Vacation Travels 2014 – Part 3

Time to come home.

Alas, a week and a half before Charlie was due back at work it was time for us to head for home. Having done most of our packing the day before, it would seem that we would have little to do. But we still didn’t leave before noon.

Sky-Vu Drive-In
Sky-Vu Drive-In

Those who never closed a residence for a Minnesota winter don’t know about draining water. Turn off the water supply, turn off the water heater, open all the faucets and then drain the water heater. You don’t want water in the pipes to freeze and burst. Leave the heaters on low to prevent freezing the pipes and put RV antifreeze in the drains (after all the power might fail and the house freeze).

Travels and Motels

We said goodbye to Warroad a few minutes after noon and began our journey west. Roseau, Greenbush, Karlstad and then south at Donaldson as the construction/repair detour was still in effect (still unknown to OnStar and Waze). When we reached Warren we turned west once more and stopped at the Sky-Vu Drive-In Theatre. The current film showing was Tammy. We stopped, took a few pictures and resumed our journey to Moorhead.

Sky Vu Admission
Sky Vu Admission

Again we stayed at the Moorhead Travelodge, second floor smoking, cats. Nice room, good soundproofing as the motel is backed up to a busy rail line.

The next day it was I-94 across North Dakota to Wibaux, Montana and the Beaver Creek Inn (same room we had before). This time Charlie went with me to have dinner at the Shamrock Club, excellent meal and great atmosphere. Of course, she had to buy a Shamrock Club hat as a souvenir.

On to Bozeman, Montana and the Holiday Inn. This time the room was downstairs next to the back exit and it was a lot easier to move our luggage. Good room service dinner. This time we ordered three appetizers between us and no entrees, just the perfect amount of food.

Elk at rest with birds.
Elk at rest with birds.

Stopped in Haugan, Montana at the Lincoln’s World Famous 50,000 Silver $ Bar for a break and souvenir shopping. Stayed the night at the West Spokane Super 8. They messed up our reservation for a smoking handicapped room and I ended up toting our luggage up to the third floor (dirty word, dirty word, dirty word).

The next day it was south through Washington and then west along the Columbia River to Portland and south to Albany. A nice, easy day without too much Portland traffic.

Our last motel day was south on the I-5 to the Umpqua River and viewing elk at Dean Creek, a stop at the Mill Casino for an hour of slots and shopping for Charlie and the on to Arcata. The Arcata Super 8 still had not correctly fixed the handicapped room shower, but, otherwise, the room was fine.

Friday, it was south to Gilroy, California and Bill & Artie’s place. Artie had a good rib dinner from Nob Hill waiting

Elk at rest.
Elk at rest.

for us (and I, of course, ate too much of her macaroni salad) and we had a good talk and rest.

Saturday, it was south on the I-5 to L.A., with some stop and go traffic and home a little after six, a Subway sandwich for dinner and a sigh. It was good to be home.

Three days to get the house organized and luggage unpacked and Charlie was back to work (and I embarked on my third year of retirement).

Aside from the Super 8 screw-up in West Spokane the only negative about the trip home was the condom wrapper. At one of the motels, whose name I will not mention, Mist found an open condom wrapper under a bed missed by housekeeping. I mentioned this to the desk when I turned in our keys the next morning and they halved our bill. Quite nice; we’ve stayed there before and will again.

Vacation Travels 2014 – Part 1

Travels with Smoke on Charlie's lap
Smoke on Charlie’s lap.

Our vacation got off to a late start this summer as both Charlie and I had dental issues with which to deal—mine was a cracked tooth into which I could insert a fingernail.

We loaded up our new Buick Enclave with a Thule carrier on top. Great car with a smooth and quiet ride. Gas mileage is 15-16 in town and 20-26 on the open road. We took the cats, Mist and Smoke, with us; they were quite noisy the first couple of days but eventually became good travelers and, for the most part, stayed out of the front seats.

We spent the first night in Gilroy (via I-5 and Cal 152) at a friend’s house; they were on vacation and out of town at the time but mailed us a key and we enjoyed a quiet evening there. The next day we drove to Arcata on US 101. A very nice drive although we went a bit slower than in the De Ville as the Enclave is both heavier and has a higher center of gravity.

Stayed the night at the Arcata Super 8 (on “motel road”), which has one smoking, handicapped room (and allows cats with fee). The original adjustable handicapped shower handle/head was broken and not properly replaced. (I informed management; the problem was not fixed by the time we returned several weeks later.) Otherwise the room was fine.

The next day we drove to Albany, Oregon via Coos Bay/North Bend and the Umpqua River route and I-5. We stopped for an hour at the Mill Casino and Hotel in North Bend but did not spend the night. (Charlie loves their casino and gift shop and we both like their restaurants.) They do not take cats although they do take dogs, some of them very large.

While Charlie was in the casino, I put the cats on their leashes and walked around the hotel and fell into conversation with a security guard. I explained why I was outside and why we were not staying at the hotel and he expressed surprise at the no cats policy. He told me he would speak with management about the issue and we exchanged email addresses.

