At 5:00am Saturday Morning, my wife, my two boys, and I were packed and driving toward Columbus, MS to escape Hurricane Dennis and his forecasted 135MPH winds as Category 4 Hurricane.
The night before, I had checked online and by telephone, 20 or 30 hotels and motels along the designated evacuation routes for vacancies or shelters. It looked like that I would be driving to Memphis, TN or further(about 7 hours) in order to find a vacancy.
Luckily,( or unluckily, keep reading) I DID find a non-chain hotel in my old hometown of Columbus. Since it was not a chain, they did not have a web site that you could reserve a room online, nor did they take reservations by telephone. It was first come-first serve. They also had the added advantage of being off the interstate and the highway and located downtown in the city; SO most evacuees would have little knowledge that they existed.
I gave them a call, and found to my delight, that they had 55 rooms available and only $45 dollars a night. So, that was where we were headed to wait out the storm.
We arrived in Columbus around 11am and checked into our room. Mr. Patel was very nice and gave us our keys. The boys were excited. There was a pool, there was AC and there was cable TV complete with The Cartoon Network and all the anime’ any kid could desire, and restaurants and convenience stores within walking distance.
Sounds great, right?
Okay, since it WAS an older hotel, we overlooked the fact that the bathroom door didn’t quite close. And the fact that the bathtub needed resurfacing was ALSO overlooked, because we could still take a shower.
And sure, since it was old and cheap, we figured the occasional bug in the room was to be expected, after all the room seemed clean, and the sheets were clean on the bed(except what appeared to be a fingernail polish streak on one of the sheets.
And, since it was only for two days and it saved us money, we decided we wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Until more evacuees arrived. Yep, some more Alabamians lucked up and found this GREAT hotel. Except, this particular groups of Bama folks might have considered it a five-star hotel on the order of the Bellagio.
They arrived with beer coolers, grills, swim trunks, and the idea that borrowing money from complete strangers in order to check out the local “meth connection” was perfectly in order.
So we sat out on the balcony, by our room, and watched these folks swim in the pouring rain, race around the parking lot chasing each other, and setting up camp outside their rooms to drink and party while awaiting the destruction of their mobile homes, and deer stands back home.
Their fun was only interrupted once, because sometimes if you drink too much, throw up and pass out, some of your buddies will think you died and they will call an ambulance and the local police, just to see if you will eventually wake up.
The maid was overjoyed to find the dried “throw-up” the next day, still in the room occupied by the buddies; still asleep.
Anyway, I’m glad to be home now. All is well here in Mobile, and the idea of fleeing another hurricane is not a favorable one at this time. But, I noticed on the TV news, that a tropical depression is forming off the coast of Africa.
I sure hope the Bellagio has vacancies in the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll drive west instead of north the next time.