Worst Motel Experience Ever!

Super 8, Columbus Ohio on E Dublin Granville Rd

UPDATE:  I’ve been informed that this hotel has now been shut down and condemned by the city for “excessive” drug and prostitution busts. I don’t know what is meant by “excessive” drug and prostitution activity or if that means that they don’t care if there is only a reasonable amount.  Keep it in mind that two years after our experience here this place was deemed to be such a cesspool that it was shut down as you read our story.

As soon as we pulled up I did not have a good feeling about the place.  It was behind the Waffle House and sort of down a alley and not next to a street, so it had poor access and bad lighting.  As we went in to look at our room and made our way past not one but two panhandlers working the parking lot there was a pitchers mound sized pile of cigarette buts outside the side door and judging by the overpowering smell not all of them were tobacco cigarettes.  This was supposed to be a Non Smoking motel, no smoking in any of the rooms.  They were marketing it like a place for chemically sensitive travelers and part of the reason why we decided to stay here, so much for that.

As we went to get our stuff I noticed a couple of guys a few spaces over that were intensely watching our every move and right next to our car I found a short straight piece of coat hanger with one end bent into a loop and my spidey sense went off.   I have used similar pieces of heavy wire to help get coworkers into their locked cars. If it is the kind that you pull up on the handle and you pull a lever up to unlock it is extremely easy to pop the lock with a short piece of wire intreated through the door handle openings. Anyway, the fact that there were car theft tools just laying out in the parking lot, some shady looking guys watching us, panhandlers and drug use right out in the open all had me extremely nervous.  I wanted to take all of our stuff especially the valuables like cameras and laptops in one trip and had a pile of stuff hanging off of poor Cece.   As we got inside the door I looked back through the window and already those two guys had pulled their car around and were parked right behind us with two more guys standing at the passenger window.   FUCK!!  NOT GOOD!

Because of the people scoping out our car I wanted to leave IMMEDIATELY and park the car somewhere else.  Meanwhile Cece is complaining of the smoke smell and wanting to put all the bags and stuff away and relax for a little bit while I am pacing back and forth, “Honey, we got to go! Like right now!!!!”   With her oblivious to everything going on and me now in full blown panic mode I had to physically drag her out of the room with much protesting.  Pretty much like the Bruce Willis chopper scene in Pulp Fiction.

We got into the car and drove off looking for a place to eat and finally found a Chipotle near by and neither of us had tried one before.  Inside the Chipotle was not much better than the Super 8, half of the people waiting in line were gang bangers and they had an armed guard standing by the door.  I’ve never been in a fast food joint that needed an armed guard before, this wasn’t helping my comfort level much.

Back at the motel I parked in the Waffle House parking lot up front rather than risk our car getting jacked overnight. After about 15 minutes in the room now my eyes were burning with how bad the smoke was and if it is too bad for me then it has to be extremely bad!  Poor Cece had been coughing and trying to cover her mouth and nose and was in pure misery.

I’m normally the kind of person who if we paid for something by god we are going to use it but enough was enough. The smoke in our Non-smoking room was so bad that the back of a smoke filled bar would have seemed more pleasant, along with the drug deals going down in the parking lot, car thieves, and thick marijana smoke out in the halls the unbearable smell in out room was the last straw.

I went to the front counter and asked for our money back.  As we had gone to dinner and had technically had the room for an hour by then they bitched and only gave us a refund for one of our two nights.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I mentioned that we’d only been in the room a total of 10 minutes but whatever, it was late, we were tired and I didn’t feel like arguing.

Now after 10 we had to find another motel.  Using the GPS we went down the list and called ahead to see if they had any rooms.  A Motel 6 quite a ways to the north west had a room for us which turned out to be great for us as it was right near the Columbus Zoo where we were going in the morning.

This horrible Super 8 experience stayed with us the rest of the trip and nearly ruined our honeymoon. For the rest of the trip and for close to two months after we got home Cece had a horrible cough that would not go away and a sore throat that really put a damper on everything.  She ended up having to get checked out by her doctor after we got back. I think the coughing fit in the motel irritated something which caused more coughing and more irritation and so on in a vicious cycle.

