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April 18, 2011 / coalstovesinkguest

Branch, bourbon and bed

After a drive into the wilderness (for an urban bugger such as I), across a historic river, and onto a meandering pathway after a sharp right turn off the highway, I finally arrived at the main residence’s checkin counter, where I was greeted by a bevy of friendly dogs, suspicious cats, curious pigs, scared chickens, a puzzled horse and a few other types of fauna… not the typical greeting you’d expect pulling into a luxury property, but exactly what you will encounter at this hidden gem.

There was no ‘checkin line’ and my host promptly checked me in based on a once-over to confirm my identity – no paperwork to sign, no financial guarantee to provide, and for that matter, no room key to boot either. I was offered a pair of walking boots though, after my host noticed the urban loafers on my feet. Needless to say, initial impressions based on the quality of greeting and efficiency at checkin were positive.

My host graciously invited me to dinner at the main residence, which I accepted for many reasons, not one of which was based on the rationale that there was no room service or in-room facilities to cook my own dinner (as I was told). The dinner invitation was a smart move on my end: I was promptly ushered into the bar (yes, a real bar made from family heirlooms) where I witnessed real mixology in motion (think sazerac, sidecar, etc.). After a few such initial libations, and a delicious home-cooked meal with the family, there were more such post-dinner libations to imbibe and enjoy. [The dogs, cats, pigs, chickens and presumably the horse, had dozed off by this time, so the decibel level was considerably lower than what it was when I arrived.]

After much chit-chat and a few more libations, came the hard part… for 3 key reasons: 1) I was unsure of my BAC level and therefore my ability to walk upright, 2) I had declined the walking boots offered by my host, and 3) it was pitch dark outside. I could actually not discern my room. On a positive note, I was informed that I did not need (and therefore, as previously mentioned, did not have) a room key, so all I had to really do was to: 1) find the room, and 2) and stumble inside without fumbling around with door locks.

Anyhow, the dormant adventurer in my soul finally came to life: Bag in one hand, bourbon in the other, I set out in the array of branches to find my bed using only the radiance of the starry night and a ray of light from the main residence as my guiding light.

A few steps to the right, a few steps to the left, I carried myself uphill on the short yet arduous (or so I thought; recall my inability to calibrate my BAC level) walk to the guesthouse. Had it not been for the radiance of the stars and the ray of the light from the main residence, I would have probably missed it. A brief fumble (on my own accord, no disrespect to my host), and I was in… even in that state of mind, only one word formed on my lips: WoW (= a TLA for ‘Wild Out West’). A baby grand piano (or was it a grand?), a tabla (percussion) set, shelves replete with books actually worth a read, a guitar and a coal stove sink manifested themselves upon the flick of a switch. The bed looked inviting, the quilt cozy, and a large coal stove sink (huh?!)… and that’s all I remember until the following morning.

[Side note whilst asleep: The hospitality of my hosts, the warmth of the room and the deafening silence of my surroundings collectively made me miss the wake-up call from my iPhone, which BTW managed to capture 2 bars as I recall.]

However, when I did finally wake up the following morning, I indulged in the comfort of my surroundings once again: Morning ablutions in a shower laced with marbled tiles (no plastic showers, as my host maintains to this day), over a coal stove sink, and in front of a wrought iron mirror – all this with a bevy of curious domesticated animals peering in through the guesthouse windows made this one memorable morning. It was finally after they [the animals] left momentarily, I gathered the courage to step outside. The handsomely built wooden rustic guesthouse perched on a platform slightly uphill was actually not too far from the main residence. There were no branches between the main residence and the guesthouse either as I had falsely perceived (blame on that 3rd Pappy VW 20) the night prior, though there there were plenty of other animals (and droppings) I had not witnessed the previous evening. I now understood the rationale underlying my host’s offer of ‘walking boots’. [NOTE to future residents in concert with other blog entries: Pack walking boots or accept your host’s offer.]

I could go on for a while, but I’ll stop here with a conclusive statement or two… 1) this little hidden gem is a welcome reprieve from the din and tedium of the ‘usual’ replete with all of the modern comforts (ease of reservations, hot water, towels), amenities (l’occitane toiletteries) and hospitality (did I talk about our hosts?), and 2) I could have done the ‘usual,’ but then again, but would that have been so memorable as to justify this blog to entice other potential residents and my next visit back to the coal stove sink.

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