Monday, July 29, 2013

Places we have slept (or tried to)

Sleep is always an issue for me on a trip like this. Even at home, I rarely sleep through the night without interruption, but on a trip, I find it particularly hard to sleep. I am not a finicky eater, but I am a finicky sleeper.

Now Mimi seemed to sleep solidly everywhere, even on the floor. Ah, youth! Ellen often has a hard time getting to sleep, and she also often wakes up early in the morning and can't get back to sleep, but generally she sleeps more solidly than I do.

I usually go to sleep right away, but then wake up even as early as 1 or 2 am, and then have a hard time getting back to sleep. There are at least four factors that affect my sleep - the bed itself (size, comfort), air (temperature and freshness), degree of darkness and amount of noise. I prefer a firm mattress, a long bed, fresh air (but I don't like air blowing directly on my face), darkness and silence (though I can sleep comfortably with "white" noise). Motels typically do not have fresh air. There is usually AC with a fan. AC units vary a great deal with regard to placement in the room and noise. Some motels have windows that will open, but if you open the curtain also (which you have to do to let the air in) there is often a bright light right in your face! And having the window open also lets in street noise. Of course, on a hot, humid night, opening the window doesn't do much good. I sometimes use some kind of chemical to help me sleep.  I brought an herbal concoction called "People Calmer" that they make up at Sojourn's Clinic back home. I also have some Xanax and some Tamazapam. I use one of these as a last resort, if i just can't seem to get back to sleep.

Here is a survey of places we slept. I don't remember exactly how well I slept in each of them, but some were memorable in one way or another.

FIRST NIGHT: We started out at our friend Wallace's house in Swarthmore. These photos were taken in the early spring four years ago - before Wallace had even moved in - when we went over to scope out the place she would be moving into later that year. She has done a lot of work on the landscaping in the meantime and it looks beautiful now. Regrettably,  I don't seem to have any current photos. The guest bedroom is a combination bedroom/office. The bed is large and comfortable, it was dark and quiet, and the windows do open, but it was a fairly hot, humid night - typical Pennsylvania summer weather - so it was probably not the best night for sleeping in that respect.

Front view of Wallace's house
The guest bedroom is in this corner in back

SECOND NIGHT: Our next lodging was at a Red Roof Inn in Hebron, OH. Chain motels are typically sort of bland and unmemorable, but I do remember this room because I spent a long time lying on the bed working on a photo book for Betsey. There were two queen beds, and we slept on the side next to the window and the AC unit. As I recall, the windows did not open, so the fan went all night. I worked very late into the night on the book, but I think I slept ok after that. This photo is a commercial one from the motel website.

THIRD AND FOURTH NIGHT: We were at our friends' home in Bartlett, IL - Jerry and Gretchen (or she is also called "Maggie") Hochberger. Gretchen was my late brother Stewart's wife, and mother of his four children. We always enjoy staying with them. Their guest bedroom has walls covered with family photos and a large comfortable bed. Gretchen always lays out on the bed interesting little things for us to look at on our arrival.  It was hot and sticky in Bartlett the two nights we were there, but there was both a window fan and a ceiling fan in the bedroom, which helped. I don't have a photo of their house or the bedroom! Big oversight! I'll have to rectify that when we go back. But here we are in their breakfast nook:

Jerry, Larry, Gretchen and Ellen in Bartlett, IL

THE NEXT TWO NIGHTS we were at my daughter, Betsey's, home in Columbia, MO, 705 Gunnison Court. They have a lovely house, and the guest bedroom features an antique spool bed that was made by Betsey's great-great grandfather, David Townsend (1820-1895) in Harrisville, NH, (her mother's, mother's, mother's father). The bed was made, probably, around 1870, so it is about 140 years old. It is made from bird's-eye maple with cherry side boards. It is a small double, but actually quite comfortable. I always sleep pretty well in this bedroom - there is a ceiling fan which helps move air around. It was still hot and sticky in Columbia, however, so no open windows.

