A Notable Visit near Julian, CA
When we began planning our month-long road trip, Don surprised me by making reservations at a whimsical B&B.
He knows I'm always game for the quirky and unusual. He also knows I was a big fan of Troll Dolls when I was kid. Trolls and gnomes... kind of the same!
Shadow Mountain Ranch
After getting a little lost, we finally found our B&B just outside the old mining town of Julian.
We parked and wandered the property in search of our hosts. The office, within the family home had a closed sign. We began walking towards the back of the house and paused to take in this view of the pine and oak covered mountains. Then we heard voices.
The family on the patio below us seemed to be rushing to set up for some kind of event.
A young man looked a bit panicked when he spotted us. He moved towards us with a rather frazzled looking woman, who seemed to be in charge, but spoke little English.
A Silly Idea
We told them we had reservations for the Gnome Home, one of six, themed accommodations.
I had been childishly eager about staying in our mushroom shaped cottage. I had seen the internet photo of the carved storybook bed with the gnome hats on the bedposts. Silly yes, but I wanted to sleep there.
I Want My Waterfall!
I had seen pictures of the waterfall shower and the rock sink. You can barely see the face on this internet photo, but the sink had one.
I was even willing to put up with the impractical wooden swinging saloon doors that shield the toilet. What a hoot, that the carved figures of Mr.and Mrs. Gnome, have to cease their smooching when you pass through!
Cleaning the Gnome Home
We had a stressful 5 minute conversation, with lots of translating by younger folk. The woman's face seemed very apologetic as she explained in broken English, that there had been a glitch of sorts.
She said the owners were out of town and she hadn't expected guests. They were preparing for a family party that night, but they would honor our reservations. She shooed three of the young people to go clean the Gnome Home for our stay. They rushed off and returned with sheets and cleaning supplies, then stumbled towards our funny little 2-room getaway, dropping the vacuum twice. Our worried woman, who must have been the caretaker, apologized again and begged us to please let her know if their party got too loud that night.
Behind the Gnome Door
For a moment, the positive side of me pictured the family inviting us to their fiesta and oh what fun we'd all have! But the sweet, yet worried lady was not exactly inviting us. The whole thing felt awkward.
I followed the cleaning trio into the cottage to have a quick peek and the dim cave-like setting seemed suddenly more gloomy than whimsical. Don and I sat in the car for a few minutes and pondered the situation.
It suddenly seemed stupid to pay $150. for this experience. I rushed back and told the fretting woman that I was concerned, since our stay had included afternoon tea and full breakfast in the family home. She shook her head sadly to let us know there was no way that was happening. When we told her we had decided not to stay, she looked incredibly relieved.
We felt relieved ourselves, to be out of an awkward situation. We didn't want to be in the way. Besides there could be other wonderful places to stay.
Whenever we travel, our hotel wishlist grows longer. We had seen the lovely Mission Inn in Riverside the day before and just an hour earlier we'd wandered by the 117-year-old, Hotel Julian.
Wigwams and Inns!
If only we were closer to Holbrook, AZ where we had seen the Wigwam Motel. And days earlier we had wished we had an extra night to try out La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach.
No Room at the Inn
There were a couple historic hotels and a few B&Bs in nearby Julian, but they were all booked, on a Saturday in May.
Since we had a tent I tried calling some campgrounds, but they were booked. We could have gone back to the Gnome Home, but they seemed too happy to see us leave. So we drove on and I kept thinking maybe we'd just see a fun retro motel like the Peter Pan place, in Nevada.
Not a Notable Night
We ended up at the Ayers Hotel in Alpine, CA. It was way out of the way and it was a chain hotel which goes against everything I believe in, with overnight adventures.
There was not an available roadside motel or haunted inn to be had! I was going to be adding nothing to my list of Notable Nights! But, the room was actually cheaper and we did enjoy sitting ouside before walking to an exceptionally good Chinese restaurant for dinner.
I tried to stop pouting and enjoy the place. At least we had a comfortable room. But I kept wondering what the story was with our B&B.
The reviews had talked about the great owners and it didn't make sense. When I got on the website, I saw a sad letter from the owners saying they were having to close the ranch. It was dated April 22, which was after we had already started our road trip. Maybe they had called our home. Maybe there was an illness, since I had read they were an older couple, married 65 years! Now I'm more sad than mad.
I guess maybe we had a teenie tiny bit of a gnome-home-adventure... without staying overnight.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!