The Thinker

Everybody’s out of town

Where have the people gone
Seems like there’s no one hangin’ on
Look through the window
The houses are empty
Hey, everybody’s out of town
Seems like I’m the only one around.

“Everybody’s out of town”

B.J. Thomas

The bed and breakfast experience can be a mixed bag. On the high side of the experience were two nights we spent this week at the Autumn Leaves B&B in Anacortes, Washington. No matter how clean the rooms, no matter how excellent the breakfasts, the B&B experience is diminished somewhat unless the owners live on premises and are personally vested in your satisfaction. We found this and much more at Autumn Leaves, along with gourmet breakfasts, immaculately clean and impeccably decorated rooms, perhaps the most comfortable bed we have ever slept in, soundproof walls and warm and personable hosts much more interested in us as persons than making a fast buck.

Then there are the more mediocre B&B experiences. In Europe you may find yourself hosted in a children’s bedroom and sharing a common bathroom. More frequently here in America, you find yourself at something of a faux B&B. You never see the owners. The property may not be well maintained. The carpeting may be dirty and stained. Instead, you will be served probably a pretty good but not spectacular breakfast. A rented host may be around during formal check in hours and in the morning to whip up a communal breakfast, but is otherwise absent. You may find instructions and a room key attached to a note on the door when you arrive instead of a human being. Essentially, you are largely on your own. Any socialization that occurs is with random guests that you encounter over breakfast or in the hallways.

Occasionally you get an entirely weird B&B experience. That happened last night at this B&B we are staying at just across the Cascades here in Washington State. I won’t identify the B&B or where it is located exactly, although you can see a picture of it below. As you can see, it is impressive. It sits on a large estate and backs to a river. It is clean and well furnished. Quite frankly, it’s a beautiful place. And we are the only ones here.

This doubtless happens from time to time in the B&B business, particularly during the week, although during prime vacation season this seems a bit odd. What was odder was that whoever is maintaining the property decided to let us stay here all by ourselves. We have not seen her but did talk with her on the phone. However, there was no greeter during check in time. In fact, we found the front door unlocked and the house, filled with beautiful furniture and tastefully decorated, eerily empty. There is not even a house cat to pet.

We found our room upstairs easily enough; the landlady apparently left the lights on in our room. And indeed it is a comfortable room. There are a hundred or so DVDs downstairs in the oversized living room. We selected one of them as our entertainment last night. We locked the front door but found that the back doors don’t lock. The locks are apparently busted. We have no room key, although we can lock our bedroom door.

The house is old enough where it feels like it could be haunted. If it is, ghosts were elsewhere last night although it is a downright creepy feeling to wander its halls after sunset all alone. I kept expecting Freddy Kruger to appear around a door frame. We eventually settled into our room, turned off the lights and fell asleep to the drone of a window air conditioner.

There will be no breakfast this morning. To compensate us, the absent landlady is giving us a 10% credit, which we will apply to a breakfast in town.

I suspect on the weekend the experience here is quite different. Probably all of the four upstairs guest rooms are full, and a large breakfast is splayed out on the enormous dining room downstairs. The gift shop with themed merchandise is probably open and staffed. For privacy, this weird B&B experience probably is hard to beat. If we had the time the Jacuzzi on the back deck could have been all ours and since apparently no one is looking or cares, we could have jumped in buck naked.

For me, socializing with other people, however fleetingly, is an essential part of the B&B experience. It is why it costs more than a hotel room. Which is why I feel somewhat cheated with this experience.

I will probably welcome the Red Lion in Richland where we will spend tonight. At least there will be other people there.

 

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