Waypoint House

Address: 211 S Church St. Berryville, Va    Reservation Line: 540-955-8218

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In Search of the Great Eclipse Experience

In Search of the Great Eclipse Experience: Totality and Hospitality

Some days you turn on the radio or TV, open the paper, or go on the internet and come to the conclusion that all the news is bad. Certain days feel like a real struggle for humanity. But if there is one thing that inn keeping has taught me, it’s to believe in people. Time and again I’m reminded that most people are good human beings. That was never more true than this past weekend for Jonathan and I as we went in search of the great eclipse experience. Let me tell you a story.

More than a year ago, Jonathan told me of the total eclipse that was coming in August 2017 and his desire to go see it. He’s been an astronomy enthusiast since his teenage years and was thrilled that the opportunity to see a total solar eclipse would be so nearby. For months the date was marked on our calendar.

In mid-July we had a wonderful couple from Georgia staying with us and as we were talking one evening, we mentioned that we were planning to see the eclipse. They said the town they live in would be in the path of totality. Jokingly, I said we hadn’t made our travel plans yet, but maybe we could stay with them. “Of course!” she replied.

The next morning after breakfast she made a point to tell me that she and her husband would be thrilled to have us join them at their house and to let them know if we wanted to come down.

I told Jonathan of the generous offer, and we considered going. It ended up, however, that Jonathan was only able to take the actual day of the eclipse off work. Since he needed to be back to his office for Tuesday morning, we started looking for a closer location where we could still experience totality.

About three weeks before the big day, Jonathan settled on a town in Tennessee where there’d be totality, and he found a hotel that still had rooms available, so he booked it. We were going to see the 2017 eclipse! The thrill of finding a room on such short notice did not last long, however. Soon he was filled with buyer’s remorse. After reading the reviews of the hotel online, he suddenly wasn’t so sure he’d made a good choice. Excitement over seeing the once in a lifetime event was high, but there was trepidation concerning the accommodations.

As the day got closer, our rooms here began to fill too, and we recognized that we were catching a little bit of travel traffic.

On Wednesday before the eclipse, I got a call from a woman named Debra who wanted a room for Friday. She and her husband, David, would be traveling to Tennessee for the eclipse, and after she gave me her husband’s last name, I realized they were probably related to a repeat guest of mine who lives in Tennessee. When I inquired, she confirmed that indeed, it was her mother-in-law, Mary Anne, who had stayed with me. Mary Anne gave my information to them and said they should stop at Waypoint House on their way down.

We were happy to greet Debra and David on their arrival Friday evening, and talked with them excitedly about the upcoming eclipse at breakfast the next morning.  Jonathan mentioned that he was concerned about the hotel he had booked, but said we’d make the best of it in order to see this rare event.

In a weird twist of events, David said that if we were worried about our hotel room, he knew of an extra room at his mother’s neighbor’s house due to a last minute cancellation. It was literally two doors down from where they would be at his mother’s.

Jonathan and I discussed our options. Take our chances at a sketchy motel, or take the nicer room and be with people we knew. The town was also about 40 miles closer than where we had initially planned to be, so though we would spend less slightly less time in totality, it would make the drive a bit easier. We didn’t have to deliberate very hard. We thanked David and Debra profusely and said we’d happily take the room and meet up with them on Sunday when we arrived in town.

Excited for the adventure ahead and still beaming over such an unexpected turn of events, we hit the road late Sunday morning. The drive was long, and there were clearly a lot of people on the road doing exactly what we were doing. It was a festive, communal atmosphere in a way, though.

As our destination approached Sunday evening, we texted David and Debra to say we planned to stop in town to grab a bite of dinner at one of the restaurants. No, no, they said. We heard the restaurants in town are packed. You’ll never get a seat. Come straight to the house. We’ll have dinner waiting for you.

After nearly nine hours on the highway, we gratefully arrived at Mary Anne’s house. The welcome was warm and we were quickly offered cold glasses of beer and hot, steaming bowls of homemade Brunswick stew. After dinner, bowls of brownies and ice cream made their way out from the kitchen. We all talked and laughed and enjoyed the company of being together.

Before we retired for the evening, we were asked to join them again for breakfast the next morning. John was planning to make a big batch of biscuits and Mary Anne would be cooking eggs and bacon.

