De Ja Vu

The husband and I decided to go away together for the long Memorial Day weekend. It happens to coincide with his birthday this year (he will be 52 on Sunday) so we thought it would be nice to celebrate it out of town.

Last year we went away for the same weekend and it was a disaster. No towels in the hotel, no phone to call the front desk–we ended up cutting our weekend short and just went home. This year my husband, who has been trying to learn how to use the computer for more than just searching for cars, told me he would find us a place to stay. He knew that I used Booking.com for everything travel-oriented so he went to their site, found a good deal on a room in Susanville, CA, booked it and even set up his own account with his email! I never looked at any of it because I trusted him and I trust the site. That was my first mistake. The second was having him do it under his name. But I am jumping ahead of myself here.

I worked a half day on Friday. We had both packed the night before so all we had to do was pack everything into the Jeep, grab the two little dogs–Jackie D and Tula–and an ice chest, and off we went. I stopped and signed up for a new health club opening near us that my daughter is very excited about. I have been thinking I needed to get back in a gym since I have gained some of my weight back, so I ran over to the club, handed the girl a dollar for my sign up fees and we were off again.

We decided to take highway 70 which runs along the Feather River instead of taking the more direct route. It was a beautiful day for a drive and the Feather River is a gorgeous stretch of water. We were in no hurry and just enjoyed each other’s company–that is, after the four phone calls I received from random people!! I swear, my phone never rings unless I am with someone!

We finally arrived in town and that was when the first problem occurred. Of course he had no idea WHAT motel he had rented and had not printed out a copy of the confirmation email. Great. I couldn’t access it through my app from Booking.com because it wasn’t in my name. So then I tried to download his email information except my connection to the internet was sketchy at best and it just wasn’t happening. So I drove to the end of town and found a McDonald’s with free WiFi and hooked up my phone there. He went in to use the restroom and I added his email to my accounts and downloaded the information.

When we drove into town he mentioned he thought it was something along the lines of a Budget or Value type place and we did see a place called Value Inn. We even turned and went into it and I turned around and drove right back out because it was just scary. It was one of those kinds of places that people live in by the week or the month. There was a small BBQ sitting outside one door, the curtains in the windows were hanging all crooked, and there was a toy of some sort with two creepy gnome looking characters on a teeter totter near another door. I got the hell out of there and told him that it had better not be this place because I wouldn’t be staying!

Guess what. Yep, you got it. That was the motel he had booked. I looked it up on Booking.com and it had great reviews so we decided to go back and just see how bad it really was. Looks can be deceiving. Maybe the rooms were really nice and they only had a few that were the  pay-by-the-week type. I mean, I’m not a snob. I don’t care if someone has to live in a motel. Many hotels and motels set aside a couple of rooms for people who have a disaster such as a fire or some other displacement and who need emergency shelter. But that wasn’t this motel. Oh no. We couldn’t be so lucky. As we found out when we went to check in this was more of a “No-Tell Motel” type than a place a nice person wanted to stay!

My husband went in and I stayed in the Jeep with the dogs. He was gone for quite awhile and when he came out he was shaking his head. He pointed to a door that was three floors up and said “That’s our room” and then told me she didn’t even have our reservation listed. He also told her we had a family emergency and may not be able to stay and never gave her his credit card information, just in case it was as bad as we thought it was.

motell in susanville

Oh. My. God. You know how we were talking about outhouses and what-not last week? Well, I think an outhouse would have been less scary. We each grabbed a suitcase and hauled it up the stairs. My husband opened the door and we walked into a room that felt very small and closed in with two double beds, a flat screen TV, and nothing else. I went over to the nightstand between the beds and tried to turn on the lamp, only to find I couldn’t because someone had apparently removed the knob! There were dirty towels hanging on the portable clothes rack next to the sink. I was afraid to look in the bathroom. I was expecting cockroaches on the floor when I turned on the light to tell you the truth!  We set out suitcases down and I turned around and noticed that the door wasn’t flush with the frame. There was a big gap in one corner…I looked at my husband and said “I’m not staying here. I don’t care what you have to do, but I won’t be staying here.” He started to laugh and told me he was taking me to dinner and I could find us a better place afterwards. I told him I would be on my phone AT dinner finding a better place!!

We went to a nice restaurant in town that he knew about and I began searching the internet for motels, but of course everything that was reasonably priced that allowed dogs was already booked. He finally had me look up the River Inn, where he has stayed before, and he talked to the lady at the front desk. He told her out predicament–believe me I’m not sure if it is a good thing or not when upon hearing where we were staying you get the “Oh honey you can’t stay there!!”and an immediate recommendation of a better motel! Unfortunately she had no pet-friendly rooms left but told my husband to call her back if the place she suggested couldn’t accommodate us and she would make something work at her inn.

Fortunately the man at the Budget Frontier Inn had a room, the price was reasonable, and my husband booked it immediately. By now it was raining again so we hurried back to the first motel to grab out suitcases and check out. The final straw was when my husband glanced into the garbage can in the room and stated “There’s old food in here”.  I ran out of the door, suitcase in hand, and chucked it into the back of the Jeep, narrowly missing Jackie who jumped out of the way! Tula stayed where she was and I had a moment of panic when we stopped for ice and alcohol when she didn’t come sit in my lap. She was still in her bed and my suitcase was halfway on top of her! Poor baby! She crawled out from under it and I had to apologize to her. Being a Chihuahua she had to shake and shiver and make me feel guilty of course!

The new room was much better. Clean linens, clean towels, in the back corner of the motel away from traffic, with a small dirt patch off to the side for the little dogs to do their business. The WiFi even works so I am able to write my blog without having to find that McDonald’s again!

I told my husband that though I appreciated his effort, that from now on I will be booking all accommodations, or I will at least look over the places he thinks he wants to reserve before actually doing so. There is a lady who lives at this motel also–its a common thing here in the mountains–who was displaced due to a fire in her home. I told her about the other motel and she began to laugh and told me she had stayed there also and proceeded to relate her experiences with the owner and how she finally had to just move out. When I mentioned the great reviews the place had she told me she was pretty sure he had his family members write them!

So when we get back  home I will be calling Booking.com to have them remove this particular motel from their list of great places to stay. And I will be checking Expedia and Hotels.com also to make sure no one else has this awful experience!

Have you ever booked a place ahead of time only to arrive and find out it is nothing like it claimed to be in the ads? What did you do? Fortunately the card-reader at the first motel didn’t work and they never got our credit card information so we didn’t have to pay for the room but if we had I would have been calling Booking.com to get a refund, just like I did last year! I’m starting to think maybe we should just stay home next Memorial Day weekend. So far we are batting zero in the “great places to stay” category!

Hope you all have a great weekend. Stay safe, enjoy the long weekend, and read a good book–preferably by one of the great writers on this blog!! And take a moment to remember why we celebrate this day. So many died for the freedoms we experience each and every day. Never take that for granted. All gave some, but some gave all…