The Imposterbed Inn

April 5, 2011 | My Jottings

My dear husband recently turned 62. I informed him that I had never kissed a 62 year-old man before and wasn’t sure I wanted to. He just smiled. Then I kissed him and told him new things happen every day — now I can add kissed a 62 year-old man to my list of things accomplished.

We decided to get away for the weekend to celebrate. We mostly wanted to rest and sleep and to have no real agenda. Friday afternoon we drove a couple hours and arrived in a sleepy town on the Lake we love, and stayed in a big old inn we’ve never visited before. It was grey and rainy when we arrived so it didn’t look quite like the photo below, but this is how the inn looks from the road in the winter.

The proprietors of the inn were outstanding people — a retired couple who cared very much that each guest have a wonderful experience there. We were impressed and thankful, and could not recommend them enough. There were just a few problems, however.

This is our room, which was spacious and bright, and located on the second floor, with a three sided fireplace. We put down our suitcase, took off our shoes, and plopped on the bed. Oh, no, I thought. This can’t be true! The bed looked like a bed — it was covered by a beautiful quilt and had soft sheets and four fluffy pillows. But we figured out in just a few seconds that this was a large queen-sized board pretending to be a bed.

And the three sided fireplace? We arrived on a chilly day and nothing sounded more cozy than napping in a soft, comfortable bed just a few feet from a cheery fire. But the fireplace didn’t work. There was a thermostat on the wall and it clicked when it was turned on, promising in its own thermostatic way that flames would be dancing in the hearth at any moment, but no. The click produced no flame and the room stayed cold. The gracious proprietress said she would send her husband over to fiddle with the thermostat when he returned from town. Later on that evening he did get the fireplace to work (yay!) and advised us to just slowly tweak the thermostat back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until the flames sprang to life. We did that, and were grateful the thermostat wasn’t a pretender, just a slacker.

There was no TV in our room, which was an amenity to me. We knew from their website there would be a clock radio/CD player, so as we laid on the imposter bed we enjoyed the very soft strains of a Mozart CD and exhaled an inner aaahh, until the CD player malfunctioned and made a sound that it shouldn’t make and the LED display flashed ERROR. Each CD met with the same fate — beautiful, soothing music for a couple minutes, then an unexpected sound and error message from the player, and then silence.

Oh well, I thought. It will just be very, very restful and quiet here, which is really what we want. I brought some knitting, but no books, because I gave up books for Lent.

Michael fell asleep immediately because he deals with exhaustion due to his Parkinson’s. I laid beside him and watched the fire. It was quite nice.

I did not take any pictures from our first night at the inn. If I had, you would have seen two weary people tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable in a queen-sized board professing to be a bed. At 10:00 p.m. you would have seen two grown adults spring in terror from the bed with their hands to their ears, wondering what the deafening roar was. You would have seen them crawl back in bed when they finally recalled that the proprietress had told them that after the whirlpool tub was used, a powerful sucking fan/vacuum automatically came on under the tub to remove any bit of water left in the hoses. You would have also seen confusion on the couple’s faces, because they hadn’t used the tub that night, so weren’t expecting the fan, which was as loud as a small jet engine placed inches from the bed, and roared for two full minutes. Hours later you would have seen bleary eyes wide open in the dark, a man’s small pocket flashlight trying to find the way to the bathroom, and small grimaces because of complaining joints.

The next morning we were so ecstatic to get out of the fake bed and give our hips and backs a rest from resting. We joined the other guests at the inn for breakfast in the beautiful, stately dining room. The owners were friendly and helpful, and the food was plentiful and tasty.

Michael and I looked forward to a day of exploring the shops in the little town, and of driving around aimlessly to look at houses for sale, acres of rolling hills and thousands of apple trees that had just made it through winter and were silently preparing to bring forth their blossoms. One of the most popular orchards in the little town is this one:

I think the highlight of the trip for me was seeing these:

Dormant apple trees by the thousands, trees that very well could have supplied fruit to our own table, and most certainly have been the source of some of the best apple cider in the world. I don’t even like apple cider, but I like the thick, tart, cloudy cider that comes from these trees in this town.

Knowing nothing about apple husbandry, I was astonished to see that all the apple trees were pruned very low. We didn’t see one tree that was over six feet tall — they were growing broad and close to the ground, and I wondered if that was for ease of apple-picking, or for sap-rise and growth reasons. Or maybe both. Any apple husbands out there that could shed some light on this?