Later, as Jonathan and I got ready for bed (at the fantastic accommodations so generously provided by Mary Anne’s neighbor), we marveled over how serendipitous our current circumstances were. We are in the business of providing such experiences of hospitality to others every day, but it was quite different for us to be on the receiving end now. To feel so welcome in another person’s home is an amazing thing.

I have often taken note of the fact that many of our guests leave messages in our guest book thanking us for our hospitality. It has also occurred to me that one would rarely thank a big chain hotel for their hospitality. You might say certain features or services of the hotel were impressive, but would you thank them for their hospitality? In my mind, that can truly only come from a person who is giving from their heart.

Breakfast the next morning was, of course, fantastic. Good coffee, warm, fluffy biscuits, thick, smoky bacon and cheesy eggs. A little bit of heaven, in this innkeeper’s mind. We were all energized, excited, and ready for the events of the day.

And so, this is a story about good people and excellent hospitality. It’s about being taken in like family and being able to receive it’s gift. It’s about how that gift fills your heart with hope, both on the giving and receiving side.

We’d like to say thank you to Cheryl and Richard who first offered their home to us. Thank you to David and Debra for rescuing us from the sketchy motel at the eleventh hour. Many, many thanks to Mary Anne and John for opening their home and table to us. And thank you to Pat and Stan for the generous use of their basement apartment.

Because of all those wonderful people we had an outstanding eclipse weekend.

Oh, you wanted to know about the actual eclipse? Yes, it was spectacular and we were thoroughly awed during our one minute and twenty eight seconds in totality. But somehow, it became the secondary character in this story.


The Big Reveal

It took two weeks from start to finish, but we are ready to show the big reveal of our wallpaper project!

First, I have to give a very big thanks to Terry Ashby of The Cutting Edge wallpaper service. Thanks to him, the process was easy and efficient, and we are so pleased with the results!

One of our worries upon starting this project was how the old wallpaper would come down. I’ve done quite a bit of wallpaper removal myself, and you just never know how the process will go. I was fairly confident that most of what was on plaster walls would come down just fine. We knew there were several drywall additions, though, and I was suspicious that at least one area had multiple layers of paper to get through.

In just two days, though, all the walls were ready for priming. Jonathan and I tackled that chore. Once that was done, we also painted the bottom half of the walls with the new color we had already selected. We knew it was important to get all of out painting done ahead of the paper installation. That way, there was no need to worry about painting near, or splattering on, the new wall covering.

Terry and crew were able to install like the wind after that. In just two and a half days, they transformed the space. Finally, my in-house carpenter (AKA, Jonathan) was able to install the chair railing, and just like that, our lovely lady now looks stunning in her new dress!

More updates to come

In other news, there continues to be great progress on the new roof. We’ve only lost a couple of days of work due to poor weather, and the crew is currently working on the south side of the house which will be the easiest section as there are no angles or valleys to contend with. I’m still very eager for the copper accent roof on the bay window to go on, but I know my patience will be rewarded, and I’m looking forward to sharing that update with everyone soon.


Celebrating Our Five-Year Anniversary and Our June Improvements

It’s been a very exciting first two weeks of June, and today is a very special day for us. Today we are celebrating our five-year anniversary and our June improvements are underway!

Yes, that’s right, it’s already been five years here at Waypoint House and we still love every minute of it.  By itself, that’s a pretty big deal this week, but also we’re right in the middle of our planned June improvement projects.

Aside from the little hint I gave you in the last blog, we are also undertaking having the roof replaced – a new hat for our old girl, as we like to say.  Ironclad Contracting has been on the scene taking the old roof off section by section and re-installing our beautiful new standing seam metal roof.  We are already so pleased with the progress.  The cherry on top will be when our side bay window receives a new copper roof that we think is going to be a really spectacular accent.  I can’t wait until I have photos of that to show you!  It will be the last thing the contractor does, so we must be patient for a few more weeks.

The interior work is underway as well. The front hallway, stairwell and second floor hallway will have all the wallpaper replaced.  We will install chair rail molding and paint the bottom portion of the walls.  Jonathan has already primed and painted the molding for installation and today the wallpaper removal process started.  I’m also doing some touch up painting on the second floor hallway doors and trim so that everything has a nice, clean, polished look.  We’re calling the wallpaper project the new “dress” for our dear girl!  So, a new hat and a new dress for our lovely lady as we celebrate our five year anniversary – not too shabby!  Stay tuned for more updates as progress continues!


