Caribbean 2002
Mayan Riviera 2001
Philadelphia Story
Phoenix Faux Pas
Montreal is Dangerous

July 2000

Tyler and I had long discussed going to the Amana colonies and last summer we had our chance. 

Tyler called around to several of the colonies trying to find a bed and breakfast for us to stay in.  We also wanted to ride our bikes between the colonies so he decided we needed to stay in Middle Amana because there was a bike trail to the main Amana village from there.  The first B&B he called was full.  He asked for a recommendation of another one in town, but they said they couldn't recommend any.  He should have taken that as a hint...

As luck would have it, the Cloister House B&B did have availability on the weekend we wanted to be there. 

We arrived in the quaint village of tidy brick houses late in the morning.  The Cloister House was no problem to find and looked lovely from the outside.  The male proprietor was working outside and led us to our room.  It was a Spartan room to say the least.  Mostly decorated with a mish mash of furniture, circa 1960.  The only lamp in the room was a pole lamp (you remember-- they are supposed to extend from floor to ceiling and they have bullet shaped shades on them) but the ceiling was so high that it was just leaning in the corner.  We knew it wasn't going to be a Victorian Inn but we were expecting lights....

As we walked outside, the female proprietor met us at the door.  She requested our credit card which Tyler handed to her.  She said her electronic credit card machine wasn't working so she had to use the one that swiped the imprint onto carbon paper.  (We're guessing the electronic one was a little too high tech.)  She swiped Tyler's card and then handed it back to him and asked him to read the numbers out loud.  The male proprietor was standing there and said,

"What are you doing.  The numbers went through fine."

"I can't read that!"

"Yes you can.  See it says 6673....."

She grabbed the paper back from him and held it up 1/2 inch in front of her face and said, "I can't read it unless I do this."

We were a little flabbergasted at the argument.  Notice I never referred to these 2 proprietors as husband and wife.  At that point they were fighting like brother and sister.  We now think maybe they were partners to both relationships.....

Then the woman asked us, "Would you like the full breakfast in the morning?"

We hesitated at this question.  We were staying in a B&B, so assumed we would have breakfast as the name implies.  Did she mean full breakfast as opposed to continental?  We indicated that we would like the full breakfast, whatever that meant.   She asked what time we'd like it and we agreed upon 8:00 a.m.

There were other relatives roaming the property too.  "Momma" would get into the car and move it from place to place in the driveway, always putting the pedal to the metal and throwing rocks all over.  There was a cousin from Omaha who appeared to be moving in.  He spent the day carrying small boxes of things from his car, skipping and smiling as he went about his task.

We rode our bikes into Amana for the day.  It was a little more touristy than we had hoped.  We had a big German lunch so didn't need much for dinner.  There was a small bar that sold pizza in Middle Amana so we thought that would be a good place to go in the evening.  It was a nice clean place and the pizza was good.  Problem is that everything in the colonies closes at 8:00 p.m., even the bars.  It was a little early to go to bed.  The mosquitoes were eating us alive outside and we only had that one pole lamp to huddle under to read by.  We ended up going to bed.

The next morning we were up and dressed and sitting in the dining room by 8:00 a.m., ready for our breakfast.  Our host and hostess were nowhere to be seen.  We assumed the "full breakfast" was not going to be a bacon, egg and pancake meal.  About 8:15 our hostess came into the dining room and asked us if we were planning on having breakfast.  I quickly considered making a quick exit for the big German buffet breakfast out on the highway, but decided it would be polite to stay.  That was a big mistake...

"Would you like oatmeal?"

"Is it instant or cooked?"

"I cook it."

Tyler really likes oatmeal so I said if she was going to cook it that would be great.  She started bustling around in the kitchen preparing the oatmeal.  Soon I realized she was pulling packets of instant oatmeal out of a box and warming up water in the microwave.  I quickly told her not to worry about the oatmeal explaining that it was such a hot day and she shouldn't trouble herself.

"Are you sure, I can do this?"

"Yes, really, it's okay."

"Oh, are you sure?"

By this time I was getting concerned because she was wringing her hands and had a nervous look in her eye.

"Would you like some coffeecake from the bakery in town?"

Now we were talking.  Yes, we wanted coffeecake.  She arranged two small pieces of coffee cake on a bread plate and sat it down on the table between the two of us.

"Uh, could we have another plate?" I politely asked.

She fumbled around in the kitchen for a while and finally came out with another small plate.

"Would you like a banana?"

"Yes!  We would love a banana!"

"Um, well, oh. "  She's holding a banana in her hands, fumbling it about and stammering.  She gives me an exasperated look and says, "How should I do this?  Do you want it sliced with sugar?"

At this point all I'm thinking is just get the banana. 

"Just cut it in half and give one part to me and the other to him!"

That wasn't what Tyler wanted to hear.  He wanted sugar on his banana.  He gave me a swift kick under the table.

Our hostess walked over to the table and gave us both a nervous look.  Then holding half a banana in each hand, hesitated then purposely placed a banana half next to us.  She then folded her hands in satisfaction under her chin and beamed at us.

"Would you like some juice?"

"Juice would be great."

Again, much fumbling in the kitchen.  Dishes banging.  Sighs and groans.  Then she emerges from the kitchen with our orange juice--in coffee cups.

There was one other couple staying in the B&B with us.  They wanted to go to the church service across the street.  Our hostess kept trying to feed them oatmeal and they kept saying they were just trying to get to church.  The other couple literally ran through the dining room and out of the house.

Our hostess left the kitchen and went upstairs.  Tyler ran into the kitchen and grabbed another piece of coffeecake for himself.  Then we grabbed our suitcases and ran out of there too.