The Day Got Stranger

hari Stiver w Elvis at Mollywood 10-13-2013Shari got to meet Elvis. She was so taken by Mollywood Imports of Dothan that I thought she was going to rent a truck and leave me. The day was destined to get stranger.

Motel 6 did the right thing

I added an update to last night’s Motel 6 posting where I discovered at about 3 in the morning that my non-smoking room (with an ashtray) smelled so much like smoke that my head stopped up and my throat was scratchy.

When I checked out, I asked to speak to a manager. Yolanda said she could help me, so I described the problem to her. She asked if I’d like my money back.

“I’m not asking for my money back. The room was worth what you charged except for the smoke part. I just wanted to let you know why I won’t be back. As a separate matter, you should make a note for housekeeping that the tub doesn’t drain and that there are no non-slip treads on the bottom of the tub. I reached for a towel and nearly went down hard.”

“I think it’s a Motel 6 policy to put ashtrays in all the rooms, and none of our tubs have non-slip material in them,” she said. “I know you didn’t ASK for your money back, but would you take it if I refunded it?”

I figured I had done the honorable thing by refusing it once; I accepted the credit this time. I have to say that both Lynette and Yolanda did a great job of customer service.

 Union Station in Montgomery

Electric streetcar Montgomery 10-13-2013I’ve always wanted to see some of the Civil Rights memorials in Montgomery, so we got off I-65 and headed for the old Union Station where the visitor’s bureau lives. It was closed, so I took a few pictures of the building and this 1897 electric street trolley that was on exhibit.

1906 building

Montgomery building 10-13-2013At the end of the block from Union Station stands a building dated 1906. I’ve always been a sucker for dates on buildings, so I took this as a record shot. As I was clicking through the slides, I did a double-take. What is the long, green object toward the right side of the photo? There’s a second one to the right of the photo (the black curly thing is a shadow of the “snake” above it).. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

What IS that? A snake?

Montgomery building 10-13-2013

I called Shari in her room. “In all your years of construction, did you ever hear of suspending a snake from a string on a building you were working on?”

Once I convinced her I wasn’t kidding her, she said she had heard of putting owls on a building to scare off birds, but the snake thing is a new one.

“When I told her about the second snake, she asked if they looked alike; that would mean they were fake.”

“I see them suspended from what appears to be a single point and they don’t form an arc like the St. Louis arch does,” I told her. “The snakes DO appear to have similar curves, but they’re facing different directions, so they are a little hard to compare.”

Have any of you folks heard of stringing up snakes (dead, alive, fake or real)?

Motel Saga Continued

Shari Stiver at Fanning Spings 10-12-2013Friend Shari and I had another good day on the road. We left Ocala at a reasonable hour (for me, at least) and headed for Steinhatchee, where I had been talking up the blue crab claws at Roy’s for days.

We stopped at the Fanning Springs on the Suwanee River because that’s where we let the kids run off some steam when we were passing through. I told her we have pictures of Son Adam as a naked baby being sprayed down at a water faucet, but she declined to replicate the event.

She WAS willing to pose next to the bridge that spanned the river in 1934.

What!?!? No crab claws?

Roy's Seafood - 10-12-2013When we got to Roy’s, I told the waitress that I knew exactly what I wanted: an order of steamed blue crab claws.

In a tone that indicated that she had delivered the sad news more than once, she said they were out of crab claws AND oysters.

“You’re OUT of crab claws?!?! We drove 300 miles to taste those wonderful things. Are you SURE?”

She was sure.

We ended up with an excellent salad bar and a seafood platter that was good, but it wasn’t crab claws.

Establishing motel standards

Motel 10-12-2013_5773You may have read about the difficulty we had agreeing on a place to stay Friday night. One porridge was too hot; one porridge was too cold; one porridge was too expensive; another porridge was, well, you get the idea.

Just outside Perry, I spotted a MOTEL sign on the other side of the road. I braked just short of smoking tires, did a U-turn and pulled to a stop in front of the place.

“I want to establish a set of standards of acceptability so we don’t go through what we went through last night. Let’s see if we can agree on a the minimum that we can live with.”

Do you like plants in the room?

Motel near Perry FL 10-12-2013I thought she’d like to have plants in the room. The fact they are live and not plastic should add points.

Clean bathroom important?

Motel 10-12-2013_5790When we were coming into Mariana, I asked if she wanted to stop there or journey on to Dothan, 40 minutes up the road. She plugged “Starbucks” into her mapping program, found out the nearest Starbucks was in Dothan, and said, “Take me to Alabama.”

