Monday, March 20, 2006

Travel Log -- NIGHT 1

What’s your hourly rate?

We spent most of the day driving through Kansas. I actually thought Kansas was pretty, in a nothing-to-see-but-wide-open-spaces-and-an-occasional-tree sort of way. During the trip, we listened to this, which caused me to doze off numerous times and forced Chris to listen alone or re-listen when I woke up again. We also played phone tag with my former college roommate who lives in Missouri. The plan was to meet in Kansas City upon our arrival and hang out (which sounds great in theory, but we neglected to factor into the scenario road fatigue and general travel weariness).

The friend graciously offered to find us a hotel room (although because of spotty service, the decision cost us $15 in roaming charges on our cell phone). We needed something close to the Interstate to accommodate our truckfull of junk and would be arriving late at night.

We pulled into the outskirts of Kansas City at about midnight. “Hotel America” had a full parking lot, but thanks to the efforts of our friend, they were holding us a room. If I wasn’t so sick of driving all day, I might have sensed red flags at this establishment. But our friends helped us find it and they were from the area and I was grateful for their efforts.

We entered the lobby, which was clouded with smoke and looked to be a product of the 1972 design era. After paying $60 (+ tax) through a thick pane of bullet-proof glass, we headed to our room. This was our first time seeing said friend in a few years, not to mention our first meeting of her husband. Unfortunately long hours of traveling does nothing for one’s physical appearance.

So self conscious and all, we headed up a rusty outside staircase to our hotel room. Upon entering the room, a general musty odor filled our nostrils. Even though my feet were filthy from wearing flip flops, I decided I would not be removing my shoes as the carpet had several mysterious dark spots and appeared to harbor unknown critters and diseases. The two beds were covered in tacky floral hotel comforters, faded and pilled. We unloaded our overnight gear and commenced small talk with the friends, though I’m sure our greasy appearance and lethargic conversation did nothing to make a good impression.

After a few hours the friends departed, leaving us alone. In the room. I got brave and used the toilet (NO, I did not remove my shoes and YES, I sort of hovered). Then, entirely destitute of energy, I headed to the bed. As we peeled back a layer of the frightening bed coverings, we noticed a large cigarette hole in the blanket. Good thing we were really tired and there were no alternate hotel rooms left in town. We slithered under the sheets, still wearing the day’s clothes (I wanted as many layers as possible between me and the bed) and tried to fall asleep to the dull sound of a TV in an adjoining room.

We awoke at 10 a.m. to find the parking lot completely devoid of cars. Clearly this was a rent-by-the-hour kind of establishment.

I quickly brushed my teeth (whether mentally or otherwise, the water tasted stale), forced my contacts into my eyes, barely looked in the mirror and shoved my belongings into a bag. We rushed out of the room as if staying a moment longer would have brought the plague or leprosy or some other disfiguring illness (which I’m not entirely convinced was not an irrational thought).

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