Not Your Ordinary B&B: The Featherbed Railroad, Part 1

For some of us, it’s Spring break in Lake County. And for The Bloom, that means staying local for a staycation. It’s late in the week and beyond time to book our room, or should I say caboose, for our first night away to start our vacation at the Featherbed Railroad B&B.

“What themed caboose do we want?” my husband asks while I’m chopping vegetables for dinner. 

“Does it really matter?” I answer with great indifference. 

He pauses, “Well, it looks pretty booked up.” 

“Really?” I answer, somewhat surprised. 

“They have the La Loose Caboose available,” he states matter-of-factly. 

“Sure, why not,” I add the chopped vegetables to the now boiling water and soon-to-be soup for dinner. “I guess it’s a New Orleans-themed caboose,” he pauses for a moment. 

“Is it nice? You know, good to write about?” 

“It looks normal. It has a neon light, but otherwise looks like a caboose,” he finishes with resolution. 

“Sure, it doesn’t matter to me.” And just like that, our adventure begins.

Checking into the Featherbed Railroad is more of an experience than anytnhing else. David, co-owner and very much what seems to be a people person, is checking in a couple ahead of us. 

Jami pops her head out of the kitchen just beyond the check-in desk, “Are you here to check in?” she asks. 

“Yes, we are,” I smile. 

“Well, let me show you around. David will be a few minutes longer,” she adds while ushering us into the dining room. “This is where you’ll have breakfast tomorrow morning,” her bright sincere smile already makes one feel at home. Inside the large room are several tables spaced throughout the space, with two chairs set at each table, staged for the morning’s breakfast. To the back of the room is a couch facing an open-faced fireplace dark with darkened, soot-covered bricks above, telling stories of many warm fires. 

The wall nearest the check-in desk stages the breakfast bar, where guests will be able to help themselves to coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and orange juice in the morning. Below the cabinet are decks of cards, board games, and other diversions for guests to borrow to pass the time. 

The spontaneous tour continues as David is still giving his rehearsed check-in spiel. This isn’t going to be an ordinary staycation, I realize as Jami ushers us into the kitchen. Inside the open space, a lady is busy cooking chicken in a frying pan. I’m a little puzzled as to what’s going on. Is this an employee? And why is she cooking dinner at a B &B? Jami dissolves the confusion. “This is one of our guests,” she explained. “She’s cooking us and her family dinner.” I’m still confused. Why would a guest be cooking the owner dinner? 

“She’s one of our regular returning guests, and she wants to cook for us,” she explains. Already the kitchen smells of fresh Indian food. This is going to be a special meal. I smile. We make our way full circle. By now, David has officially checked in the guests ahead of us. Jami leaves us to his care as she walks back into the kitchen to assist with dinner preparations. 

“Hi!” David greats us with great enthusiasm. Over the next ten or more minutes, we will learn all there is to know about their recent purchase of Feather Bed Railroad, his previous life in Washington State, and every detail of our stay from operating the TV, heat, the deck, should we want to swim in the pool and yes, he promised some guests have done it already this winter with what he guessed was the assistance of one bottle of wine each or a fifth of hard alcohol shared. Then he said what evenings he’ll be telling stories should we be staying more than just one night. Breakfast is served between 9 am and 10 am, because they’re not morning people. He then finishes with Jami’s three rules: 

First rule: if you are hungry, don’t hesitate to ring the doorbell, and we will feed you. The second rule is if you are confused about anything at any time, ring the doorbell. The third rule, if you are at all cold and the spare blanket isn’t enough, ring the doorbell.

By now, we have left behind any associations of past B & B experiences. It is clear that this is going to be anything but ordinary at the Featherbed Railroad. Jami confirms this as she leaves the kitchen one more time.

“Where are you staying?” her blonde hair frames her bright smile. 

“The La Loose?” my husband states with an I’m ready for anything at this point sound in his voice. 

“Oh, the La Loose!” Jami’s smile brightens even more. “Well, be sure to add a bra to the collection if you have one you want to spare. Some of our guests have done that.” She says it so motherly, hospitably, and oh so matter of factly, like I’ve heard this conversation so many times before in my life. 

My shock is real. I try to hide it. I’m sure I fail. I’m equally sure my husband is too. “Oh!” I say as delighted and with as little fear and trepidation as possible. 

“Well, it’s burlesque themed, and I just want it to be fun,” she states unapologetically, her smile sweeter than before if it’s possible. Her face is unchanged, warm, gracious, and so damned nice. We smile as if receiving a most gracious invitation as we turn to face whatever we have committed ourselves to. 

“Did you know it was burlesque?” I asked as quietly as possible as we leave the office. 

“It said, Mardi Gras and New Orleans. I looked at the photos, it just had a neon light, but otherwise normal,” he defends himself as best as he can. 

“Well, I guess we just go with it. I mean, we don’t have any other choice,” I said after a long pause of resignation. 

“Yep, I guess we do. I mean, how bad can it be?” he said, equally resigned. 

The outside looks the same as all the other cabooses. Each is painted a rustic red, with several windows, an outdoor seating area, and three steps leading up to the door. “Well, here we go,” we say in unison as we enter. On the wall of the hallway, sure enough, an array of bras hang off the railing, and a pair of silk stockings for good measure greet us. I erupt in laughter; I can’t help myself. It’s a combination of relief and shock after facing all that could be waiting for us. The surprises continue. Further inside is a giant jacuzzi tub with a floor-to-ceiling mirror facing it seems to steal the show. I can’t seem to stop laughing as I put down a suitcase, taking it all in. 

The glowing neon light hanging over the bed was blurry in the website. Now I can see how brightly it says “La Playpen.” I giggle harder. I’m now doubled over in laughter. 

My husband makes his way to the bed and flops on it, “Um, there’s a mirror above the bed, Trudy,” he laughs. 

“NO WAY!” I say in disbelief. 

“Come and see,” he says while looking up at himself. Sure enough, There’s a mirror above the bed as I look back at myself, now uncontrollably laughing. We lay there for a minute to collect ourselves when the obvious question is asked. 

“Have we ever stayed in a room with a mirror above the bed before?” We lay motionless, looking up at our reflections in puzzlement, thinking back over the years, including our honeymoon. 

“Nope” was the final verdict. 

“Well, this is a first,” my husband stated out loud my thoughts.

“Well, it’s not as bad as I thought it might be. It’s just funny, not gross or truly inappropriate,” I say in relief. 

“Nope, You just gotta go with it,” my husband says, equally relieved. 

Now how am I going to write this up in The Bloom?, I think. 

To be continued . . . . . .

Trudy Wakefield

Trudy is the owner and editor for The Bloom. The Bloom's dedicated to showcasing all the good parts of life. If it's good news, you'll probably find it here.

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