The Foreign Service Journal, April 2020

78 APRIL 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL S oon after my retirement, my family was mysti- fied when I declared my intent to buy a bed-and- breakfast in a far corner of Idaho. They still remembered my adverse reaction to our one-and-only stay at a bed-and-breakfast farmhouse in Penn- sylvania Dutch country where I declined, on behalf of all of us, the invitation to rise before dawn and watch cows being milked. That had been much of my Ken- tucky childhood, which had then fueled my ambition to join the Foreign Service. Despite the gentle remon- strations of those dear to me (“But Bea, they have rocking chairs on the front porch, and when we’re old, we can have our whole family around us.” “David, there are rock- ing chairs on our front porch now, and our whole family is around us.”), I soon became the owner of the Old Northern Inn on Priest Lake. The six-room hostelry had been built in 1900 from rough-hewn logs by a guy who mistak- enly thought a railroad was coming. A history of the lake reveals that he soon went bankrupt, and over time the build- ing transitioned to a brothel, an old folks’ home, a liquor store, a Mexican restau- rant, an empty hulk and, finally, a bed- and-breakfast. I had stumbled on Priest Lake in 2003, at the start of a summer camping trip to the three states I had never visited— Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. With no particular plan, my son and I pitched our tent there on a deserted island where by day, the water was so clear that pad- dling a canoe felt like flying and by night, stars spangled the ponderosa pines like Christmas lights. That experience stayed with me, and after returning home, I telephoned a realtor to ask about buying a little cabin on the lake. I learned that the little cabins were leased by the state, and that the only lakefront place for sale was the bed- The Inn by the Lake BY DAV I D SUMMERS David Summers at the entrance to the inn. COURTESYOFDAVIDSUMMERS The view of the deck and Priest Lake from the upstairs balcony of the Old Northern Inn. COURTESYOFDAVIDSUMMERS RETIREMENT SUPPLEMENT