a Popeye’s on the way from Spokane to Bozeman, Montana, we stopped. Now, we used to make special trips for Popeye’s when I was 10 or younger, over 10 years before this trip. By 2016, my dad was 65. As happens to many of us as we age, his gut had begun taking offense to spicy food. But it hadn’t been doing so long enough that he made the connection. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
We got to Bozeman after dinner time, too late to do much that day, and Dad’s stomach was not a happy camper. Mind you, I had been food poisoned just south of here, so I probably wasn’t as sympathetic as I should have been. I asked for the bed farther from the bathroom and parked myself in front of the TV for the night. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
We were only in Bozeman, Montana for one full day. The main attraction was a natural history museum – full of dinosaur bones. Apparently Montana was at the base of a bunch of glaciers during the ice age (or something like that) so the soil is ripe with fossils. Most kids are interested in dinosaurs for a few years and then grow out of it. I never really did. I love and am intrigued by the thousands of species of creatures currently alive and equally – if not more – intrigued by those I will never have the chance to see in person, including dinosaurs. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
So, I woke up the next morning eager to strike out for the museum.
Dad: “I don’t think I can go today. I still don’t feel good. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I can’t get stuck away from a bathroom.”
Me: “I’m sorry you don’t feel well. Can I get you anything before I go?”
Dad: “Um, I figured you would stay here with me..”
Me: “Oh no, this museum looks awesome. I don’t want to miss it.”
Dad: “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with you driving around by yourself in a place we don’t know.”
Me: “Well, you sent me out to get meds in Shreveport and a guy peed on my car. It’s 9am and very light out so I feel like we’re probably fine here.”
Dad: “Would you really leave me here sick and alone?”
Me: “Here, have a stuffed animal to comfort you. We good now? That museum looks really cool.”
Needless to say, I went and it’s still on Dad’s shit list. But in my defense, the museum was really cool. It’s located on the Montana State University campus and has some of the largest dinosaur skeletons and most impressive recreations I’ve ever seen. Did you know that a researcher there consulted on Jurassic Park and they basically ignored him? Now you do. Thank the children’s tour group I got stuck behind. Kids aren’t my favorite, but I got a few free factoids as I tried desperately to avoid them and their screeches. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
Apparently the little scavenger dinosaurs from Jurassic Park were actually super colorful feathered little things. But the filmmakers thought that wasn’t intimidating enough so science got cut. I mean it is a Sci-Fi film, so fair. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
Anyway, after what was probably the best attraction (except maybe feeding a lion in Spokane) of the trip, I went back to the hotel to check on Dad. I probably should have downplayed the experience, but it was really cool. So I told him all about it. He is still, to this day, bitter that I got to go and he didn’t. But, by the next morning, he was feeling well enough again to strike off toward our next destination. Bozeman MT Littlest Jessop
*If you haven’t followed the interlude blog, a few months ago, I adopted a very adorable, very ornery cat named Willow. She is still working on training me, but I think I’m coming along nicely.
If you liked this blog, you’ll really like our new book, MURDER BY ROAD TRIP. PI Longfellow got in a lot of trouble in Bozeman. He might have even met Fred Flintstone, and found a clue to the murders. Get the book on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HauHCg Barnes&Noble https://bit.ly/35lISh6 and Indie Books https://bit.ly/2I95at8
To meet PI Longfellow his wife Chelsea, the main characters in MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, you can read our “Meet the Family” blog at https://johnjjessop.com/pi-jason-longfellow They’re memorable characters.