The earliest memory I have of a motel: we were on our way to Christmas. I don't know why we stopped -- usually we made the trip in a single day. It was late. We checked in, Dad dashing to the office through the rain, and moved into a room. The roof leaked into the center of the second bed. So somehow, we arranged two adults and three -- or was it four? -- children around the relentless drip and splosh.
Nonetheless, I've always liked motels. Some place new, an adventure -- maybe even then I liked rising to the challenge of dealing with the unexpected.
There was a family that came each summer to stay in the small town I grew up in. They took lodging in the Miles Motel, and I peered through the door into their room, as fascinated as if they dwelt in a fairy burrow.
For one family reunion, we stayed in a motel with remarkably low rates. Inside, the rooms had the further surprises of a kitchen, complete with oven, and pink painted stone walls. Only the mosquitos rising off the nearby creek marred my fantasy of settling in there for months to write a novel.
My great origami road trip brought me to motel after motel. The most interesting lay along the old Route 66 -- with staff seemingly all a family, and signs faded, with the tourist flow having diverted along the new freeway. At one, a lone musician in the attached cafe countered my request for Greenback Dollar with a decent rendition of Tom Dooley. In another -- seemingly the last room in town -- the smoke was so thick, I decided a shower the next morning would serve no purpose.
The greatest gift I found was in a room with dingy tub and bars on the windows. The bed had one of those massage devices that shook the frame for a few minutes for a quarter. I had had a rough day -- the travel was beginning to wear on me in aching muscles, twisty stomach and pounding head. I lay on that bed, and dropped my quarter in, reaching again and again into the tarry cavity to retrieve my quarter where it dropped all the way through.