“Woman Traveling Alone”

I drove to Michigan this weekend.

It’s an 836-mile drive, which takes about 13 to 14 hours, if you’re good. Because I was alone with the dog, I decided to stay over in Toledo on the way. It’s more than halfway to my lake house so I only had 5 hours to drive on day 2. It was the safest move, because driving is exhausting. I even needed to stop and sleep for about 15 minutes somewhere near Pittsburgh. Which is kind of awkward. You know, laying the seat down, locking yourself into the car, and taking a nap with the dog while the truckers watch. But it had to be done.

And it wasn’t nearly as bad as the motel.

The motel… that disgusting hovel of a flea-bag hellhole. If you want to know, it was the Knight’s Inn in Rossford, Ohio. Now, I chose it because it was cheap. The woman at the counter was nice enough, but you do get what you pay for. But I did stay there last year, and it was shabby then, yes, but I didn’t think twice about it and got up early and kept driving. This year was different – when I checked in, the woman asked me if I was alone. I said yes. She asked, “Do you mind a handicap-accessible room? That way because you’re a single woman I can make sure you’re close to the office and don’t have to drive around back.”

Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign that I should spend the $20 more and stay at the Red Roof Inn across town. But it was already after 10pm and I wanted to go to sleep. So I headed toward my room, and the awfulness of the place started to appear to me in stark relief. First there was the new hand-spraypainted sign past the office that read “2-BR, $180 WEEK $600 MONTH.” Oh, renting rooms by the month now, are we?

Then there were two large loud dogs in the room next door. I tried to ignore the uncanny resemblance of this to my home in the Vladimir era, and I opened the door. The walls felt like they were made of plastic. The whole wall moved. The pillowcases had old stains on them, and the pillows consisted of many clumpy lumps of cotton. I am actually pretty sure the hotel was made of large mobile homes.  They had retiled the shower, but you can’t polish a turd. I wished I’d brought a sleeping bag, especially when I remembered a comment my friend’s mother made about bedbugs… this bed became my enemy.

If that weren’t enough, when I walked the dog a hippie-skirt, no-bra woman walking her dog said hello, or at least I think she did because she was so hopped up on something that it was more like “Thatsacutedogmydogmissesherbuddydontyoumissyourbuddydontyoumissyourbuddyblablajdfuowebjvsdfjkwewerrrrr.”

So I tried to go to sleep after that, just get it over with so I could get on the road. Well the bed was my itchy enemy like I said, and also there were… noises outside. Clunk, tap, scrape. I started to freak and think someone was stealing my bike off the roof of the car (Sherpa’s bike was locked). I pulled the drape a tiny crack and peeked out the window. Nothing. Bike still there. Bargaining with myself to get to sleep. Trying to utilize relaxation techniques. Clunk. Scrape. Clink. Now someone was DEFINITELY stealing my bike!!! Peeked out the window… no. But obviously I wasn’t going to sleep without the bike in the room. So I got dressed and went outside, and was shocked to see a couple in camp chairs drinking beers next to my car. I awkwardly walked around them and got my bike off the car. During the process, the dude knocked on the door of the room on the other side of me and gestured for a cigarette when a scrawny guy with a gray beard poked his head out. Oh, lord, I thought – these people live here. Then I saw that the couple was signing to one another. That’s why I only heard them opening beers and throwing them out in the trash can (that was, by the way, chained to a post). Clink. Thud. I don’t know how long they stayed out there, but in the morning when I threw something out in that trash can, it was full of empties. Oh, so it really WAS just like home!

With the bike next to my bed I was able to get a few hours of sleep. But I could not get out of there fast enough in the morning. And now I am HERE (CUE INSANE HAPPINESSSSSSSSSS)!!!!!!


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