After Charlie’s hour and a half were up, we resumed our travels and stopped and watched elk for a few minutes at the Dean Creek Elk viewing area on the Umpqua River. Then on to the Super 8 in Albany on the I-5. (Handicapped, smoking and cats with a Subway a half mile’s walk away.)

The next day it was the I-5 to Portland, east along the Columbia River and north to Spokane, actually the Super 8 in West Spokane. (Smoking, cats but not handicapped equipped—more about which later.)

On to Bozeman, Montana and the Holiday Inn. (Cats, smoking but not handicapped equipped.) We like their restaurant but it is too far a walk for Charlie and we didn’t feel like getting back into the car and driving around to the other side of the hotel. So, we had a room service dinner: two appetizers and two dinners—too much, but delicious.

Travels with Mist and Smoke asleep in hotel.
Mist and Smoke asleep in hotel.

The next day it was a “straight” shot east on I- 90/I-94 to Wibaux, Montana where we stayed at the Beaver Creek Inn and Suites. Cats, smoking but their only handicapped room is non-smoking. The room was comfortable and the staff (owner) friendly. Charlie did not feel like going out to dinner so, on the motel owner’s recommendation I called the Shamrock Club for a take-out dinner—delicious and, once again, too much food.

Then it was across North Dakota to Moorhead, Minnesota and the Travelodge. A very nice smoking, cats but not handicapped equipped room and a Subway sandwich dinner. (Charlie usually has a tuna with onions, tomatoes and avocado and I have a Subway Club with just about everything, including lots of jalapeños.

Last day of travel was north on the I-29 and the east on ND 66 and MN 11. (Neither OnStar nor Waze was aware of the too long detour on MN 11—dirty word, dirty word, dirty word. (Or bleep, bleep, bleep, if you prefer.)

Aside from this it was a nice, easy journey with no weather problems and very little delay for construction.

Travels: Postscript

I received an email from Suzann Anaya, Director of Operations for the Mill Casino Hotel on the reason for their no cats policy: “Our main concern with cats in the hotel rooms is the allergens they leave. We have many other hotel guests who have severe feline allergies.” I can quite understand this but still . . . Super 8, Motel 6, Travelodge and Holiday Inn allow cats.

Smoker – Travelling across the USA – 2

After our stay in Minnesota we headed home by the same route across the northern U.S. and south along the Pacific coast. My wife did not care for the Moorhead motel we stayed in on our earlier trip and we found other accommodations at a Travelodge on our return. They didn’t have a smoking/ADA room and we settled on a third floor smoking room (elevator). A nicer room than before but no ADA bathroom and farther to walk.

We “flew” across North Dakota and landed in Miles City, Montana the next day at a Super 8 motel. Smoking but not ADA and no elevator. The room was on the third floor (no elevator); my wife went up once when we checked in and down once when we checked out – I, however, got a lot of exercise with our luggage.

Even though we tried to get a room at the Homewood Suites in Bozeman, Montana a couple of weeks earlier, it was booked. My wife got a smoking room at the La Quinta Inn. When we got there, we found out that it was a non-smoking facility. We found out that the booking had been through, not directly with the hotel, as my wife thought she had done. After forty-five plus frustrating minutes on the phone with and Expedia they couldn’t find us in their system even though there was a reservation at La Quinta and my AMEX card had been charged by them the previous week. The La Quinta was fully booked, with a waiting list, and we were able cancel the room with them – but not with The busy and harried young man at the desk also found that the Holiday Inn just across the Interstate had smoking rooms available – we called and got a room with no trouble. It was not ADA but it was a short walk for my wife from the parking lot.

After a calming cup of tea and a bit of shopping, we had dinner at the Holiday Inn’s on-site restaurant – yummy.

I spoke with American Express that evening and they cancelled the charges – the first time in the forty years I’ve had the card that I’ve had this kind of problem.

The next night we stayed at the Super 8 in Spokane Valley, Washington. Once again it was a smoking room but not ADA, on the third floor, but close to the elevator. My wife had to do little walking and I got my exercise with the luggage and a short walk to the local Subway for a couple of sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies (the last two in the store).

Then it was on to The Dalles, Oregon and Cousins’ Country Inn. Good food and an upstairs non-ADA smoking room.

The Mill Hotel and Casino in North Bend, Oregon was next with a downstairs (but long walk) smoking room. The problem was the restaurant. We got a bad meal at Whitecaps. The food was cold and my wife’s appetite was spoiled so she went off to play the slots. My dinner was re-done; the seafood was dropped back in the fire and overcooked but the fresh potatoes and veggies were still cold. The manager again apologized and took the meal off our charges. It was the first sub-standard meal we’d had there, so we’ll give them another chance next year, maybe.