Are you influenced by sale prices?

Motel near Perry FL 10-12-2013Conversation lagged, so I fired up the MP3 playlist that I use on my bike. It might have been my imagination, but I thought she sang along to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” with just a little too much feeling.

Is a mural desirable?

Motel near Perry FL 10-12-2013Shari saw some of the works of the Florida Highwaymen, a group of 26 black artists who painted iconic Florida landscapes in the 1950s, and was taken by their style. I thought a room with a mural would get a high rating.

Do you require black-out curtains?

Motel near Perry FL 10-12-2013Does the room have to be completely dark for you to sleep?

Ash trays in non-smoking rooms

Non-smoking ash tray 10-12-2013We ended up in a Motel 6 in Dothan close enough for us to double back to Mollywood so Shari can be photographed with Elvis.

Lynette, the front desk clerk, was one of the high points of the day. She was funny, helpful and put up with our bantering. She did tell us to expect one curious thing when we got to the rooms: the rooms are non-smoking, but they have ashtrays in them.

“That doesn’t make any sense.” I argued.

“People lie,” she said. “They smoke anyway, and they were burning holes in our sheets and carpets, so we put ashtrays in all the rooms.”

I warned her that I’d be back if I could smell any smoke in MY room. As it turned out, the room was acceptable (and, better yet, it was only $35.63. I’ve paid a lot more for a lot less before).

If you decide to stay there, tell Lynette, a Chicago transplant, we said “Howdy.”

UPDATE on Motel 6 room

When I checked in, I pulled down the bed cover and gave the sheets and pillow a quick sniff test. They seemed to be OK in my ashtray-equipped non-smoking room,

I finished this post and rolled into bed around 2 a.m. Central time, which would have made it about 3 a.m. Head Time since I live in in the land of Eastern time. The bed was great; the pillow was OK; the air conditioner was a bit noisy, but kept the room at the right temp. Life is good.

Smoke embedded in innards

I was out like the proverbial light. For about an hour, that is.

I woke up with my nose stopped up and a scratchy throat. My quick sniff test hadn’t been deep enough to pick up the smoke deeply embedded (pun not intended, but I’ll take it) in the mattress, pillow innards or some other place. I popped an antihistamine that helped, but I was conscious of that smoke every time I woke up.

The price was great; clerk Lynette was a delight, and the room was much better than expected, but I’ll never stay in a place again that puts ashtrays in non-smoking rooms. And, I have a spot reserved in a very hot, smoky place for people who smoke in non-smoking locations.

I don’t know if the ashtray thing is a local option or if all Motel 6 locations do it. I think I’ll solve the problem by never staying in one again.

Lake City to Cullman

Capps tourist courtsDSC_3849We pulled out of Lake City this morning after a better than average breakfast at the Comfort Suites. I felt like I was cheating on the Waffle House across the street, but the breakfast was free at the motel.

I offered Passenger Anne a choice when we passed through Capps just south of Tallie.

“If you want to save some money, I bet I can find some tourist courts like this on some of the side roads.”

Good window washer

Anne Rodgers 06-25-2013Nobody rides free. Anne makes a great window washer. She’s much better at that than Friend Jan was at scraping ice off the windshield.

Elvis lives

 Anne Rodgers at Mollyville

Elvis wanted to know why I hadn’t brought Mother back to visit. I told him Anne was going to have to do on this trip. I’ve passed Mollyville, just outside Dothan, a bunch of times without stopping.

The place is huge and has a tasteful collection of antique furniture and things that defy description. If my wallet was bigger and my van emptier, I’d sure have been tempted.

Joy and Phillip at the Comfort Suites

Joy Pannell - Phillip Prior Comfort Suites Cullman AL 06-26-2013I told Anne that I was ready to call it a night at Cullman, AL. I told her I was really impressed when Mother and I ducked into the Comfort Suites hotel on our trip because of a scary storm rolling in. Joy Pannell was behind the desk that night and told us where the storm safe area was and that guests would be notified in case of a tornado warning.

When we went to the front desk to check in, I said our lodging choice was based on my experience in 2011. “I remember you.” she said. “I put you and your mother right across the hall from the stairwell where you would have gone in case of a tornado.”

She and Phillip Prior made us feel like old friends, not just weary travelers to be dealt with. I’ll make it point to make Cullman a stop when I head through there. New hotels are springing up all over the exit, but the friendly and personal service I’ve gotten from Joy will send me to the Comfort Suites.