The best part of traveling is the hotels. No offense to Disney World, or Six Flags or Grandma’s house in Oklahoma City. I enjoy traveling for the hotels.
It wasn’t always this way. When we were young, my Dad used to put us up in a shoddy collection of motels, RV Parks (we never had an RV, mind you) and Log Cabins. These were hotels only in the purest sense of the term. They took your money, and provided you a bed. If you left alive was never a concern. These were places that you had to walk on a narrow sidewalk, usually on the second floor, to find the one ice machine (that was working) and fill up that little tiny bucket of ice, which promptly melted by the time you got back to the room.
These were different times, of course, and Dad merely stopped when the sun fell and found the closest VACANCY sign. More often or not, Norman Bates would have envied these dives.
Today, my trips are much more structured. One of the fun parts of having a tiny bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder is planning out where you will stay. There’s nothing quite like un-checking the TWO STARS box to filter out those places that Dad used to find. That usually filters out the Super 8’s and the Motel 6’s and for the most part, that leaves me with Holiday Inn’s, Ramada’s and an occasional Hilton or Marriott, if the rates are low that weekend.
With the help of modern technology, I can find the hotels that give me exactly what I want. Internet and free breakfast. Some families might search for a swimming pool, or pet-friendly, or close to attractions. I’ll drive an extra 20 minutes if it’s got free internet and those crappy rubber scrambled eggs and those tiny boxes of Corn Flakes as long as I don’t have to pay extra for it. (This is the part of my Dad’s personality that I DID retain.)
I’m a three-star guy. I don’t ask for much. But I know my limits. This past weekend, I was in Omaha and found that just about every hotel room was booked for a State High School Track Meet. So I had to go higher and stay in a four-star hotel.
I hated it. First of all, there was this jacked up code I had to put in to get on the Internet. Then, when I checked in, I asked, “What time’s breakfast?” and the lady handed me a menu. A MENU?? $8 for a bowl of Frosted Flakes? What is this, Beverly Hills 90210? I guess people that can afford $150 a night for a hotel room can also afford $25 for a crappy breakfast.
The last straw was when I sat down on my bed and they didn’t have a guide near the TV to tell me what channel was ESPN. So that meant every time I turned on the TV, I had to sift through 42 commercials, 6 MTV Teen Pregnancy shows and 19 Weather Channels to finally find it. By the time I got back the next day, I’d forgotten what channel ESPN was and had to start all over again.
Part of growing up is realizing what lane you’re in. Me? I’m in the tiny box of corn flakes, free wireless internet, no poodles next door, ESPN is channel 22 kind of guy.