Alaska to Florida Adventure: The 16th Night
Still an hour out from Memphis, Megan made room reservations at a place with the fewest low ratings, accepted pets and was positioned on the road we needed to take in the morning (in light of me being the designated Uhaul driver, we wanted to keep it simple since I have the propensity for getting lost in the least confusing places).
Once in Memphis, Megan (as co-pilot and therefore navigator) took us along a scenic route where everything was bars-on-windows, boarded up doors, graffiti, outdated traffic lights, potholes big enough to swallow small animals (or children) and narrow streets to get to the hotel. Since we were two girls on our own, this was the running joke: “We can’t stay anyplace too questionable because I’m not Chuck Norris yet (don’t have my black belt).” Sometimes it didn’t feel like a joke, like when we arrived at the hotel (because the “scenic route” hadn’t really ended).
There was the regular parking lot, then there was this rectangular asphalt desert for trucks (two were already parked, silent big rigs minding their own business). I parked the Uhaul and auto trailer along the forested side and rested in the cab (supervising His Highness) while Megan checked us in.
When she returned, we unloaded only what we needed (plus the animals) and emerged from the lonely desert in search of our room.
Around the far side of the complex, we let ourselves in and weren’t impressed. It had a small fridge but it wasn’t plugged in because it shared an outlet with a lamp and the TV. So did we want light or cold water?
Megan summed it up very well: “Even inside, you wanna keep your shoes on.”
But there were two beds (if His Majesty would quit taking my spot every time I got up) and a diverse delivery menu for local restaraunts so we’d survive (we weren’t too keen on physically exploring for food, dragging the Uhaul and its Jeep-ish burden around tight corners in a place where we were less than comfortable.)
His Highness does a stare-and-pace routine when he wants to go out. When he did this, Megan popped up from crocheting and, grabbing his leash and a room key, said she’d be right back. Literally 10 seconds later she was back. Megan: “Will you come with me?”
I went out with her and, one door down, two gentlemen were in chairs on the 2nd level balcony talking loudly with someone immediately below in the parking lot. And then when we crossed to the grass, they three fell absolutely silent. They didn’t go inside or leave. They watched us until the dog peed and we were back inside. (I’ll admit, it was a little creepy; after that, dog-walking required the Buddy System.)
We ordered pasta, that’s all I remember. A generous helping of fettuccini alfredo with bread sticks (I think I needed the hearty meal; the trip was wearing on me. Taking my time, I ate as much as I could).
We adapted somewhat (Megan cranked up the AC how she likes it and I turned on sports on TV; soccer, I believe). The TV was mostly for the white-noise effect to help drown out the laughter, shouting and such in the parking lot outside our window (the door felt very, very thin).
We turned in early (early to bed, early to rise and get the heck out of there) but sleep evaded me. 10PM. 11PM. About midnight, in an instant, the AC sighed into silence and the TV blinked off. I laid with my eyes wide for a good minute, listening, until Megan’s voice came from the other bed (she couldn’t sleep either). Megan: “Did the power just go out?”
I padded to the window and peeked out the curtains, looked right, looked left. Stared left, frowning.
Me: “We’re right on the road, right?” Megan: (joins me) “Yeah.” Me: “It’s not just us, it’s everywhere. The road’s dark.” (You know it’s dark when the moonless sky is brighter than everything else. )
The hotel stood at a large intersection that was constantly congested with Miami-like traffic and big trucks. From our room, we should’ve been able to see enough street lights to land a plane in the dark and a gas station large enough to accommodate 18-wheelers. When we’d walked the dog after sunset, that place had been lit up light daytime. However currently I couldn’t even make out its outline in the darkness. (So the traffic lights are out, street lights are out… maybe this is normal…? Deep down I was waiting for screeching tires.)
Megan really wanted to leave. I really didn’t want to join whatever melee was waiting on the freeway. Instead, we tried to go back to sleep and a while later the power clicked back on.
I put soccer back on TV and, as we re-settled in, Megan reminded me about continental breakfast (7:30AM-ish). I asked if we had to stay that late (she was thinking the same thing) and we decided to break our fast at the gas station when we filled up on our way out.
Come sunrise, our environment was no longer creep-tastic but our feelings hadn’t changed. We left the room keys, threw our stuff and animals in the chariot, and without ceremony got the heck out of town.
Next in the Alaska to Florida Adventure: Drury Isn’t a Lane, It’s a Castle
[Did you wanna read the AK to FL mayhem from the beginning? Start here: Road Trip Manifesto: Go Big or Don’t Go.]