A snow skier.
A bear and a dog (not counting Ace).
Some eagles, a pink flamingo and a cactus.
They are all there on the Motel 6 bedspread — every Motel 6 bedspread (except at those Motel 6’s that have been remodeled, in a motif somewhere between Santa Fe chic and Homeless Shelter stark.)
Because I have stayed at so many — it being the only chain consistently cheap and dog friendly — the Motel 6 bedspread is now emblazoned, if not on my body, at least on my brain.
I am very, very weary of the Motel 6 bedspread, and I think, it being stuck in my mind like a bad song, it is influencing my dreams:
A pink flamingo wanders out from behind a cactus and, in John Waters’ voice, asks for directions. A bear comes out of his den and, in Tom Bodell’s voice, invites them all inside. They decline and pile into the pick up truck (also on the bedspread). The bear says, “We’ll leave the lights on for you.” But they are gone by then.
It is a dizzying sight. There is much going on atop the Motel 6 bedspread — perhaps a little too much. It’s about four shades of blue, with purple, pink, green, tan, red, yellow and orange. It is polyester; I’d guess 130 percent polyester. Luggage, your dog, and yourself all might slide off it if not careful. If there were a stain on it, you would never know; it would disappear amid all the colors and activity.
Weary, as I said, of that bedspread, and fearing I was falling into a routine — when this trip is all about avoiding that — I pulled into Hampton Roads, Virginia, which, like the Motel 6 bedspread, is a far too busy conglomeration, a confusing patchwork of individual towns.
I was determined to find something other than a Motel 6, maybe a cheap and independent motel. I must have stopped at five of them — being told at each that my dog wasn’t welcome. They had low weekly rates, likely hourly rates as well, but, empty and down at the heels as they appeared, each had a strict ban on dogs.
Frustrated, and getting a bit prickly, I got on the Internet and searched for dog friendly lodgings, but nearly all of them — except Motel 6 and La Quinta — charged pet fees, often in amounts that were more than the human fee, some as much as $125 for a single night.
I believe I went down every one of the roads in Hampton Roads — getting caught in traffic in many of them.
At one motel in Portsmouth, a desk clerk behind bulletproof plastic told us to go to Chesapeake. The prices were so high there we went to Norfolk.
At a Motel 6 — where, because it was the weekend and because it’s beach season, the prices were jacked up to $59 a night.
We had planned to spend the weekend in the area, and perhaps hit the beach, but between a scheduling conflict, the prices and the dog-unfriendly vibe, we decided to move on.
We did see a nice big empty mansion on our way north — one that once belonged to a guy named Michael Vick — but that’s a story for tomorrow.