A Harrowing Stay

A blogging friend recently commented about staying in a Bates-type motel on a recent vacation to Alaska. If you’ve never seen the movie “Psycho,” the reference might be lost on you, but trust me, one does NOT want to spend any time, let alone an entire night, in such a place.

Studly Doright and I, along with our infant daughter, once had no choice other than to overnight in just such an unsavory hotel. We’d flown from Amarillo, Texas, to Houston when our baby girl was due for her heart checkup at Texas Children’s Hospital. We spent one night in a moderately priced hotel before her appointment and then afterwards drove directly to Houston Hobby Airport for the trip home.

Unfortunately a storm system moved in and our return flight was canceled until the next day. Studly and I had stretched our resources just to pay for the trip. An unexpected night in Houston was not in our budget. Had we not had an infant with us we might’ve just stayed at the airport, but our baby needed a place to sleep.

We searched the hotel directory at Hobby for a motel we could afford. There were several we could swing, but with the added cab fare they were financially out of reach. Finally I found a hotel that had cab fare included. It seemed perfect and we made a reservation.

Upon our arrival we noted the hotel appeared a bit rundown. The neon sign had missing letters, and the stucco was peeling off the facade in places. The lobby smelled strongly of roach spray, and a sign behind the desk had room prices listed by the day, the week, and the hour. Let that last one sink in. I had a bad feeling about the place.

A woman in a skin tight, cleavage baring, leopard print jumpsuit took our information and most of our money before handing us a green key for a room on the first floor. Walking down the musty hallway to the we heard the sounds of despair: babies screaming, elderly people moaning, people doing what people do in seedy motel rooms. I had the strong urge to run back to the lobby and hail a cab.

Our room door looked as if someone had taken an axe to it. There were deep gouges next to the frame, yet the lock looked solid. Inside the room we were confronted by what appeared to be a large bloody handprint on the wall above the bed, the smell of roach spray wafted on the air, stronger even than in the lobby. Oh, and the sliding door onto the tiny patio wouldn’t close all the way, so we couldn’t lock it. That might explain the presence of the handprint.

Our sweet baby was asleep in my arms, so we made her a nest out of our previously worn clothes, laying them on the sheets so her little body didn’t have to make contact with whatever might’ve been infesting the mattress. Thank goodness I was still breastfeeding her, since money for food had been all but depleted.

Studly ran next door to an all night diner to find a snack for the two of us while I watched over the baby and jumped at every sound. When he made it back we nibbled on our makeshift dinner and then tried to rest in a way that wouldn’t require us to make full contact with the bedding. We didn’t dare turn out the lights, but Studly actually snored while our daughter slept in innocent bliss. I, on the other hand, don’t remember closing my eyes for even a minute. Someone had to keep the bogey man at bay!

The sounds coming through the partially opened balcony door indicated violent activity in the vicinity. Sirens blared all night, and I swear I heard gunshots at least twice between midnight and two a.m. It was no place for sissies, and brother, let me tell you I’m a big ol’ sissy. Morning couldn’t come soon enough.

I didn’t rest until we were safely on the plane headed back to Amarillo the next day, certain that we’d barely escaped with our lives. And those Southwest peanuts and the free soft drinks were akin to manna from the gods.

Nowadays we can afford to stay in nicer places, but I never enter a hotel room without remembering that scary night in our own Bates Motel. Bloody handprints are a deal breaker.

Peace, people.

Old and Lost River

Driving on I-10 between Baytown and Houston one crosses a bridge over the “Old and Lost River.” Each time I’ve made the journey the river’s name has caused me to smile and then to wonder how it came to be called “Old and Lost,” but I could never remember to google it. Today, though, when I crossed the river I left myself a reminder note on my iPhone via Siri.

Here’s what I found on Google:

“American composer Tobias Picker (b. 1954) wrote Old and Lost Rivers in 1986. The brief, colorful orchestral tone poem was commissioned by the Houston Symphony to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Texas. Picker describes the inspiration for the piece:”

Driving east from Houston along Interstate 10, you will come to a high bridge which crosses many winding bayous. These bayous were left behind by the great wanderings, over time, of the Trinity River across the land. When it rains, the bayous fill with water and begin to flow. At other times — when it is dry — they evaporate and turn green in the sun. The two main bayous are called ‘Old River’ and ‘Lost River’. Where they converge, a sign on the side of the highway reads: ‘OId and Lost Rivers.’

And now I know the story. The google piece also included the audio of the composition written by Mr. Picker and performed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra. I think it’s lovely.

https://youtu.be/S6phXZddj9A

Peace, people.

Good Morning from Houston

It’s Saturday morning, and a fine one as far as I can tell. My daughter and I arrived at my brother’s home in Houston within minutes of each other around five on Friday. She flew in from Des Moines, Iowa, while I drove from Florida and, voila! Here we are.

