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Feet in the Sand

                The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings will be celebrated this week in Normandy, France, and all over the free world.  I have always been fascinated by significant events of history and, in my opinion, there are few that rival what happened June 6, 1944. 

                I have had the privilege to visit France on several occasions and once, on our return flight out of Paris, we flew over the beaches of Normandy.  When the captain announced the beaches could be seen from the right side of the plane, I quickly jumped up from by seat on the left side of the aircraft, hobbled through a set of empty seats reserved for the flight attendants, just to grab a glance of them.  I apparently caused some commotion because I was chastised by the attendants and asked to return to my seat, where I was banished for the remainder of the six-hour flight.

                I told Lainey at the time that I would love to visit those beaches someday.  If I have learned anything in my 36 years of marriage to my wife is that she does not forget anything.  I have also learned that she likes to celebrate “special” birthdays.  For my 60th birthday, she hosted a dinner for family and friends and the Grove Park Inn.  As my next big birthday approached, I warned her I didn’t want a special party.  I didn’t get one.  What I got instead a dream trip to Normandy with my three sons, Andrew, Steven, and John Thomas. 

                This past March, we flew to Paris, rented a car, drove three hours to Normandy and spent two very full days visiting the 6 landing sites of June 6, 1944

                It was both a wonderful and educational yet sobering and emotional experience.  It was wonderful because it is a beautiful rural area of France with spectacular view of the English Channel with beaches and steep cliffs merging with the sea.  It was educational because of the many museums and displays that informed us of the size, scope and complicated logistics of the landings.  It was also wonderful because my sons were there to experience it with me.

                It was sobering due to the tremendous sacrifice of life that took place that day.  Thousands of young men died just on Omaha Beach that morning.  The beach is wide and deep and there was no protection from the relentless gunfire of the well-fortified German bunkers lining the shoreline.  It was sheer carnage. Yet they persevered and ultimately captured it.  As I walked on Omaha Beach, my sons backed off a bit and let me take it all in quietly and alone.   I was suddenly swept with emotion.  I couldn’t help wondering if I would have had the courage those young men exhibited that day.  I looked up and down the beach almost as far as I could see, visualizing that morning and wept.

                Later that day, we visited Pointe Du Hoc where the US 2nd and 5th Rangers climbed 100 foot cliffs to capture crucial gun emplacements.  60% of them did not survive the day.  Honor, duty, commitment ruled the day as they succeeded. 

                We visited St Mere Eglise,  the small inland town emblematic of the paratroopers that were dropped behind enemy lines overnight to disrupt communications and prevent enemy reinforcements.  Again, there were heavy losses as the paratroopers missed landing zones and were met by heavy resistance and losses. 

                The same could be said of Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach where American, British, Canadian and some French forces landed.

                The significance of D Day is enormous.  In 1944, Germany ruled Europe and had its sights on Britain and beyond.  The world was in turmoil and serious danger.  The only option was to physically invade Europe, drive into the heart of Germany and defeat Hitler’s regime.  It was not going to be easy, it was going to require serious commitment and planning, and it was going to cost many lives.  But there was no other way. 

                The events of that day changed the course of history. We enjoy the many freedoms we too often take for granted because thousands upon thousands of young men and women from all over the globe were willing to take a stand.   

                Most of you probably familiar with the quote from philosopher George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” and I believe it is true.  We must always be mindful of our history, even our past failures, as we look to the future.  We must remember to value good over evil and to stand with our allies over anyone who seek absolute power and domination.   Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese went unchecked far too long and it almost cost us everything dear to us. 

                David Burnett is a photographer for National Geographic.  He has been going to Normandy since 1974 capturing moments of D Day Celebrations and remembrances.  He wrote a piece in this month’s issue.  He closes with these words:

                “History has a way of receding. Our recollections become secondhand, then thirdhand, and eventually just words in a history book. But I’m not sure the same fate awaits Normandy. I’ve never met anybody, young or old, who walked on Omaha Beach and didn’t feel the history of that place. There’s something very powerful about putting your feet on the sand”

                This March, I put my feet in that sand.  I have also “put my feet in the sand” at battlegrounds of Gettysburg, Appomattox, Pearl Harbor, and even Cowpens in South Carolina.  It is not just emotional; it is a reminder that we never forget what history has taught us.

