“Oh shoot. I think the restaurant will be closed while we are there”, she said after we booked the night at the Inn. “And it doesn’t look like there’s much in town, so we may need to get creative for dinner”. No problem. We are used to making do.
We arrived at the Mill Pond Inn on a sunny Monday evening. It looked closed. Really closed. Like abandoned. I’d missed a call from a number which caller ID claimed was from a larger nearby town but no message had been left so I had chocked it up to spam. Now I was kicking myself for not answering. I called back. Yup, it was the Inn. Voicemail. “Hmm, how do we get in?” I thought. I left a message.
I checked the Booking.com app and we had a note there I’d missed. It had a key code. I punched it in, and the door opened. We were in! Hurrah! We’ve grown accustomed to self check-in at Airbnbs and, more recently on this road trip, B&Bs too. So, this wasn’t alarming.
We were booked in room 3 at the top of the stairs. The Inn was vacant. All doors unlocked. The bar area was open, but dark and the cabinets locked. The restaurant area, also open. Ghost town. Hmm.
We’d seen a mini mart “in town” (meaning where the two roads intersect) so I headed back there to see what I might be able to find for dinner. Mostly canned and microwaveable items which would require some method of heating, but they also advertised Boar’s Head meats (two kinds of turkey even) and we still had some bread left over so sliced turkey and Swiss it would be. “I’ll take the oven roast turkey please”, I said. “We only have one kind”, came the reply. Hmm. “OK, I’ll take that one then”. False advertising.
As my deli cuts were being sliced, I let two others pass me in line. One buying lottery and scratch tickets (many of them), the second buying a 12 pack of Shaffer beer he clearly did not need. Best to let him drive off for a safe period of time before getting back in my car.
The owner of the Inn called as I was returning to our lodging. He gave me a restaurant recommendation (too late, no worries) and confirmed we were, as suspected the only guests and our breakfast would be ready at 7:30.
It was creepy, at first. I sat at the bar, drank a little wine (ours we’d brought along since there were no drinks being offered otherwise) in the near dark, uploading the last week’s worth of photos to my laptop. Over my shoulder was a fittingly creepy painting of a small girl channeling her inner “Shining” twins impersonation. Below her stood a three-foot tall wooden clownish figure which could’ve made an appearance in the movie “Poltergeist”. But as the photos got uploaded and the glass got emptied, I started to love it.
All evening, we sat at the empty bar (we did turn on a light or two), drinking our Finger Lakes wine, eating our turkey sandwiches and wheat thins. Unless you owned the place, when would that ever happen? There was no tv, were no other people, no distractions. Just us, in an empty inn and restaurant with its photo booth (which we may have used a time or two).
One of our friends commented, via a text exchange, that the hotel was “legit” and “definitely haunted”. And maybe it was, and if it was, it was definitely the weird girl on the wall and her clown companion doing the haunting. So, as we went to bed, I dead-bolted the little wooden door to our chamber because we all know that ghosts can’t get through wooden doors, especially when bolted shut, right?
We awoke to the sun streaming through the window and the sound of our continental breakfast being put out for us. The breakfast delivery was made and then the deliverer left us to our ourselves completing our journey of experiencing the hotel in complete solitude. And as we sat there over our muffins and yogurt, I realized that the only ones haunting the joint, at least for last night, were us.