A Fall Evening at The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast

Friday, April 23, 2010

I-40 to Reopen April 27th - The Wildflowers of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains Await You!

This is the first Spring we were able to get out to explore our mountain wildflowers, and as you can see from Glenn's pictures they made themselves available to us!

The Kephart Prong Trail was on the list of trails for the Great Smoky Mountains State Park Wildflower Pilgrimage, so we thought it would be a good place to start. The trail was listed as moderate, but it was a pretty easy 2 mile climb, with the narrow foot bridges over the Oconaluftee River the roughest part of the trip for all of us. They had railings on one side, but they were one foot in front of the other balance beam narrow, so we took our time. Since the trail crosses over the river 6 times, by the 12th time on the 2 miles down we were as graceful as Nadia Com─âneci!

It was fun spotting and identifying the flowers, and there were obvious hints of new varieties waiting to blossom. We saw fields of Trillium, blue phlox just beginning to open up, lots of common violet (we have these all over our property too), what looked to be Partridge Berry, and wild geranium. The trail was lined with rhododendron bushes full of buds for future viewing.
The winter snow storms were frustrating and damaging when they were occuring, but now that Spring has sprung, I'm starting to see how they may have provided just the right amount of moisture for a drought ridden landscape at home and in our beautiful mountains.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Passion for Life Matters, Whether It's Biltmore Size or Windover Inn Size

There are so many reasons to love Spring!

Daffodils pop up everywhere giving landscapes a cheery disposition. Brown turns to green, polka dots of pink and white appear on trees, and the birds celebrate the warmth of the season with their beautiful songs. I'll admit it, I'm intoxicated with the thought of it!

For me, this time of year also brings with it a new energy. I've never really subscribed to New Year's Resolutions, at least not just in January. I believe in continuous, quality improvement, whether it's Glenn and I managing our bed and breakfast here in Waynesville, North Carolina, or me managing myself. But I have to admit, my energy and enthusiasm for some kind of change is always strongest in Spring, and this year is no different, or is it?

Our lifestyle as innkeepers keeps us busy 7 days a week. We always have all 8 rooms ready to go for guests and have a regular routine to keep our 5,565 sq. feet of house ready to greet any traveler. We also like to consider our acre of outside property to be a continuation of our indoor space and do our best to make inviting outdoor living spaces for our guests. There's never really a time when we look at each other and say, "there's nothing to do!" And it seems that not a day goes by without an idea of how to improve some task, how to make rooms more comfortable, our outside more inviting, and ourselves more fit to take on any challenge that presents itself in our business and personal lives.

What I realized this year though, is, as the lifestyle of innkeepers becomes more a part of us, or us a part of it, our embracing the spontaneity of this profession has created a natural, daily, continuous, quality improvement model for living! Our work is just as hard, but it doesn't seem like hard work. Is this a natural result of the passion we have for our beautiful, historic home, loving the business we have, and the lifestyle it affords us? Can it last?

This made me think of the Vanderbilt family and the history of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, only 30 minutes from us. The first time I saw it, as much as I could appreciate it's beauty, it seemed too large, too extravagant, and I wondered why someone would spend so much time and money on such a project. Who can use 250 rooms?! But when I took the time to learn the history of this amazing Estate, I found it was just a grand example of someone's passion. And now when I think of the Estate, the work that's gone into it's renovations, and the beautiful, well tended property (the Biltmore Estate Festival of Flowers is going on now until May 16th), I see it more as a realization of someone's dream and vision being kept alive, and appreciate so much more the detail and design in every part of it. How fortunate the rest of us are that it still exists and we have the opportunity to share it's history! Even now, more than a century later, there is continuous, quality improvement by the family, and new additions like Antler Hill Village. And if you read George Vanderbilt's great grandson's explanation of the Biltmore's current business model, you realize the passion is still there!

Yes, this Spring's renewed energy and enthusiasm for change is different for me. There is a renewed energy and enthusiasm, but now it's for continuing to work hard on our daily, continuous, quality improvement to keep our life just the way it is! Passions come in all sizes, ours has 8 rooms.