 I pray we never have to make such sacrifices again.

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This……

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This…………..

It was the perfect afternoon.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the temperature was in the low 70’s, and there was a slight breeze blowing across our face. Lainey, her Dad John, and I sat on Hemlock Inn front porch early yesterday afternoon admiring the successful planting of a few new trees in the inn’s front yard, replacing aged one we had taken down over the winter.  We were satisfied with our selection of the trees, Autumn Flame Maples,  and the location we had them placed.  They promised to be great shade trees in just a few years and would provide vibrant fall colors.

As we sat in the rocking chairs admiring our work, the birds were chirping and singing from the surrounding trees. We were particularly taken by a pair of blue birds, actively circling the area, only landing to rest occasionally on the lamp posts overlooking a birdhouse filled with their family of young newborns.  The newly hung hummingbird feeder was an active spot for one particularly hungry hummingbird, obviously grateful we finally put up his refueling station.

From the porch, we looked across the freshly mowed lawn, happy we had finally found the right yard service to keep our place neat.  The freshly planted flowers and hanging baskets were the finishing touches to adorn our outdoor area, but they could not match magnificent views afforded us by the surrounding mountains.  The recent cool front had cleared the sky of any clouds and haze leaving only breathtakingly clear views of the mountain ranges to the east and south.

We were given a final surprise when a fully-grown ground hog nonchalantly ambled directly in front of us heading to the safety of our pasture below.  He seemed comfortable as he passed and we sat in amusement.  The whole afternoon was one of peace and contentment.  The world seemed so far away and we were not eager to search for it.  News of the day was of no interest.

Eventually friends and guests joined us on the front porch to add a new dimension to an already perfect day.  The porch was suddenly filled with soft gentle voices sharing stories and laughter.  I thought to myself…It doesn’t get any better than this.

I admit that all days are not  perfect at Hemlock Inn.  We do get rain, a necessity if we want to keep green grass, beautiful flowers, and healthy trees.  Things break and malfunction and need repair.  Unwanted events may mar a day.  Those things are normal wherever we are. But Hemlock Inn also offers an escape from stress, relief from a tiring routine, comfort food, and a beautiful setting. It may not always be perfect but sometimes, maybe even many times, its good….very good.  You may agree, “ It doesn’t get any better than this”

                We still have some rooms available Memorable Day weekend.  Come join us.

Mort

Spring Brings Surprises

                When you first drive up the hill and arrive at Hemlock Inn, you park next to our lamppost and lantern.  This is an appropriate location to welcome guests because the lantern has often been associated with Innkeeping.  As I wrote in a blog 10 years ago  ”…. From early in the 18th century, the lantern has been the symbol of innkeeping.  Visualize the innkeeper standing outside his inn at night with a lighted lantern welcoming weary guests to his establishment”

                But it is not the lamppost or lantern I want write about. It is the flower garden at its base.  Years ago, we planted some tulips in that area and enjoyed watching them emerge early every spring.  We abandoned that practice because the tulips usually came and left before we opened.  Every now and then, a single or just a few yellow tulips still bloom in the early spring for us to enjoy for short while.  Then, around Mother’s Day, when we are comfortable that the lasts frost of the season has come and gone, we dig up and till the ground and plant new flowers for the season.  

                This spring, another single yellow tulip came up and was joined by four bright red tulips.  We were stunned.  We have no idea how long those bulbs had been in the ground and certainly couldn’t remember when they last bloomed.  Somehow, they survived all the years of tilling and working the ground in that small garden area.  But there they were, standing tall and proud.  Spring brings surprises.

                Isn’t that just like spring?   New life appears and overtake the dark and drab coat  of winter. It’s like screaming  “A new day is here…come marvel and enjoy”.

