|It's a small world: The world comes to us, one visitor at a time|
|December 08, 2011 Cher Maybee|
Cher Maybee, Contributing Columnist
Owning and operating a small bed and breakfast in Western Nebraska gives us a renewed appreciation and love of the valley that we call home. Nestled in the shadow of Scotts Bluff Monument on Old Oregon Trail Road, Barn Anew Bed and Breakfast has a new story to tell with the arrival of each guest.
It is as though the world comes to us as we welcome our guests from near and far. Running a bed and breakfast has proven to us to that the world is truly a small place and coincidence is a daily phenomena.
We no longer hesitate to ask “Do you know...? Because in most cases, we can discover a common thread with our guests. And what is truly amazing to us is the number of people who come to Scotts Bluff Valley.
Some are searching their roots. Some are following the old west trails. Some arrive by accident. But all are inspired by the beauty of this valley that we call home.
Here is what happened with one particular guest:
Tears filled his eyes as he stepped onto the front porch and extended his hand. Emotions flooded through him; he was reconnecting with his past. No it wasn’t us. It wasn’t the Barn. It was what we represented to him, Scotts Bluff Valley, his past, his roots.
As we welcomed him in and Allan showed him around and shared the stories of the Barn, little pieces of his life’s story began to trickle out, until by the end of the weekend what had begun as a stranger at our door had transformed into a lasting friendship.
Ben had grown up in the valley, just a few miles from the Barn and attended Haig School with his two brothers. The family moved away when he was a teen to begin a new life in Iowa, but after 60 years, when he comess back “home” that is where his heart is. No family members remain in the area he said, “Not anymore,” but reconnecting with the Platte, the bluffs, the valley is all he needs.
His fondest memories were traipsing out into the hills around Rifle Sight. He said he remembers being gone all day with his brothers, just wandering and making up adventures, scaring up rabbits, and watching for rattlesnakes. “There was nothing like walking waist high through the tall grasses and hearing the birds and crickets.”
So that is exactly what he did his first day out after breakfast. When we saw him return that first day, his eyes seemed a little brighter, his step a little lighter, and his shoes a little dustier.
Rising before sunup the second day, he was out for a another hike before breakfast. Today he had his notes out and was going over them with Allan. He was heading north to Agate Fossil Beds and then on to Ft. Robinson.
Late that evening he pulled into the yard. As he got out of the car a big smile spread across his face. He was so anxious to share stories of his day’s exploring with us. His excitement came from the renewed awe of expansive, blue prairie skies, the waving sea of sand hill grasses, and ribbons of rolling highways. He shared all of the day’s adventures in animated tales, and his enthusiasm was contagious. It led us upstairs to sit on the balcony to watch the Bluff turn into its own light show with the Western Nebraska sunset.
The orange and yellow skies melted into violets and pinks and then as the sun’s light fitted, we watched the clouds silhouetted by sheet lightning in the distance.
Ben’s third and final day was mapped out to go southeast to the Bluff, the Wildcat Hills, Chimney Rock, and Ash Hollow. As it grew late into the evening, we had begun to start wondering when he would return. But eventually we heard the rumbling of tires on the gravel.
For having just put in a 13-hour day, he didn’t show any signs of exhaustion. He carried handfuls of brochures, collected throughout the day, samples of wild flowers to press, and a camera full of pictures from as close up as a lady bug on a sunflower to the panoramic skyline of Chimney Rock.
He was full of stories, as excited as a schoolboy who had just discovered something new. He had books to read and all kinds of new research to do on Western Nebraska history and geology.
His three-day journey to connect with his past had become for him a reawakening. A transformation had occurred before our eyes of a shy, quiet, sentimental man to an adventurous, exuberant explorer. And as a result we reassessed our own situation, living in the valley, framed by Landmark Country, with blue skies, waving grasslands, prairie flowers, neatly cultivated rows of corn, beans, and sugar beets.
When we looked down through the pages of the guest book of our bed and breakfast there are places like England, Germany, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, and Nebraska. Some come for a reason like Ben, others are following the trails and Western history, others arrive by sheer accident, but what we have seen is that they all leave with a renewed energy created by the beauty of this valley, and we realize that what they are so in awe of, many of us take for granted, and turn a blind eye to.
We thank our guests every day for reaffirming to us how lucky we are to call this valley our home.
Read more by Cher Maybee