Wednesday, December 4, 2013

167. All the Future Money Saved on Hotels

Grim opened the door to his room, immediately closed it again, and then walked back to the motel office. He dropped his backpack on the sidewalk in front of the screen door, then stepped inside. The little silver bells attached to the door were rusty and faded, but made a few merry jingling sounds all the same, as though robustly attempting to give some life to the faded, smoke-stained interior of the tiny office.

A woman emerged from the back room, extinguishing her cigarette in a small dish on the counter. She picked up a discarded newspaper, glanced at the headline, apparently found it uninteresting, dropped it back onto the counter and then looked up at Grim.

"Yeah?" she growled in a voice like grits dragged over gravel, raising an eyebrow.

"Hi," said Grim, politely, "I just paid for room 14?"


"Well... There's no bed."

"Right," the woman glanced around the small office and coughed. "So, you want a discount or something?"

"Or something."

The woman pondered for a moment, then suggested that perhaps Grim would like 15 dollars taken off the price of his 30 dollar room. Grim accepted the offer, later remarking that it was worth it just for a shower and a dry floor to lay his sleeping pad on. This was before we knew Grim, but Dumptruck, Apollo and I stayed in the same motel a few days later.

We were luckily given a room with a bed, along with a television that got only 4 channels and looked as though it had come off worse in a few magnet fights. It was a gigantic cube TV that had probably been dragged into the motel room in 1983 and never moved since.The images wobbled upward on the technicolor screen, distorting faces into Rorschach tests. The sound quality was great, though.

The shower had a floor space of 3 feet by 3 feet, and the entire ceiling was coated in a thick layer of fuzzy black mold. The mold was thriving at such a level that there were several mini stalactites growing down from the ceiling. There were no little shampoos to use, only a single, minuscule bar of soap that had to be shared between the 3 of us for each of our showers and for washing our hands after using the bathroom.

The carpet had a perfect large bullet-shaped burn from where someone had clearly left a clothes iron to smolder. The true curiosity for me regarding the burn was: what sort of person who stayed in a place like that would need to iron anything? Perhaps they were ironing a sheaf of money after laundering all the blood out of each individual 20 dollar bill.

We spent most of the time sitting in our rain jackets and rain pants on a few lawn chairs in front of our room, while our clothes were laundered in a decades-old washer/dryer set on the other side of the parking lot. The dryer made occasional loud startling BANG and CLANG sounds that would make us jump a little in our seats. I liked to imagine that it was simply reminding all of us to be appreciative of the fact that it was still functional.

But as I sat there, sipping at a grape soda while a few stray dogs started fighting over a discarded piece of fried chicken somewhere behind the office, I felt perfectly at peace. The sun was shining brightly down on us, and it was exactly the right temperature. My body was exhausted from hiking, but grateful to be resting. None of the aforementioned things bothered me in the slightest, because I had access to running water, and there was going to be a roof over my head for the predicted rain storm that night. I was with light-hearted peopled who were happy and good-humored.

I feared that perhaps this complete absence of standards regarding hotels would go away after the trail, but it has not. So many more vacations now seem possible to me, because I will have no trouble whatsoever with staying in motels that cost $30 a night (or less). I'll have the money that would otherwise be spent on a hotel room to spend on other fun things like Ferris Wheel rides and cheese. Being a long-distance hiker, living in the woods, being super dirty and having to treat my water before I can drink it, has made me realize that I need very little amenities for me to view any place as my own personal version of paradise.

Clever Girl



  1. Awesome! Lack of ego = freedom. All kind of doors open when we're willing to step thru. And...the shout-out to "Bound" is way cool. Love, Mom and Dad

  2. It's like you're carnie folk, except with more teef!

  3. So true. On almost the spur of the moment we took advantage of a cruise sale and booked a room on the Oasis of the Seas. We had a regular size cabin but in the past on other cruise ships we have opted for a larger cabin to have some move around room and a balcony to sit on. After my tent, the regular size cabin/no balcony was perfect; the bathroom was perfect - yes, the running water was perfect. I'm thinking no matter what simple albergue/hostel we stay in during our walk on the Camino in Spain, it will seem like a 4 or 5 star hotel. The experience of the AT continues to bless me.