This week I have slept in two strange beds, each more comfy than my own. It will be important, I think, to invest in a new mattress in 2011.
One of the beds was in the Days Inn near Richmond airport. It is a three storey motel where some people live for months, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and others see no reason to spend the whole night. The room cost $37.44 including tax. Mr Singh, the proprietor, handed me a menu for a Chinese takeaway delivery service and gestured to the machine selling condoms and pepto bismol. Clearly good times were in store…
The bed at Mr Singh’s was super comfy and the same size as the enormous one overlooking the Potomac where I am currently reclining. I am a guest at the Gaylord National. The hotel, one of the largest and grandest in the area, is less than 10 miles from where I live in D.C. and it feels very odd to be staying so close to home. Gretel, the handsome Prince and I are hanging out here to gauge the Gaylord’s suitability for a conference I will run in 2012. Well, I am gauging suitability and they are enjoying the amenities. I am sure that if they needed condoms, pepto bismol or Chinese food someone would rush to supply it. So far they have had ice cream from room service and are planning a trip to the jacuzzi, followed by dinner at the sports bar.
So that explains what I am doing here…but what was I doing in Richmond? I would love to tell you that I was antiquing–and indeed I did manage to pick up a 1950s dinner service, some Red wing pottery and a few other bits and pieces while cruising through Mechanicsville and Cold Harbor (you’ll have to wait for photos–the booty is still in the boot of the car)–but in fact I was there to appear in traffic court, following an unfortunate incident involving a state trooper on the way home from Thanksgiving in North Carolina.
After a great night’s sleep in my bargain bed, I was ready to hit the road ( keeping well within the speed limit of course). I typed the name of the court into my phone GPS and set off in good spirits. The GPS took me to the county line between New Kent and Hanover counties. You won’t have been there. Take my word for it, it is the middle of nowhere.
The phone promptly lost its internet connection and so there I was, somewhere but not very sure where. This part of Virginia is affluent but empty: big houses with private driveways interspersed with Baptist churches. I took the photo of the flags because I had driven past many confederate versions and was glad to see the stars and stripes. The topiary mail box was fun, but there was no sign of a mail man. There were no cars on the roads and no signposts to anywhere. I was lost and late for court.
I made it eventually of course but I was an hour late and ” my” state trooper had already left. They phoned him and he came back in minutes (it’s obviously easy if you know the way). The judge waived a fine because I had driven down from D.C., stayed in a hotel, gotten lost, and had a broken wrist. ( I made sure to rest my wounded arm upon the dock) I paid $81 court costs and was free to travel the 100 miles home at a suitably sedate pace.
All of this got me to thinking about my dream of touring small town America in an Airstream. How many speeding convictions would I rack up if I ever made this roadtrip? And how much fun would it be? There were an awful lot of miles between the pictures on this page, and an awful lot of driving from nowhere to nothing at all. It’s hard to stop when you see something interesting and so, after half a dozen shots of the quaint and unusual, there is a temptation to put your foot down and just get on with it. The more I think about it, the less I am sure that I am roadtrip material. And I am sure the mattress in a camper would be too much like the mattress at home. Hotels suit me better I think and I’ll postpone my cross-America tour until I can afford a (safe) driver.