Spring 2016: We Made It!

All last winter, we kept saying, “If we can just get to spring and our first full season of being open…” Well, we did it! It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but we survived our second winter and are now gearing up for what looks to be a busy summer.

A couple of notes and then I’ll get to some pictures of what we’ve been up to so far this year:

We did get the business from the Charlevoix cement plant expansion we talked about earlier. Mary, our extraordinary sister and helper, was doing dishes and helping us tidy up our living quarters on May 1st when she looked out our kitchen window to see a group of men peeking inside the courtyard guest room windows. That moment marked a turning point in the Motel Possible dream. We gave them a tour and ended up reaching an agreement to rent a handful of rooms on a weekly basis. These guys not only saved our financial tucases; they have turned out to be the cleanest, most pleasant guests imaginable.

Our spring update wouldn’t be complete without offering major thanks to my former working family at King Orchards for being big supporters of our project, and for flail mowing along the north entrance of the property. Josh made short work of what would have taken Dave months to do by hand. As much as Dave enjoyed hearing the “pop” of those tap roots, he liked the efficiency and results of the machinery better. Watch out, autumn olive. We’re coming for the rest of you soon.

We now have online booking available at the Atwood Inn motel website. I have some adjustments to make since implementing Checkfront into our WordPress site, but I am loving the power and ease of the new system.

It’s been slow going on the building and landscaping improvements, but little by little, it’s starting to shape up. The fountain base is transforming into a lovely herb and perennials garden. The satellite dish is down. Shane has the lobby primed and ready to be painted. The exterior paint, trim, and doors are behind schedule, but we plod along as fast as time, money, and energy will allow.

We have much more work to do, and many plans for future improvements, but we are happy with the way it’s all coming together. We love living and working here, and hope our guests will also appreciate and find comfort in our ‘little mom and pop motel with a resort like atmosphere.’

As always, thanks for your continued support and enthusiasm.

Much love,
Patty, Dave, Lexi, Sarah, and the rest of the Motel Possible – Atwood Inn family

Digging Into The Reflection Zone

The Reflection Zone (the area North of the main motel building) currently shares top billing with exterior paint and trim on our massive spring punch list.

The first step toward making this area functional and pretty was removing the years of layered leaf debris from around the Sycamore tree, thinning the overgrowth of evergreens, and eradicating the ever-present Autumn Olive. It was a jungle out there!

Now that much of that mess is gone, the Irises are sprouting en masse and pretty purple violets are blooming. Our next step will be to wash, trim, and paint this section of the building and to make the garden area a welcome and tranquil outdoor space for guests to enjoy.

(Click on any of the pictures below to open a photo gallery of the project.)

Thinking of creating a garden bench planter from the old fountain base.
We’re considering turning the old fountain base into a garden planter bench something like this.

 

We’re having an impromptu work bee this weekend. You’re welcome to come by for a look or to lend a hand.

Day 527: Spring preparations and possibility

Let the spring cleaning begin! We were blessed with a mild and relatively short winter, which has enabled us to get inside the guestrooms and to get our outdoor projects and grounds work started early. Over the next few weeks, we will be tackling the problem fountain garden, aka The Reflection Zone, in between Buildings One and Two. As soon as it’s consistently warm enough, we’ll be moving around the north corner and to the rest of Building One with exterior paint and trim. Then it’s over to Building Two for more of the same treatment. We’ll also be putting a fresh coat of paint on all the doors. I can’t wait to see how the whole place looks once the paint job is complete.

Our newest project for this spring is a light lobby makeover.  Shane and Lexi spent last Sunday stripping wallpaper. Dave has a bit of skim coating and sanding to do to the drywall before we proceed with paint. Shane and Lexi are steering the color choices for this area. We’ll keep most or all of the existing elements and use a fresh color palette to give the room a “vintage modern cottage” feel.

Sarah and Lexi are also helping me clean, de-clutter, and organize.  “One room at a time,” as Sarah says, and it will all get done. They keep me focused and semi-sane while working their butts off and singing and making me laugh until my stomach hurts. They are as invested and enthused as I am, and their positive energy is contagious. I’ve probably said it before, but it bears repeating: Getting to work on this project with my favorite people is my life-long dream coming true. It is the journey, as they say, that matters, and I am already having the best time ever.

