We have had some memorable vacations over the years, and some even more memorable accommodations on the way to or from the chosen vacation spots.
During the ‘8os, we usually drove wherever we went because I was teaching U.S. geography in those days and I wanted to “experience” the states I was teaching about. The states were great, but we had a real talent for picking no-star motels.
There was one in Arkansas when we were on the way to Texas. It looked OK from the road. We inspected the room, and it seemed nice, so we paid the bill because we planned to leave early the next morning.
As the room clerk left us she said, “Be sure to keep the door closed after dark. The mosquitoes from that farm across the road come over then, and they’re big enough to carry you away!” In my mind I heard the theme from Twilight Zone all night long.
We stopped at another motel further south on the way home. It looked good from the front. Bill came out of the office and said, “Our room is around back.” As we drove around, the road sank down. Our room was at basement level. It was very dark inside.
When we turned on the light there was a big, round dark spot on the deep burgundy rug. It took no time at all for me to decide it was blood and somebody died there—or was killed. Bill slept just fine all night. I slept in the car the next day while he drove.
Another time the motel was really nice, and our room was lovely. But when we went to supper I noticed the ice machine was right next door.
“We better get a different room,” I told Bill, You’ll never be able to sleep with that noise all night.”
“Never mind,” he said. “This room will be fine.”
When we returned to the room someone was getting ice.
“You better go get another room. I know that noise will keep you awake.”
“No, it’s probably my own fault they put us here. The clerk spoke very softly, so I kept asking her to repeat what she said.”
There was a nice motel in Alabama. The attached restaurant was great. The room was clean and beautiful. But we noticed a lot of National Guardsmen in the restaurant. We asked if they were on the way to camp somewhere. No, a killer had escaped from the prison down the road, and they were there to catch him.
The all-time worst motel we ever found was in Kentucky. We were attracted by a sign for the Golden Oaks Restaurant. It looked like it was closed when we pulled into the motel. But we were early. It probably
Would open in time for supper.
We checked in to a well-worn room, but it was for just one night and we were tired.
At five o’clock their time we walked over to the restaurant. There was a sign on the door, “closed till further notice.” So we walked across the road to a greasy spoon spot.
It was dark by the time we got waited on and returned to the room. As we crossed the road we heard motors racing. Surprise! There was a drag strip just down the road. This was OK, it would close sometime.
As we entered the room we heard a train roaring down the track with whistle screaming. The crossing was just down the road in the other direction. The trains went through about every two hours. Then we heard a roar overhead. Yep, we were right under the flight path for a major airport.
So, we might not sleep, but we could at least rest. Well, we could, if we could turn off the light in the bathroom. It didn’t go off and it was in a wire cage so we couldn’t even unscrew it. No problem, just close the bathroom door. What door?
All of this plus the steady drip, drip, drip of the faucet convinced us it was time to give up driving and go back to flying to vacation spots.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on August 16, 2000.