A Day Off - Really!

Sunday was my first real day off all summer. George did breakfast and I made the 3 1/2 hour trek down to my old hometown Nutley, NJ to meet up with my 3 best friends from high school - Cheryl, Debbie & Darlene. We are still friends after all these years. 34 years! How could it be that long. Are we even 34 years old?? I feel like I'm 18. Well mentally anyway. Sometimes my body feels like I'm 70. So, on a spontaneous whim we decide to go to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ to see our old childhood crush, Peter Frampton. Could it get any better?? Best friends/Jersey Shore/Peter Frampton! Perfect!

We arrive and go to a boardwalk restaurant for dinner before the show. Beautiful weather, outdoor seating, so many laughs!! It was great seeing the girls and laughing about old times. We arrive at the show around 8:30. We manage to push our way to (almost) the front of the crowd. There's just a few heads in front of us. Annoying, bopping, swaying heads. I feel old going to the concert, but after a few glances we realize we are actually on the younger side of the spectrum of these concertgoers. Peter comes out and if you haven't seen a recent photo of him, he looks, well, a little different than you may remember. What would the opposite of "aging gracefully" be? Well, that is what he is.

He plays for about 45 minutes when he begins to get annoyed at a technical difficulty. Obviously and outwardly annoyed. Flapping his arms around, stopping the music, cursing, WTF, Peter! After one more song, he puts down his guitar storms off, and leaves the crowd wondering. Several take out their lighters. Is this the way an encore works these days?? Hmmm. Odd. Still not coming back. After about 10 minutes we see the roadies packing up. Is it over? No. He didn't say Goodbye/Goodnight/Thanks for coming! He'll be back! The crowd's getting angry. Maybe we should leave. Yeah, let's just go. We see his tour bus and decide we can't leave until we tell someone that we are upset. Cheryl asks some roadie guy "Where's Peter?" Like we are going to summon him over here and give him a talking to. He says he doesn't know, but we see a movie playing in the tour bus through the window. Hancock. Maybe he really needed to finish this movie. We tell the roadie man that we are upset and that Peter should have at least said Goodbye and Goodnight. He seems to agree. We're sure he will relay our message.

Oh well, who cares. By this time we are all tired anyway. Debbie and I agree that we didn't want to stand up anymore anyway. We're too old for this. It was our last Frampton hurrah. He is a crochety old man now. But an awesome excuse for four old friends to get together to reminisce. In another month we get the chance to be together again - our 30 year reunion. And another chance to be 18 again. For the 30th year in a row!

Don't Take It Personally

This summer my husband decided to take on a construction job, which left me running the inn M-F, 7am-7pm all by myself. Not an easy task when we are 100% booked 99.9% of the time with anywhere between 20-36 guests coming in for breakfast every morning. Now everyone has a bad day once in a while, but imagine having 10 rooms of guests in your house every single day of your summer. You are bound to have an off day, right. Well, now imagine on that bad day someone that you run into can review your personality and post it online for all the world to see. That is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

What seems to be the bible of travel is a website called TripAdvisor. We have been reviewed by many of our guests, all with 100% positive reviews. Even this particular woman that reviewed us (well actually me) liked our place and said that she "wouldn't hesitate to stay here again." But she wanted to point out a few things that she wasn't happy with..... well, mainly me. She stated that she was checked in with "businesslike efficiency". Now I don't know about you, but is that really so awful? Is that really worth writing about negatively? She goes on to say that she "didn't feel the love that others have raved about." Now I know I was never rude to this woman. So on my worst day, if I checked someone in "with businesslike efficiency" is that really so bad! And as far as not "feeling the love," who books a place with the expectation that the innkeeper is supposed to embrace them lovingly? Should I be hugging all my guests? Is that what everyone wants? That's what I'll do... I'll hug everyone when they come through the doors. Everyone will feel the love. No, then I will just be reviewed as being too forward, too pushy, too..... well, weird. No, I think I will stick with my usual normal personality and just try to be nice to everyone. And if I have that bad day once in a very rare while, I will try my hardest not to ever check a guest in with businesslike efficiency because now I know, that it is wrong, and you can be spanked in public for this horrific offense.

Do Not Disturb

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband George!

Today all of our rooms are checking out. So that means that we have 10 check-ins. Probably the most exhausting day for all innkeepers. Well, all of our rooms are supposed to check out. We have one still missing in action. Breakfast is supposed to end at 10 am but we still haven't seen Room 6 and it is now 10:30. Curtains closed, room dark. Did they forget they are checking out today?? I am leaving breakfast out, I am sure they will show up at some point. I've done that before. Cleaned everything up. And then they walk in. Oops. I just figure now is a good time to write while I am waiting.

I had time to run out and pick up my Amish cleaning girl while I am waiting too. She works 3 days a week and of course, I have to pick her up. During that 3 minute drive it is amazing all the questions that I can fit in every day. I am amazed at her lifestyle. No electricity. Really! One of our other cleaning girls (not Amish) gave her a book by Jodi Piccoult this week. I was surprised to learn that she is allowed to read that. I asked her if she is finished yet. It's been 4 days. She said almost. I asked her if it was dirty. She didn't seem to understand what I was saying. But I think she is enjoying it :). She reads by kerosene lamp everynight. I guess when you don't have a computer, tv, dvd, cell phone, iTouch, and assorted other electronic devices to waste your time with, what else is there to do. Read. Remember reading. Remember reading an actual book. Yes, I still read, but most of the time it is a book that I have downloaded onto my iTouch. Freaky when you think about it. The guests are amazed when they find out that there is a large community of Amish people in this town. It is very cool to see their horse and buggies drive by. We had one guest ask if that was an "actual" Amish girl. I said, "No we just like our cleaning staff to dress like that because we thought it would look more touristy if we pretended our staff was Amish." He believed me for a minute.