Funny how life is; the best time ever is also the hardest time ever financially. Dave has taken full-time work with our builder friends to help keep us afloat. I’m doing what I can from home to keep the project and business moving forward.  I try hard not to let money worries distract me from the tasks of reopening rooms and “filling beds,” as they say in the biz. Thankfully, there are tons of free but powerful communication tools available online: WordPress, Instagram,  Facebook, Twitter, Google, TripAdvisor, and of course, GoFundMe.  Social media enables us to reach out and connect with people in a way never before possible, and at virtually no cost. It appears to be working, because we’re getting more reservations every week.

We still need all the help we can get. Please consider choosing the Atwood Inn for your next vacation, family reunion, golf outing, or out-of-town wedding guests. We are offering incentives through GoFundMe for pre-paid bookings and an extra special deal for the full house for two nights. Kindly share the Motel Possible and Atwood Inn pages to your network of friends and family. And keep on pulling for us and sending so much good will our way. Every bit helps, and we appreciate it more than we can say.

Cheers to spring!

Spring at the Atwood Inn

We are so excited for Spring 2016 and our first fully open season as the Atwood Inn motel. Spring cleaning and improvement projects are under way!

 

Wintering at the Motel Possible, Part Deux

First of all, I am sorry for the dearth of posts these last few months. There hasn’t been much to report. I mean, there has, but it’s mostly been the hunkering down, getting through, dealing with personal issues, and just making do sort of stuff that I hope to use as fodder for future side-splitting tales from the struggle, but don’t find particularly enjoyable to talk about while it’s happening. Instead, I will sum up our second season of  hunkering (I do love that word) with one of our many working mantras, “We’re going to be fine once we get to our first fully open season. We’ve just gotta get there!”

It may be in the nick of time, by the seat of our pants and the hair of our chinny chin chins, not on time, but in time, and better late than never, hanging on by a thread of a shoestring caught in the skin of our teeth, but we will get there. Failure is not an option.

So without further ado, here is a pictorial look back at our second winter at the Motel Possible, which I will follow with some thoughts about the path forward:

Closing thoughts:
We’re nearing the end of February now, and the early thaw has allowed us a peek into some of the guest rooms. It shouldn’t be a surprise to find that all the work we did last year is still done, but it makes me giddy nonetheless.

It won’t be long before we’re back to work in the courtyard and gardens, mowing the lawn, and tearing up more of that damned autumn olive. We’ll settle on an exterior door color and finish fixing the trim and fascia we didn’t get to last year. We’ll get the kitchenette room put back together and the last few rooms painted. And we’ll paint the other halves of the signs!

It is a seemingly endless list of things to do, but it is doable and we are not daunted by it. We are entering this season so far ahead of where we were at this time last year. Summer reservations are starting to come in and a few weekends have almost sold out. Today, I had the pleasure of talking to a lovely bride-to-be who is sending out of town guests our direction. It feels like we’re finding our niche, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

We are so grateful to have this place and this opportunity to make our dreams come true. We look forward to meeting new guests and welcoming back return visitors. We remain humbled by all the support and love we have received before and throughout the course of this project. We will try our best to do right by it.

Best wishes to all for a safe and blessed 2016. Many happy returns.

With love and possibility,
Patty & Dave

DIY Sign Making Part Two: The Billboard

 

imageToday’s challenge: to scale up the Atwood Inn logo to fit on the 8′ x 16′ road sign. Our budget: the usual $0.

imageMaterials: plastic baggies, tape, hair tie and rubber band, scissors, Sharpie, recycled cardboard, duct tape. All stuff we had around the house.

imageI printed 6″ letters on paper using Publisher and WordArt. We cut up the plastic bags, taped the letters underneath them and traced the outlines with Sharpies. (hint: I printed 2 1/2 letters on every second sheet so we could use the overlap to align and space the letters correctly.)

wpid-20150929_203932.jpgMeanwhile, Dave cut up a box and taped the seams to make the projector.

imageHe cut a 7″ x 7″ window on one end to lay the transparencies over.

imageHe cut a much smaller opening at the opposite end. He and Lexi devised a phone mount using a hair tie and bobby pins. He then switched on the flashlight app and tested it by projecting the first two letters on the living room wall. It worked!

imageWith the projector mounted onto an extendable pole, we took a pack walk outside to see if we could project the letters directly onto the billboard without going through the stencil making step.

imageWe determined that while we could direct it at the billboard, that method would require waiting until dark for the image to be visible enough to trace. We didn’t want to wait that long to start the actual painting, so back inside we went.

imageDave cut a 12′ long strip from a large cardboard box. We snapped parallel chalk lines 24 inches apart, then straddled a ladder over it. Dave laid the projector over the ladder hinges, which provided the perfect distance for magnifying the letters to size.

imageWe traced the outlines onto the long piece of cardboard, scooching the board to the left as we switched from one transparency to the next.

