Every good and perfect gift is from above...James 1:17

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christmas at the Ho-Ho-Ho-tel

In retrospect, maybe making plans to drive over 530 miles to Kansas when my parents had been without power for 10 days with no relief in sight was not the smartest thing. Or maybe driving 530 miles to Kansas the same day a snow storm was predicted on top of a huge ice storm 10 days ago wasn't the brightest thing either. But it was Christmas and we had to go, because There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays. So we hit the road by 5:40 a.m. Only 10 minutes behind schedule so Abe was not too disappointed in my tardiness. The roads became a little wet and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees around the time we were past Oklahoma City. Shortly before we hit the Kansas border the rain was turning to snow and of course ice. Nothing too bad yet, but the wipers were getting iced up so the windshield was not clear to see out of, but between the 2 of us we found small holes to see the road so we were doing OK. As we began to notice more snow and ice accumulation on the road through our peep holes we began to see cars in the ditch, as well. At the turnpike everyone was stopping along the side of the road--take note 'along the side of the road'--to get out and clean off their wipers. Traffic kept getting slower and slower, the snow and ice thicker and thicker, and more and more cars in the ditch. Sister was driving from Kentucky and had to stop in Lawrence, KS because I-70 was closed due to white out conditions. I was wondering if the same was going to happen to us. At that point we could not take our exit. As we inched past it we saw it was because cars were stuck on the ramp. People were getting out of their cars to clean their wipers. Notice I didn't say they stopped 'along' the road; we were stopping intermittently on the interstate. There were times when we could barely see through the snow to see all the cars that had slid in the ditch. About the time the interstate was resembling an unorganized parking lot with no lanes, people randomly parked to get out to clean their wipers, and cars getting stuck after they had stopped we also heard that I-70 was closed between Manhattan and Topeka because of a 30-some care pile up (for those of you who are not up on your Kansas geography, Manhattan is just 25 miles north of my parents). This was the point that we decided more isn't always merrier, and we should just get a hotel before we were stuck in a ditch or hit in an accident. Lucky for us we have a satellite navigation system which pointed us to the nearest hotel: Big Dave's 5 Star, or something random like that. Out of desperation we pursued it, afraid all the hotels would soon be booked. We missed the driveway because there was so much snow, so we drove into the lot next to it. We made a circle but had to stop for traffic before getting back onto the road. Then we were stuck. This was where we began to see us stuck here all night and who knows how long since the snow plows would more than likely cover our car the next day. Abe jumped out and ran next door to book us a hotel, just in case this happened. On his way back he grabbed some trash from the ground and dug the snow from around the tires. With the bit of snow gone and Abe pushing on the car I got it onto the road. He was running along side me and took time out to 'play' by rolling head first into a snow bank (it was nice comic relief at the moment, albeit a tad cold for him). He directed me back to the building we were in. It was those type of hotels that are all one level with several buildings. As soon as we were parked this red truck was stuck in the parking lot and spinning his wheels like crazy. We went ahead and stepped into our room to check it out. Step in was all we did; it was a scene from a bad horror movie. The walls were dingy with cracks, the florescent bulb was hanging bare from the ceiling, there were cigarette burns in the bed spread, no window and the most depressing room you have ever seen. I've been known to stay in some pretty bad hotels to save a few bucks, but I have never been exposed to something like this. It was after I turned around to look back at the door that we made our decision to leave. The dead bolt had been ripped off, there was 1/4 air between the door and door jam, and all there was between us and the parking lot outside was a tiny round bathroom-type lock. Remember the parking lot had the red truck out there spinning its wheels like mad. We could smell rubber even with all the snow on the ground. It had moved about 2 car lengths so it was no longer behind our car but behind the truck next to us, which was also spinning its wheels like mad. Finally red truck moved enough to be where he wanted, but blue truck next to us kept inching back and forth. Zeke and I were watching in the car and Abe was trying to dig the snow from around our tires. I wasn't at the height of fright until I unrolled the window to talk to Abe and he informed me that was the pimp spinning the wheels of the truck, the 'lady of the hour' was chain smoking in the seat next to him, and the john was on the porch of the room right next to ours. Oh, and the fact that Pimp had inched his truck enough to be pretty much sideways, so he was gunning it whilst he was facing head on into the side of our car. If he got any amount of traction he was going to smack us pretty darn hard. I began to think how that would play out since Pimp didn't seem to be the type of guy who was going to exchange insurance info and call the cops to help; what exactly would he have done if he did hit us and was afraid we might call the cops??? I was beginning to get a bit panicky. Abe was done digging and jumped in the car. It was answered prayer that we backed straight out of that parking lot without spinning at all, nor hitting the parked car we were just inches from. We did not stop backing until we were in the road. Abe jumped out and asked for our money back. From the time of checking in, digging the car out the first time, viewing the hotel from hell, narrowly escaping incident with Pimp, Lady of the Hour and John, digging the car out a second time, and finally asking for a refund it had been about an hour. The guy only gave Abe the $5 key deposit. I had a sneaky suspicion that an hour's worth may have been the type of business this hotel was used to. The driving was treacherous for another couple hours, but we decided definitely safer than our previous option. I'll leave it up to you to decide exactly why we called it the Ho-Ho-Ho-tel...just the Christmas spirit, or perhaps another meaning altogether?
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