Alright, I'm back. Here is part 1 of my Memorial Day vacation log. Enjoy!
At 4:30 I arrive home from work, change out of work clothes and finish packing. I feel bad leaving Shadow behind, but hope that he won't completely hate us for taking a few days off. At least Allison will be feeding him. Since I can't find my cassette adapter, I decide not to bring my iPod with us.
In the car, I'm relieved that Larry has found the Holy Garmin Navigator. This divine device will spare me the embarrassment of trying to navigate a road map while Larry yells, "Where am I going? Where do I turn?" It will also lessen the chance that I try to open the door at high speed and jump out.
Despite getting off to a good start, I can't let go of the feeling that I've forgotten something or left something on. I guess it's like that when you haven't gone anywhere in a while.
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5:20 - I can't let go of the feeling that the Port Authority gets some kind of sick thrill out of funneling 10,000 cars into a single lane of the four-lane Lincoln Tunnel on a Friday night.
7:00 - Regret over not hunting hard enough for my cassette adapter peaks as I wonder if the radio stations in Pennsylvania are run by people with multiple personalities. How else could you explain playing Donna Summer followed by hard rock?
7:20 - We finally arrive at New Hope Motel in the woods. "There's no one here!" says Larry, as we pull into the empty parking lot. That's because the Raven, directly across the street, really is closed. I was hoping that the rumors were not true, and that their website was just "down for maintenance." I'd prayed that they might somehow reopen for the weekend. The Raven is the main attraction during the Memorial Day weekend, so without it, we might as well turn back, or just make it a day-trip.
We check in and drop off our bags in the room. The size of the room is such that you can tour the entire place and not move. Nothing has changed since last year, when they finally updated the carpeting after a 50 year stretch. The bathroom is still dated, with a gray and red tiled shower, rusting chrome tissue box, wall-mounted bottle opener, and that uncomfortable window with only a flimsy, sheer curtain to block out the light. In the sleeping area, wood paneling, a mushy, undersized bed and the lingering smell of mildew share space with a small round table and two uncomfortable waiting room style chairs. Despite the tiny size of the room, there are two doors. One is the "front" entrance, and the other is the "rear" entrance, which opens to a huge tree trunk with roots that try to trip you when you are barefoot.
Below are last year's photos of the same exact room.
Last year, the big rumor was that this shit-hole was just bought out by the Raven and would soon be renovated, but the condition of the room tonight reinforced the current rumor that the Motel in the Woods is up for sale - again. I put the sandwiches we brought along in the tiny refrigerator and turned to Larry.
"Should we eat the sandwiches, or go out to eat?" asks Larry.
"Let's go out to eat," I say, hating our miserably small motel room and lack of neighbors.
For some strange reason, I am compelled to take the complementary mint in the bowl on top of the writing desk. Larry sees this, and when I realize my selfish mistake, I offer to split it with him. He looks at me as if I've just cut a square out of the carpet and put it in my mouth.
After pulling out of the empty parking lot, Larry tries to make the best of the situation and recommends the Spotted Hog, which gives me a brief flashback to our trip to England, where they had a bread pudding dessert called Spotted Dick. We are planning on having a nice steak dinner to make up for our suffering and disappointment.
The hostess seats us at a cozy table at the window. At the next table sits a young couple and, appropriately enough, their four month old baby. "Shit," I think to myself. "If that thing starts crying..."
Although the baby is well behaved, there is some bad news coming from that table as the waiter gives them the lowdown.
"We don't have any steak tonight," he says, loud enough for us to hear.
"Shit. Did you hear that?" I say to Larry. "They don't have any steak! Should we leave?" There is panic in my voice.
So far, things are not working out for us on vacation. The Raven is closed, no one is staying at our shitty motel, and now, no fucking steak! How long before a truck careens out of control and hits our car in the parking lot?
I don't know about Larry, but I want to leave this restaurant - now. When the waiter comes over to our table, I bite my tongue long enough to avoid yelling out, "Where's the beef?"
"No, I'm sorry, we don't have any steak tonight." His voice is annoying - calm and slightly condescending, like a highly trained customer service manager. "We ran out last night and didn't get a delivery today..."
So...Thursday is your big night? I want to say.
Larry knows everything, so its not surprise that he knows why there is no steak tonight. As he tells it, steak has a very little markup, so restaurants are cutting back on steak and pushing pasta dishes instead.
We each order a burger, and as an elderly couple is seated across from us, Larry says, "I hope you don't like steak!"
Finally, our burgers come and I can stare at something other than the fabric ceiling, which has been "decorated" with about 50 quilts, stapled to the ceiling.
"I'll bet that's filthy," I say to Larry.
Since the mall is across the street, we take a walk over, hoping to get a head start on shopping, only to find that, even though the parking lot is open, all the stores are closed.
"Crap. Where is everybody?" I ask out loud.
"Out looking for steak!" replies Larry.
To Be Continued...