For a good twenty minutes yesterday I wasn’t sure I was going to get here at all. My gps took me on some rabbit chasing adventure just outside of Beaumont, Texas, and soon I was bouncing along on backroads, some covered in gravel, some partially barricaded, and one completely blocked to traffic. It was obvious that the gps had lost its freaking mind and that I would most likely die alone at the end of this middle of nowhere dirt lane.

I sat and thought for a few minutes then realized I needed to backtrack and just find the damned interstate again. No need to get all melodramatic; although, part of me wondered what future archaeologists might conclude when they found my skeleton sitting upright in my Mazda hundreds or even thousands of years from now.

“Probably senile. Right age. Car had evidence consisting of junk food wrappers and plastic cups that once most likely contained diet Coke. I guess she didn’t remember her Mazda had a reverse gear. Poor girl.”

As I backtracked I realized that the gps had most likely tried to help me avoid some traffic issue on the interstate and didn’t factor in that roads around Beaumont, like the one it directed me to, had been seriously impacted by the flooding that accompanied last year’s hurricanes. Guardrails were warped and in some places lay mangled on both sides of the road, and there were places so degraded that I couldn’t drive on the correct side of the road without endangering my safety. Intense!

When I finally made it back to an entrance ramp for I-10 West, I breathed a sigh of relief and completed the rest of my journey without incident. I hugged my daughter and my brother and my sister-in-law, then we went out for drinks and dinner and more drinks and had just a wonderful evening dining alfresco in one of the best cities in the world.

I slept like a drunken sailor and am now up and ready to continue my journey, as my daughter, Ashley and I drive to San Antonio for the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball tournament starting tonight! Just to be safe, I’m putting Ashley in charge of navigation.

Peace, people!

The Road to the Final Four

If you’re expecting a recap of the college basketball season, forget about it. I’m just checking in to say I successfully navigated through torrential rains and horrendous road construction on my journey to San Antonio to attend the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament that begins on Saturday. I feel like the driving conditions should be charged with a flagrant foul or two. Maybe a technical. It was a brutal day of driving.

Before the bad stuff happened, Studly and I met friends from Illinois for a late lunch in Destin, FL, where they’ve been enjoying spring break, then I began my drive westward, and Studly returned home to Doright Manor.

I’m writing from my hotel room somewhere in Mississippi. Dinner was a grilled cheese sandwich from the kids’ menu in the hotel’s restaurant and a Guinness. Is that classy or what?

My daughter is flying in to Houston from Illinois, and then she and I will meet up at my brother’s home. He and his sweet wife have invited us to spend the night with them in Houston before we push on to San Antonio on Saturday morning.

Now I’m just trying to unwind and to keep my verb tenses straight. I wrote this on Thursday night, but won’t publish until Friday, so I kept getting confused. Another flagrant foul. (I always want to call it a fragrant foul. Doesn’t that sound more pleasant? Or maybe contradictory.)

I would apologize for the randomness of this post, but I’m too tired. ‘Night all.

Peace, people.

Are the Planets Aligning or Am I Just Tired?

Yesterday I wrote about getting tickets to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in San Antonio, TX. It was an impulsive buy, and I suffered some angst once I realized that I now had to plan a quick trip to San Antonio and find someone to attend the tournament with me.

My husband, Studly Doright, bought the tickets for me even though he knew his sciatic nerve wouldn’t allow him to drive 26 hours round trip, sleep four nights in hotel beds, and navigate the crowds at the Alamo Dome where the tournament will take place. He’s a helluva guy.

Our son lives in Dallas, not terribly far from San Antonio, and he’s a University of Kansas grad, so we called him immediately upon getting the tickets. He had already made some important plans for the upcoming weekend, so he was out. I was bummed. I didn’t sleep much on Sunday night wondering if I should even keep the tickets.

Then a couple of things happened. On Monday morning my brother in Houston encouraged me to come and stay with him and his wife on my way to San Antonio. I couldn’t say no to that.

And then my daughter in Illinois, who also studied at KU and is a die hard Jayhawks fan, texted me that she thought she could get relatively inexpensive plane tickets to Houston for the long weekend. She’d fly in there, Uber to my brother’s home, and drive to San Antonio with me for the tournament! I’ll drop her off at the airport on my way through Houston on Tuesday morning. And voila! I never dreamed she’d be able to enjoy this event with me, and I couldn’t be more excited.

All of a sudden my angst disappeared. The planets seem to be aligning because I slept like a rock last night. Either that, or I’m just exhausted from lack of sleep. Rock chalk, Jayhawks, baby! It’s on!

Too Pooped to Post

Folks, my trip to Houston and back over the weekend has worn me out. I’m taking the day off. Maybe two days, but before I go I’ll leave you with this cute kitten picture:

And how about this adorable puppy in a teacup?

Or this turkey couple?

Which reminds me of a picture my youngest grandchild created in her kindergarten class:

Can you guess what this is?

It’s a turkey in disguise. I’d say this bird should escape the axe this Thanksgiving. Now, y’all have a great day. I’m taking a nap.