 

St Louis Arch Museum

I did not realize just how big the underground museum at the St. Louis Arch was.  Many exhibits and quite a lot of floor space along with a couple of gift shops.

 

Good job Thomas J!  One of the best deals in history!

The museum had some good examples of settlers lives, from the houses they lived in to transportation, livestock and wildlife.

My great grandmother lived in a sod house! it was probably not this neat and clean inside.

Depictions of Native life.

They had a couple of live actor exhibits.  This guy was very good and very knowledgable.  I forgot who he was supposed to be, some black business man who worked his way up from nothing to become one of the cities wealthy and well respected citizens.

This guy was from Green Bay, that cold weather must make people want to put strange things on their heads.

 

 

St. Louis Arch

St. Louis Arch

This is one monument that you don’t need a map or GPS to find! It is pretty much visible from all areas of the city.

 

We got here early and were about the only car on our floor of the parking structure and except for a group doing Yoga under the arch we nearly had the park grounds to ourselves while we waited for things to open.

This has got to be a pretty cool prospective, it made me a little dizzy just looking at them.

St. Louis Arch Yoga

The park grounds are very nice, great walk ways, trees, shade and ponds.  Everything was well groomed and clean and seemed to be popular with morning joggers and other fitness folks.

Even the squirrels were having a good time jumping up the trees.

After we had explored all of the area it was time to wait for the gates to open.

We quickly grew bored during the long wait but at least we could take several hundred  “artistic arch” shots to pass the time.

St. Louis Arch

St. Louis Arch

I thought it was neat that you could still see the suction cup marks on almost all of the panels leftover from the arch’s construction phase.

 WET PAINT!!

As we were one of the first groups up the elevator I got wet paint all down my pants and back and side from the inside of the lift!  I complained to one of the rangers who let maintenance know that several passengers were getting paint on their clothes and they shut down one of the lifts.  I did not bring many clothes and now these were ruined!

The head maintenance guy found me downstairs and called over the guy who did the paint. He said that he was finished with the paint an hour before opening and it should have been dry by then like they had always done. They offered to get me a new shirt from the gift shop but before that to try washing it off as it was just water soluble paint.   I came out of the bathroom soaking wet but thank god the stuff came off!   Even if I lost my chance to get a free t-shirt I was so relieved I didn’t have to buy new pants!

 

Views from up top

Road Trip !!

For months we had been planning an epic road trip to do for our honeymoon.  Spend a week in Vermont, stay a while in Montreal and Maine, it’ll be awesome!

It had been a massive undertaking to try and get the bike prepped in time, we had just taken it to Ruidoso and noticed it still had some issues that needed to be sorted out. 12 hours from launch with the bike half packed and ready to go and Cece’s knee still hurting from the short trip the week before to Ruidoso we decided to abandon the plan and take the car instead, it wouldn’t be much of a trip if Cece couldn’t walk for all of it with her knee hurting from the vibrations on the bike.  The car would also be warmer in Canada, more comfortable and faster.  We really want to ride to New England but that’ll have to wait.

At 4 in the morning we hit the road. From Rio Rancho to Tramway on the other side of Albuquerque in 15 minutes! thats gotta be some kind of record.

Since I had a blowout 3000 miles after I bought the car new the car has always made a bit of a grinding noise if you accelerated or drove aggressively. I’m not sure if it was the light drizzle and water all the way to the Texas border or the somewhat high speeds for a lengthy time but going through Amarillo I thought the trip was over before it started.  Car was making such a horrible metal on metal grinding noise that we were sure the wheel was going to fall off.

Well we couldnt afford a rental car and we had a motel reservation in 2 days plus several others after that what would be lost of we ended up breaking down or having to wait for the car to be fixed.  We were kind of screwed, do we call the whole trip off or keep going and see what happens.

