Saturday, June 28, 2008

I’m sorry, I thought I made reservations

The close encounter with the deer had happened only 24 hours before. We’d been touring Yellowstone all day, and even though I was sunburned pretty good, I was grateful for the beautiful 75 degree weather - a far cry from the arctic conditions we’d experienced just twelve days earlier.

The day was spent and so were we.

Speaking of spent, it’s been my understanding that when you make reservations at a motel and give them your credit card number, that if you don't show up by, say, 8PM, they charge your credit card and hold your room. So, when we finally arrived in Dubois, WY at 11:30, the fact that the motel was dark (actually, the whole town was dark – not even a flashing yellow light to break the void) and no one seemed awake was no matter. The woman at the motel in Gardiner had left our key and a note on the office door, so I knew there were ways to make it work.

I looked in the little box that said "keys." Nothing. Hmmmm.

I rang the doorbell. Nothing.

I looked around.

Relieved to find a signal, I called the motel number on my cell phone. It rang once and powered off. Not to be defeated, I gave my husband the number and he tried his phone. No answer.

He rang the doorbell … several more times.

He ran his hand through his hair.

We looked at each other.

I was determined there was no way I was leaving without doing something ‘cause I was not going to get charged for a room I never got. I was considering leaving a note when I finally spied movement behind the glass door.

“I’m so sorry for waking you up, sir. We have a reservation?”

“Uh …. I don’t know. Let me ask my wife. I think we’re full.”

He disappeared back inside and I was a little afraid he might not return.

More looking at each other. We exchanged a couple of chuckles that proclaimed, unbelievable!

“No, my wife says she doesn’t have a reservation for you, and we’re full.”

“Okay, well, I talked to you [not the wife – maybe that was the problem?] twice by phone – I just want to make sure I don’t get charged.”

“You won’t.”

“Are you sure? You don’t even know who I am.”

He repeated my last name. Wow. He actually was listening.

“Okay,” we said. “If you’re sure. Um ... thanks anyway.”

He closed the door and turned off the light.


I took over the driving. It was almost midnight. A couple more motels in town, all dark except for the pleasant neon orange glow of “No Vacancy” signs.

A few miles down the road I began to get irritated with the bugs on the windshield. Washer fluid and wiper blades only served to spread bug guts in a perfect rainbow formation across the glass. My husband was snoring.

About 30 minutes later, seriously in the middle of nowhere, was a lone filling station. No one in sight, of course, but I spied a bucket with long handles sticking out of it. It was a gift from God. After a good bug scrubbing, we were back on the road.

Fortunately, not too long after I started getting droopy, we entered a town. This one, too, in the middle of nowhere, but like a moth at a porch light, I was drawn to the glow of a single convenience store that was open at 1:15AM. I seriously think it's possible that if I went back to find it, it wouldn't exist.

A sweet angel with matted hair and a couple missing teeth pointed me to the restroom and then sold me 32 ounces of Double Mocha Cappuccino.

I made that sucker last two hours.

Along the way, as my husband had moments of consciouness, he would say, "How ya doin'?" and "Make sure you watch for deer ..." (I didn’t really need to be reminded.) Over the next three hours, I safely dodged several critters crossing the road: two deer, four mice, three rabbits, and a swooping owl, to be exact.

The only thing I hit, I am happy to say, was small and had, unfortunately, been slaughtered by a previous driver.

In the three hours it took me to drive from Dubois to Rawlins, I passed, at best estimation, 23 other vehicles on the road.

As I entered Rawlins at 3AM, my husband came to. We really needed somewhere to fill up the car's tank, and relieve our own.

The gas station we stopped at was closed, but our credit card rewarded us with 13.6 gallons of Unleaded. My husband encouraged me to walk over to the adjacent Hampton Inn and ask if I could use their bathroom. I am pretty sure that the two people sitting in the lobby were not used to people dropping in at 3:15AM for a potty break. But, they were ever gracious and pointed me toward the facilities.