Bedroom with antique spool bed

705 Gunnison Court, Columbia, MO. 
The guest bedroom is the upper windows on right

SEVENTH NIGHT (We're up to Sat., June 29th): We were in Hastings, NE at the Rainbow Motel. As I mentioned earlier, it was cheap - $40 -  and more than decent. It smelled ok - another big factor - and was spacious, clean, comfortable, had a frig and WiFi, and good towels. I can't remember if you could open the windows or not, but I think it was still pretty hot and humid outside, so we undoubtedly ran the AC all night. It was probably an average night of sleep. 

Rainbow Motel - commercial photo. Sign has changed since older picture below.

Old postcard of Rainbow Motel, a little different angle from above.

THE EIGHTH NIGHT of our trip was spent in the Wyoming Motel in Wheatland, WY.  It was a simple room, a little under par. I don't remember much about the night we spent there. I do remember that the location was in town rather than edge of town, and that was a plus.

Wyoming Motel in Wheatland, WY
THE NEXT EIGHT NIGHTS we were at Paul and Jenny's house in Alpine. The guest bedroom there is spacious, the bed is large and comfortable, and the windows open wide. It was untypically warm at night during this stretch, so we had a window fan. But warm in Alpine is different from hot in PA or MO!  This was real air and it wasn't bad. I slept as well or better here as anywhere yet on the trip.One feature of the guest room is that the bed faces east out of two windows and so you get the early morning sun. We put a blanket over the upper part of the window to shield our eyes.

Paul and Jenny's house

Guest bedroom

Another view, showing blanket over windows
SEVENTEENTH & EIGHTEENTH NIGHT:  This was the start of our big trip with Mimi. Our first  two nights of that trip we were at the home of our friends in Boise, Christian Petrach and Susan Gelletley. They have a lovely carriage house with a loft guest room. The bed is perfect: roomy and firm. Normally, this is an ideal accommodation. But it was unusually hot in Boise this time. The room has AC but we didn't want to run it all night long. It didn't make much sense to open the windows, though I think I did early one morning after it had cooled down a bit outside.

Carriage house
Loft guest room
Mimi's bed
NIGHTS NINETEEN TO TWENTY-ONE:  These we spent at the home of our friend, Joanne Elizabeth Seibert (pronounced "see-bert") , in Salem, OR.  Salem was cool with low humidity. Ellen and I had a guest bedroom in back of the house with two big windows that opened and let in wonderfully fresh, cool, air. Mimi had J.E.'s study to herself, which she loved. We were concerned there might be a noise problem - the neighbors had a barking dog - but the dog quieted down and we slept well. I don't have a photo of the bedroom, but I do have one of J.E.'s house, with it's lovely garden.

J.E. Seibert's home in Salem, OR

Sunday, July 14th, we headed up along the Oregon coast intoWashington and spent NIGHTS TWENTY-TWO AND TWENTY-THREE at the Tall Timbers Motel, Restaurant and Lounge in Randle, WA. Tall Timbers was a funky place. The motel part of the business was small, I think. I wasn't even aware of there being other people staying there. Our room was small and sort of oddly laid out - the twin bed for Mimi was in an alcove next to our double bed. At the far end of the room was a dresser with a little TV on it - which you couldn't see from the twin bed. You had to step up into the bathroom. There was no AC, but, fortunately, there was a large window over Mimi's bed that opened wide. There was no WiFi in the room, but there was a marginal connection on the porch of the restaurant, and best of all inside the restaurant.  Outside our room there was a little metal table with two metal chairs. To walk to the restaurant - which had good breakfasts - you went by other motel units that seemed to be occupied not by tourists, but by permanent residents - there were a lot of bikes, toys and household junk outside them. It was a very "local" place - everyone in the restaurant looked like ranchers and their wives. Despite the funkiness, we all liked it, and rated it pretty high. I slept pretty well there.

