Many have asked us why we decided to build and operate a Bed & Breakfast. We generally tell the story to our breakfast guests who ask. But this week, it has become even clearer to me why we chose this life.
We explain to people that we wanted to move to an airport property in Virginia. Jack’s dream was to walk out his front door and be near his airplanes. He can hop in a plane and just take a leisurely flight over beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. He now spends 6-8 hours a day in the hangar completing a decade long project of building a 4-seat traveling airplane called an RV-10. We are hoping to travel more in the coming years!
I have become involved in the local community with singing, photography, and gardening.
We have met many interesting people who have walked through the doors of Bedford Landings. We enjoy preparing a personalized home cooked, made from scratch breakfast with love and care. We have found this a welcoming community offering the type of the activities that are a fit for us. We are indeed happy that we made the decision to live here. People ask if running a B&B is a lot of work? Indeed it is but we like the schedule. We are up at 6:30, serve breakfast at 8:00 and the kitchen is clean by 9:00. We check-in people in the afternoon and are generally free to make evening plans.
• When people don’t come down for a fresh, hot breakfast, we are disappointed. When they say, ”I’m not much of a breakfast eater.” We silently wonder why they chose to stay in a full service bed and breakfast.
• When people decide to stop to go antiquing or for a late dinner before checking in without calling. Then we have to cancel our evening plans.
Other than these few pet peeves, we truly love sharing our home and helping people understand more about Smith Mountain Lake. Many who visit, come to spend time on the water or to attend a wedding or a family reunion, while others may be searching for a retirement home.
But there is more to why we retired nearly 10 years ago to move away from our three children and six grand children to build a B &B at an airport. It has to do with “living.” This week on March 7th, I turned 65 years old. On March 8th, Jack turned 66 years old. My dad died one month short of his 65th birthday (cancer). Jack’s Dad died when he was 68 (cancer). His dad was a medical doctor and worked until shortly after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. My dad took an early retirement as a university administrator at age 60. He moved to Florida with my stepmother and was having a blast exploring, meeting new friends, golfing and generally socializing; until he couldn’t.
Unlike our fathers, we didn’t want to work until we died. As a tenured professor, I had so enjoyed my active career but wanted a new challenge and to do something totally different. As a mechanical design engineer, then an engineering manager, Jack was tired of boring budget meetings, corporate transitions, and laying off staff. He wanted to quit that life but not sit still!
My mom died 5 years ago, as we were finishing up building the B&B. Her birthday is this month. So I am looking into the future through the lens of my parents. With nostalgia, I am entering into “old age” and wondering how I will gracefully accept my wrinkles and gray hair. Jack’s mom is the epitome of grace as she nears her 95th birthday still living in the house in which Jack grew up.
A friend said to me recently, “I’m not afraid of dying, I am afraid of not living.” Thank-you Joe, you expressed what I was feeling. We moved here to LIVE and we will continue to LIVE and hopefully thrive–until we can’t!
Do you consider yourself playful? Do you like to laugh? Do you think it is fun to play pretend games? Do you like to meet and mingle? If the answer to these questions is YES (or even no!), then you will enjoy an evening of mystery and problem solving! A murder mystery storyline has been written especially for the evening of March 2, 2019. The event will take place at Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast, located near the airport at Smith Mountain Lake. Only 35 tickets are available and 25 have been already reserved. To get your reservation, go online to purchase your ticket.
You will be e-mailed a character bio just a few days before the event. It is best to keep your bio private and use the details provided to solve the mystery. You will build your own character based on what you have been given in your bio. You don’t have to divulge a thing about yourself as a REAL person. That’s part of the fun!
Food and beverages will be provided by Karen & Jack at Bedford Landings. You are welcome to BYOB but non-alcoholic beverages and ice will also be provided. Start time is 5:30 pm.
