On the 15th day of our road trip, Don and I made it to my old hometown!
Where to Stay?
Weeks earlier I searched online for a place to stay. I hadn't been back to Iowa since was 12 in 1969, so I had no idea. My memories of Grinnell had always been ridiculously Norman Rockwell, so I wanted a special place. When I saw the photo of this lovely Victorian B&B, I decided that would be as close as I could get to staying in my old house. (Not that it was quite so grand!)
Weather had turned cold and blustery by the time we arrived. We spent a few dizzy hours searching for places I remembered. My old yellow house had turned blue, my school was gone, my favorite candy store was boarded up... but I found my old church and favorite park and the old downtown still looked pretty sweet.
The Back Door
I kind of liked having the key to the backdoor. I felt like a college kids coming home for the holiday. The kitchen was warm and quiet when we entered. Linda had gone downstairs to finish some ironing, but had already invited us to help ourselves to coffee or drinks in the fridge.
Through the House
We carried our bags to the entryway and I peeked through the pocket doors to the parlor where an antique pump organ reminded me of our old home. I had another memory moment... my family had an old pump organ in the house on Summer Street!
We walked by the elegant fireplace and headed up the stairs, passing a colorful stained glass window that refused to let in the gloomy day!
I made use of the beautifully carved banister as I dragged my weary self upward. (After 15 days of 1-night stays, I was beginning to feel my age) The sight of our door with warm, dark wood and rounded frame was inviting.
Quite the Hall
Our door and about 4 others, opened to an airy hall with yet another fireplace, and more lovely antiques. Linda told us she would be heading home soon, but another couple would be staying the night. As I heard the floors creak under foot, I wished we'd had the place to ourselves. I wasn't in the mood for whispering and tiptoeing or even chatting with strangers. I was feeling sorry for myself. I was frustrated that there was no one in the entire town who wanted to share Grinnell memories with me. Even our hosts were from another state, originally.
Our Sweet Room
We didn't have the turret room, but we did have a cozy, corner room with an antique bed that surprisingly was as comfortable as it was beautiful. But I was a bit distracted by my homecoming melancholy. I wasn't absorbing all the incredible details. I had to remind myself to stop moping and start noticing!
I adored the pink chaise lounge chair and the Victorian lamp that had to be turned off for this photo... because the "beaded light" made me look like I had chicken pox. The bathroom was attached, which was a treat. You have to love a marble sink and wooden toilet with a funny push button flusher!
Morning at Marsh House
We rose early and tiptoed over the creaky floors past the Murphy bed, trying not to wake our neighbors on our way down to breakfast.
Easing into the Morning
We started with coffee, then Linda brought out the "fruit soup" and raspberry waffles. We had planned on a quick eat and run, but Jim ended up sitting down to join us and suddenly we began to find out how much we had in common with this quiet couple. We shared some Ann Arbor and University of Michigan memories among other things...
Guillermo and Carol
We expected to be gone by 9, but by the time our fellow guests came to the table, I was no longer in a rush. I finally found my connection! Guillermo and his wife had flown from California to attend his 50th Grinnell high school reunion. For the next hour we were eagerly swapping stories of Cooper School and its eerie basement and curious playground equipment. Both our fathers had been teachers at Grinnell College and we had ridden our bikes on the same quiet streets and had root beer in heavy mugs at the same A &W. It turns out Jim and Linda had lived in Grinnell long enough that they were actually able to chime in and add to the fun. I ended up with my computer at the table, sharing old scanned photos from Grinnell days.
Time to Go
Even though Don had offered up as much support and enthusiasm as a non-Grinnellian could, I had needed just 1 connection to the Old Grinnell... and I found it just before we left!
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!