A Country Classic
Claudia Geise, a long-time special education teacher and administrator in Valparaiso, had never thought about operating a bed and breakfast. Then one day in 2004, she stopped at a Michigan City convenience store for gas and saw a sign that led her to an 1896 farmhouse. Developers planned to operate it as a bed and breakfast, but they were looking for someone to run it.
It turned out to be a perfect match. "It needed someone to love it, and it picked me," Claudia says. Today, the lovely refurbished brick home outside of Michigan City draws visitors from all over the world looking for a quiet stay in the country. They find it at Tryon Farm Guest House. It's located on 170 acres of land that has been carefully developed as a conservation community with homes that blend into the natural setting. Three-quarters of the rural landscape, where alfalfa still grows, has been preserved as rolling pastures, meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds.
Guest house visitors are welcome to stroll the paths that lead through the country setting. Claudia rents bikes that guests often ride to Lake Michigan, just a mile away, for an afternoon on the beach.
When they return, many head for the outdoor bath, a tub and rain shower set in a tree house and open to the sky. "Adults like to relax there with a glass of wine and a bubble bath," Claudia says. "Kids love it, too."
Children are important to Claudia, who has two grandchildren, so she welcomes youngsters to the guest house, along with pets. "Pets are a part of the family, too," she says. Children and adults are greeted with freshly baked cookies when they arrive.
The four guest rooms, each with a private bath and vintage marble sinks, range from old-fashioned to romantic. "The rooms are typical to a plain kind of farmhouse," Claudia says. Chenille spreads cover the beds and only one room has a television. "People come here to unplug," she says. There is a TV in one of the parlors along with a video and DVD library, books, board games and children's toys.
Guests love the isolated farmhouse setting, with a barn built in the 1920s and chickens and goats on the property. They're welcome to join in on farm chores such as gathering eggs, which may end up in one of Claudia's delicious breakfasts, served by candlelight in the dining room. Guests may join others or take a private table as they feast on fresh fruits, home-baked breads and main dishes such as stuffed French toast or baked casseroles. A particular favorite is Claudia's unique combination of wild rice, scrambled eggs and herbs.
Claudia's guests, many who return often, rave about their stays. "Thanks for sharing such a neat place with us," one of them wrote. "My daughter loved her treetop bubble bath and said it was the best day of her life."
"Once you come," Claudia says, "it becomes a part of your life."
Tryon Farm Guest House