I am growing to love photography and our bird feeder right out the living room window gives me some pretty remarkable sights for taking photos, especially on these a cold days! All I have to do is feed the birds and they entertain me by visiting. It seems that I always seem to get the same birds! I learned today (in Moneta Garden Club) that the birds I feed are seed-eaters and the ones I am missing are worm eaters or bug eaters, probably foraging in the trees.
I realize that I have spent a great deal of my life learning about things other than wildlife, but I just didn’t realize that there are over 10,000 species of birds and that we only have about 973 of them in the United States.
I loved observing the ravens when we visited Yellowstone a few years ago.
and I even liked the cute budgies at the natural habitats at Natural Bridge zoo,
but also I have gotten to know the birds right out my window!
I realize that these wild birds are quite different from my domestic chickens, but they are birds still!
(An aside) I am proud to report that our chickens are laying this winter. Upon the advice of friends with chickens and chicken books, I extended their day light by about 4 hours with a lamp on a timer in their hen house!
But wrapping up my little flighty blog on birds, here are your fun facts about birds…
Go watch the birds!
For five full years, we have kept journals in the guest rooms. They are there as an option for guests to share their likes and dislikes about their stay in our B & B. It is hard to read them on a day-to-day basis, so after five years of guest journal notes, I decided to put my qualitative analysis skills to the test and see if there were trends in the open-ended comments.
There were 210 journal entries representing approximately 654 people. Most (163 entries) came from the journal in the Fourth Room, which is our largest and most expensive room. The second greatest numbers of comments were found in the Fishing Room journal, which is considered our smallest (but often referred to as “cozy) room. We have had visitors from China, Canada, France, Italy, England and points far and near. Some are here for vacations while others are just passing through as they travel north or south.
Most of the comments were simply saying “thank-you for opening your home.” The words used to describe their experience at Bedford Landing were positive and varied but the most used word was “beautiful” (55 times). Many indicated that they wish their stay would have been longer (17) and nearly everyone said they would refer others to stay with and that certainly they would return for a visit in the future.
• Delightful, charming, great ambience, unique exceptional, 5-star (29)
• Relaxing, quiet, peaceful, a respite, great get-away, felt pampered, I am recharged, great escape (27)
• Comfortable, feel at home, comfy beds (24)
• Amazing, remarkable (21)
• Romantic, breathtaking, wonderful, magnificent, fabulous, superb, (18)
• Great attention to detail and room décor (12)
Aspects of the house that were mentioned in a positive light included the hot tub (8), the theatre room and movie selection (4), the comfy beds and sheets (4). It was interesting how many people mentioned our previous dog Kramer (RIP) and current dog, Bella (16). One person said the house was “clean and fresh” and at least four people mentioned our fortunate we are to have a housekeeper like Patty.
Regarding the breakfast, all comments were positive with the exception of one person who had stayed a full week for a family reunion close by. The comment was “there was a little too much food but we love that there is a cookie platter out all day long!” We were a bit perplexed by this comment!
• A delicious, divine, yummy, or incredible breakfast (48)
• The bacon was out of this world (7)
• The French toast was scrumptious (6)
• Loved the truffles in the room (5)
• Awesome biscuits (3)
• Very filling breakfast, plenty to eat (2)
• Memorable, an adventure (10)
• Perfect, would not change a thing, lovely stay (6)
• Appreciated the extra attention, appreciate the attention to my dietary needs (4)
• Gracious and warm hosts, wonderful hospitality, felt welcome, perfect hosts, kindness, thanks for the maps and local information (67)
• So enjoyed the conversation with Karen & Jack (22)
• Made new friends (2)
• Enjoyed the hangar tour, loved flying over the lake (15)
• Exceeded our expectations
• I slept like a log
• Your house is an oasis
• This is truly a gem
• This is a slice of heaven
• You and Jack have boiled inn keeping down to a perfect science
• The breakfast was fit for a king and queen
What should we make of all of these delightful comments? Jack and I enjoy pampering people who appreciate it! Through trip advisor, we have a 5-star review track record and many of the comments in the journals are also reflected in the Trip Advisor, Google Business and Facebook reviews. We strive to maintain all five stars! Our motto is “comfort better than you will find at home.” Our job is to make our guests feel welcomed and pampered. We do have few additional insights into what this data seems to tell us.