Peace, people!

Mom, There’s Plenty of Room for Me

Patches let me know she wanted to join me on my trip to Houston in a not so subtle way this morning. Even after I reminded her that she detests car trips and would hate a two hour flight even more, she persisted in laying claim to my overnight bag.

Studly Doright promised to take good care of her and sister, Scout. Patches, though, thinks Studly is shady and never trusts his advances. She’s a smart kitty.

Peace, people!

Last Minute Adventure

Studly Doright has several hobbies: golf, motorcycles, and trading vehicles, among others. Several months ago he sold his pickup truck and bought a sports sedan. I knew, though, that it wouldn’t be long before the call of the wild—namely the need for another pickup—sounded in his ears. I even made a prediction that he’d have a new pickup before this year ended.

So, a couple of nights ago when Studly turned to me and asked, “If I bought a new pickup would you fly to Houston and drive it home?” I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Until I realized he’d asked me to go pick the truck up.

“Sure!” I said, happy to have a new adventure. We bought a plane ticket and I’ll leave on Friday afternoon.

Now, I have feelings of trepidation. The truck has a manual transmission, and while I have owned several vehicles with a stick shift, it’s been awhile. Also, I’ll be driving in Houston, the fourth largest city in the country. Great place to renew my acquaintance with a manual transmission vehicle.

In addition, I’m going to have to find a way to the car dealership from the airport. Uber? Lyft? I’ve never downloaded the apps and I’m not sure how they work. I guess I’ll have to learn quickly.

Did I mention I adore adventures, and that there’s an excellent outlet mall near Gulfport, Mississippi that’s calling my name? Wish me luck, good weather, and a few dollars to spend at the mall.

Peace, people!

Not Going to Complain

Driving home to Doright Manor from a shopping expedition to nearby Tallahassee my car began to be pelted by a storm of love bugs. Within just a couple of miles of home I experienced limited visibility due to the amount of bug guts on my windshield. I began mumbling all sorts of nasty aspersions on these bugs, their offspring, and their offspring’s offspring. My rant became pretty colorful.

Then I realized that I was driving on dry pavement and that I’d have electricity and air conditioning and hot water waiting for me at home. I was pretty certain my roof would be intact and my floors uncluttered by flood debris, so I shut my mouth. Many of my friends and family members in the Houston, Texas, area are dealing with what’s being called the biggest weather catastrophe in Texas’ history, and they have none of the amenities I take for granted.

Studly Doright and I have firsthand experience with hurricanes and their aftermath. We know how it feels to be without power for days, how isolating and scary it can be, but we have never experienced what these folks in Houston are dealing with. So if I have to deal with a few love bugs, so be it. I won’t be complaining.

If you’d like to help those in Houston, here’s a link to the Red Cross. https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey?scode=RSG00000E017&utm_campaign=Harvey&gclid=Cj0KCQjw_o7NBRDgARIsAKvAgt3pGGD9qntAtz_SL6RdN7hu8F4u44fn3xna5pet211SoX2c6zS0-uwaAl9mEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJOSm8vo-tUCFSZmwQodlYgKkw

Prayers are appreciated, as well. Peace, people.

How Do You Like Your Eggs

While Studly Doright played golf on Saturday morning I watched the 1936 film, “The Plainsman,” starring Gary Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane. The old movie wouldn’t be deemed politically correct nowadays with its portrayal of Native Americans as aggressive savages and women as nothing more than flies in the ointment of men’s lives, but it wasn’t without humor.

In one scene Gary Cooper asked another cowboy how he liked his eggs. “Well,” said the man. “I like them just fine.”

I couldn’t help but giggle. Studly walked in about that time and asked me what was so funny. He’s an aficionado of good one liners, so he got a chuckle out of the egg quip, as well. I then recalled the first time anyone asked me how I liked my eggs.

I’d gone with my grandparents to Houston to see the oldest of their three children, my Uncle Jack. I might’ve been five, and I adored Uncle Jack. He lovingly called me a little jackass–which I, in turn, took to calling others, much to my parents’ chagrin.

On one morning of this trip Uncle Jack treated us to breakfast at an International House of Pancakes. I’d never been to one before, and it was the most wonderful place I’d ever seen. The variety of pancakes on the menu was staggering. I took my time choosing just the right item. As I recall I ordered a combo that featured a pancake festooned with strawberries and whipped cream, along with bacon and eggs.

When the waitress took my order she asked, “How do you like your eggs.”

In my sweetest five year old voice I responded, “Cooked, please.”

Everyone, my uncle, my grandparents, even the waitress, laughed. My Nanny quickly told the waitress that I liked my eggs over easy, but I was mortified. I didn’t order eggs any way other than scrambled for many years after. I was a sensitive kid, you know.

Now, many years later I can marvel at how naive I was. How do I like my eggs? Well, I like them just fine.

Peace, people!