Reluctantly – and stiffly – we alighted from the car, to be greeted by the lady who ran the B&B there. We dutifully looked around, but were thinking: Once it starts raining, where will we go for an evening meal, and how will we even get back along the soon-to-be muddy, and possibly flooded, track to the road?
Fortunately, the lady was sympathetic to our misgivings and agreed that it might not be a good idea if we stayed there for the night. We returned to the car thankfully and crawled along the track toward the road. Just when we had reached it, the heavens opened and the rain began pouring down. A mist descended, making driving hazardous. Now we had nowhere to stay for the night.
We headed for the nearest town, about 12 kilometers away. There was no accommodation there. So we decided to drive another 15 kilometers to one of the port towns on Lake Erie. The rain was coming down heavily and the mist continued to hamper our vision. When we arrived there, I peered out of the car window, hoping to catch sight of a promising sign – B&B, inn, motel, hotel – anything that might promise a bed. We drove slowly through the center of the town until we reached the harbor. And then suddenly, when I was beginning to despair, I spotted something: “Inn,” I shouted, “there’s an inn!” Looming up in front of us was a tall, black, timbered building. There were no lights visible and the single wooden door we could see appeared to be firmly shut. The building, to say the least, looked uninviting, forbidding, even.
My husband eased the car into the suspiciously deserted car park and I got out and sprinted to the door. When I turned the knob it opened into a dimly lit reception area, where a woman was bent over a desk.
“Yes,” she said, looking up, and with a faint hint of an Irish accent. “Can I help you?”
“Um, do you have a room for the night?”
“Yes, we do.”
After naming a rather alarming sum, she showed me the room. By this stage, all we wanted was something cozy and dry, so I immediately accepted without paying it too much attention.
“There’s something I need to tell you, however,” said the innkeeper. “You are the only guests here, and we” – indicating another woman I had not noticed earlier – “are leaving until the morning. We’ll put some breakfast in your fridge for tomorrow and give you a key so that you can go out and get a meal later.”
“Okay,” I said, somewhat surprised. “Just as long as there are no ghosts.”
“None that I know of,” she replied.
We settled ourselves into the room. The rain was drumming heavily on the outside deck and the boats anchored alongside the jetty creaked spookily, but we felt cozy enough. Then, suddenly, I noticed they weren’t the only sounds; there was a constant dripping noise coming from inside the room. I leaped up and found rain streaming down the inside of the glass doors – which on a sunny day we would have opened onto the deck – and onto the carpet, which was getting soggier by the minute. I rushed to the bathroom to get some towels and rang the emergency number we’d be given.
“Okay, I’ll be right over,” said the innkeeper, who did not seem in the least perturbed. And a few minutes later she appeared, armed with piles of towels, with which she proceeded to spread over the carpet. Apparently, the windows need to be resealed after each winter, and although it was already September, they hadn’t been done yet. Hmm…
Shortly afterward, we left to find something to eat. When we’d finished, the storm seemed to be abating. We made our way back to the inn and succeeded in letting ourselves in. Amazingly, we slept well, undisturbed by the ghosts of drowned sailors or of young women mourning their long lost loves.
In the morning, the wind had died down and the boats rocked gently in the water. I took a walk by the shores of the lake; small mounds of debris scattered along the beach and the heavy swell were the only signs of the previous night's storm. On my return, the inn still appeared bleak, but a little less forbidding.
We ate the breakfast that had been left for us and checked out with the innkeeper, who had reappeared in the morning. Then we were on our way, to cross the border into the United States on the most inauspicious of days, September 11, the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that Americans will neither forgive nor forget. Security would be extra tough that day!