Amy and I had been seeking the perfect romantic getaway from the chaos of the Bay area. The bed and breakfast advertised in the Coastal Traveler newspaper sounded idyllic, "… private garden with ponds, waterfalls & swing… views from private deck-top hot tub, TV, VCR… two-person outdoor shower." Perfect! No sooner had I finished making telephone reservations, than I began daydreaming…

There in our own private garden, a veritable Garden of Eden, Amy gaily swings in the sun-kissed grassy clearing tucked within the lush foliage. Freshly picked flowers adorning her flowing hair, she stops to savor the bunch of plump grapes I have plucked from the verdant vines adorning the garden pavilion trestles. Following the flight of a butterfly amidst the fragrant flowers and luscious fruit trees, we discern the distant sounds of an enticing waterfall. Only the rainbow trout have joined us to bathe in the crystal pool embracing the cascading stream. Naturally, scantily clad hide-and-go-seek ensues. "I see your fig leaf hidden among those grape vines." Alas, we must once again don clothes as the sun has set and yielded to the cooler evening air. Moonlight guides us through the garden to our private hot tub, nestled next to our bungalow on our deck. Only the moon and the stars violate our privacy. Eventually, we retire to our room to indulge in a movie on our ample TV before getting a peaceful night's sleep.

The long-awaited day finally arrived Sunday. Our excitement mounted as we drove northward towards our destination up the coast. Wanting to take full advantage of all of the generous amenities forthcoming–not to mention the $130 we had paid–we stopped along the way to pick up a rental movie. As we drove past the entrance gate and pine trees on the gravel driveway, the proprietor, Joyce, waved and greeted us with warm country wholesomeness from the deck of the mid-sized wood house. She directed us to park in front and earnestly descended to give us the property tour deluxe.

Talking excitedly and limping along as quickly as her advanced years allowed, Joyce proudly led the way across the yard to the "private" garden 100 feet away. Thirty feet in diameter and situated in the driveway turnaround, the garden consisted of two pine trees, a few scraggly bushes, a dilapidated swing, and two stagnant mosquito pools. Apparently, the "waterfall" adjoining the two pools must have been seasonal. The rotting hose lying next to the pools appeared to have been dormant for several years. While I expected her to humbly apologize, she glibly carried on about the property's resident animals.

The "farm" was home to cats, chickens, an angora goat, and even a burro that had ostensibly been airlifted from the Grand Canyon during a forest fire some years ago. (Of course, I personally don't recall the Grand Canyon having more than a just a handful of trees, but perhaps they had burned in this fire.) Walking back to the house, she pointed to the hot tub on the deck in front of the living room's floor-to-ceiling windows. I thought to myself, "well, at least we have our own spacious living room conveniently situated next to our hot tub." Joyce then proceeded to the side of the house, where she led us up the stairs to our room. Hmmm… it seemed that the hot tub on the far side of the house was not in front of our room, but in front of her family's living room.

Our room held some promise with high, slanted ceilings finished in natural pine, a woodstove, and porcelain animal figurines crowding the window ledge. Atop the microwave next to the elevated wrought-iron bed, stood the TV with built-in VCR. The width of the energy-conserving screen only slightly exceeded the dimensions of the tapes it displayed. My thoughts of how Amy and I were going to fit the TV in the bed with us were interrupted by Joyce, whom was touting the virtues of the outdoor shower next to the double-dutch door, "you can open the top door and watch the fire in the woodstove as you shower!" She failed to mention that while you are obliviously watching the woodstove, the tenants in the adjacent house are watching you. Oh well, I thought to myself that we would at least get a restful night's sleep…

After short-lived efforts to furtively hot tub in the glaring lights of the living room and its occupants, we retired to bed. "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" Ugh. We awoke to the relentless cries of the ambitious rooster well before sunrise. Thankfully, sunrise was the confused rooster's cue to retire. As we finally started drifting back to sleep, the long-awaited silence was punctured by an ear-piercing and unnerving bray, "Heeeee-hawww-hee-hawwwwwww-HEE-HaaaaAAAWWWWWWWW-HEE-HEE-HEE!" Damn, burro! "Heeeee-hawww-hee-hawwwwwww-HEE-HaaaaAAAWWWWWWWW-HEE-HEE-HEE!" Instantly, I recognized why Joyce had concocted the tale of the burro's rescue. She had wanted us to feel sorry for it, so we wouldn't want to kill it at 6:00 in the morning. Eventually, the boisterous beast grew hoarse just in time for the angora goat to awaken. Now I am not sure why a goat needs a cowbell, but I do know that cowbells are loud when worn by a goat grazing next to your open double-dutch door. "Clang, clang, clang." After helplessly hoping for its departure for an eternity, I reluctantly arose to close the door and crawled back into bed. "Meow." "Meeoow." "Meeooow."

"Alright, alright, already! OK, cat. You can come in."

What seemed like a few minutes later, we awoke. "Noon, already? It's checkout time!"

More stories.