Spring Rejuvenations

Spring finally seems to be arriving and we’ve been working on some spring rejuvenations. The days are warmer and we get an extra bit of time each evening before the sun goes down to complete our outside chores (of which there are many this time of year). As you may know, we have a tendency to be involved in some sort of home improvement project on a nearly ongoing basis. Whether it’s outside or inside, we’re almost constantly working on something. We can’t help it. We’re compulsive. We just want to continually make things better. Early on, Jonathan and I had this instilled in us. For me, perhaps, my 4-H days are partially to blame. Any former 4-H kids out there remember the 4-H motto? *Raises hand with enthusiasm as only a nerd at heart would do.* “To make the best better.” Yep, that’s us.

Recently, it’s been outdoor updates keeping us busy. It is spring, after all. The lawn has needed some thatching and reseeding, and we’ve annexed a bit more garden space for our herbs and vegetables this year. I really enjoy being able to bring fresh things from our yard right to the breakfast table and I keep looking for new ways to be able to do that. I just have to figure out where to put those blueberry bushes I want…

Spring Rejuvenations: Our garden annex for 2017

Spring Rejuvenations: Our garden annex for 2017

The most exciting news, however, is that we have two very big projects planned for this summer. Big in scope and big presence. These changes will be zingers.

We’re going to need a little time off to accomplish it all though. We are planning to keep the work mostly to weekdays in the month of June, so if you are considering a weekend visit this summer, we still have you covered. Plan ahead though, folks. With three rooms, we tend to fill fast.

There will be lots of photos and updates through the blog, Facebook and Instagram. If you don’t follow us on either social media platform, now would be a good time to start. Links to our social media pages are in the sidebar of this page. Go have a gander.

“But what are these projects?” you are saying to yourself right now. “Aren’t you at least going to give us a hint?” Okay – one hint:

Getting ready for some changes at Waypoint House Bed and Breakfast

Getting ready for some changes at Waypoint House Bed and Breakfast

 


Home Improvements

Back just before Thanksgiving, I left a teaser on our Instagram account about starting some improvement projects. When you own a home, I think you naturally have a running list of things you want to do – small repairs and updates as well as big projects to complete. That list never seems to get shorter when you own a 130+ year old home that also operates as a Bed and Breakfast!

And so, I wanted to finally share with you the projects we completed just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  These two items had been on our list for a while, and we were glad to be able to check them off as complete! The Shore Room bathroom and the Hearth and Home Room bathroom received facelifts. Both rooms had older linoleum flooring that needed updating and the fixtures in the Shore Room were also a little behind the times.

Day one of the project consisted of removing everything from the rooms and disposing of the old fixtures that wouldn’t be used again. We ripped out the flooring and removed the old light fixtures and exhaust fans.

Day two saw paint touch ups completed, and the new tile floors went down. New lighting fixtures went up, and the new exhaust fans were installed.

On day three we grouted the new floors and reset most of the toe kick at the baseboards.

Everything came back together on day four. The plumber installed the new toilets and the new vanity in the Shore Room. New vanity mirrors were hung, and any remaining caulking and trim work got our attention.

The fifth day was time for us to finish up any final details and clean up. It was a quick turn around to get everything done, but we managed it! I think both rooms look great with their new face lifts.

One of our traditions during any home improvement project is a dinner I call “Renovation Chili”. The chili can be quickly set up in the morning in a crock pot, and by the time you are finished with a long day of work, you have a nice hot meal waiting for you that required very little work. I vary the measurements a little each time depending upon the taste I want, but this is the basic recipe for our Renovation Chili:

Waypoint House Renovation Chili

1 lb Ground Beef

1 Large Onion, diced

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

2 cans Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 can Kidney Beans, drained

2 Tbl Tomato Paste

2 tsp prepared yellow mustard

1 Tbl Worcestershire Sauce

1.5 Tbl Chili Powder

1 Tbl Cumin

½ Tbl Dried Oregano

1 Bay Leaf

1/2Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, drain off fat, reserving a few tablespoons for the next step, then transfer meat to crock pot. In the same skillet, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a bit of the reserved beef fat until onions are translucent. Transfer to the crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients to the crock pot and stir well. Cook 6-8 hours on low. Remove bay leaf, ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Attached our some pictures of our work in progress, and then the finished product. What do you think of the improvement? Do you like the updates? Let us know!