                But isn’t that life also?  Sometimes wonderful and beautiful things hide just out of sight, waiting for the right time to make its appearance.  It may be quickly, or it may take years, like our red tulips.

                Granted, sometimes these surprises may not be welcome.  The news may be an unexpected set back or perhaps a medical issue.  But even those times can be a wakeup call for us to change direction or to modify our lifestyle or behavior.

                Maybe our real lesson is to be aware of what is around us and to realize that changes and surprises that  may suddenly appear.    Perhaps we should even be looking for those new and exciting things hidden from view under a thin layer of soil, just waiting.  We may be surprised when we really open our eyes as well as our hearts and minds to the possibilities.

                I can’t close without a thinly vailed attempt at marketing.  Most of you reading this have been to Hemlock Inn.  If so, you can stop reading now.  BUT if you haven’t, Hemlock Inn can be one of those hidden gems.  We sit off the beaten path, away from traffic, crowds, on 57 wooden acres.  We have spectacular mountain views and provide wonderful home cooked meals along with a healthy dose of peace, quiet, and friendly folks.  You may come not knowing what to expect and discover a bright red tulip.

                We’ll be waiting!

                We open in two weeks…..Monday, April 22

Country Inn

This winter has been a season of learning for me.  It has also been a lesson in patience, perseverance, and frustration.

 Late last year, I was notified that the only on-line reservation system we have used had been sold to a large international company. We had to either convert over to the new company or set up with a completely different company over the winter.  I must first explain that our old system was not a “real time” reservation system.  It was merely a way folks could request a reservation.  We could accept or deny the request, but we had complete control over the process and some discretion on how we would handle the request.  I quickly discovered all this was going to change. The new on line procedure makes and confirms reservations, based on availability we provided, in real time and without any consultation from us. 

Now, for many of you, this is completely understandable and expected in today’s online process.  This is standard operating procedure.  But we always liked to be in touch with potential guests, find what they wanted, make suggestions, and help them complete the reservation.   Now, travelers seek and find their destinations on line, pick out a room, enter their credit card information, and the reservation is confirmed….instantly.

So, I started the conversation process and immediately ran into problems.  I could not find a way to describe our inn. Instead, I was given a list of options and asked to click on the one that best described the type us.   I could choose from B&B, resort, hotel, cabin, yurt, beach house, lakeside home, elegant townhouse and so many more.  But there was no option for what we have called ourselves for 67 years, a COUNTRY INN . There was no option to indicate that our room rate includes full country family style breakfast (not buffet, not continental, not a la carte) or our hearty southern family style dinner. 

In short there was no flexibility on many items.  I had to choose and describe our inn by selecting cookie cutter options.  The company wasn’t very helpful or available to help either. I decided to select another online system that was a little less stringent.  They were more helpful, but I still had to invent ways to fully describe our operation.

But my task was not complete.  I also decided to add three On Line Travel Agencies (OTAs).  You know them.  They advertise all day long on TV.  That’s right, I am moving into the 21st century.  I have finally understood that these platforms are the ones constantly used by all travelers, not just the young ones.  In my heart I knew this would have to happen and that it will increase our visibility and attract more guests.  It is a new world where we will have less and less contact with potential guests until their actual arrival.    

This process has taught me two important lessons.  Number one, I am old and out of touch.  Number two, we need to address the question of who we are in today’s terms.  If folks don’t know about Country Inns, we need to figure out what they recognize and how to adapt.

It is sad to me that folks don’t seem to know about country inns.  For a while now, I have noticed that many newer guests refer to us as a B&B.  Country Inns have been around almost as long as our country.  They were prominent in New England in the 1700s as a place for travelers to stop. The main feature that distinguished them was the food.  Country Inns served big breakfast and bountiful dinners.  Some served a lunch as well.  It was a one stop destination for tired travelers.  Norman Simpson formed an association of his favorite inns and wrote a travel book entitled “Country Inns and Backroads” that was published for many years.  He loved to tell of the unique inns that were located off the main roads, usually in somewhat remote areas.  Upon his death, his association of Innkeepers stayed together, but slowly was overtaken by a new breed of lodging; the Bed and Breakfast. The B&Bs were usually much smaller, only offered breakfast, and many times were quite elegant.  This was a far cry from the Country Inn. 

