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We’re in the Charlotte airport and are experiencing a bit of delay. We’re on the new terminal, a beautiful one, completed last year, yet still somehow there aren’t enough gates. At our last gate, a different flight was boarding to Austin, but the digital display read, “Portland, ME.” While making the boarding announcements, the gate attendant omitted the flight destination, so several people destined for Portland embarked on the Austin flight. The attendant seemed unaware that the digital display above the gate door read anything other than “Austin” so made a rather irate announcement, “This flight is boarding for Austin. Austin only! I just had someone from Portland board my plane. If you are on the Portland flight, please go sit down.” She pointed up at the sign again to indicate that only the Austin flight was boarding. It was all rather comical.

Eventually we were moved to a different gate, where we sit patiently now waiting while yet a different flight, this one to Jackson, Mississippi, boards. For a change, I’m not in any particular hurry. It’s just vacation and since I’m not headed to Cooperstown, I don’t have to worry about missing any Cal Ripken events. A few minutes ago I found my Orioles bucket hat in my backpack. I thought I had forgotten to pack it, so now, everything is good and the vacation is officially underway. I’m rather enjoying the people watching, one of my favorite hobbies, especially when I see things that challenge my assumptions.

Standing at our first gate was a young thirty-something, bald man with tattoos on his arms that extended passed his short-sleeve shirt. He looked like a real tough guy. I couldn’t quite make out the tattoo pattern, but they resembled flames. I’m thinking it was something of a “devil” or “hell” theme. He was leaning against a rail intently reading a book. I recognized the cover instantly, “The Seven Principles for a Happy Marriage.” A couple of times, he flipped back a few pages, reread them, and then flipped forward again. As he approached the gate to board (he was on the Austin flight), standing close enough to other people that they might be able to read the title, he opened a different book of substantial size with a brown leather cover (maybe a bible) and tucked Gottman’s book in the middle, squeezing the outer book closed around the Gottman book. A classic case of never judge a book by its cover. “Mr. Tough Guy” was making an effort to protect his marriage that many a clean-cut, less “threatening” looking man would and do refuse to do.

We’re boarding now so I’ll have to save any other musings and observations for a different time.


When I chose the Spencer Inn for my stay in Cooperstown, I had two criteria: a hotel with a vacancy and a room for a rate that someone like me who isn’t among the rich and famous could afford.

The Spencer Inn was my first stay at a bed and breakfast and I fear that it will make any future B&Bs pale in comparison. The Inn is run by the owner Karl and his wife Christina. It is situated at the top of a long unkempt grassy hill that emerges into a neatly manicured lawn that eventually culminates with the Inn standing tall above the road. The red walkway to the house greets visitors like a welcoming red-carpet, bordered by trim landscaped trees and flowers. Mature rhododendrons line the perimeter of the wrap-around deck that provides ample seating for guests wishing to drink in the peaceful view. The best part is the hosts who operate their Inn with love and care. Friendly and accommodating, they are dedicated to ensuring their guests are comfortable and enjoy their stay.

The Inn itself is decorated with antiques and has the charm of your best friend’s guest room. Our small bathroom was shared by the guests of an adjacent room, with a small shared hallway between us. The bedroom was decorated with a small antique vanity very much like one I used to own, a small television, two night stands and a double bed. In the morning, the skylight allowed the sun to illuminate the room, waking us to sunshine instead of an alarm. One night, during a fierce thunderstorm, the skylight delivered flashes of light that danced into the room as the rain pounded the glass above, reminding us of mother nature’s awesome power. It was a delicious way to be in nature while still remaining dry, snuggly, and protected.

The charm of the Inn and it’s owner would have been enough for me to love it, but with the breakfasts, I considered squatting, never leaving, requiring law enforcement to forcibly evict me. From the Czech Republic, Karl delights his guests with a delicious European, old world talent for homemade, fresh food. The first day we were greeted with a delicious moist homemade cake, a quiche, sausage, a side of fruit salad, coffee, and our choice of orange or grapefruit juice. The second morning was even better: including the juice and coffee option, we had a choice of omelet or banana pancakes, a homemade strudel, and a side of fruit salad. I opted for the banana pancakes and they were delicious, moist in the right places and just a little crunchy around the outside. Yum-yum-yummy. (You’re beginning to see why I didn’t want to leave now?) By the third morning, when it seemed impossible that there could be an improvement, it got even better! We had a choice of banana pancakes again or one of three kinds of omelet. I can’t tell you what two of the choices were because everything left my mind after I heard the word “crab.” This Baltimore-raised girl’s mouth started salivating immediately, as is programmed in my DNA from the several generations of native Baltimoron ancestors who preceded me. And I praise heaven that they bestowed on me the great gift of growing up in that fine crab and Orioles oriented city. My crab omelet was filled with chunks of crab meat (but no Old Bay – you can’t have everything), and was accompanied by a fruit-filled crepe.

Do you see how much willpower it took to vacate? I returned home to breakfasts of jam-covered English muffins, something that I found to be a perfect upgrade to toast until my stay at the Spencer Inn revealed just how sad and inadequate my weekday breakfasts are.

Another one of my favorite things about staying at the Spencer Inn is that, because of it’s proximity to Cooperstown, all the other guests during our stay were also there for Induction weekend. The intimate atmosphere of the dining room affords the chance to become acquainted with the other guests. When we were done talking about baseball, which we all had in common, we discussed our other interests, a smooth and easy transition after bonding immediately over America’s greatest past time. The leisurely conversation over breakfasts reminded one of how we used to live our lives before we allowed someone to convince us to go at such a hurried pace day after day. By our departure on Monday we had made some new friends and were sad that we didn’t have more time to get to know each other.

While I believe my husband enjoyed the vacation, it will take a lot of bribing with a reward of which I cannot at the moment conceive to convince him to return to Cooperstown again. When and if we do return, I hope to stay at the Spencer Inn again, and I hope that our new friends from San Bernandino and the other Orioles fans from Baltimore are all there together. I hope we have time to enjoy some of the delicious Ommegang brews while chatting lazily on the deck, taking in the scenery, and just enjoying life the way it was meant to be lived, with time to catch a breath.

Pictures of the Spencer Inn here.

August 2008