Today the road has brought me to Atlantic, IA.
I thought I had checked out all of the B & Bs close to my neck of the woods, but imagine my surprise when I was looking over my list and saw that I missed one in the nearby town of Atlantic, IA. Immediately I booked a visit to Chestnut Charm Bed & Breakfast, owned and operated by Barbara.
Truthfully, I badly needed a little getaway. I’d had an unusually difficult week capped by a Friday the 13th that lived up to its moniker as everything that day went foul and the day ended with a notification that a project I’d hoped to be part of had fallen through.
Saturday the 14th started much better with a bright sunny day making for a pleasant drive to nearby Atlantic, the Coca-Cola capital of Iowa.
I got into town a little bit early as I wanted to do a bit of exploration. Atlantic is like stepping back in time to a more peaceful era with a quaint downtown area with old-fashioned street lamps and shops that close up early on the weekends.
Coca-Cola is a big part of the town as you will find painted murals of the soft drink all over the downtown area and a bottling plant is in the heart of downtown. There’s even a Coca-Cola museum and information center that I may visit on a future jaunt to this city.
I definitely plan to return during the Christmas season because Atlantic prides itself on how it celebrates the Yuletide season with a celebration called Christmas in Atlantic. This celebration features over six miles of LED lights in the downtown area, a visit from St Nick, fireworks, themed window displays and a lighted parade.
After a brief walkaround, I headed off to Chestnut Charm, a 121 year old Victorian mansion situated on a 2 acre property. The mansion had been built by a lumber baron named Edward Shaw as a wedding present to his daughter.
I was greeted by Barbara who is a “jane of all trades” as she grows her own fruits and vegetables, built the property’s gazebo, and has done quite a bit of work on the mansion itself, aside from being its resident chef. She is also a waterfall (fount seems too small a word) of knowledge and an expert on the history of the region. Barbara told me about all sorts of interesting historical facts about the region and gave me numerous ideas of side/day trips to take on future outings such as St Patrick’s in Imogene, IA and the windmill and Dutch museum of Elk Horn.
Barbara escorted me to the Manson Master Suite which is a very comfortable and spacious area with a fireplace, hardwood floors, a queen sized bed, a private sunroom, and a bathroom with a rather deep tub. I had just enough time to take in the room before heading over to worship at Sts Peter and Paul.
The service brought a great sense of peace to me and made me more than ready to enjoy dinner at The Redwood Steakhouse in nearby Anita, IA.
The Redwood prides itself on being an old-fashioned steakhouse. Back in the day steakhouses would actually bring a relish tray so diners would have something to nosh on before their entrees came and The Redwood continues that practice. My tray contained pickles, black olives, green olives, carrots, cauliflower, cheese, and pickled herring which was actually quite tasty. A little French bread and salad and a bit of the items from the relish tray wonderfully tided me over.
For my entrée, I opted for a NY Strip and took Barbara’s suggestion to try the hash browns. Barbara claimed these were the best hash browns around and she was right on the money. They were nice and crisp on the outside, but soft and fluffy in the middle and a bit of cheese and onions gave it that extra bit of kick. My NY Strip was cooked perfectly and I seasoned it with spices at the table and enjoyed a long and pleasant dining experience.
When I returned to Chestnut Charm, Barbara showed me a battalion of Monarch butterflies flying around her neighbor’s yard and introduced me to Concord grapes which I had never tasted before, but found them quite sweet and learned they were the grapes used in Welch’s jelly and probably their soda back when that existed.
From there, Barbara educated me on the history and interesting sights of the area before we called it a night and I went to my room to rest and write. A nice long soak in the deep bathtub had me ready for a trip to the land of Nod.
I awoke, truly refreshed for the first time in a week and was ready for breakfast.
Barbara greeted me in the kitchen and led me to the sunroom where a glass of water was waiting for me. Barbara shortly brought me orange juice and an egg frittata with onions, garlic, Italian herbs, and zucchini from her garden along with sweet smoked bacon which was locally produced and magically prepared in her kitchen, and a peach muffin stuffed with raspberry jam with both fruits coming from her garden.
After picking my plate clean, I finally did a little exploration of the mansion. At 121 years of age, this home was produced before electricity and plumbing and back when craftsmanship was king. The woodwork is prepared by hand. Stained glass windows adorn the property. Cloth is handpainted. The lamps on the stairwell are now electric, but were once much bigger Victorian gas lamps. The property also contains a carriage house where the inn’s two jacuzzi suites reside. There’s even a 101 year old Victorian piano which can actually be played.
Regrettably reality was calling me back home and I had to pack it in. But a trip to Chestnut Charm and Atlantic, IA is well worth a visit. You’ll find a plethora of history in the area, enjoy a fine home cooked meal, meet a hostess with intimate knowledge of the area, and maybe a bit of Christmas cheer if you time it right.
Until the next time, happy travels.