[Flashback waves] We're in a pirate-themed hotel off highway 231 and I have two freshly-bathed, water-parked-out kids, one on my hip, one clinging to my leg. I peel back the industrial beige comforter. It is 10:06 PM. Slow horror flushes my face when it becomes clear this bed comes with a surprise: a stranger's dried period blood. Murder blood? Mass murder blood? Is this - could this be? My God, yes, our bed has strange bodily fluid in it.
I call the front desk and mask my outrage for the benefit of my kids, who quickly snap in line like the military because that's what you do when Mom ain't happy. My clipped tone was a notch between strained politeness and quiet rage. An unsurprised Indiana twang comes through the other end offering to upgrade us to a "pirate cove" and reminds me they are upgrading us "for free". Damn straight it was going to be free. We wade through 12 more hours at the place (what are you going to do?) then jet.
That's it. I'm getting standards.
I don't know about you, but in my 20's I used to stay up all night and if I did sleep, I could have done it anywhere. Beach, lobby. Jail. My requirements for a vacation used to be:
1. Must be interesting!
That stipulation led me to some train station floors, sidewalks, ruins, clubs, mountains, warehouses, strange homes, canals, great walls, leaning towers, hostile hostels, strange massage parlors and (once) a regrettable tattoo. One thing "interesting" never got me was a good night's sleep. I'm old now. I need sleep. I need clean. I'm setting standards for vacations.
Last weekend we decided to take a detour from our road trip and stay at one of those water park hotels. It sounded good in theory. Water slides for the kids, zero-depth pool for the little one, booze for the growns. These places always look good on their websites, but in person you're basically signing up for a watery, chlorinated hell. You know that HELL IS REAL sign on the highway? They're talking about the water park place down state. You find yourself wading in water with the Honey Boo Boo Mama Junes of the world and guiding your zombified kids away from the "Out Of Order" arcade machines and standing in (gasp!) line for food. Like a commoner! No thank you. You also might find gentle terror washing over you when you discover strange period blood in your bed.
As of now, my new standards for vacation include:
1. I do not camp. I have never camped in my adult life, but I'd just like to throw it out there that I'm not starting. Toilets and running water are the most basic of my demands. Also, the tub, toilet and sinks must be impeccably clean. Gone are my days of sympathy for an overworked staff and my attitude of everything being made of carbon anyway. I am old now. I can be a bitch.
2. I will not eat reconstituted eggs. It cracks open from a chicken, or it ain't an omelet. This "includes a hot breakfast" thing from various highway hotels is no longer on my horizon. This means either we don't take road trips or I starve away from home. I am fine with either scenario.
3. The hotel will have concierge and a warm, helpful, friendly staff OR it will be our annual rental house experience where there are zero people to bug me. There is no room for casual, shockless half-apologies when I discover bodily fluid in my bed.
4. If there is a pool, it will not be populated.
5. The hotel must be nicer than my house. This used to be a cinch. When lived in a studio apartment with thin walls where you had to walk through the closet to get to the bathroom and the kitchen was a repurposed coat nook, I would have been impressed with a roach motel. Now I am a fancy old lady with chandeliers and shit. If I can drink good wine at home surrounded by all my favorite things, you're going to need gilded ceilings and a spa to get me out of here.
Questionable things in a hotel that are actually okay:
1. Scandal. It's okay if a celebrity has dangled a baby out of the window there. I stayed at this hotel once and it adhered perfectly to my demands of running water, natural eggs and a luxurious, empty pool.
2. Being rated "one star". One star hotels in Paris are better than all-inclusive water parks in the US. It just means the room is small. Pack light! I don't need to spread out, I need to be clean and sleep on a quality mattress.
3. Being owned by an a-hole with bad hair. Say what you will about Donald Trump, but his hotels are clean, fun and they treat you like a hat-wearing duchess. I stayed at a hotel a few months ago that had an elevator made of real gingerbread. Now THAT is something I can't get at home. Yes please!
I'm probably the last person reading this to actually get standards about vacations, but it's time. We're getting too old for this crap, guys. From now on, if I can't afford to go big, I'll stay home.
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Filed under: Field Trips