Where is that couple? Remember them? Should I put the food away? Should I ring their room? It's check-out time! I have to clean up. The girls are one room away from having to clean their room. Maybe I'll have them knock. Yeah, I'll have them do it. Oh, thank god. Here they come. They are putting their stuff in their car... They are heading this way... Phew! It's not the murder/suicide that I thought it could be, because I once read about that happening, somewhere, in the midwest at some hotel, on my itouch ebook.

Patience! Patience!

Today is George and my 20th Anniversary. How can that be, when did all this time pass? I think we may actually get away from the inn tonight for a nice dinner out. Maybe. With only one check-in it's a little easier to get away. Everyone else is here for the week. It's nice having people here for several days at a time. We get to know them a little better. Everyone keeps coming in this morning wishing me a Happy Anniversary. It's nice.

Yesterday our most demanding guest in 5 years checked-out. She was only here for 17 hours but in those 17 hours she had over 20 requests. And of those 17 hours, she was asleep for 9 of them. Requests ranged from the normal ones that everyone asks: dinner reservations, directions, ice, wake up call, etc.; to ones that were a little odder: can you show me where the air conditioner is (it's right there), can you show me where the refrigerator is (it's right there), the 0 on my phone doesn't work (yes it does), can I use another room's phone? After using a vacant's room's phone for 20 minutes, the room actually had to be cleaned. She used the table and two chairs, the bed was laid on, the bathroom was used and the shower was turned on (WTF!).

Our guests are really loving our Poison Dart Frogs in the terrarium in our lobby (not poisonous when raised in captivity, don't worry future guests). Someone actually wrote a review on Tripadvisor and mentioned them. Every kid that comes through loves to look for them every time they are in the lobby. And it is funny to see the reactions of the parents when they realize those bright blue, orange and green frogs are real and not plastic. The question is always the same, "Where do you get frogs like that?" It is amazing the things you can buy on the internet :)!

Sunday's a day for resting?

So here it is 5 pm on Sunday, and I'm washing linens/paying bills. Always something to do. George is outside on the tractor doing manly man tractor stuff. We had some new guests check in today. They lived in the town next to my sister down the Jersey Shore. (I miss the Jersey Shore!) They said "no, we don't know anyone with the last name Kalucki down there, but we do know a family in North Jersey". Yup same family. My sister moved from North to South Jersey. Small world!

Last night people checked in our "suite." It's a separate building in the back, a beautiful room. A mere 80' behind the house. Mind you, not in the next town, just in the back a bit. A city woman looked horrified to find out her room was wayyyyyyy back there in the dark (lots of lights on) and she would have to walk on a stone path to get there (horrors!). Ten minutes later I am asked by her friends if there was any possibility she could move up to one of the "regular" rooms up front. She is scared she may get attacked by possibly a snake (never seen one here), strange animals (????), a bear (are you kidding?) or bugs (what?). I say very politely, "no I am sorry, we are booked and we can't move her anywhere." I am asked, "Is your mommy or daddy around?" WTF! Now at 48, I know I may look a couple years younger, but WTF! How funny! Well, needless to say, I was delighted to see that she survived the night when she came in for breakfast.

Finally starting my blog!

So after 5 years of innkeeping I have decided to keep an online diary. I wish I would have done this sooner, since many memorable guests have come through our doors. But as I write I will try and remember past stories to tell about also.

Five years ago when we bought the inn, we didn't realize how much work it actually was going to be. Watching Newhart on television it always seemed so romantic and fun. And that it is, but the amount of work involved, I wasn't prepared. Imagine having ten rooms of guests in your house everyday for three straight months (June, July & August. We do mostly weekends in May, Sept., Oct. & Nov., so there is that break). Then comes the closed months - Dec through April. That's when we can rest. And do we need it. It is a very demanding life with so many guests, but we love (almost) every minute of it.

When we first started, my son was eight years old. So cute and little. He loved meeting new people and was always up for breakfast with the guests. We would turn around and he would be sitting with the guests eating & telling them all his favorite places to go to and favorite restaurants to eat at. He was such a good little innkeeper. The first couple of years when the guests were out for the day, you would find him on his dirt bike riding all over the property. As the years went on, he still loves to meet and talk to the guests, but getting a teenager up early to have breakfast with the guests is a little harder.

Over the years, the amount of amazing people we have met is incredible. We have so many guests who come back year after year who are now considered true friends. One group in particular that comes to mind are our dear guests whom we have named our "Seniors Gone Wild" group. This group of friends went to camp each year when they were younger and now get together twice a year for a reunion. We love them all dearly and consider them our true friends. Although sometimes I think I have to watch my back. At first I thought I had to worry about my husband's three "Charlies Angels" Cougars, but now I think I have to worry about his man love with Phil :).

In a couple of weeks another group of our friends/guests are returning. These two couples come once or twice a year from CT and we always look forward to seeing them. We have a lot of laughs together, mostly at the expense of Susie/the klepto and Donny/the storyteller. (Pam & Steve are the normal ones :). Only kidding. Maybe I should say now that I have changed all names in my blog to protect the innocent, but I haven't really.

Our guests come for different reasons: baseball, opera or just to enjoy the beautiful area. And they are all very different. Breakfasts are very amusing when an opera couple is seated next to a die hard yankee fan. I was shocked last week when one of our serious opera guests turned around and knew sooo much about baseball, name..stats...scores.

Well, I guess I should stop for today. It's 8:13 pm and I still have plenty to do tonight (and 5:30 comes pretty quick in the morning).

More to come...

ps: Mick, Debbie and Rob, thanks for the conversation. It prompted me to start putting it in writing.

pss. I miss the Bucklers, we need to see you! I guess we are going to have to come up to Boston!