Saturday, December 17, 2011

Online Reservations

I was going to post this picture and write a fictional piece about a family who plans a vacation (finally!) and are greatly disappointed when they arrive at their budget motel only to find that the pool looks like this.  But then I thought, wait a minute. Isn't it actually more horrific that we actually stayed at this hotel in real life?

Thank God we weren't there to swim, but what if we had been? Imagine if we'd planned this as the place to stay on a family vacation. Luckily, this pool was at a motel that we pulled into late one night during a road trip. We spent less than 8 hours at the motel and certainly weren't there to swim.  I'll just let you imagine what the rooms looked like, based on the pool. (Hold your nausea. They weren't really that bad.)

But there have been times that we've booked accommodations only to discover that they weren't what we'd pictured in our minds. For instance, the hotel I stayed at in China looked incredible online. The facade was absolutely beautiful and looked 5-star deluxe. Once I got there, I realized that the picture was taken from quite a distance away. In truth, the hotel was surrounded by construction, parking lots, and mud. There was a sewer-ish smell down one wing of the hotel that other people later told me they'd smelled, too, when they stayed there the year before.

Then there was the "mountainside cabin" in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Doesn't that sound perfect? You're imagining it right now, aren't you? Is this what you pictured: a mobile home crammed in with other mobile homes butted up against a hill where there'd been a forest fire a couple of years ago? There were blackened stumps and plenty of ticks, and yes - a mountain. Still, not quite what we'd imagined.

Luckily, we're the sort of family who finds humor in the unexpected. The South Dakota trip was incredible and the "cabin" just added to the fun. Actually, what I love about travel is the element of surprise; the experiences that we don't plan for and that provide stories later. So we stayed in motel with a brackish green pool. My fictional family's vacation might have been ruined. But I just chalked it up to part of the adventure on our road trip to Florida where we swam in the ocean instead.


  1. "Luckily, we're the sort of family who finds humor in the unexpected."

    That's the best kind. :)

    Btw, I read the China book that you suggested, and your blurb reminds me of it. It was a good read.

  2. Read his other books, too. J. Maarten Troost is one of my favorite writers. I want to go everywhere he goes.