First, it seems that the dog is a therapeutic touch, especially for those who have left their pet at home. We are not dog friendly in that we know that people who love their pets enough to want to travel with them want also to sleep with them so that policy will not change. Bella does not go to the guest room level on the second floor so there is no dog odor, nor dander on that level. She is a small non-shedding dog and that helps us keep our home pet odor-free.
Secondly, we often just “click” with our guests in terms of personality and tastes. Their overwhelmingly positive comments about the warmth and friendliness of Bedford Landings may come about because we enjoy what we are doing. We live on site and can be helpful if needed but we “read” our guests to try to determine the extent to which they want or need interaction and attention. We offer personal touches to attend to dietary needs as long as we know in advance. We find that people are grateful for attempting to meet their needs.
We work well together in the kitchen making this a team effort and people seem to appreciate that we both are present and interact with them asking about their lives and answering questions about our lives and our home. We have implemented many unique aspects to our business including a mouse hole, a bedtime story book, local artisans, a giant chessboard, sight seeing flights and more. People find these things charming and they add to their “get away” experience.
We have met many people who were just visiting the lake area who in time decided to buy a house and settle here. We often feel very must like ambassadors to the lake as we respond to questions about things to do, Internet, golf communities, how to rent property, distance from attractions, realtors to use, how to get a boating license, and more.
All in all we will continue to be innkeepers until we don’t want to do it any longer. As long as we enjoy sharing our home and have gracious guests, we will be here!
I was so excited to join Jamison’s first grade class in Raleigh, NC at the number one Magnet School in the country (or so I was told) – AB Combs Elementary. I was equally impressed with the children in their classroom’s attentiveness. But, (not that I am biased) I adored spending time with my grandson Jamison who is a main character in my new children’s book entitled “Taking Flight.” Illustrated by Julia Phillips, a local artist to Smith Mountain Lake, this story (as in all of my books) has an underlying message and this one is about eating well and fitness in children. Head elf, Gordy grows too large to ft into his elf suit so Jamison has to help deliver the Christmas gifts with Santa. Julia did a remarkable job of capturing the story with her renditions. Jack took some video footage of the day at the school that I edited together into a little story about the day. Each of our family members received a copy at Thanksgiving and there will be two book signings this weekend.
My other two books have a message as well. Cloudy with a Chance of Dreams features Jaxon (our oldest grand son). The story is about having trouble paying attention in school and the way his mother managed this including some reinforcements flying in an airplane. The book featuring Destiny Jayda (our grand daughter) is entitled Fly me Home and is about a girl who is having trouble making friends at school. She is being raised by a single (pilot) father who determines one way to manage her feelings about change and school is home schooling while she travels with him in the airplane.
As a retired child development facility member, it’s just hard for me to NOT educate. Books are a great way to entertain and spend close time with a child. Through the story, the child can imagine themselves in the role. That in turn leads to conversations between parents or grandparents and children which can lead to solutions in their own lives. And airplanes? Jack is a pilot and we live on an airport. We sell these books in our Bed & Breakfast which is situated adjacent to the W91 airport. We need more young pilots in training of course so there is some airplane terminology also appearing in the books.
Lastly, this is our I have enjoyed not only honoring my grand children but to spend some of my retirement time. This year, we are being blessed with so many new babies, however that I am considering the next book to be about a GROUP of children including all of those precious ones who have been born (and will be born) the last 2 years…Lyla, RJ, Zahra, Emma Grace, Eliana, and (due in February), Gabe. And just maybe nieces Kendall, Jaylyn, and Charlotte will have starring roles as well as our family continues to grow! Wow!
Ho, ho ho and Merry Christmas!!!