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Suitcases, cockroaches and bedbugs...Oh My!

As weary travelers we spend unusually high numbers of days away from the comforts of our own homes. Sometimes the accommodations we choose are a delight, or at least not too disagreeable, and other times they are a horror!
My recent stay at a motel I've visited several times over the last three years has prompted this post. Although at the lower end of the chains members it is affordable, clean, has some limited breakfast offerings and is reasonably close to the show. Usually, the beds are moderately comfortable but on this visit the room I had must have been specially made up for the guy who usually sleeps on the bed of nails. The nails were replaced with springs whose ends were strategically placed to poke and prod every part of my tender body!
I used to stay at the Motel 6 because Tom Bodett promised he'd leave the light on for me but I prefer it a little more upscale since I've aged a bit (and can afford it) and besides which I prefer places where the patrons have less tattoos, more teeth and don't pan-handle for my spare change.
Which brings up the larger issue of how to find places, in cities that you are not familiar with, that are not in industrial parks or part of the local meth distribution complex. Two years ago I was looking for refuge while participating in the Scottsdale, AZ show. I found what was a reasonably priced accommodation nearby. Upon arrival my first impression of the area was that it was a bit sketchy and when I saw that all five of the tenants cars were parked in front near the office I started to get suspicious. The only thing missing from the front counter was the bullet proof barrier glass and the sign giving hourly rates. Our room was on the second floor in the front of the place ( I was able to listen for my alarm and watch my van parked out in front with the other 5 cars) and it didn't seem like the back rooms were rented at all. The place had more stairs and walkways then an Escher illustration. We had a large "suite" with a parlor area, kitchen and bedroom in the back with French doors that didn't exactly fit snugly or lock very much better. The red shag carpet suggested that it hadn't seen much remodeling in a while and I wasn't going to sit on the couch no matter what. I like having a frig in my room for leftovers from dinner but this one was mostly broken and smelled of old salami. My wife being somewhat fastidious didn't care for the kitchen counter being sticky from who-knows-what and that shag carpet also being a little tacky, if you know what I mean!
There were pale yellow sheets on the bed that I suppose were white at one time. It was nine o'clock, we were road weary but we found the closest Walmart where we purchased our own sheets and mattress pad. When we got back to the No-Tell Motel we found that the sheets were the wrong size! Fortunately, it was a 24 hour Walmart. I'm a very patient individual, sometimes too tolerant, one night in that place was all I could take. In the morning we showered in the bathroom that had this black fuzzy stuff on the wall, packed our bags, asked for a refund for the remaining days of our reservation from the guy who had a puzzled look on his face as to why we were checking out early and found another place to stay as quickly as possible!
Nowadays I try to be a little more diligent about researching places to stay but on occasion still get it a little wrong. Most of the motels in Houston are "downtown" locations which means they are about 10-15 miles from downtown in the industrial complex. I don't know who can afford the "Partner" hotels for shows whose Artist special rate is over $100. As a side note the Cottonwood Art Festival has a really good partner hotel at the Courtyard by Marriott which really IS special! It is close to the venue, is only $2 more then the Super 8 across the street and has really high thread count sheets! Last year when I was looking for a place in Omaha to replace the above stated "special" rate I found a place that was close to the venue that was reasonable and of a brand that I trusted. Somehow I was magically transported to the site. After reading the report on the place I quickly found somewhere further away. Another good resource is where I've found information just in the nick of time. Do you have a good travel resource or story to relate? Let me know, I may not be Tom Bodett but I'll be look'n for the light!

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Comment by Larry Schneider on April 19, 2013 at 4:21pm

I have more stories than be backs.  Now I check  hotels and motels on before  making a reservation anywhere.   I also check   You can also learn other things.  Example.  A reveiwer mentioned that my reserved  State College Pa motel had central and  not  individual room AC control and the rooms were  too hot.  I immediately switched to the Hampton Inn for this July.  I know what to expect at any Hampton.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on April 15, 2013 at 3:09pm

I'm loving these hotel stories!

Comment by Alison Thomas on April 14, 2013 at 5:15am

Clif and I stayed in a swanky hotel in Charlottesville for our honeymoon night.  We told them when we made the reservation that we would be arriving late.  When we arrived they had either lost or disregarded our reservation but they had one room left, the penthouse suite.  The room was absolutely gorgeous, a full dining room, living room, kitchen.  We could have entertained 50 people in there with plenty of room.  Only problem was it was 9 degrees outside and the room was heated by a heat pump which they didn't turn on until we got there.  We spent the entire night huddled under the bed covers with coats and hats on.  Clif is in heating and air conditioning.  The next morning he went down to the manager, handed him his card, gave him a quick lesson on the virtues of having emergency electric heat to back up heat pumps when it is very cold, and invited him up to the room to see the problem.  By then it was about 40 degrees in the room.  It was comped on the spot.

Comment by Alison Fox on April 13, 2013 at 9:06pm

@Robert, LMAO, that is too funny!  And then the sex offender Hotel in Indy?  OMG what is out there.  @Brian - Yes know about the heat but 115 is hard to achieve without containment.  We would have had to encase everything including clothes, you name it, in plastic.  Whatev.  Used diatramatris (sp) earth (what u use to kill slugs) and it worked fine.  I even tested it on one of the buggers and he totally imploded.  These stories are hilarious.  At least now!

