Chloe enjoys the view from our favorite motel.

I first stopped at Welsh’s Motel in 1993 on my maiden voyage west from Indiana to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. I met Mr. Wes Welsh that day, and ever since I have looked forward to his warm greeting and smiling face when I walk through the lobby door after a long day of travel. Time passes, and over the years I’ve driven this 1700-mile route 40-some times. This last June, though, Mr. Welsh was not there. When his daughter, Kelly, greeted me, I knew our Mr. Welsh was gone. Kelly has the same big, open heart and beaming smile of her father. Over the registration counter, we shared memories of both her dad and my parents (who had also stayed at Welsh’s over the years). We couldn’t help but cry. They were tears of painful loss but also much joy. We both know how fortunate we are.

I’m traveling west again soon. Headed to my “homes” in South Dakota, and then Montana. Home is where you share your heart. Thank you, Mr. Welsh, for sharing yours…

And Kelly, we’ll be seeing you soon.

The key to life... is a REAL key...

The key to feeling truly at home… is having a REAL key!

Saturday evening after stopping in Ames, Iowa to visit the ISU campus and then again at a bar in eastern South Dakota to catch the Triple Crown (California Chrome, I still love you), I arrived in Wall, South Dakota at 11 pm. The owners of the Welsh Motel were expecting me — I had called them as I left Sioux Falls to let them know I was still about 4.5 hours away.  “Do you want your usual room on the east side of the building?” Kelly, the owner’s daughter, asked me. “By then, any room will be the perfect room…” I told her. On my cross-country trips, I always make it a point to stop at Welsh’s. I cherish feeling so “at home” even though I’m halfway between my real homes in Indiana and Montana. Welsh’s is one of the most welcoming, dog-friendly motels in this country. “How many dogs do you have today?” they ask out of curiosity instead of dread. During the winter, my Alaskan Huskies usually prefer to sleep in the cold car, yet the owners always insist, “Bring them inside!” Several summers back on one 100-degree day, I shared an air-conditioned Welsh’s Motel room with 5 dogs. The reasonable rates (under 50 bucks!?!) and park-at-your-door layout (yes, a REAL motel!) make it easy to arrive late… and bed down stress-free. Home is where people wait up for your arrival… and smile when you walk through the door.