Peace: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
The first thing I noticed on my drive was the closer I was to reaching my destination, there were no longer any street markings. As a Murrayville native, this was a sign I was going to be spending the day getting back to my roots. On a quiet gravel road surrounded by sunshine and countryside, I pulled up alongside a grey mailbox covered in birds and flowers with ”Peace on the Prairie” inscribed on the sides. For having never been there before, I had an innate feeling of already being home.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is an online hospitality service. It is a website (www.airbnb.com) that enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging, such as vacation rentals, home-stays, hotel rooms and many more. In layman’s terms, it allows people with extra space or property to connect with those needing a place to stay. Around five years ago, Kevin and Jamie Klein, married over 24 years and both professors at Illinois College, found themselves with property that wasn’t being utilized. Sitting on 24 acres of land, they had built a studio apartment on to a two-car garage adjacent from their home. Originally, the idea was for their parents to have a private area to stay when they would come to visit. But as plans for life sometimes do, things changed and the family found themselves with an extra living space not being used. The studio apartment has a full kitchen, full bathroom, stackable washer and dryer, queen bed and a queen-sized futon/couch. After a bit of discussion with his wife, Kevin Klein decided to post the studio apartment on Airbnb to see what type of response the space would draw. Fast forward five years, and the couple has greeted guests from across the world.Upon exiting my car, I was greeted by the couple’s dog, Sparkle. By her calm demeanor, I could tell I wasn’t the first visitor she’d met along the way. She was as friendly as the cats who were now walking around inquisitively. I met Jamie Klein as she was tending to the property. She took a short break to show me the apartment, which was far homier than any apartment I have ever owned. The apartment is filled with anything a traveler could need, whether your stay be long or short. Internet, Netflix, books and movies are all at your fingertips. Whether you are traveling between jobs and needing an extended stay, or simply needing to hit the pause button of life, if you need it – Peace on the Prairie has it.
After touring the apartment, Kevin Klein arrives from visiting the neighbors. Of the very few you will find scattered in the area, throughout our talk you can tell they all are very close knit. Immediately, he asks if I am interested in checking out the bee hive he has recently installed on the prairie. Self-admitted, I am terrified of bees. However, his passion speaking about the insect and how the hive works, my fear turned into intrigue. When I set out to speak with the Kleins about their property, I did not envision myself standing within a foot of hundreds of bees. But, watching the hive at work, how the bees create honey and learning all of the detailed care that goes into such an intricate process was an amazing experience. I felt truly humbled to be able to witness such an incredible sight.
During my time touring the property, I found myself more enthralled with all that it had to offer. Off to the north of the apartment, surrounded by woods and prairie, is a large pond that is perfect for fishing with your own equipment or taking a ride on the water in the canoe that is provided. The pond is stocked with catfish, bluegill and crappie. The Kleins don’t mind whether your preference is catch and release or should you want to clean and cook them, the pond is at your disposal as you wish. If natural water isn’t your cup of tea, during the summer season they have an above ground pool that is also available for guests. There are acres upon acres of restored prairie and timber that can be hiked. And to end a long day spent exploring nature and its wonder, there is a fire pit that is also surrounded by prairie as far as the eye can see. While I visited during the day, Kevin spoke about how one of the most interesting things for guests is just how many stars they see at night. The Kleins make it a point to keep lighting in the area dim so those who have never experienced a country sky get the grand effect of what a clear night has to offer.
“Each life intersection is an opportunity to make new friends and share a bit of Peace and a bit of the Prairie.” These are the parting words Kevin left me with after my tour of the property. On two maps in the apartment, there are pins that mark where every guest is from. From Hong Kong to Scotland, Britain to China, people from across the country, as well as world, have found solace in a little corner of Illinois. What we have all had hidden underneath our noses, is the very place so many seek to find the peace they don’t have in their hectic lives. What a beautiful thought it is to know how close we are to paradise. So close, we sometimes don’t even take the time to notice.
Peace on the Prairie is located at 518 Happy Hollow Rd. in Murrayville. If you ever find yourself seeking relaxation or know someone needing the perfect place to stay, you can book a stay at Peace on the Prairie via their Facebook page, by telephone at 217-673-5241 or at www.airbnb.com.