Yes, Nessa, it is.
When we get really lucky, we get to lay our heads at B & Bs. We dine at the breakfast table with strangers from who knows where and talk about mostly unknown things and more than likely, we'll never ever see them again. We have one moment to uncover a lifetime.
Nessa Pettyjohn and Nihshanka Debroy from Gwinnett County celebrated their one year anniversary, and at breakfast, we celebrated, complete with candle-topped banana bread. After an amazing casserole, intense coffee and our own slice of banana bread later, we discovered they were IT people. I could tell. It was like looking in a three way reflective mirror - Nessa, Nihshanka and Len. Triplets. I, on the other hand, was the elephant in the room, but that's alright. We learned about Nihshanka's love for rare books and Nessa's skill at preparing Indian food; we wanted to go home with them.
Hosts, or innkeepers, are rare breeds we are told. There are ones that are nice and do their job well. Then, there are those who could be your Aunt Sally or Uncle Frankie. Family, in other words. You hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes, in the little touches - like complimentary this-and-that, fresh baked cakes always available tempting and calling your name, exquisite "I never want to get out of bed" sheets, binoculars for bird watching, or smiles no matter the time of day. And if they accidentally lock you out of the Lodge at bedtime, you know deep down they really didn't mean to. And when they say, "Come back," they expect you to.
Janet and Ric came to Blue Ridge by way of Key Largo and Colorado. "This [Aska] makes us happy," Janet says with a visible sense of contentment radiating from her face. Calling them adventurists would be an understatement - climbing Mount Rainier and Mt. Hood, caving, scuba diving - and this little piece of heaven, satisfies their longing to be close to nature. They have even changed roles; Janet who once handled all the cooking now serves as sous chef for Ric and his morning masterpieces.
They are cat people and along with two others, there's Nathan, a 10-month old garbage dump kitty who demanded Janet take him home that day. She did. Although mostly confined to their living quarters, he runs the place. He makes excellent coffee with that fabulous Juva coffee machine (which upon looking up purchasing information, decided I'll just go back to Aska for the next 15 years and enjoy theirs).
Yes, Nessa, this is a dream job. It's an exhausting one, too. And on occasions, a sad one, for there are endless one-time shots and regrettable goodbyes. It's amazing to think that because of what we do, this provides us an opportunity to cross paths with people that we would have never met in a million years. For that, we are grateful, and we promise to share the stories of the unforgettable.
Janet and Ric are unforgettable.
And so were the pillows. Here's a sure-fire test to rate the experience: if you find yourself sleeping so well on their pillows, that you actually search for the tag, take a picture of it, and order them immediately when you arrive home, the experience rocked!
Go visit Nathan's mom and dad in paradise at Aska Lodge in Blue Ridge. Tell them Judy and Len sent you and that they are missed.