No Blues at the Blue Belle Inn

I went from one mostly consonant-free state to another. Ohio. Iowa. A measly two consonants between them. No wonder I got them mixed up when I was very young!

Jeff and I had been to Iowa once a long time ago. We often reminisced about a motel near Ames, the quiet location, the pond our windows overlooked (though it could have been a rain puddle considering all the rain we’d driven through). We always wanted to go back through the state, and now we never will go together. But I went back by myself and this time, I didn’t stay at a motel. I stayed at a bed and breakfast, one I’d known about for many years: The Blue Belle Inn in St. Ansgar, owned by fellow writer Sherrie Hansen, author of the wildflowers of Scotland romances. (One is named Blue Belle. Hmmm. I wonder where she got that title!)

When Sherrie bought the house twenty-five years ago, it was in terrible condition, but she restored the building, upgraded it, and decorated each of the bedrooms to reflect a story. I stayed in Plum Creek, named after a Laura Ingalls Wilder book.

Talk about being steeped in luxury! Lovely and very comfortable room room. Gourmet breakfast — egg and ham strata, cranberry scone, fresh fruit cup. Delicious lunch — chicken salad on a croissant with a salad. Fabulous dinner — cottage pie with a thatched roof (her version of shepherd’s pie) and coconut cake for desert.

As you probably figured out, although the inn is a bed and breakfast, Sherrie provides other meals for guests who stay more than a night or two.

I also had the luxury of meeting Sherrie, a long-time internet friend. We met at, a now defunct social network site for writers and photographers. Sherrie moderated one of my favorite groups — a photography group for all things color. She would choose a color, and group members submitted photos of something depicting that color. Such fun!

Sherrie is as wise and as intelligent as she appears online, making my stay at the Blue Belle Inn a real joy.

And so another online friend has become a friend for real.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)