Tall Timbers room - photo from website

Tall Timbers room - another view from the website

Tall Timbers restaurant - website photo. I sat in those chairs to do WiFi

Our room - view from our bed

Mimi with her bed behind her - and window

NIGHT # 24 we had moved on to Shelton, WA, to the Shelton Inn, just south of Tacoma. We were working our way up to Olympic Park from Mt. Rainier. There was nothing particularly special about the Shelton Inn except that the reception clerk was very kind and solicitous when I thought I had left my wallet sitting on the counter because I couldn't find it. It turned out I had taken it out of my pocket and set it on the bedside table immediately upon entering the motel room, and then forgotten that I had done that. Sigh!  She took the trouble to call the room later to inquire whether I had found it.
The room itself was a two-queen bed room, and as I recall you could not open the window, so we had the AC on. I don't really remember how well (or badly)  I slept, so I guess it was an average night. I do remember that I was undecided about whether or not to try to go to Fort Lewis the next morning, since we were not able to stop there on the way by from Mt. Rainier, so I may have been sort of stewing over that during the night. When I checked out what it would involve the next morning - getting a visitor pass, etc. - and estimated how long it would all take, I decided against it.

The Shelton Inn, Shelton, WA
NIGHT TWENTY-FIVE:  By this evening, which was Wed., July 17th, we were in Olympic National Park, and had made a reservation long before we left on the trip for a cabin at Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent. We had reserved this pretty much sight unseen, and there was a strange glitch at the time I made the reservation - something that has never happened to me before. I made the reservation by telephone with a male clerk at an agreed price of something like $80, and then the next day got a phone call from a different person, a woman, who said that I had been quoted the wrong price and that it would be $140! That seemed strange to me, almost like a scam, but at that point that cabin was sort of our anchor reservation for the whole trip with Mimi, and I didn't want to lose the opportunity for us to stay in the park and thus have a chance to explore the park more fully. So I swallowed and said I would accept the new price. Well, I'm glad I did, and in retrospect, I wish I had reserved it for three nights, instead of one. This was a beautiful spot - the one place I think we all agreed we would go back to in a heartbeat. The cabin was rustic - no frills for sure. But Mimi had a separate room, you could open all the windows for fresh air galore, the bed was comfortable, the view was tremendous, the lodge had an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet that was delicious. There were paddleboats, kayaks and canoes to rent. It was great. I slept well. The bathroom was funky - no shower, but there was an old porcelain claw-foot tub! (None of us took a bath - no time to do it).

Our cabin at Lake Crescent

View from cabin

NIGHTS TWENTY-SEVEN AND TWENTY-EIGHT: This was another bit of a snafu. We planned to stay near the ferry to Victoria, BC Thursday night in Sequim, WA (pronounced as one syllable - "skwim"), go to Victoria during the day on Friday, and then drive to Everett to stay with Ryan and Alicia on Friday evening after getting off the ferry in Port Angeles.  But some things altered that plan. Ryan and Alicia were going to a concert in Seattle Friday evening, and would have to leave a key with someone so we could get in; but then trying to get to Everett on Friday night started to feel rushed anyway. So we decided to stay two nights in Sequim and drive to Everett Saturday morning. My original Thursday night reservation at the Sundowner Motel in Sequim was ok - $70, I think. But when I called to extend it to Friday night, the price for Friday was $130. This was due, I was told, to the Lavender Festival in Sequim that weekend, which put all rooms in the area at a premium. I was lucky to get it at that price, I was told. Uh-huh. But I didn't have a lot of choice at that point. Well, we got to the Sundowner and the first thing we discovered was that the fan in the AC unit did not work at all.  The window opened, but with the curtain open too, bright lights shone right in our faces lying in bed. So it looked like we'd be in an airless room for two nights, for a total of $200! I wouldn't get any sleep at all. I went to the office and a very friendly guy came over, checked out the unit, agreed it was broken (I wasn't just stupid and didn't know how to turn it on, which is probably what he initially thought), and went back and brought us two large fans. Amazingly, having those two fans on low, at opposite ends of the room, made it livable. I actually slept reasonably well - maybe the "white noise" of the fans helped. But in retrospect, we would have been happier if we had known all that ahead of time and stayed at Lake Crescent, which wouldn't have been that much more. But of course there was no way to know all that ahead of time.

