Wednesday, August 03, 2011

How I Spend My Day & Summer Chaos

Sometimes I envy the tourists, who spend the whole day at a beach or pond, relaxing, enjoying vacation, or have the leisure to clown around while visiting the National Seashore, but there are simply too many of them this year. Those of us who live in Wellfleet year-round keep our heads low. We are all trying to simply get through the summer. Everyone seems to agree that July was as busy this year as August is usually. Here at Chez Sven, we have hardly had time or energy to walk at the beach.

Last week a reader asked, “How many hours do you spend just caring for the B&B in high season?” My response: “That varies.” Every day is different.

Room prep takes about an hour or two for each room and bathroom. Rooms "changeover" every three days, and so require new sheets every three days. Cottage prep takes longer because there’s a whole house to clean. Cottage guests stay a week and spend a lot of time inside, which means more intensive cleaning is required.

Every few days there’s laundry to wash, sheets to hang out to dry, pillowcases to iron.

Every morning, in summer, I prepare breakfast and set the table outside. Each group of guests eats at a different time, 8:30, 9, or 9:30. I often sit and chat with the guests over breakfast. I get up at 7. I grab a cup of coffee, check email, shower, bake, ie. from 7 to 10, I’m on my feet, 7 days a week.

Every other day I shop for organic fruit and stock up on provisions for breakfast.

Shopping in town is a challenge in summer. There are only so many parking spaces in the town hall lot, and newcomers do not always follow the directional arrows. The best time to shop depends on the tide, the weather, and the day, with Saturday and Sunday being the worst. I tend to venture out in late morning or early afternoon while most tourists are at the beach.

Before guests arrive, it is necessary to wait for them. It’s hard to start a project because their arrival will interrupt whatever I'm doing. When guests do arrive, I spend a half hour on orientation.

We have extensive flower gardens at Chez Sven. Since it had not rained for weeks before yesterday evening, we have been watering the gardens every day to keep the flowers alive. It is actually pleasant to water at the end of the day, but still, it’s work. And, then there’s the general household to maintain …

August is intense here with traffic jams on dirt roads that normally see no traffic.

Thanks to our new pharmacy, it’s no longer necessary to take Route 6 to Orleans, twenty miles away, which is a relief. Often Route 6 is bumper to bumper with tourists looking to stock up on food, get to the beaches, place beer in coolers, etc. When I shop in Orleans, I try to go early in the morning.

Last week I wrote a post about noisy tenants at a neighbor’s house. Now that Facebook exists, I have noticed Wellfleetians will voice their frustrations with the summer chaos online. I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few of their comments:

“It's August and it is better to laugh than to cry when driving on Route 6,” Suzanne

“Oh my good God. Our little road was so quiet that only the foxes and coyotes were here with me for weeks on end. Now it's Beerfest-Party-On, Dude.” Carol

“I love watching the tourists who think they know the tides and set up huge camps on the beach, loudly telling the wives and kids the tide is going out. Meanwhile, half an hour later it's a huge SHIT SHOW, and I stand there laughing. Ha-ha-ha. Don't be a know-it-all. We are here to help you if you only ask.” Settie

Would you like to be an innkeeper? Do you live in a tourist destination? Is tourist season as intense in your town?