Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our Life at the Bed and Breakfasts

As Adam and I planned our stay at The Inn on Bath Creek this past week, I wondered how long it had been since we'd taken a B-and-B break. A night or two at a nice B-and-B is a staple of our marriage and has been for about 17 years. I've been blogging since the fall of 2007, so I glanced first on ye olde blog. Nope, no record of our last escapade. That means it had been nearly seven years since our last getaway -- too long!
The Hancock House, Dubuque, Iowa
The Hancock House in Dubuque, Iowa, was our first Bed and Breakfast adventure. Old, regal, well-maintained, quiet, this old lady stands on the bluff above the upper Mississippi River. We quickly felt at home. We were new at this B&B game, but learned how to whisper in the hallways, nod at other guests, thank our gracious hosts who open their homes to strangers, and  r  e  l  a  x  . A B-and-B is not a hotel. It's not just a bed. You pay more money so you can enjoy every aspect of a lovely home someone has worked hard to present to you beautifully. Savor every moment! Sit on the porch, lounge in the parlor, sample the sherry, read the books, enjoy the snacks, raid the little frig and have another cup of coffee.  We visited the Hancock House twice. First we stayed in the Library, on the first floor, but soon discovered how uncomfortable it felt to be dressing while some other guests were chatting over breakfast on the other side of the door. On our second visit, we stayed in their Ballroom Suite, which I believe is on the third floor. (This was back when Adam's knees were younger and spryer.)
The Redstone Inn, Dubuque, Iowa
The Hancock House became a standard for us, and why we didn't stay there exclusively, I don't recall. We also tried out the Redstone Inn, in Dubuque, just once. It's a lovely old building, but I caught a nasty cold on that trip. It was winter. I was determined to enjoy myself, so I went shopping in the winter air anyway. I recall Adam drove out at night to buy medicine for me, dear old fellow. Still, the Redstone is a gorgeous place and the interior was a delightful step back in time.

An important criterion in a B-and-B, for me, is a big whirlpool tub. And since we also love old historic homes, that's difficult. Many restorers of historic homes don't like putting whirlpool tubs in the rooms, after they've already chopped the lovely old places into suites and rooms. This limited my choices, and of course our budget often limited options as well. Once when Julia was a little baby we went to a place in Galena, Illinois (just across the Mississippi River) for a stay. It was not memorable except as a cautionary tale not to take a baby along on a romantic getaway! I believe it was a cheaper place, smaller, less lovely, and without breakfast. I do not recall the name.
The Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, SC
One summer when we must have been at our wealthiest, we dropped the kids off at camp in the NC mountains and headed to Charleston, SC to stay at the Wentworth Mansion. The Wentworth was ritzy, fancy, and a bit over our heads. It lacked the intimate, homey feel that some B&Bs offer, but it makes up for it in sheer elegance and wow-factor.  Perusing their website now, I'm stunned to discover they have a 1000 sq. ft. suite! I'm sure we stayed in one of the East Wing rooms, but it was comfortable and relaxing with a private balcony and ... a large whirlpool tub. If we stay in a B-and-B for one night, I'm sure to be soaking in that tub at least three times during our visit. Candles, soft music, a Victoria magazine to read ... Ahhhhh!
Chestnut Street Inn, Asheville, NC
Once along the way we also stayed at a lovely B-and-B in Asheville, NC. I believe Julia was almost a year old, so I'm guessing the summer of 2000. This is a lovely old home in a lovely mountain town, and I do recall the large jacuzzi tub. But this time being away from the baby was a difficulty. Still, in spite of some imperfections in the experience, Adam and I continued to make the effort and shoulder the expense of regular B&B trips. It had become a fixture in our marriage, a regular, private celebration of our love for each other, and an investment in nourishing one of our most precious possessions: our marriage.

We hit a dry spell for a bit, when we lived in Alabama and for a couple of years afterward. Our forays into the B-and-B life occurred when we were employed and had saved enough to indulge in such a luxury. Some years, it was impossible. But when we found ourselves in Massachusetts and teaching school again, we looked around for a nice spot to get away over Christmas. We found Falmouth and a simple B-and-B there. I do recall that as being a lovely time. No one got sick. I did leave my bathroom/makeup bag there accidentally, and they graciously held it for me until I could return to Falmouth for it. I have a rather remarkable sense of direction, a sense of location and place. I've looked for this Falmouth B-and-B online but can't find it listed, so it must be out of business. But I was able to look on Google Maps and immediately find the house at the intersection of Main and Locust. I'm sad it's closed, but glad that the home is being lived in again by a family and enjoyed by them.
The photo above, which I used as my blog banner for some time, was taken at Falmouth a few months after our romantic weekend there. We went back with the children for a brief vacation at the end of a very stressful school year.
Oak Hill Country Inn, Franklin, NC
And now we come to that last B-and-B getaway around Christmas of 2006, to Oak Hill Country Inn in Franklin, NC. We stayed in their Topaz Room, which was very nice and had a huge whirlpool tub. It was on the first floor, very comfortable. I recall watching the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, which I did not like. I recall being sick (again!) with a cold or flu, although not as bad as when at the Redstone. Mostly we were disappointed in Franklin because there seemed to be no decent eating places! More than we do now, we used to look for nice restaurants to accompany our nice accommodations, and Franklin was a wasteland. The second night there, we agreed for our hostess to prepare our meal. She did not specify a price, but assured us it would be reasonable. Well, it was very expensive, and the meal was not that good. I do think the home is very pretty, and the location lovely, and perhaps the same proprietors are not there now, but we did find her a bit over-friendly. When a couple are away for a much-needed retreat from life and responsibilities, they don't want to spend a couple of hours around a table talking with strangers. At least, we don't.

So, after Franklin, we felt a little burned out. B-and-Bs are very expensive on our budget, and we decided to forego them since we didn't seem to be getting the same benefit -- the same enjoyment -- from them we had in the past. Nearly seven years passed until we found The Inn on Bath Creek and the quiet, calming village of Bath.  At last, we found "B-and-B Perfection."
The Inn on Bath Creek, Bath, NC
I don't know how often we'll be able to go, but the kids are older now and mostly moved away, and there are no babies to worry for. I'm very thankful that Adam and I discovered how crucial it is to nourish and cherish our marriage, and to do it in tangible ways that we both appreciate. On a B-and-B trip, he enjoys having my undivided attention -- no house, no cleaning, no laundry/dishes/piano practicing/etc. Just US. I appreciate all the help that a B-and-B gives me to relax and unwind all the little stresses that have mounded up inside me over time. We both feel these romantic getaways and private times together have been hugely beneficial to our marriage, and we'd highly recommend them to newly married couples. Even if you don't have a lot of money, save some up for a night away. Even if you can't go every year, or every three years, don't give up. The memories are priceless, and they're yours alone. And now I've placed these memories of ours in one blog post, so I won't forget!
Oscar's House B-and-B on Ocracoke, our very first getaway ... our honeymoon


6 comments:

  1. Fun! I think it's so sweet that you remember each one so well!

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  2. What sweet, sweet memories. I like the honeymoon hut best!

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  3. We like visiting B&B's, too. I like that you remember these.

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  4. My husband and I used to do this. We've stayed in some beautiful ones and some not-so-great ones, and we've sort of gotten out of the habit. (We do still get away regularly, though we usually just settle for a hotel now.) We did stay in a beautiful B & B for our honeymoon on Prince Edward Island.

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  5. I enjoyed your tour of Bath, and now this:) We have stayed at a few B&Bs, but one of our most memorable times was staying in a yurt in the Olympic Peninsula.

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