Don't let that hed fool you; Goodrich, N.D., hasn't gone anywhere, but its golden years likely saw their very tail end not too long ago.
The little town at the center of North Dakota has been my family's base for grouse hunting for 13 years (with a brief break between 2012-15). As a kid, I enjoyed this faraway place seemingly devoid of people, though about 100 residents live there.
The Harvester cafe was a wonderful little haven on the town's Main Street. A small block of businesses ran south of the Harvester, including a grocery store that was still operating when we began visiting.
The city park's bathroom stood immaculately clean when we would come. A county museum across the road offered tours if one would only give Edna a call.
But for the last 10 years or so, lovely Goodrich has been on the decline.
Its business block closed and was demolished in 2011.
The Harvester was open only to October hunters in 2012, and closed down soon after.
The town's bar closed in 2015.
Hazel, the city park's kind caretaker, died in 2014, leaving the bathrooms unkempt and not to her standards.
The museum no longer lists a point of contact for tours.
And every year, it seems Goodrich loses another piece of its community. We were the only visitors to the park this weekend; last year, the two camper spots were already taken, and we parked on the grass near the basketball court.
My mother and I discussed this declination of what was a delightful little town in its day. We came to the conclusion that when a caretaker or organizer of a place or event passes on or leaves or otherwise ends their service, that amenity will cease to exist until someone cares enough to carry it on.
Until someone cares enough as Edna to give tours of the museum, the door will be locked.
Until someone cares enough as Hazel, the city park bathrooms will not be up to par.
And until someone cares enough as the folks of the Harvester cafe and bakery, two kids from Fargo on a weekend hunting trip won't be able to purchase a coconut cream pie for their uncle's birthday.
And that last anecdote only happened seven years ago; today, the Harvester's big front window is boarded up. Its exit sign still shines red from the dark interior, however.
I mean no ill will or disdain for the state and people of Goodrich. I have many happy memories there. But there does exist a mentality that people (especially younger citizens) lean on and expect certain services to just perpetually be.
Events that have happened for years don't carry on when its organizers pass away or step down.
Amenities end when business owners close down or die or can no longer operate.
It's a sad tale. I remember Goodrich's downtown block very well and how sad I felt when I saw the half-demolished Main Street sitting in the rain under an overcast sky five years ago.
It felt like Goodrich had given up.
But I could be wrong. Maybe some freethinking citizen will rev up the small city once more. There's still a bank, a post office and several churches.
Until then, however, I predict a slow spiral for Goodrich. People will live there for years and years, no doubt, and small town life continues day in and day out.
But how nice it would be to buy another coconut cream pie from the Harvester cafe.