There is a place for all types of lodging from the B&Bs to the Boutique Inns, to the traditional hotels and motels, and even to the country inn.  Travelers have different tastes and requirements.  There are places that are luxurious with all the perks such pools, hot tubs, and spas, and fine dining.  And there are places that offer a slower pace, beautiful scenery, and home cooked food.   Today’s traveler has many choices…

Hemlock Inn sits on 57 wooded acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park atop a peaceful mountain. We have beautiful mountain views, southern style meals, and quiet nights filled with gentle voices and the sound of crickets.  We are a Country Inn….

We open Monday, April 22 for our 68th year.  We invite you to join us.  We’ll be waiting for you

Exhausted Nature Displacement Engineer

 

For the past several years, I have employed a local gentleman to keep up our yard. In the Spring and Summer, he mows the grass and weed eats down the banks and along the edges. As fall approaches, his attention turns to blowing and raking leaves. Since we are located on 57 wooded acres, we have a lot of leaves falling. This is a never ending, thankless task for often they fall faster than we can collect them. I have a picture in my mind of a former employee going down the driveway blowing the leaves as fast as he could. The immediate area he was blowing was clean and neat; in front of him the driveway was covered with leaves, and behind him they were falling heavily, covering what he had just blown. I asked him if that was frustrating for him to work so hard only to have his work covered backup with leaves so quickly. He just laughed and that was his “job security”.

My yard worker and friend was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with a rare cancer that incapacitated hem quickly and took his life in just a few short months. It shook up all of us. His son graciously offered to continue his work for the rest of the year. The only drawback was he already had a full-time job, so it was going to be bit more complicated than before. But we greatly appreciated his offer and quickly accepted.
As you may have also experienced, our fall was slow coming and slow to end. Usually, all, or at least most, of the leaves have fallen by the end of October or early November. Our peak weekend this fall was not even until the first weekend of November and the leaves lingered on the trees for a long time afterward. I wanted to make sure the last of the leaves had fallen before he came do a final cleanup so I asked him not to come for a while. I finally called him in mid-December and told him to come do a final cleanup. But his job interfered and he had problems getting here. After the holidays, I contacted him again and told him that since the inn was closed, I had time to do it. I was not disgruntled with him (it was not his fault). I just like to get out and do tasks like this. It keeps me active and clears my mind. I have made many business decisions and written several blogs (including this one) while outside doing jobs or hiking.

After the rains and snows finally slowed down, I began my task. I planned to work just a few hours at a time. I was in no hurry, but I wanted the place nice and clean. My goal was the blow and rake up around the inn the first week. Blowing out the gutters, the parking lot, and around the Innkeepers, Rondette, and Woody Cottage. I found that over the year, many leaves had simply found there way under all those boxwoods and settled into low areas. While the top layer was dry and easy to move, the layers underneath were still wet from all the rain ad snow we had in December. The leaves were ankle deep around the Woody Cottage and in front of the Rondette. They could not be blown easily. The only way I found to move them was to rake them onto a canvas tarp and physically drag them somewhere out of the way. Which brought up another issue. Where do you put all the leaves you collect? Years ago, we had a guest ask that very question. We laughed and thought that was a dumb question. But I found it was a real issue. I blew and raked leave over the many banks we have as much as possible. But at some point, I had more leaves than I had places to put them. My mind started wondering just how many leaves I was moving. When I first began, I thought how many thousands were there? It didn’t take me long to figure it wasn’t thousands, it was millions, billions, even trillions of leaves. In retrospect, I guess I should have just piled them up and burned them all, but that thought came long after I had already pushed most over a hillside.

