Epic Drive: Part Two

Day 2 Map

Today started with a rude awakening. I was fitfully dreaming of hurtling down mountain roads, when I heard a strange sound outside my room.  I roused enough to realize what I was hearing: the sound of someone rustling my doormat.  My nerves came on full alert, and I could feel my heart pounding. Glancing at the clock on the bedside table, I saw that it was 5:45 AM.  “My fears were founded,”  I thought, “someone is looking for the keys!

“What fears?” Ah, let me tell you.  When I called the hotel last night to tell them I’d be getting there very late,  I was told the keys to my room would be under the mat.  Although the envelope had been sealed and had my last name on it, I was worried. What if there was some well-informed person checking for keys each night?  If they found me in a purportedly unoccupied room, would they hurt me?  Would they do other things?  There was no chain lock on the door, either, which made me even more uneasy about sleeping there.  But it was late, I was exhausted, and most fears like that are unfounded.  So I tried to put my worries aside and just go to bed.  But as I heard that noise, I was sure I hadn’t been wrong.

In hopes of scaring the (apparent) intruder off, I switched on the light by my bed.  There was a pause and then I heard a man say, “Hey, there’s a light on in there.  Someone’s in our room!” A knock came at the door, and then he said more loudly, “Hey, uh, you’re in our room.”

By this time, I had gone over to the door, and looked through the peephole.  I couldn’t make out much about the speaker, except that he had curly: dark hair.  He didn’t look threatening, but, you know, he was knocking on my door at 5:45 AM.

My brilliant reply was, “uh, no, I’m not.  This is my room.”

“Miss, you’re in our room.  Just please open this door.”

Areyoufriggin’kiddingme?NOWAY!  I tried more force this time: “No.  My name was on the envelope!  I am NOT opening this door!”  Truly, I am a terror.

At this point, whoever was with the man asked him something, and he said, “there’s someone in our room,” again.  I decided I’d had enough and called the front desk.  When that didn’t work, I tried calling the main number for the hotel, which mercifully had a message saying, “if it’s after hours and you need to reach a manager, please press 300.”  I promptly did so.  The woman from the previous call–sounding completely groggy–answered.  When I explained that I was the girl in 146, and that someone was at my door, she said she’d be down in five minutes.  The person who had been trying to get into my room had apparently gone away, and my body was saying, “hey–this whole ‘being vertical’ thing is really not as awesome as everyone says it is.” So, I lay back down to sleep, hoping the whole thing would sort itself out without me.

And it kind of did… but not really.  Half an hour later, I was once again roused, this time by the sound of a key being put into my door.  I was disoriented, and shrieked like a little girl.  And the same man said, “Oh, sorry, I got confused about our room number.  Sorry, sorry.”

Sorry he might have been, but I was completely awake.  I kept trying to sleep for maybe half an hour more, but it was not happening–especially because I kept hearing voices from the room next door.  Around 7AM, I gave up and decided to get an early start.  I took a shower and packed everything, then did my best to leave inconspicuously.

Unfortunately, right as I was coming out of my room, Mr. Doormat Rustler was coming out of the room next door.  He apologized to me again, then his girlfriend came out of the room and started yelling at him.  They got into an argument over his wallet, which she finally returned.  He then asked me for a ride (!?!) because she had just kicked him out.  She started saying he was a useless junky, and that I didn’t want anything to do with him, when the manager came over and basically said, “Both of you need to be out of here in 5 minutes or I’m calling the cops.”  Then the manager started apologizing to me because of everything that happened.  I tried to just say, “hey, these things happen,” but she was so upset she wasn’t listening to me.

To bring a long story to a short close: I went into the breakfast room and the manager and I talked a little bit more.  She was so upset that she ended up comping me the room for the night, which I thought was very generous.  She explained that she has an agreement with a nearby hospital to provide rooms for their patients at a reduced rate.  The woman with Mr. Doormat had a son who was in the hospital, and she was supposed to have had a room booked the previous night.  However, the hospital hadn’t called about a room, so when Ms. Doormat called to say that she was coming, the manager assumed that it was me calling back.  So the manager had told Ms. Doormat about the keys.  And thus the mixup and the rustling.  I was less amused and more bemused.  But not angry.  These things happen.

I didn’t end up giving anyone a ride.

The silver lining to this whole mess was that I got to see this view as I left the hotel:

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And then catch this a few miles down I-70:

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The next few hours were just driving through the rockies.  I went through a lot of really high passes, which my car managed to handle quite well.  My previous two West-Coast to Midwest drives were undertaken in a 1993 Geo Prism with two partially decompressed cylendars and over 200,000 miles on it.  Even if you floored it, it wouldn’t go more than 45 on the inclines.  My little blue baby was fine though.  She held her speed at 65, no issue.

Eventually, I passed out of the mountains and into the plains.  The familiar outlines of cottonwoods greeted me, along with 700 miles or so of corn.

You think I’m joking.  But I’m not.  Seriously, there is a lot of corn being grown in the plains.  Nebraska and Iowa alone are 600 miles of it.  I remembered this from previous trips, but hadn’t recalled that it started in Colorado.  But yes, the flatter parts of that state have lots of cornfields too.

The other thing that just screams plains?  Sinclair Stations:

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I have a soft spot for them, because their mascot is a giant brontosaurus.  I mean, how can you not love that?  Especially when many of their stations have big plastic ones out front.  I used to think that it would be cool to use one as the base of a dining room table.  But where on earth could you buy one?  eBay?  I didn’t end up stopping for gas at one, but I’m sure I’ll do so on the way back.   If nothing else, so I can get a good picture of one of the giant dinos.

Also plains-y?  Random rest-stop chickens:

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Seriously, I have no idea where this hen came from.  The nearest farms were at least half a mile away.  For one maddened instant, I thought of trying to grab her and stick her in my car, but then I realized that I’d have a chicken flapping around free in there and, “Oh man!  The UPHOLSTRY WOULD BE RUINED.”  So no new pets for me.

Dear impulse control: Thank you for working so well.

After my quick (?) stop to take pictures of gas stations (and chickens), I got back on the road and drove through the kernel kingdom, listening to Dresden Files audiobooks along the way.  Finally, at around 11PM, I got to Libby’s place, and saw the loveliest of sights:

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Libby and I have known each other since we were infants, because our parents are friends.  We grew up going to science fiction conventions together.  We call each others’ parents “Aunt” and “Uncle” and refer to each other as “Cousins.”  When we start talking, we tend to laugh a lot–or offer each other advice, encouragement, or consolation, as needed.  It’s been a while since I’d seen her in person, and it was really good to see her.  However, we were both pretty tired, and Libby had to work in the morning, so we went to bed after a just a short chat.  Even so, I only got about 6 hours of sleep.  But it was heavenly.

Daily Driving Summary:

  • Hours on the Road: 13
  • States Driven In: 3
  • Miles Covered: ~800
  • Tanks of Gas: 2
Author’s note: wrote this post on 8/22/2013, but for the sake of clarity I’m backdating the post to the day it’s covering.  Also, this puppy wasn’t edited well before posting (due to the late hour) so there have been a few edits since first posting.

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