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24070 Front St, Grand Rapids, OH 43522, View on Map

Picture this. Busy summer morning at The Mill House. Ron is setting up breakfast on the patio.  Someone’s clothes hanging over the swing that sits along the canal right behind our place.  Ron’s first thought was, ” someone had a fun night last night!”

As we were serving our guest couple, I noticed the clothes as well.   Weird, but not surprising. We never know what we may see along the river.  Soon a young man in a beret walked from the neighboring parking lot to the swing and began to fuss with the clothes.  He turned around and seeing us waved and said, ” Good Morning, I am from France.  I am walking around the US.  My name is Cyperien, but you can call me Cyp…C-Y-P!

He explained to us that he had just washed his clothes in the public restrooms down the street and he was waiting on them to dry before he left town.  I asked him if he would like to join us for breakfast.  He told us that he would join us but he had his own peanut butter!

He grabbed his huge and heavy backpack and joined us on the patio.  He was excited to eat a big bowl of fruit and coffee as he chatted with all of us.  He had flown into Boston, had either walked and hitch hiked to Chicago then to St.Louis.  He had spent a night in Liberty Center, which is a small town just west of Grand Rapids and then spend last night in his tent down by the river.  He was basically traveling with no money, not phone, and the shoes on his feet (Topsidders with no socks, I might add!! )


Cyp is from Normandy and had just completed his master’s degree in fine arts.  He carried small journals where he wrote what he did, who he met, what was happening in each place.  He also painted small watercolor paintings in his journals.  While sitting at the table, he shared his journals, and began painting the jar of Jiff Peanut Butter on a new page.  He explained to me that he painted things that helped give an identity to the places he had seen.  Labels of packages,  signs he had seen along the way, and interesting buildings came to life in beautiful color.

A man he had met in Liberty Center had given him a “gift” of an atlas.  He loved it because all he had with him was a French road map of the US that didn’t have all the little back roads and towns.

He graciously asked us if he could paint a picture for us on a page of the atlas.  We were so excited!  It is the Jiff jar on a map of Southern California. He chose to do it on Southern California because he really wanted to go there, but just didn’t have the time.


While he painted I put his clothes in my dryer.  He told me he works in a museum in France while he is home and is able to paint and write books during his work hours.  He told me that we could either sell the painting he did for us or we could keep it….Bet you can guess what we decided!  Just gotta find the right frame for it.  We’ll display it in the inn and it will be a great conversation piece.

As innkeepers and even guests at a B&B, you never know who you will meet along life’s journey… I try to remember as I meet travelers on foot, bicycle, car, or motorcycle that it only takes a “cup of cold water in His name”  to serve others.  God speed Cyp!  We will never forget our meeting.

When I checked out his Facebook Page I saw pictures of his art in gallery shows.

follow Cyp on facebook,

Grace and Peace,




  1. Cyprien Desrez, May 15, 2023

    so happy to see this article few years later !

    cheerz from France, and to tell you more, i’m still travelling every summer by hitchhiking without money with out phone 🙂 🙂 🙂



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