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This part didn’t take long, but cutting out the letters took a little doing. Dave’s razor knife helped, but an X-acto knife or rotary cutter would have been handy here. Serrated kitchen knives worked OK, too.

imageWe separated “ATWOOD” from “INN” and headed back outside with our giant cardboard stencils.

imageDave mounted the stencils onto the billboard with small screws.

image Dave did all the ladder work. I just kept him company.

image imageOnce he had the letters traced, he began painting them in.

image Almost there…

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It was near dark and getting cold, but he made it!

imageNext, it’s over to the North side to do it again. Then we’ll add the lamp post and additional wording.

We try to do at least one thing to move the project forward every day, and for the most part, it’s working. The property really appears to be shaping up, and we’ve been getting great responses from our guests and our neighbors. When it feels particularly slow going or I start to worry about money, I remind myself how far we’ve come on so little, and in such a short time. Before & After pics help.

Did you know that Eva Mann made the original “MOTEL” and “Office” signs out of styrofoam she chiseled herself? 35 years later, those signs are still hanging. All we need to do is replace one “f” and apply fresh paint and they’ll be good as new.

Perhaps someday we’ll be able to afford vinyl letters and other luxuries. Until then, here’s to Making Do like it’s 1979.

The Atwood Inn Sign Project

Do-it-yourself sign making with Three Hills and friends.

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Tricia Bowden and her friend, Philly**  brought our vision to life with this awesome Whistle Up The Bay inspired design and color palette. Our challenge was to scale it up to a 4′ x 8′ sign with zero budget or sign making experience.

**Phil Detloff is his real name, and he’s a real graphic artist. We are thrilled with the designs he created for us and highly recommend him. LOVE it!

DIY sign painting
Lexi, Dave, & Shane did a bit of strategizing and practicing with the old sign. Lexi is saying, “Let’s use a grid system,” and Dave is saying, “I can free-hand that s**t.”
Atwood Inn sign creation
Father and daughter snapping chalk lines.
sky blue
Mmmm…. pretty blue paint.

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Our beautiful daughter and sign painter.
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Meanwhile, Dave cut down the cross beam, but kept the side posts and existing sign frame.
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Pretty as a picture.
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Our neighbor, Chuck, donated a ballast to get the whole No Vacancy sign working properly.
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Lexi painted happy little trees.
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The first layer of paint took a few days to dry.
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Therese painstakingly and meticulously traced and spaced my homemade paper letter stencils and Dave painted them in.
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Therese came back yesterday to help me paint walls in three rooms, and then helped Dave put the sign in the frame while I stood around taking pictures.

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Finished with this part for the day. Passersby were honking and giving Dave the “Thumbs Up.”
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Dave had band practice, so I spent part of the evening making the lamp post stencil. I traced the outline from the logo with Photoshop Elements, saved it as an eps file, then enlarged and printed it as a banner in Publisher. Perhaps not the most elegant way to have done it, but it worked.
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Dave applied the paper stencil to the sign this morning.
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Traced around the stencil with pencil.
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Then he filled it in with white paint.
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He’s a lefty.
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He has a good eye and a steady hand.

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Cleaning up the job site.
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And Voila! Welcome to the Atwood Inn!

 

Fun and Games at the Atwood Inn

Motel Possible – Atwood Inn as of August 1st.

July – Work Bee and Transformation into the Atwood Inn

The Motel Possible project moved forward by leaps and bounds in July, due in no small part to a big assist from friends and family.

It’s hard to believe we are cleaning and sorting linens, hanging pictures and coat racks and curtains, and making beds in preparation for actual opening. We are working hard and still having so much fun!

As always, thanks to everyone who has helped and supported us emotionally, physically, and financially.  It means everything to us.
Patty & Dave

Throwback Thursday: The Bavarian Inn Motel and Restaurant

Pictures courtesy of Walt Mann.

bavarian-inn-atwood

The original Bavarian Inn Motel & Restaurant.

original bavarian inn and motel in atwood michigan
Eva and John Mann, hosts and proprietors of the original Antrim Dells’ Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Motel.
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John and Eva Mann at the front entrance.
It's a family endeavor, and sometimes you simply must break for a Bud. We understand completely. As Walt has said, "If those walls could talk..."
Sometimes you simply must break for a Bud. As Walt has said, “If those walls could talk!”
atwood motel courtyard
The beloved courtyard.
Walt Mann, chef at original Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Atwood
Walt Mann, Chef turned Real Estate Broker Extraordinaire.