Visiting the bed and breakfast at St. Gertrude's Monastery is like wandering into the kitchen of your favorite grandma. The one that would bake you a chocolate cake for dessert - and serve it warm from the oven - just because. And would pull out the ice cream to go with it because warm chocolate fudge cake with cold ice cream is nearly heaven. Sister Chanelle met us at the entry to the Inn at St. Gertrude's. It was perhaps the nicest welcoming I've ever experienced. There was no registration card to fill out, no corporate hustle and forced pleasantry. Instead, Chanelle guided my wife and I through the Inn and offered insights into the grounds, little tidbits of history, and put us at ease.
St. Gertrude's Monastery sits just outside of Cottonwood separated from the highway by four miles and a century of memories. The grounds of the Monastery overlook the Camas Prairie to the east - wide, sweeping vistas - and, with a short hike to the upper meadows, the snowcapped Seven Devils Mountains to the south stand against the blue sky.
The Monastery itself, fitted into the hills like a natural outcrop of the blue porphyry quarried on site, was started in 1920 and finished in 1924 though there have been new additions - a school, a spirit center, the Inn - throughout the years. Channele was kind enough to show us the Monastery after breakfast our first morning.
For the structural nerd like me, the three foot thick walls of stone were impressive but the woodwork and detail of even the hallways was beautiful and modern conveniences like the new elevator are blended into the architecture so skillfully that they appear to have always been there.
And, since the Inn at St. Gertrude's Monastery is a bed and breakfast, a word about food. You have a choice for breakfast - either a continental in the Inn or breakfast with the nuns. The fare for the nuns is basic and satisfying but the atmosphere can't be duplicated. I enjoyed their hospitality after spending an hour sitting in the Adirondack rocking chairs on the patio of the Bluebird room, sipping coffee and alternately reading and admiring the view.
Later in the morning, I spent more time in the rocker, napping, before we went to the museum. An eclectic collection is waiting in the museum, an early baby incubator sitting a few feet away from the religious relics and, at the back of the museum, a collection of Asian artifacts dating to the Ming dynasty donated by Sam Rhoades in honor of his wife, Winifred Rhoades.
The Inn at St. Gertrude's Monastery has all the technology you would expect in a upper class hotel - wifi access, large flat-screen television. We didn't use any of it. We didn't miss any of it either.
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