They arrive cloaked in mystery. An unsuspecting knock at the door adds to the wonder. Approaching headlights down the lane lend a cinematic quality (horror anyone?). Earlybird arrivals might catch me on the beach below the house, or walking on my lane with the dog, or maybe in the hot tub (ya, just checking the temps and chemical levels).
No matter how many emails are exchanged or how much it seems a guest and I might have in common, in large part my role comes down to managing expectations. Then, at the moment we finally meet, it is either an affirmation of the content of our emails or calls, or it can be a complete disconnect (my, my, that’s James? … or jeez, I thought she’d be older … or they’re so YOUNG).
At its most basic level, running a bnb or pension, the way I engage in it at least, requires repetitive leaps of faith. And an innate level of acceptance. Me? it helps I am OK with bumping into an unfamiliar face (make that total stranger) drinking coffee in my kitchen at 6:50 AM, or coming back from Safeway and seeing a mom or dad — never met — reading to a child while chilling on my sofa or chaise lounge. You? maybe not so much
In the abstract, the bnb biz might strike one as strange, even ill-advised. Well, this isn’t everyone’s idea of career choice numero uno. In practice, though, for me, it can be as easy as breathing.
I discovered a chunk of photos in a folder on my hard drive and can (almost) play a final hand at catching up with posting pics of past bnb guests. For many, it’s been way too long.
Have a look as I raise a glass of early morning coffee to those who have come before (whoever you are).
Ah, Ian and Heather. I remember them well. They stayed a single night but managed to tally a ton of fun – they hot-tubbed, drank good wine, stayed up late watching the stars. We sat around the kitchen chowing down on a test version of my strawberry tart. We all swooned.
Lin was another one-night stay. On her way to a new job by the Bay – with house plants and boxes of books on the passenger seat of her car-turned-U-Haul — Lin was all smiles and curiosity. She hiked Stout Grove before breakfast and, poof, was off as soon as the last muffin was downed.
Al, Vivian, and Pat. Buds from the Bay, these three were on a 48-hour race to see the redwoods. Even their 2AM arrival on night #1 couldn’t slow their pace. I’m hoping that come back to actually vacation here!
Noah also shot north from the Bay. A nighttime walker he had me worried as he sought out the nocturnal screech owl in Stout Grove. Funny, I get the willies just thinking about being out at night.
Annette and Co. were chilling out at the bnb while on a west coast business trip. Another one-night stay from a group who quickly settled in — even while plugged into email and strategizing for their upcoming meetings they had no trouble, and no qualms, spreading positive energy and smiles.
Justin and Leanne. They don’t look like high rollers, well, and they’re not. But, up from SoCal, they did jump on a plane for just a few nights in the redwoods. Surprisingly well traveled, they clearly have a knack for the road – they were my first guests to hire a guide for a fun float (aka conservation float) on the Smith. I had no idea it could be done.
Peter and Sandy. Oh, I had my concerns when they spilled out of their car and into the first of a few dry martinis. But did they redeem themselves. LOVED the trees. LOVED each other. And quite literally, made beautiful music together. For real. You had to be there…
Mark and Kristi were driving up the Oregon coast on an early anniversary present for themselves. They do look a bit smitten, eh?
You met skydiving? Really? Oh sure. But it’s true. They are the first couple at the bnb who truly, really fell in love. No longer teens (uh, none of us are) but very much young at heart, Gordon and Ellen were living their dreams. Bravo. (uh, get it…skydiving, falling in love, FALLing, skydiving…oh whatever.)
Short-timers up for an anniversary fix, Dan and Jen were already nature and wildlife aficionados. Maybe that’s why they sought out the redwoods to briefly unplug from the rigors of work and school.
Maggie and Ken should have made it into the Epic Drives post – they were checking off Winnemucca, Crater Lake, the redwoods and Lake Tahoe from their to-do list on a month-long road trip. Happy to have made the final edit on your thousand-mile (or more??) journey!
Who can explain the preponderance of Ohio folk who have come to the bnb. Martha and David among them, who were particularly lovely to spend time with. Careers, kids, new avocations and hobbies –“life takes us in many different directions,” Martha wrote in an email prior to her stay. I’m glad bnb hiouchi’s coordinates were part of their current adventure.
Alison the explorer. Another seeker from the Midwest, Alison’s endeavors are serious yet she is light (in a good way). Meg and I enjoyed her smile, grace, and calm during one of the busiest weeks last summer.
Jon was relocating from one coast to another. On this leg of the drive through the redwoods he had Mike, an old friend, join him. As companion and fellow road warrior. Mike was on board for just a few hundred miles out of the thousands Jon would log, and just a few nights of the many. They left with batteries fully charged and fuel tanks filled to the brim.
I don’t get too many locals or people with roots in Del Norte County as guests. Mike was an exception. But I could see why he might have sought out distant shores. He had a streak of curiosity the sort which is uncommon here — his tastes were more champagne, less PBR. Denise, well, here’s a person who does well in any crowd (hey, she tolerated me for three days!).
Ada and David turned the tables on Meg and I making us feel like guests in our own house (such were their skills at hosting, entertaining and joy). The stories were relentless and enlightening. There will always be room at the inn for these two.
Isabella, Katharine, Konstantinos, Johanna, and Christian continued the string of tidy, punctual, enormously proper and inordinately curious Europeans who have stayed here. It’s true the Europeans put us gringos to shame when it comes to travel, languages, adventure and social grace. How serious they take travel!