Road Rash: Sweet Dreams!

Oct 20, 2015 View Comments by

Road Rash: Sweet Dreams!The B&B Experience –

I’ve always been envious of people who could sleep while lying next to an Atlanta freeway. I’m not one of them. I have enough trouble sleeping well at home, and strange accommodations usually exacerbate the problem when traveling. The pillow is too hard or soft, the air conditioner rattles, the room is either hot or cold, the traffic is loud, the signs outside are bright, or the guy next door is laughing like a straight-jacketed lunatic while watching a sitcom rerun at two in the morning.

And if none of the above are an issue, I sometimes can’t turn off my brain long enough to sleep because I had three cups of high-test java with dinner. Another common scenario involves having an annoying snippet of a song repeat endlessly in my head, in simulated stereo (of course) because I have two ears. Try listening to “I got the moo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oves like Jagger” a few thousand times and you’ll understand what I mean.

My wife and I thought we’d solved the travel accommodation dilemma long ago when we discovered the bed and breakfast while on a tour in Michigan. We stayed at a wonderful place, and that impromptu stop was the highlight of our trip. The Victorian décor, crisp white linens, lakeside setting, and sumptuous breakfast were all perfect, as were our hosts.

We spent many years trying to replicate that overnight ambiance without success. Although a B&B generally affords us a better night’s sleep than a hotel, there’s a price to be paid in return. There’s an occasional lack of privacy, and I once nicknamed some rather unusual hosts Morticia and Lurch. All B&Bs also seem to have cats, which I’m allergic to.

But perhaps the crown jewel of our sweet dreams fiasco list occurred a few years ago. Our anniversary is at the end of the northern riding season, so we usually head south for a long weekend getaway. We were ever optimistic that a fantastic interlude awaited us for the coming evening, and we had high hopes on the second night of our trip. Our lodging options were limited, and we were overjoyed when the owner of a restaurant recommended a nearby B&B. He called ahead for us, and we were greeted by the proprietor as we pulled up to a white, two-story farmhouse located a few miles from town.

We soon learned that the owner was retired and ran the place for a bit of extra money–and perhaps some company too, as he was alone. He showed us to our second-floor room, which was remodeled in ornate Victorian style. A bit overdone and frilly perhaps, but he’d given it his best shot and was clearly proud.

Our conversation drifted to the history of the room, and we learned that it had been the master bedroom prior to his wife’s death. He walked over to another door explaining that we had our own private bath. In stark contrast to the bedroom, the bath was vintage utilitarian farmhouse fare, the last remodel having been completed by folks who started their cars with a crank. The coup de grace was the tub, which looked like it had frequently been used to de-grease tractor parts. Moments later, he capped off the introduction by informing us that the bathroom was the site of his wife’s passing.

Our host was an affable and kind man, and we truly sensed and appreciated the depth of his loss. But this was our anniversary weekend, and if ever the phrase “too much information” was applicable, this was it.

We made the best of it and departed the following morning after a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns. He even gave us some paeya jelly as a parting gift. What kind of jelly, you ask? We asked as well, several times, and he finally spelled it for us: paeya, P-E-A-R. I guess we do pronounce it a bit differently up north.

We paid a premium for our room at another B&B the following night, hoping that we could simply buy a better experience. And it was, I suppose, somewhat better … until the next morning when a cat hopped onto our table during breakfast. We got an apology but no clean plates. We were told, “He’s never done that before!” Right. Look away for about thirty seconds and I’ll make sure he doesn’t do it again.

So what’s the answer to cornering that elusive night of peaceful slumber while traveling? I think we’ve finally found it, quite by accident, and it’s called sheer exhaustion. After three nights that don’t collectively add up to eight hours of sleep, that patch of grass beside the freeway does, in fact, start to look rather inviting. Sweet dreams!


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