Travelin’ the Midwest

As if my last vacation didn’t make me road-weary enough, my hubby and I decided to hit to road again for our own vacation.  The kids were shipped off to Grandma’s, and we headed east.  Beyond that, we didn’t have much of an idea of where we were going, but we certainly knew why: to get the heck out of Dodge for a few days.

Hubby and I are familiar with this style of loosely-designed vacation.  We started this trend when we were dating and were wild and crazy enough to drive anywhere just because we could.  During our first trip, we took off from South Dakota for the West Coast, and that trip remains one of my favorite memories, even though it the details are now fading after 12 years of being embedded in my ever-fraying memory.  We headed through the Black Hills, raced across Montana (which didn’t have a speed limit on some roads then), wound our way through the parks in Idaho and California, and ultimately ended up driving Highway 101 while we gazed at the ocean, which neither of us had ever seen before.  We spent nearly two weeks on the road, which seems unbearable to me now.  Heck, we just spent 2 1/2 days on the road, and both of us were more than ready to come home after that time.

Yup, we’re old.

However, in our defense, we had seen the country we were driving before, so our eyes were not nearly as entertained as when we saw the ocean.  We headed east in order to drive through the small river towns lining the Mississippi, something we had done a couple years ago.  But there are many miles along the Mississippi that we hadn’t traveled yet, so we decided to go back.  Perhaps our bones were screaming for some fresh cheese from Wisconsin — who knows.

The trip was quick, but we achieved our goal of loading up with some Wisconsin cheese and seeing some beautiful country.  Why no pictures?  Well, it’s kind of hard to snap pictures through pouring rain, which is exactly what we drove through for the majority of the trip.

The last night of the trip, my husband and I experienced one of the worst hotel fiascos that we’ve ever had in all of the travels we’ve done around this great country.  We were ushered into a room, and I noticed an odor that smelled a lot like old sweat.  Thinking it was my imagination, hubby and I headed out for supper.  When we returned, however, it the odor was even more obvious, and I went down to the front desk to see if they had any other rooms available.  There was another one a few doors down, and we moved all of our stuff, hoping that we were finally able to settle in for the night.

Later that night, I was taking off my makeup in the bathroom and I noticed a pair of gray underwear on the floor that had obviously gotten smashed behind the door.  I took a closer look and noticed some dark smudges on the underwear — no, not that kind! — as if the undies belonged to a “workin’ man.”  (The hotel desk clerk tried to explain away the stale sweat odor by saying that they had a lot of construction workers who stayed there.)   But why was there a pair of underwear on the floor when neither my husband or I had had a chance to shower in the hotel room?  I walked out of the bathroom and glanced hopefully at my husband.

“Um, honey, is there any chance that the underwear on the floor is yours?”

Hubby looked at me with a pained expression on his face.  “Uh, no.  I was hoping they were yours.”

I looked at him, incredulous.  “Since when have I started wearing gray Men’s Hanes?!”  Hubby just shrugged, but the reality dawned on us: there was some strange guy’s underwear on our floor.  This led to other conclusions, of course — that the hotel room hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned.

If it had been earlier, I would have gone down and complained (again), but it was about 11:00 p.m., so I did what brave women have been doing for ages: I took one for the team by lifting the undies up with my index finger and throwing them in the garbage.

Then I doused my hands with gasoline and burned them.

I’d love to say that our experiences with poor room cleaning ended there, but the short version of what followed the next morning is that my husband questioned me about a washcloth that was in the shower, as I obviously had not had a chance to shower yet.  Nope, it wasn’t mine.  Dirty construction worker strikes again.

Well, live and learn.  I’ve done hotel housekeeping before, and I know that they pay is poor and the help is less than enthusiastic.  It’s a sucky job, really.  No one is jumping up and down to go clean up after random strangers.  Knowing this, I left a note to housekeeping, letting them know of our lovely discoveries and encouraging them to be a more thorough in their room checks.

That hotel room comprised our last night on the road, so needless to say, we were ready to get out of there and back into our quality-controlled room (in regard to cleanliness) at home.

In other news, the school countdown had begun.  Ten days for me, twelve days for the kiddos.  Ack!  I’d love to say that I’m organized and ready, but that would be a lie that would permeate down to my soul.  I’m not ready . . . at all.  In fact, I’m thinking of starting a 12-step group that begins its meetings with admissions like, “Hi, I’m Jen, and I’m not even remotely ready for school.”

All together now:

“Hi, Jen!”

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