On Saturday morning we drove and drove, which Michael loves. There were hardly any cars to be seen in and around this little town of less than 1000 people, so it was easy to stop in the middle of the road to roll down our windows and talk to the deer. We talk to deer. Yes, we do. We raise our voices close to soprano levels (Michael’s almost approaches tenor on a good day) and wave to them and say things like, “Hello little deer! It’s just us! You are so pretty little deer! Don’t be afraid.” Michael’s deer-cooings always include the word “buddy,” as in “Hey, little buddy, we see you little buddy!” and so on, and eloquent so on. My husband the Mighty Deer Hunter has become the Tender Deer Coo-er.

The deer don’t look very convinced, do they? You can click to enlarge for more detail.

After we drove around and pointed out several houses with breathtaking views of Lake Superior we thought we could retire in, we decided not to have lunch at a restaurant. Instead we bought a fresh baguette of French bread, a soft cheese and some apples, and we drove down to the edge of Lake Superior, overlooking Chequamegon Bay. You could say sha-WAH-muh-gun if you’re from the area, or CHECK-wah-MEE-gun if you want to draw a wry smile from the locals.

The ice was breaking up and the sun was bright enough to relieve anyone’s Seasonal Affective Disorder;  we sat in the car eating our simple lunch, letting the 40 degree breeze blow through the windows, and giving thanks for being able to live near Lake Superior.

It was at this point as a little girl that I always said to my father when we were on a pier near the southern California ocean: “Daddy, would you jump off of here for a million dollars?” I didn’t ask Michael that, but looking over the edge into the 36-degree water below brought back fond and quirky childhood memories. 🙂

Just to the left of where this photo was taken was an ice house on the lake. With a man ice fishing on the quickly thinning ice. Michael seemed to understand. I did not.

Buckling ice on the shore:

After our peaceful lunch we drove back to the inn and thought we’d give resting another try. We didn’t get a lot of restful sleep the night before because of the charlatan bed, but we were feeling generous and wanted to give the bed a chance to prove itself.

Michael feel asleep within sixty seconds, and my bones promptly announced, “Oh, no you don’t — you did this to us last night — you’re not going to do it again so soon today — just forget about it.” So I sat up in one of the wicker chairs and finished a scarf I’m making for a dear friend in California out of this yarn that my oldest daughter dyed.

In the early evening on Saturday we had reservations to eat here. It’s an old Victorian inn and they prepare some of the most exquisite food on the planet. No imposters here — this was the real deal.

There are three small dining rooms — the green, the red and the blue. We were in the red dining room and I tried to get a few pictures.

The fork’s view:

The birthday boy:

The leaded glass windows were so much prettier than I could photograph:

My salad was described on the menu thusly: “Baby Spinach Side Salad –with local berries, Roth Kasse Buttermilk Blue cheese, red onions, toasted pecans, and our own honey pecan vinaigrette.”

It was amazingly delicious. I love blue cheese. There’s something about ribbons of greenish-blue mold winding through soft cheese that puts a song in my heart. I was so happy about my moldy cheese that I thought it deserved a private photo sitting all its own:

And since I’m always the one toting the camera and Michael doesn’t take kindly to looking through a viewfinder, I set the camera down and timed a shot of me. Apparently I never looked in the mirror before we left our room, or I would have noticed that my turtleneck resembled a black cervical collar for a whiplash victim.

Michael’s entree was called Steak del Mar. It was a tender sirloin set atop a platform of mashed Yukon Golds, which was placed in a creamy mushroom and green peppercorn sauce, topped with marinated shrimp (hence, the del Mar), and accompanied by fresh asparagus.

I ordered the Champagne Chicken, which was a grilled chicken breast in a champagne-Gran Marnier cream sauce with roasted mushrooms, mashed Yukon Golds, and a drizzle of truffle oil. And asparagus. My own made-up word — moanworthy — applies to every bite of food we had at the Rittenhouse Inn.

I will not go into detail about our second night of attempted sleep at The Imposterbed Inn. The jet-engine blasted on again and this time we didn’t jump out of bed — we just laid there pressing our palms against our ears. A young and lively couple stayed in the room below us and clearly their reasons for getting away to a country inn were not the same as ours. They were enthusiastic whoopers for much of the night, and by this time we just thought there might as well be a party below us since the bed on which we were trying to sleep preferred we would be awake all night anyway. It was truly a lovely and delightful place for those who prefer a firm, cement-like mattress.

On Sunday morning we looked at each other and decided we would head for home and forgo the delicious breakfast our hospitable hosts would offer. We packed in the pre-dawn light and carried our things quietly to the car. We were on the road by 7:00 a.m., thinking of our wonderful, soft, familiar bed at home.