Anyway, my wondering mind came up with another question…. how I should classify this job. This is an important task that deserved a better title than leaf raker or blower. I settled on Exhausted Nature Displacement Engineer. Exhausted (used up, worn out) Nature, (leaves) Displacement (relocated, moved), Engineer (worker) . I thought that sounded better. I may even advertise for that sometime…..Hemlock Inn now hiring an Exhausted Nature Displacement Engineer. Nah, that sounds too expensive. I think I’ll just find some teenager to rake my leaves

I still have to finish down our quarter mile driveway. Probably a few more trillion leaves to move. My plan is to get it done before we open for President’s Day weekend. That’s only a month away. I guess I’d better stop writing and start blowing

Mort

PS If you are looking for a winter get away, come join us for Valentine’s /President’s Day weekend, February 14, 15, 16, 17. We’ll have a fire in the fireplace, good food and fellowship and a bunch of chocolates from the Chocolate Shop in Bryson City. . . . You can also inspect my leaf cleanup job

Fifty Years and Counting

2018 was a good year! We met many new wonderful guests, enjoyed so many happy hours with familiar guests, friends, and with family. Sadly, we lost a few also, but smile as we remember the special times we shared with them. We are blessed at Hemlock Inn to have the opportunity to be a part of so many folks’ lives.
As we passed into 2019, we entered a special anniversary year for our family. In early 1969, John and Ella Jo Shell purchased Hemlock Inn from Raymond and Georgia Johnson. For the next 20 or so years, they managed the inn as it grew and attracted more and more guests. In 1989, their daughter/my wife, Lainey and I came on board and eventually took over operation if the inn.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary the inn has been a part of the Shell/White family.

We intend to commemorate this anniversary throughout the year; remembering our history, growth, experiences, and special guests. Ironically, John Shell, who lives with us at the inn, will also celebrate his 90th birthday at the close of this year. He will be around as much as he is able to tell his tales as no one else can. I also plan to host regular “Evenings with the Innkeeper” after dinner to share stories of our history, our guests, the unique life of an innkeeper, and even some amusing events over the years we’ve encountered. Keep following our blog for more details….

I hope you can come join us for this season and help us celebrate Hemlock Inn. We are so grateful to each of you because each of you is a part of our history and story. We hope to see you soon.

Thanks,
Mort

PS. Two quick notes:
1 – We will be open President’s Day/Valentine’s Day Weekend February 14, 15,16,17 As usual, we will be having some special chocolates from The Chocolate Shop in Bryson City

2- We are converting our online reservation system over the winter. Our existing system is being merged with a new company. If you have difficulties making an online reservation, please call us at (828) 488-2885 and we can complete your request. Thanks

Dear Hemlock Inn Friends

 

Several of you have contacted us recently about the effect of the Hurricane Florence on Bryson City and our inn. This has been a very trying and emotional week for all of North and South Carolina. Words cannot begin to express the destruction and pain that storm has brought upon our region.
The very western part of the state, everything west of Asheville, was spared any major impact. The storm, after lingering on the coast for several days and then slowing working its way inland, turned northward up through Asheville and out of the area. Everything east of Asheville experienced mammoth rainfall and winds. Everything west of Asheville was essentially unscathed.

While we are grateful for our good fortune, we cannot celebrate because so many others have and are still suffering. We appreciate your concern and ask you continue to pray for those in the eastern portion of our state and of South Carolina, especially those on the coast. This will be a long recovery for them.

Ironically, we are entering into the most beautiful seasons of the entire year in our mountains. We are already beginning to see of leaf color change in some sourwoods and our dogwoods. With all the rain this year, we expected a beautiful fall. We still have rooms available, especially during the week, and invite you to make a reservation and come see us soon.

We cherish your friendship and pray you are well and happy. We can’t wait to see you.

It Happened Again

Yes, it has happened again.  We had a guest check in with pictures of his family’s visit at our inn in 1967.  He and his wife spent considerable time looking through our old guest’s sign in books, looking at our numerous albums of pictures, and plowing through our inn’s historical books.  They were obviously looking for connection from 50 years ago and they found it.  He gleefully walked into our office announcing “I found it….their actual signature in the register book” .

