We’ve experienced many faux pas on our travels and I’m sure there are many more to come. Learning is part of the process, right? Unfortunately, this B&B blunder has remained an unwelcome blemish on our traveling footprint. Since this, let’s just call it unfortunate incident, we are still a little leery of staying in B&B’s.
It was my first time visiting Door County in Wisconsin, while my husband had been countless times before. He spoke of the charming small towns and the beautiful state park. On the drive, anticipation filled the car with the hope of a great, romantic weekend. I was eager to explore the area and spend time with my hubby.
We took a detour to Orchard Country Wine and Market. Their vintage red barn beckoned us as we drove by. To our pleasant surprise, they had wine tasting and after a few samples, we settled on a couple of bottles. I had read that Door County is known for its abundance of cherry trees, but we couldn’t believe the cherry-inspired wines we saw: dry cherry, sweet cherry, cherry blossom, black cherry, cherry splash and even cherry sangria. Very cherry indeed.
My excitement was bubbling over as we approached the B&B. It was so impressive; it was a large, white American colonial with an imposing turret on one side and had several windows lining the front of both floors. We couldn’t wait to get in and get settled. As we entered the bed and breakfast, it was obvious that cozy nights of cuddling were ahead of us. It was a friendly place that welcomed you as soon as you walked in the door.
After exploring the entire B&B property, we decided to rent bikes at Edge of Park Bike Rental. The rental place was just outside the entrance to Peninsula State Park so it was super convenient. They had cruisers and performance bikes, but the one that caught my eye was the tandem bike. I never tried to bike with another person before, but it sounded like so much fun. I was excited, until we discussed it with the man behind the counter.
He proceeded to tell us, in a very serious fashion, that tandem biking was no joke, especially for couples. Okay, how big of a deal can this really be, I thought. By the end of the conversation, we were cracking up at all the stories he told us about couples returning from their outing in arguments; some making it all the way into the park, some not even to the entrance, and some not even out of the parking lot! Oh boy, this was going to be a challenge. My husband and I get along great, but are known to bicker from time to time. This trip was supposed to be a romantic getaway so I was definitely starting to second-guess renting tandem bikes!
Thankfully, we rose to the relationship challenge that is tandem biking and had a great day riding in the park. After cleaning up, we figured we would take advantage of the intimate common room and start a fire and drink some of the local wine we picked up. What a romantic idea! It is a nice perk of B&B’s to be able to use their common area and fully relax after a long day. We poured our wine, started the fire, and settled in on the comfy couch. Wow, what a great trip this was turning out to be. Everyone else must have been in bed or still out because no one else was down there with us. It was absolute bliss.
And that’s when the unfortunate incident happened…
All of a sudden, black smoke started to billow out of the fireplace. Lots and lots of black smoke. What was happening? No big deal, maybe we left the chute closed. Let’s just get up and open it. No harm, no foul, right? WRONG! Suddenly the high pitch smoke alarm started to scream and all at once we didn’t feel like it was no big deal. We became frantic, almost slapstick, if you will.
My husband was waving his arms (like he just didn’t care) and half-whispering, half-yelling to open the door to let the smoke out. I raced into action and grabbed, what I could only assume was antique furniture probably a hundred years older than me, to prop the door open. Besides our best efforts to clear the air, the alarm continued to scream.
We thought we heard rustling from upstairs and frantic became borderline hysterical. Snatching a jacket on a nearby coat rack, I used it as a fan to coax the black smoke out of the room. I looked like I was attempting to send smoke signals to the neighbors down the street. He then channeled his inner spider-man and jumped on a high chair to reach the smoke alarm, yanking it off as batteries spilled to the ground. We looked at each other in disbelief. Don’t sweat the small stuff, I thought. Breaking a smoke alarm isn’t nearly as bad as burning the place down.
As soon as we managed to air out what we could and get the smoke alarm fixed, we quickly placed all the antique furniture and jackets back and ran up the stairs to the safety of our room. I don’t think either of us got a wink of sleep that night. Our adrenaline was pumping. Every time we heard a noise outside our bedroom we thought someone was coming to get us. We thought of the many names we might be called that night: fire starters, dumb duo, or witless winos. We couldn’t wait for morning so we could get our things together and get out of there.
At some point we fell asleep and woke up realizing the night before was not just a bad dream. We went downstairs and our fears were realized when we were immediately overcome by the smell of smoke. The entire first floor reeked! All of the other guests were enjoying their delicious breakfast. We skipped the free breakfast in favor of a quick check out. Every time someone glanced in our direction, we felt their eyes said, “we know what you did.” We did not want to stick around long enough to find out if anyone was inquiring about the unpleasant smoke smell permeating through the house.
I would have loved to have seen the look on our faces and I laugh at the mere thought of our behavior, but at the time it was quite traumatizing. It definitely could have been worse, but to us, that night and the next morning were so awkward that we shy away from B&B’s when booking our travels.
We’ve stayed at a few B&B’s since, and every time we laugh our butts off at the memory of our Door County B&B blunder.
Do you have any funny travel blunders to share?
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