Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Double Yellow Line

As I stared up the narrow dimly lit flight of stairs ascending almost straight up, I wondered if this had been a poor choice. As a “Road Warrior” who spent every week on the road, I had thought that maybe switching my routine from a hotel to a Bed and Breakfast might be an inviting change.

My client was near the Chesapeake Bay in such a beautiful area; surely, there was a wealth of places from which to choose. After searching the Yellow Pages, I discovered that there were not that many choices. After deciding on the one that seemed to be the closest, I made the call to get reservations and directions.

In giving directions, the owner of the Bed and Breakfast told me to “follow the double yellow line”. Not wanting to appear stupid, I didn’t question “What yellow line?” I figured it would become apparent. And finally, it was. You know those lines; the two down the center of the road! I had informed him that I would arrive late in the evening. His instructions had been that the key would be left under a flowerpot by the front door. I had also been told that there was only one other guest in the B&B that week.

I drove down the darkened street, passing row after row of apartment buildings, always following that double yellow line. I thought that this certainly didn’t look like an area where one would find a Bed and Breakfast. Suddenly the street, and the double yellow line, came to a dead end into another street. Either I had seen no B&B, or I had missed it. Being right-handed, whenever I am given a choice, I usually turn to the right. Thankfully, for some reason, I turned my car to the left. There, in front of me, loomed a dimly lit, monstrous house. It would have been just perfect for televising the old “Addams Family” show.

I slowly drove forward and pulled into what had once been a driveway, but was now beginning to be overgrown. The yard looked like it was several weeks past the scheduled mowing. Every part of me knew I should turn around and head back to town, but my adventurous side said "go for it." I parked, in the grass, and walked up onto the unlit front porch of the old two-storied Victorian style mansion. Looking into the foyer through the antique frosted, beveled glass door, the subdued lighting reminded me of a funeral parlor! 

I had not gotten a complete description of the house, and in the dark, it would not have mattered. I did notice that there was a flowerpot, in the grass, by the front steps. I experienced mixed emotions as I groped under the pot, in the dark. Why couldn't they have left a light on? I hoped this was the house, for I did not relish having someone call the police because a stranger was plundering in front of their house. I also did not know how I felt about going inside this darkened old relic. Was it going to be as scary on the inside, as it was outside? When my fingers touched the key, I didn't know whether to feel relief or fright. Should I pick up the key, or just get in the car and leave? I knew I had to see what was inside!

I went back to the car and took out my briefcase and luggage. I came back to the front door and followed the instructions given by the owner. I went inside and began to search for the back staircase. As I passed through the high-ceilinged living room, dining room, and kitchen on my way to the backstairs; the rooms were furnished with wonderful pieces of antique furniture. 

As I lugged first my luggage, and then my briefcase up the narrow, steep stairs I decided to score one for hotel elevators. From the description I had been given, I knew I had arrived in “The Baltimore Room.” It was a beautifully appointed room with green and white striped wallpaper, an antique four-poster bed, and an adjoining bath containing an old bathtub with claw feet. I went through my “week on the road arrival routine” and unpacked all the essentials. All the while, I had one ear tuned to listen for any other sounds in the house, and I heard nothing. Score two for the noise in hotel corridors.

After I finished unpacking, I decided it was time to call home and let my hubby know that I had arrived safely. I looked around the room and found that there was no telephone (this was before cell phones). I had left the room door open while going through the unpacking routine, I closed the door ready to lock up for the night, and I discovered not only did the room have no phone, the door had no lock!  At this point, I decided that hotels were not so bad after all. My score pad was leaning heavily in their favor.

The antique four-poster bed was very comfortable, but it did not matter. A good night's sleep, in a room with no phone and no lock on the door, was not in the cards for me that night.

I was relieved when daylight came, after a sleepless but uneventful night. A bountiful and delicious breakfast was on the table by 7:00 a.m. The other guest and I heard the story of the house, which was on the National Historic Register. It truly was a beautiful home, and would have been a great choice had my husband been traveling with me.

In later years when I began to tire of hotels, I only had to remember my night in the house at the end of the double yellow line. I reminded myself that those continental breakfasts came with phones and locks on the door!    

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