 

Sometimes, when we least expect it, we remember good times from our past. Then we begin crave those good times, and ultimately start to search how to reconnect with them. We yearn for simpler times, a slower pace, and a little bit of the peace and quiet of bygone times.

 

But life often moves so fast that it is all we can do just to keep up with so many deadlines, schedules, obligations, and activities.  We certainly cannot ignore reality and our responsibilities. But maybe, just maybe, we can escape for a while.  Instead of constantly forging ahead at a breakneck speed, perhaps we just need to take a step backwards.

 

It happened here this week and will likely happen next week and the next….

 

Mort

Communal Vacation

Some time back as I was checking out a guest, he mentioned that this was his family’s first communal vacation.  I will admit that I didn’t know was he was talking about.  He continued with “You know, dining with other folks and getting to know them”.  Since I have been dining that way for the past 30 years at the inn, I had forgotten how unique we are in that regard.

 

 

Each vacation spot looks for a way to define itself and for “that something”  that sets them apart from other locations.  It can be luxurious accommodations, fine dining, grand size swimming pool and spa, championship golf course, business center, or any number of other amenities.  For Hemlock Inn, it comes down to a beautiful mountain view, friendly atmosphere, and those meals.

 

The meals are great (a biased point of view of course) consisting of genuine and plentiful homestyle cooking, but it is the way it is served that is special.  We have five large lazy susan tables that are loaded down every morning and evening.  A bell is rung and everyone descends upon them all together….communally if you will.    A blessing is given and the fun begins.

 

The tables themselves are a story.  Seth and Lorraine Haynie,  builders of the inn, owned the lazy susan table that sits in the center of our dining room.  They brought the table up with them when they opened the inn simply because they had nothing else to do with it.  They thought most of the guests would sit at other smaller square table they also brought.  They were lab tables from Emory University and were perfect for a couple or four guests and would offer privacy and perhaps even intimacy.  But a strange thing happened.  Most of the guests wanted to sit at the large round table.  The Haynies quickly contracted a craftsman from Maggie Valley to initially build two more large round lazy susan tables, and eventually four.

 

It is almost magical to watch the dynamics around the tables once the meals begin.  Commonality is discovered, stories are told, laughter begins, and friendships are formed.  It is heartwarming to witness folks in actual conversation with no thought of tweets or instant messaging.  It is face to face sharing and listening to each other that brings the comfort of grandmother’s table.

 

Many years ago, I was once asked if I would ever have online reservation system.  At the time, I replied I didn’t really want to let someone make a reservation without personally talking with them. I didn’t want anyone showing up and being surprised how we operate and how we dine.  A guest asked me at the time, “What if someone wants to make a reservation, but is uncomfortable talking with anyone?”  I thought for a minute and then replied, “Well I guess they would not be too happy here”.  Of course, I had to eat my words and set up an on-line reservation system. But I am still a little bit nervous when someone I have never spoken to checks in.  I never want to put anyone in a spot where they might be uncomfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A number of years ago, our family went on a cruise.  I was really looking forward to it. Lainey and I warned our boys that we would be having sharing a table at mealtimes with another family as is normal on many cruises.  I told them “This will be great.  We won’t be in charge or feel like we need to guide the conversation.  We can just be laid back and enjoy the experience”.  But my southern roots and innkeeping background got the best of me.  We no sooner got to the table when I stuck out my hand and introduced myself, Lainey and the boys.  Soon I was telling them where we lived, about Hemlock Inn, what we planning to do on the cruise and more.  The other family sat quietly.  They were very nice, but didn’t see the necessity share very much.  At the end of the meal, we parted ways expecting to see them for the next morning at breakfast.  In short, they never showed up again the entire trip.  We ran them off.  I guess not everyone wants a communal vacation.