Sundowner Motel, Sequim, WA

This photo is off the website for the Sundowner. It doesn't look quite the way I remember it, but oh well ... a motel is a motel is a motel.

NIGHT TWENTY-NINE. So, we had a nice time with Ryan and Alicia on Saturday and then drove up to Sedro-Woolley, WA to the Skagit Motel. Instead of getting there at 10pm, our usual arrival time, we got there about 5pm. This gave us time to do a big wash in the motel laundry. That was good. This motel was a bit down-in-the-heel also. You couldn't open the windows, and the AC unit, as I recall, was located in the back over the lavatory and wasn't quite adequate for the size of the room. It wasn't my best night.

Skagit Motel, Sedro-Woolley, WA. Our room was upstairs.
NIGHT THIRTY. After a day in the North Cascades N.P. we drove to the Davenport Motel, Davenport, WA. This was a small motel. The owner lived "off campus" so to speak, so we had to call him on our cell phone to get him to come and let us in. But it was a nice room. It was comfortable. I did wake up early and sat at the desk and blogged before Ellen and Mimi woke up.

This is how our room looked


photos courtesy motel website
NIGHT THIRTY-ONE: This was a difficult choice. We wanted to get as close to Yellowstone as we could the night before so that we would have as much time in the park as possible, because we could not get a reservation in the park for the next night. Gardiner, MT or Livingston, MT would have been better, but there seemed to be nothing in either that was available or affordable. I was under some pressure to find something, working in a visitor center in Butte, MT where there was WiFi, so I settled for the Ranch House Motel in Bozeman, MT, and not particularly cheap - $90. No one was happy with this. When we got there, it was another funky one - it wasn't a room, it was a house, with two bedrooms, and the rest of it unfurnished. Mimi loved having her own room. Our room was huge, but once again, windows wouldn't open. Too bad because the air outside was cool and fresh. So we had to have the fan on all night. It was an ok night, not great.

This was our house - behind the fence on the right

NIGHT THIRTY-TWO: As I wrote in an earlier blog, persistence paid off - we got a cabin at Canyon Village in Yellowstone Park and that freed us to see all the main features of the park in two days. We didn't actually get into the park until noon or after, but that was ok with a second day. Our cabin in Canyon Village was nice - it had the odd glitch that the heater wanted to go on when we opened the windows to let in cool air. But we seemed to have adjusted the thermostat so that wasn't a problem and toward morning the room temp was ideal from my standpoint.

Cabin at Canyon Village, Yellowstone N.P.

So we're near the end. NIGHT THIRTY-THREE we were back in Alpine - we got in about 11pm after a long and wonderful day in Yellowstone, and Paul and Jenny were in bed, but had set up a bed for Mimi in with us in the guest room. Fresh air again!  Cool, fresh air! Yay! Good sleep. We were there a second night - NIGHT THIRTY-FOUR and then on Friday we drove to Denver. I let Ellen make us a reservation in Denver - I had about had it with the motel reservation business - and after much trial and error she found one at the La Quinta Inn which was located in a kind of "motel city" which served Denver International Airport and had a shuttle bus to the departure terminal - which simplified things tremendously. It was a perfectly nice room, nice beds. The window opened, but there was a huge spotlight outside the window so the opaque drapes had to be closed. So we used the AC. I slept no more than 2 hours the whole night, if that. Woke up at 1 am and just could not get back to sleep. So the next morning, I stayed at the motel and tried to get a few winks while Ellen took Mimi to the airport. I would not have been able to go through security with them - only one adult allowed to accompany Mimi to the gate - so it didn't make much sense for me to go to the airport anyway. I did get a few more winks, though not much more than that. I just could not sleep - it was like I had drunk a few cups of jolt. The photos below are from the La Quinta website but this is exactly how it looked - including the room.

La Quinta Inn near DIA

This is how our room looked, exactly

Now we are back in Alpine for the next several days. We didn't get back to Alpine Sat night until 11pm. But it was a successful trip and a successful mission accomplished. Hope you are not exhausted reading about all this sleeplessness!

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