Eureka, California. Best Western Plus Bayshore Inn. My wife had made a reservation for their one smoking/ADA room and gotten an email confirmation. When we arrived, we found we had a third floor, smoking, non-ADA room. I was told that we had not requested an ADA room – WRONG – as the email confirmation confirmed. Our room had been given away to someone else and my wife now had to use the elevator and walk to the room farthest away from the elevator; we expressed our displeasure and the clerk promised to make a note of it. (The service at the on-site Marie Callender’s was also bad this evening and we left without eating.) I called American Express, since the room had been guaranteed through my AMEX card. I was told that since the motel had not yet charged for our room to wait a few days and then contest the charges. We checked out the next morning and my wife gave the assistant manager a good talking to. She apologized, said that the person responsible had already been spoken to, and said she was going to discount the room. I mentioned my conversation with American Express and the “discount” quickly became NO CHARGE for our stay at the Bayshore Inn. Will we stay at the Bayshore Inn next time through Eureka – stay tuned, film at eleven. Will I keep my American Express card – YES!

Lessons learned:
1. Book through the motel directly or the motel’s website – DO NOT use or Expedia.
2. Don’t leave home without it (AMEX card).

Smoke, Di and Mist
Smoke, Di and Mist


We stopped and visited with our friends in Gilroy, California (garlic city) the next day and arrived home the day after. On Monday we picked up our new four-footed kids – two chocolate point Siamese kittens. I had wanted to call them Smoke and Mirrors but my wife decided on Smoke (male) and Mist (female).

Smoker – Traveling Across the USA

I will preface this post by saying I am not a smoker and my wife is. My father smoked for forty plus years as did my mother. My father quit smoking several years before he died of lung cancer (He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September and died on Christmas Eve of 1972.). My mother quit smoking around the same time dad did and passed away in 2000 at the age of eighty-eight. My younger brother began smoking in Nam and died of lung cancer in 1991, leaving a widow and two small children.

My wife does smoke. Several years ago our house “flooded” (broken toilet) while we were on vacation. State Farm put us up at a Residence Inn for several months while the drying out and repair work was done. Since then she has not smoked inside the house. She no longer smokes in the car (nicotine patch in use on trips).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 19% of the adult population, about 43 million people, smokes. I imagine that a like percentage frequent hotels and motels as they travel across the country on vacation or business. But, that number does not seem to be reflected in the number of rooms available for smokers (I have not actually counted numbers of room; this is just anecdotal evidence.). Our situation is complicated by my wife having problems walking and needing an ADA room when we stop. When it comes down to getting a proper downstairs ADA room or getting a smoking room, we have to opt for the smoking room, even if it is upstairs without an elevator.

In Eureka, California we stopped at the Best Western Plus – Bayshore Inn. We got a downstairs ADA smoking room just 20 feet from our parking space. Great room. Plenty of space. At the upper end of the facility is a Marie Callender’s Restaurant and at the lower end a steakhouse. The Marie Callender’s is within “walking” distance for my wife. The Bayshore Inn has a good breakfast, including waffles, which I bring to our room so my wife doesn’t have to walk. We’ve stayed there three times in the last several years.

In North Bend, Oregon we get a smoking room at the Mill Casino and Hotel. The room tends to be a bit far to walk to the casino, but because she wants to play the slots and smoke my wife makes it work. We always seem to buy things at the little gift shop and dinner at Whitecaps has always been good.

Next stop: The Dalles, Oregon. We stop, and have stayed here a dozen or so times, at Cousins’ Country Inn. There are no ADA/Smoking rooms. The smoking rooms are in the back of the facility – upstairs.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has a nice Super 8 with an ADA/Smoking room right behind the office. No go this year as it was already booked; the Best Western across the street is no smoking. So, we stayed at Motel 6 just down the street. Nice ADA bathroom, smoking but small. Double bed but no chairs (my wife doesn’t count the “wood” desk chair as a chair – too uncomfortable). Just down the street is a Pizza Factory – great pizza. Mini pizzas are just the perfect size for one person; add some garlic bread – yum. (Yes, I walk and get dinner so my wife can relax in the motel room.

In Bozeman, Montana we prefer to stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. On the ground floor there is an ADA/Smoking July 4, 2013, Bozeman MTroom that is just about perfect. There’s a nice mall with a Barnes and Noble, Christopher & Banks and souvenir shop just a few miles away. Oh yeah, we also get Subway sandwiches and eat them in our room. Saw a great fireworks show from the hotel parking lot this year and my wife got to see some action from Wimbledon before we hit the road again.

Couldn’t find a smoking room in North Dakota so we’ll just “fly” through the state rather than stopping and spending time and money. So we could travel through North Dakota in an easy day, we stayed a night in Glendive, Montana at a Day’s Inn – downstairs, smoking, near the back entrance (my wife was able to get to the room by walking less the fifty yards. Great fireworks show from the motel parking lot that night also.

Moorhead, Minnesota – smoking room (Super 8 – got a junk-phone sales call from Wyndham a couple of weeks later which rather ticked me off) on the ground floor, non-ADA, but it worked.

As soon as we finalize our plans to return home, my wife will make reservations for each of the places we liked; no waiting for until the last minute.