Comment by S Brian Berkun on April 13, 2013 at 7:26pm
The "Professionals" just use heat to kill BB's. They stand the box spring and mattress up and turn their heater unit up to 115! But, after they've been snack'n on you and everyone else who would want to keep the mattress!
Comment by Robert Wallis on April 13, 2013 at 6:17pm

EEWWW!! My worst story wasn't nearly that bad, but I was taking a shower, had shampoo all over my head when all of a sudden there's a pop and the bathtub faucet nozzle blows out and whacks me on the leg. Of course the shower stops working and the water is blowing out in a stream splashing on the opposite wall in the tub enclosure. There's no way to finsih washing my hair, so I stick the faucet back on the pipe, with water spalshing all over the place, but the shower head is working enough to get my hair washed while I hold the the spigot in place with my knee. Of course the back splash is going back into the wall and draining downstairs into the bathroom below us. The phone rings and it's the front desk trying to find out what's going on. Making the matter worse, the desk clerk is someone with a limited command of English and can't comprehend what the problem is when my wife tried to explain it. By that time, I'm out of the shower and shut the water off, and it's my turn to talk to the clerk. Finally I just say the plumbing has fallen apart and send up a maintenance man quickly. Saying it three times, and each time louder seemed to work, and eventually the building engineer shows up. It looked like who installed the piece didn't sweat the joint and just used friction fit to put it in place.


BTW, sorry to hear about the experience in Indy. I'll have to warn you about one motel off 21st Street just west of Shadeland Avenue. The rent is cheap, something like $30 a night and the place looks clean. Don't go there, the place is used for long term housing for sex offenders who have trouble finding a place to stay because of restrictions on proximity to schools and certain shopping areas. Something like half the occupants are on the sex offender list, and there is no legal requirement to inform anyone checking in of this issue.  

Comment by Alison Fox on April 13, 2013 at 5:53pm

Have an interesting story too.  Which of course has now made me a Bedbug Expert.  Was doing the show in Peoria and stayed at one of the recommended hotels.  Caterpillar uses it alot so I'm thinking I'm in the lap of luxury.  Get to my room, turn on the light and there's a loud pop from BEHIND the bed and now the lamp won't work.  I try to adjust the fan on heater and it wouldn't change - high speed all the way. So I'm like, I guess I can live with this but called the front desk anyway. When the maintenance guy comes up, he pulls the bed away and the entire electric outlet was burnt.  Then he tried to fix the fan and wound up replacing the whole thing. I shud also mention that my view was of the dumpsters from the back of a strip club.  Go to sleep and have to use the bathroom at about 2 am.  I'm in there and all of a sudden I feel a drip on my head! I look up and water was literally running down the wall and some of it was dripping from the ceiling! Well, I'd had it so the next day went down and asked to be changed to another room and I'm not paying for last nite. The manager for such a "nice" hotel, was very rude to me, like my reasons weren't good enuf!  He said, "Well, u didn't come downstairs at 2 am to tell us".  I just glared at him for obvious reasons.  To make this long story short, I get home and about a month later my son has all these bites on his back.  We were thinking they were misquitoes. I shud mention we keep the luggage in his closet.  All of a sudden this feeling of dread comes over me, I ck his mattress and they were everywhere!  Plus on a Blackhawks flag on the wall and all his junk under the bed! That poor kid! Then I ck'd our room.....Sure enuf the mattress was now a housing complex.  Immediately thought of my lovely hotel.  We did manage to get rid of them ourselves, since the exterminator wanted wayyyy too much and then didn't guarantee it. Went online and tried all those ideas which worked but now we had to buy 2 new mattresses, box springs, plastic mattress covers etc.  So now I ck every room I stay in.  Oh! and when I was in Indianapolis doing a show, get to the hotel/room and start to ck the mattress.  No bedbugs BUT the biggest, and I'm not kidding, black spider crawled out FROM UNDER THE PILLOW!!  U know, like someone had lost their pet tarantula!  Ah the open road!

Comment by Joan Tweedell on April 9, 2013 at 7:00pm

I'm trying this season when I can. You stay in private homes whose owners rent rooms out. I've heard good things from people who have tried them. A lot nicer than a motel and usually a lot cheaper. I'll let you know how it goes after I've stayed in a few of them.

Comment by Robert Wallis on April 9, 2013 at 4:16pm

I just heard the clothes dryer cloths are good for keeping bedbugs away. people are sticking them in the matress to keep the little buggers away and stashing several inside bags to prevent them from crawling in.

Use a flashlight to check the matress seams as the room lights are frequently so bad you can't see diddly. We carry one of those little 5 LED flashlights that are very bright and are small enough to carry in your pocket. 

Comment by Alison Thomas on April 9, 2013 at 2:51pm

To guard against bed bugs - when entering the room put your suitcase etc. in the bathtub.  Do not put any luggage on anything carpeted or upholstered.  Go to the bed and strip the sheet down to the mattress.  Look at the seam on the mattress.  if it has any little black or red spots there were or are bedbugs.  

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