So ... let me tell you about my travel agent skills. Because they are legendary.
Several months ago, we went to St. Louis to see the Drive by Truckers. Right next door to the Pageant is a hotel called the Moon Rise. It is a hip, quirky boutique hotel ... and it ... is ... nice. Everything about it was classy ... from the lighted staircase in the lobby ... to the rooftop club with a moonlight view. Our room wasn't huge ... but it was plush ... with an overstuffed chaise lounge and a huge, comfy bed. When the concert was over, we literally walked next door from the club and into our hotel. Stoney arranged that. Those are his skills.
Now let's talk about my skills.
This weekend we went to Champaign to see the Drive by Truckers. (Side note ... yes, we have other interests. We have seen other performers besides DBT ... this was just a special show. It meant a lot since it was the first one after our friend passed away.) Anyhow ... I offered to get us a room ... since he did that for us last time. Since neither of us had spent the night in Champaign/Urbana, we didn't have a preference for a hotel ... and he told me whatever I booked would be fine.
Hah ... shows him.
I went online ... and saw that the Canopy Club was located in Urbana. Okay ... to start I would find a hotel "near" the venue. I did the Google map thing ... marking locations and searching outward. Since the club was practically on campus, a lot of the lodging options were bed and breakfast type places or student hostel type places. I neither wanted to bunk with a bunch of kids ... nor did I want to rent someone's spare room. So ... I expanded the search.
I found a place called Eastland Suites. Their website was impressive. Pictures of suites with full kitchens ... fire places ... jacuzzi tubs. I wanted to impress Stoney. He'd done such an amazing job in St. Louis that I wanted to be able to give him that kind of night. Trip Advisor gave Eastland Suites four and a half out of five stars .. and an award of some type ... and so I called to make a reservation.
For the record? After this, Trip Advisor can suck a bag of dicks. They could suggest chemo to a cancer patient and I would still tell you they're full of shit.
Anyhow ... I should've known there was an issue when I called and told them I wanted the fireplace suite. I wanted the big one ... the honeymoon one ... the one on the website. The man on the phone seemed confused as to what a webpage was ... and told me they had two of the large honeymoon suites ... both of which were not available because they were being repaired.
"Um ... yes."
"Both of them?"
"Um ... yes."
"What's wrong with them?"
"... ... ... maintenance issues."
In retrospect, I think "maintenance issues" is code for "hobo squatters."
I stayed optimistic ... "Okay then, give me the nicest room you have. Seriously ... whatever the highest end room you have? THAT is the one I want."
I now imagine the man on the phone silently laughing ... tears running down his face ... as he heard the word "high end" in regards to his employer. It must've been the highlight of his day, quite frankly. He hesitated ... but gave me a room ... a room he assured me was their "nicest."
And life is an adventure after all ... and so Sunday we drove to our hotel. I was giddy ... I couldn't wait for Stoney to see the plus room I'd arranged for us. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that from the road you knew this place was questionable. It was obviously a converted travel lodge ... separate buildings ... each of the suites in a block of four separate studio apartments.
When I walked in the lobby to check us in, Jesse Pinkman's doppleganger was at the desk ... complaining about how bad the wifi had been last time they had stayed. He was wearing a highway worker's fluorescent yellow vest ... and, staring at the black widow tat on his neck, it concerned me that the Eastland Suites hadn't met his standards.
I got the key and we drove to the back. Now I'll admit here that there weren't any hookers ... nobody sitting on their porches. It was more deserted than anything. But when we opened the door, it was breathtaking. Long, stretching water stains on the ceiling. Carpeting from the Eisenhower administration. The television in the "suite" was on the far end of the room ... making it postage stamp size when laying in bed.
The bare light bulb with a pull string in the closet was a nice touch. Unfortunately that amenity didn't make up for the fan in the bathroom that literally sounded like a small aircraft taking off. I think I felt the floor vibrate when Stoney flipped it on. To be fair? I didn't see any bugs. However, there was something on the sliding door curtain that might have been blood spatter. I tried not to think about it.
Stoney was incredibly sweet about the whole thing. He hugged me and said that life's an adventure ... and we'd have a great story to tell. Honestly, we decided the hotel was just part of the theme of this weekend. The hotel was shady ... Murphy's, the pub where we met our friends before the show, looked rode hard and put away wet ... and the venue itself was uncomfortable, at best. The band, as usual was awesome ... but we were happy to head home this morning.
So ... since we've only traveled twice ... Stoney arranging a stay at the Moon Rise ... me arranging a stay at the Bates Motel. He is batting a thousand ... and I am batting zero. He says he'll get the next room ... which, given his record, sounds wonderful. Although to be fair, I've set the bar so low that he could get us a room at the Red Roof Inn and it would seem like the Crown Plaza.
If the saying is true ... and it's not about the destination ... it's about the journey ... then this weekend was a success. Because our journey was a blast. Stoney is fun and easy to travel with ... and he made the weekend wonderful. I'm the luckiest koala ... er ... girl ... that I know.
Made lots of friends, many different races
I've had such fun around the world it's true
African skies with a Nairobi mood
I fell asleep in Tuscany and dreamed
The one thing missing was you
Janet Jackson - Runaway