Within forty minutes the weather deteriorated and we were in the middle of a strong blizzard with white-out conditions. The snow was piling up on the highway and we drove very slowly after hitting a patch of ice on a bridge and almost spinning out. That had never happened to me and my heart pounded for a long time after something prevented us from going off the road down into a steep ditch.

Michael has eyes that spot two things like nobody’s business. He can spot any bird in any tree from almost any distance while traveling in a vehicle going any speed. He sees hawks at the top of the fourth tree in the glen on the east side of the car traveling at 60 MPH, and bald eagles circling seventy miles above the earth, barely visible to most naked eyes. He has difficulty reading the morning paper sometimes, but he can spot birds. And roadside diners.

As we crept along in the blizzard that swirled huge goose feather-sized flakes all around us, Michael spotted The Rustic Roost up ahead on the left and directed me to turn in. He said we needed to get off the road until the squall had passed. I knew he wanted to get off the road and have what he would eat every day of his life if he could: two eggs fried over easy, hash browns, a sausage patty, two pieces of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and strong coffee.

Here’s a Rustic Roost menu in front of a happy man:

The Imposterbed Inn was a really nice place, but we thought the bed was a little too difficult to get along with. The Rustic Roost doesn’t really compare with The Rittenhouse, but it was nice to have a friendly warm place for breakfast and protection from the snowstorm. The snow turned to sleet and then rain as we ate, and we drove the rest of the way home without incident.

The first thing we did after arriving home and carrying in our things?

Plopped down on our own wonderful, slightly mushy bed.


  1. Helen in Switzerland says:

    Julie, you are a very tactful lady! The bed, the fan, the fire….it sounds terrible….but the food…mmmm….now that looks really good!
    Sometimes not so good things are sent to make us appreciate what we have at home!!

  2. Just Julie says:

    I think you’re absolutely right, Helen. When we came home we just kept saying how wonderful it was to be back in our comfy, familiar place. But if you like hard beds, I would highly recommend this place. Let me know when you’re coming to the American Midwest… 🙂

  3. Ganeida says:

    The champagne chicken sounded & looked absolutely wonderful. Ditto your salad. The bed, the snow, the ice ~ all yours! ? How can you live in such a place? lol ?

  4. Just Julie says:

    I do sometimes ask myself that question, Ganeida. The older I get the more I wonder how much longer I can live in a place with such long winters. But I might ask you the same thing – snakes in your house, spiders raining down on your head in the shower, heat and humidity, giant bugs – how can you live in such a place? 🙂

  5. Ganeida says:

    Heehee. Snakes, bugs & spiders don’t frighten me like snow & ice does. The humidity is a pain I grant you but it’s only for a couple of months every year.

  6. Just Julie says:

    You are a brave woman in more than one aspect of living, Ganeida. 🙂

  7. Jessica says:

    Oh Julie. You are a hoot. I had so many comments in my head as I read through this laughing out loud!!!! I’ll be chuckling all day!! Great post!!!!

  8. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Jessica….your blog gives me a laugh often too!

  9. Lloyd says:

    Fun piece, Julie. I’ve been in those places,though never overnight. Many a meal at the Rustic Roost.

    Please get winter out of your system. I head home from Tucson April 12. Lloyd

  10. Just Julie says:

    We look forward to seeing you sometime this summer Lloyd. I almost keeled over from heatstroke just reading about your recent 98 degree temps. Thank you for reading!

  11. Ember says:

    Oh my goodness! I think as soon as Michael’s shoulder has healed, another weekend away may be in order – this time with a written guarantee of comfy beds!
    My love to thee and to him – praying for you both in these post-op days. xxx

  12. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your prayers, dear Ember. It was wonderful to get home to our bed – from The Imposterbed Inn, and from the Mayo Clinic.

  13. carole says:

    Has it come to this? I realized if I read your blog I could find out if you were o.k.. Not only are you alright, but you are all moved into paradise!!
    Your post about the Imposterbed made me laugh out loud! You are hilarious!!!
    love you girl,

  14. Just Julie says:

    Hi Carole, We have had company, company….I got your messages and will call you tomorrow! xxoo

  15. Natalie says:

    Julie, I really enjoy your writing:) It was fun getting caught up in your B&B adventure! Have you written any works of fiction? I know they would be an equally enjoyable read:) God bless!

  16. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Natalie — welcome! No, I don’t think I have a page of fiction in me. God bless you too! xoxo

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