Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Blog Breakin' Beats: I haven't exactly been blogging with any sort of frequency, so I’m just going to go with the flow and take an official blog break until after Labor Day. Because, like they tell you at all the leadership seminars, when you’re having trouble getting motivated the best thing to do is just give up.

Any writing time I have between now and then will hereby be devoted to fiction. In the meantime, please feel free to look at my guide to Savannah.
Reaching the Fingertips : Last weekend was spent 'Up North' as we say in Michigan. It started with a quick run to the airport to get Miss Kate at 5-ish on Friday evening, then a dash north to position ourselves for a quick run at picking up HRH Miss Anna at her summer camp in Cheboygan the next morning.

At this point, those of you from southeast Michigan are rolling on the floor at the concept of making a dash north at 5 PM on Friday in August. You know full well that a dash north at that time will amount to moving at about 5 miles per hour until well into the night, with the accompanying degradation in one's opinion of the entire human race and quite probably a sprained middle finger.

Needless to say, we sacked that plan immediately and headed west to Chelsea, where we had a tasty and leisurely meal at Common Grill, giving the rabble some extra time to clear off the freeways. We then headed north from there and only ran into traffic around Flint, where we again took a westerly detour. Finally we came to Grayling, where we had arranged reservations, through Travelocity, at a cheapie motel called America's Best Value Inn. We were arriving late (midnight or so), and I was fairly impressed that they called us about 10pm to check if we were still planning on showing up instead of just giving our room away. Of course, try as we might, we couldn't find America's Best Value Inn.

Now, you probably haven’t heard of Grayling Michigan. That would be because there is no reason you should have. It's a little town along the main highway to and from northern Michigan. It is likely used as a convenient stopping point for campers, hunters, color watchers, and other folks going 'Up North'. Basically, you get off the freeway and there is a string of downscale stores and businesses, primary among them are cheapie motels -- there’s about 7 or 8 of those, but nowhere to be seen was America's Best Value Inn. (At this point I was having 'Nam style flashbacks to getting pantsed by Travelocity over the Dream Hotel in NYC. But I digress.)

We drove this strip a couple of times, including another venture on and off the freeway to retrace our steps, but still saw nothing. Ragged out from our long drive and too tired to continue the blind exploration, we called asking for a landmark. Pizza Hut was the landmark we were given, but as an afterthought we were also told that the sign in front says Super 7 motel, not America's Best Value Inn. They will eventually be America's Best Value Inn, they just haven’t changed the sign. Apparently they saw no need to let us in on this secret when they called originally, never mind let Travelocity know about it (or Expedia, as of this writing anyway).

Now I ask you, what are you supposed to do or say at that moment? One indication of adulthood is that you quietly accept that throttling some asswitted dolt is never productive. I could have paid with a check from a closed account and just claimed that I hadn't gotten around to updating my checkbook yet, but that would have just got the law on me. I could have stolen some towels, but as an act of moral retribution that lacks a certain impact and besides, the towels weren't worth it. What was there to do but be stunned at the abject stupidity? Clearly, the cluetrain does not stop here.

Could there have been some sort of brand recognition for the Super 7 motel that they didn’t want to let go of? Did they not want to risk losing that huge market of travelers for whom the Super 8 Motel chain was just a bit extravagant? Or was their target market the folks looking to upgrade from Motel 6?

Ah well, the remainder of trip went pretty well. After gathering up HRH, we spent an evening chilling in Charlevoix -- a sweet little Lake Michigan town. An afternoon baking in the sun on the beach, an exceptional dinner at Charly's Restaurant, and a nice shiny sunset from the pier -- ahhhh. We even managed to dodge traffic on the way back.

Luck didn’t hold out, however. Kate and Anna's flight was cancelled -- thank you Independence Air -- and they were given a voucher to a hotel that did not honor vouchers from Independence Air -- thanks again.

If you live in Michigan, it's important to get 'Up North' once in a while. You have to be able to say things like "We were Up North for the weekend..." or "You know, last I was Up North..." It makes you seem genuine. Otherwise everyone will think you’re some kind of transplant from 'Back East' or 'Down South' or 'Out West' or something. I'm covered for a while.