 

Communal Vacations may not be for everyone, but they can be wonderful and meaningful experiences. We invite you to Hemlock Inn and our tables.  You may react like my guest who was checking out who had never had a communal vacation.  As he walked out the door, he dimply said “We liked it”

 

Summer is upon us and it promising to an exciting time in our mountains.

 

We hope to see you this year and will be waiting for you!

 

 

 

Mort

 

Getting Ready for Opening…Anticipation and Adventures

Our opening day is rapidly approaching…Wednesday, April 18. Our anticipation grows and we look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. As always, the few weeks before we open are busy days as we spring clean and make repairs. But the days are also invariably filled with unexpected adventures and challenges.

On Monday, the first day of cleaning, we discovered a drainage problem around our laundry area. We actually found this in February and thought we had it repaired. But when we started washing all the blankets, spreads, and shower curtains, the drain started backing up again…big time. An emergency call to a repairman that specializes in drains resulted in a day long search for the problem and suspension of all laundry. By days end, the problem was finally located and a temporary fix was done BUT a larger fix that involved tearing up part of the driveway would be necessary. Oh well, I thought, at least we have a plan. But the fun was just beginning.

For Tuesday, we had arranged for a local plumbing company to install a new chlorinator for our water system and replace some shower valves in a few rooms. The chlorinator installation was quick and easy. The shower valves repair is a pretty straight forward, and the repair in the first room went smoothly. However, in the next room, they would have to cut through a tiled wall to create an access hole big enough to install the value. All went well until they discovered a three inch thick solid concrete wall (the inn was built in the 50’s you know). So the rest of the day was spent cutting and drilling through the concrete and removing the old valve. They ran out of time, so that job was suspended as well until the following week. In the meantime the water had to be cut off. So spring cleaning was not possible in that entire building. Good grief I thought, but it has to be done………..

Wednesday had to be better I thought. We planned to take up and replace some flooring in the kitchen damaged by a leaky dishwashing machine. In the middle of the night, a severe storm hit the area, blew down a tree on our property across the utility lines, knocking out all the power to the inn. The flooring folks showed up on time to a dark kitchen. The housekeepers showed up to dark rooms and no heat. The work for both was suspended for the day and I spent the afternoon cutting up the downed tree and cleaning up brush. Not what I panned for the day.

I welcomed Thursday with some dread. The power was back on, the housekeepers were back cleaning rooms and the flooring folks were able to start their task. The old flooring came up easily as we expected, but underneath we found some old 1950s adhesive that could not be removed. We tried everything imaginable, but nothing was working. As we stood in the kitchen discussing options, my phone rang. The call was from the company that monitors our water system. He was calling to inform me that he had just replaced our chlorinator. Remembering the plumber has just installed one on Tuesday I screamed “Stop, I’ll be right there” and ran out of the room to the puzzled looks of the flooring guys and my wife.

The water chlorinator has been a nagging problem for months. I knew I needed a new one, but had run into problems getting anyone to install one including the plumbing company and our water monitoring company. After months and months, they both came within two days of each other and our water company had just taken out a brand new chlorinator and installed his. What are the odds?

As the week came to a close on Friday, The drain repairman had not come back to permanently fix the laundry drain issue or scheduled a time to do so. We were still waiting for the plumber to return and install the shower valve and turn the water back on. After months of delay, I had two companies install a chlorinator within days of each other and I subsequently discovers that neither of them worked. It had been quite a week. But truthfully, it was not unusual. This is the life of an innkeeper and while it can be irritating and frustrating, it is normal.

I love innkeeping and this is just part of it. But there are also parts that include the bonds we share with our guests who become friends. It is sitting around a lazy susan table and enjoying the laughter and a good home cooked meal. It is giving weary people a place to experience nature at is very best and a quiet peace. It is offering a time to rest, refresh, and renew from the anticipation and adventures our week may have brought us.

I wouldn’t have it any other way and there is no place I’d rather be than Hemlock Inn as your innkeeper.

We will open Wednesday, April 18, and hope you will join us this season. I promise we will be ready!

Mort