“Feeling better?” the woman asked me as I re-emerged.

“Oh yes, thank you.” For their kindness, I granted them, in about four coherent sentences, our story. I’m glad I could give them a laugh. The night manager offered me coffee. I thanked them again and walked back to the gas station.

Two little faces were peeking up from the back seat.

While my husband had pumped the gas, the kids had woken up. My husband explained to them what had happened and of course, after they processed the craziness, they needed a bathroom, too. We drove the car over to the Hampton Inn where I asked the kind couple, kids in tow, “Can I march my troops in here, too? They woke up.”

My husband, set on taking over the driving, took them up on the coffee offer.

“I’m not sure how fresh it is,” the manager warned him.

“I don’t care. I’ll take it. Thank you.”

We thanked them profusely and set off down the road, leaving the manager and his girlfriend (?) to shake their heads over the crazy family from Texas.

While my husband sipped on his coffee, I struggled to fall asleep, considering the fact that I was the one who was fully caffeinated. After about an hour of rest, I woke up to see the first vestiges of sunrise, and spent the next hour experimenting with aperture settings on the digital camera.

Finally, the diuretic my husband had been ingesting called him to the welcome station in Cheyenne. Since everyone woke up (5:30AM), we figured a hot breakfast was in order. Two Big Breakfasts, one chicken biscuit, one sausage biscuit, two hashbrowns, a chocolate milk, and a coke later, we were back on the road with me again driving.

Our plan had been to stop over in Estes Park to visit with my parents at their condo there for one night and then head out the next day. They were expecting us about 2PM. We were a little early.

For the last hour, sans cappuccino, I chewed on my soda straw to keep alert. Finally, at 8:15, we rolled into their driveway. The kids got out and hid by the garage door waiting for the signal. I called my parents’ number. It rang six times.


“Dad!” I said with all of the chipperness I could muster. “Good morning!”

“Well hello! How are you?”

“We’re fine. Were you awake?”

“Yes, we were awake. We were laying in bed thinking about getting up. Where are you?”

“Well, I was actually calling to see if …” (I gave the signal to the kids who ran to the front door.) “ … we could come a little early.”

“Sure!” he said. Immediately in the background I heard the doorbell.

Perfect timing.

“Oh, uh,” he stammered, “uh … don’t tell me …”

I didn’t have to.

My parents rock. Just let me tell you that.

They took the kids and made us go get some sleep.

In the previous 26 hours, I had had one hour of sleep. I was in desperate need of a toothbrush, a pillow, and a shower – in that order.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for keeping our reservations. :-)


  1. Parents do rock! I went to visit mine - just me and the kids. I called to tell them I was on the road, but "failed" to mention I was already 2 hours down that road. So when I pulled in to their house 2 hrs before they were expecting me, my dad looked up and asked how fast I drove. It was a good laugh.

    Woody Clowns Ü

  2. I can't get over how we have passed each other. We came to Cheyeene on Friday and were Estes park last Sunday! CRAZY! Love the blog stories!!

  3. Brilliant!

    The beginning reminds me of the classic Seinfeld seen here ...

  4. Please e-mail me, so we can get

    We'd love to see y'all!!

  5. You are delightful! I love this blog! You had me at the first sentence. I like your blog so much I've already added it to my list. Let's stay in touch. I love knowing I have another sister in the Lord and other things in common. I feel blessed!

    mama of a soldier

  6. Thanks for the comment and the add! I love dorky sixth graders, my ministry allows me to work with 7-12th graders so I love young people and think they are hilarious. I'll have to tell you more about that.

    One more thing, I went on a mission trip to Peru and saw you had a link to a Peruvian ministry. I can't wait to learn more about you.

    Lord bless you!

    mama of a soldier

  7. Bummer!! we didn't get your message! I am so MAD :( Hope y'all are well. Will chat more soon!


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