The current self-isolation has forced us to slow down considerably, so I’m trying to catch up on some blog writing this week. I got so behind in 2019 that I never shared about the sweet vacation cabin we acquired last spring over near Shepherdstown.
Knott Cabin had been a popular listing on Airbnb for about three years, marvelously hosted by Ginger Hankins. When she heard last January that we were building a tiny cabin on our property, she mentioned that she and her husband were thinking about selling one of her two Airbnb listings. She asked if we might be interested, and my first thought was, “No way could we manage a property that was a 20-minute drive away.” I decided to see the place, though, just for the heck of it.
I walked into Knott Cabin and immediately discovered what Ginger and a couple hundred of her guests already knew. It’s a special place. Situated about a tenth of a mile from the Potomac River, sporting a cedar-clad exterior with front porch and patio, the cabin sits next to a rural road and is surrounded by nearly 3 acres of woodland.
For the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to Harpers Ferry this lovely little village is a tourist destination: a scenic and historic spot for exploring, hiking, riding, rafting, learning and maybe even relaxing.
Yes, it is all that, but for its nearly 300 residents – including us! – Harpers Ferry is home. So, what is it like to live in a 255-year-old microtown, you ask?
We thought we would give you a little snapshot based on our mere year and a half of experience. (Ask us again in 5 years, and we’ll likely write a totally different post.)
Harpers Ferry is definitely the smallest town either Christian or I have ever lived in, but if you haven’t heard me say it before, we love it here. There are plenty of small towns across America, but hardly any others have such a large proportion designated as a National Historical Park and are visited by close to 500,000 tourists and adventurers annually. Yet, Harpers Ferry somehow maintains its sleepy, friendly, Mayberry character. When Christian turns onto Union Street after a round trip to the DC metro area for work in I-70 traffic, he says it feels like he has entered a bubble of tranquility. He treasures the step back in time that Harpers Ferry is. Continue reading “Living in Harpers Ferry”
After working hard during our first year in Harpers Ferry to get the two guest suites up and running and the garden paths in shape, we have had more time this summer to work on decorating our own living areas. Since most B&B guests don’t get to see the back of the house, we thought we would give you a little peek at the rest of this amazing place.
We’ve tried hard to fit the stuff we already owned with the craftsman style of the home. The stained woodwork definitely requires a different decorating look than either of us have ever lived with, but I think we’re getting the hang of it.
(We updated this information on 9/18/18 and again on 1/14/19)
Christian and I love good food, and we love to support local businesses. Want to know which ones we like best? Here is a list of our top five favorite local lunch spots to help you out in case you are looking for recommendations. We actually have more than five favorites, but we’re saving some of the restaurants that also serve dinner for a future post.
It’s amazing much can happen in a year! On June 12, 2017, our first official Airbnb guest checked in for a night in our third-story guest suite, Inez’s Sweet Retreat. Jason was bicycling the C&O Canal Towpath, and as he left the next morning he promised to bring his wife back here for a visit (which he did in January).
Hosting guests upstairs was a test for us to see how we felt about letting strangers stay in our home – and how Harpers Ferry visitors felt about staying with us. As I wrote in our March post “Surprised by Joy,” it turns out that we love the hospitality business, and the visitors seem to like both the upstairs suite and the newer garden-level space just fine.
As we look back over the past year since Jason’s visit, we are also surprised by how many improvements have been completed around the property. We loved the place when we bought it, but Christian, especially, is always dreaming up new ways to make it better — better for us and for our guests. Fortunately, we have had the resources and the access to skilled local tradesmen to bring his plans to life. Sometimes we felt like contractors were slow to respond, renovations were taking forever and weather was holding up outdoor projects beyond reason, but ultimately a lot has changed in the span of 12 months. Continue reading “A Year’s Worth of Progress”
In April 2017 Christian and I tied the knot under a vine-covered gazebo in our beautiful garden, surrounded by 25 dear family members. The day celebrated our commitment to each other in a partnership that has surprised us by working so well on not only a personal level but on a business level too.
So this month has us thinking about love and marriage even more than usual. Our property – the garden, back deck and sunroom – worked so well for our own small wedding party that we are thinking about opening the place up as a small event venue to others. We’re also thinking, though, about ways our B&B can encourage stronger relationships between couples already together.Continue reading “Love Is in the Air Here”
It’s no shocker that we enjoy living in our lovely old Harpers Ferry home. Why else would we voluntarily sell our houses in Charlottesville and leave behind jobs, churches, and dearly loved family and friends to move here? Despite a few (expensive) inconveniences over the past year, we still can’t believe how blessed we are to live in this place.
The thing we did not in any way foresee was the joy that our B&B business would add to our good life together. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised, but we are.
Over the past year our B&B vision has evolved through hours of discussion culminating in a little hard work and lots of fun creative thinking. From redecorating the finished third-floor suite last spring to designing and directing construction of the garden-level suite this winter, we have been equally engaged partners every step of the way. (Next up is preparing indoor and outdoor areas for use as a small wedding/event venue!)
We also have fun applying experiences gained over the course of our careers. Christian has a master’s degree in business and spent much of his career working with General Motors’ marketing and sales teams. I’ve spent the past couple decades in the communications field, where I’ve gained expertise as a promotional writer with a few graphic design and photography skills to boot. It’s great to take all that know-how and use it for our very own enterprise. Continue reading “Surprised By Joy”
The New Year started out great for us. January 2 was when the trouble started.
Last year was so good – hard, but exciting as we got married and settled into our newly acquired 1927 stone house in Harpers Ferry. I knew something had to go wrong before long, though. A fairytale life does not realistically extend ever after.
It was that darn spell of arctic cold that did a number on us. (And please don’t think I am equating our little drama with the recent true tragedies of families who have lost all their possessions and entire homes in mudslides, fires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with them!)
Last Tuesday I was de-Christmasing the parlor when I heard an unusual steady drumming sound. I followed the noise to the dining room where I discovered a stream of water gushing through our 1920s chandelier, cascading off the dining table, and seeping through our treasured, timeworn oak floorboards. Continue reading “Into Each Life a Little Rain…”
Christian and I are so excited to be spending our first Christmas season in Harpers Ferry. We share a love for this season and both brought lots of holiday decorations to the marriage. Now we are having fun merging our collections and adorning this beautiful house in festive style.
We have an extra special reason to decorate well this year, because we are opening our home to the public during the two weekends of the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar Olde Tyme Christmas. If you would like to visit and enjoy an afternoon Tea Around the Christmas Tree or morning Holiday Brunch, check out the details here. If you are undecided about visiting, we are sharing some sneak peaks in the blog this week.
To bring some kind of order to all this fun stuff, I decided to decorate (loosely) in themes — a different one for each room:
This being our first year living on a property with an existing mature garden, I have savored every flower and hated to see any of them them just wilt and disappear. I thus embarked on a mission to preserve as many as I could so we could enjoy them inside through the winter months.
I had dried hydrangeas a couple of times in the past, and I love the look when they’re done right. Since the Rockhkaven garden has an abundant supply of hydrangeas, I focused my attention on them first. How do you like the wreath I made with a grapevine wreath base? So easy! I just kept adding blooms as they were ready until I filled in all the holes.
Then, I got a little obsessed and tried to save every bloom I could. No bloom left behind, you know! At some point I think Christian was a little worried that the house would be overrun with them. They’re so pretty though! Continue reading “Prolonging the Garden”