A place to sleep certainly need not be the Hilton, the Hyatt, or even the Ramada or Holiday Inn for this girl. Motel 6's aren't even on my radar even if Tom Bodett's keeping the light on for me. I know what goes in to running a hotel and what makes a good one a secret gem and what, with one glance, would disqualify a potentially viable option for weary travelers.
So when we set out on this roadtrip, I had an idea that motels would be the way to go...and not Motel 6. Not Super 8 Motel. But "motel" in the truest sense of the word...rooms with outside, private entrances that we could pull the car up to and unload without concern of traipsing all our worldly travel goods through the lobby and down long hallways.
The single reservation we made was at just such a place...the US Center Motel in Smith Center, KS. While it was a strange, surreal sort of place (more on that in another entry), it was clean, fairly comfortable, and, at $49 including tax a night, entirely within our means.
I believe Acr0nym, until then, was firmly skeptical.
And then we did the unload that first night in about 90 seconds at 1 a.m. after working all day and driving well into the night. I'm fairly certain I had him at "Hello".
The second night, I found us - in the middle of nowhere - the Crest Motel. The third? The Embassy Motel in Milwaukee. While not ideal and certainly the worst of the hotels we stayed in during the course of this trip, still not the worst of the lot to choose from. It certainly had quirks. But it was clean and roomy and, for the most part, suitable for our needs.
Last night, we stayed, once again, at the Crest Motel by design because we loved it so much and it was on our return route. The motel manager, Fred, was delighted to see us back and pleased to hear we'd enjoyed our stay so much, we'd returned so soon. Tonight, the last night, we're enjoying the "luxury" of the Howard Johnson in North Platte, NE. While I would have preferred to stay on the independently owned theme, it fit all of our criteria, was cheaper than the Crest Motel, and is HUGE! At least, compared to our most recent standards.
The point is when you're road tripping, in essence, trying to find yourself, America, some kind of something to connect to, why would you look for something familiar that you're trying to escape? That's like...eating at Applebee's because you recognize it. Not because it's good but because it's safe.
Motels are a dying breed. Independently owned hotels and motels and inns and lodges are disappearing as more easily recognizable aluminum sided brands pop up in the middle of nowhere...literally. Why not give people...people who may be just like you...people who are connected to these kinds of places with their heartbeats and blood poured into them...a chance?
My brother singing about our heart.
Some of us need you to stay. Literally.
Remember your independent businesses. They are the heart of America. I ought to know.