In the past any time the car started acting up like this, I keep thinking it’s a CV joint somewhere but so far no mechanic has been able to determine the cause, when it starts grinding if I’d let off the accelerator and don’t go past 1/2 throttle and just slow down it mostly goes away and after a few hours of driving it’s back to normal.

Lets go for it!

Not a whole lot to see but fog most of the morning, we kept the cruise control set right at the speed limit to ease the load on the car and by Shamrock Texas the car was back to normal Whew!

We had the car loaded with granola, bananas, crackers and vitamin waters in a cooler, we were planning on not stopping for anything but gas and bathroom breaks the first day as we had 1000 miles to get under our belt as fast as possible.

We did take a slight detour to check out this cool old Conoco station in Shamrock.

Boy Oklahoma sure is boring..

Garth Brooks Blvd

GPS got us temorarily lost in Oklahoma City, some how we wound up at the capitol building.

Wow, I don’t remember there being a giant casino in Tulsa the last time we were here.

Missouri!   First new state of the trip.

Joplin rest area.

We didn’t quite make it to St. Louis the first day like we’d planned.  We came close and stopped only about an hour short because of some major traffic jams from construction and some poor guy’s Cadillac burning to the ground in the middle of I44

We got up good and early the next morning to go check out the St. Louis Arch and continue on to Columus, OH.

Turned out to be a beautiful day after the fog from the previous day burned off

You see some cool things on the road sometimes.

I think we need to go that way to the arch!

At least the arch is easy to find.  We arrived right as they were opening up, perfect!

 

 

Everything is bigger in Texas

They say everything is bigger in Texas (except for those tiny dog sized deer).    The theme of today seemed to be oversized things, starting with this giant walking stick bug!

It was under the table at breakfast and knowing Cece with unusual critters she had to get it to crawl on her hands.  When it got on her sleeve it ran up her arm and around the back of her neck in a flash and surprised her at how fast it was as you can tell by this hilarious picture.

Had to get gas for the morning ride and we saw this.  Texas limo or just someone with a really big family?

For lunch at Bandara we got to watch the chaos and ensuing traffic jam when someone tried to drive a dump truck bucket that took up two lanes through town forcing a big 5th wheel trailer to have to reverse all the way through town as well.     You’d think something like this would have an escort.

Lone Star Motorcycle Museum – Opposed Twins

As a BMW airhead owner I’m always a fan of other Boxer Engined vehicles and there was quite a few at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum.

Of course they had a number of old BMWs including an R26 single but also several opposed twins that I’d never heard of or seen in person.

I’ve never heard of a Douglas motorcycle and never seen an opposed twin mounted lengthwise in the frame this way before.  Douglas was a British motorcycle company and has an interesting history  including building the first bikes with disk brakes in the 1920’s!   This one is a 1920 350cc side valve.

I like the old bikes with nickel plating and no chrome.

Indian made an opposed twin? No Way!    Yet another opposed twin mounted lengthwise in the frame, how about that.

I forgot to take a picture of the tag on this one but I found on the web this is apparently an Indian Model O  which first came out in 1917 and only had a short run.  From the article it seems that both Indian and Harley Davidson had a go with the boxers which both failed miserably before BMW’s legendary 80+ years with them mounted transversely.

I thought I was pretty well versed in all things BMW has done on two wheels but I have to admit I’d never heard of this one till I saw it in the middle of nowhere in Texas of all places one spring day.   The MKM1000 developed by Krauser has a unique light weight tubular frame like something you’d see from Ducati today, too bad it’s covered up by all of that body work.  Read more about the MKM here and here.

 

Lone Star Motorcycle Museum

Today we rode a bit of the famous Three Sisters roads in the Texas Hill Country and had to stop at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum on the way.

One thing that I noticed about the roads in this area was that most were fun high speed sweepers with a few very sharp switchbacks thrown in with little to no warning to keep you on your toes when the roads descended into a ravine or crossed a ridge.  Riders get so focused on going fast through the gentile stuff that they are unprepared for that sharp corner out of the blue and in our couple of times here we’ve seen a handful of bikes off the road including one 30 or 40 feet down a cliff just outside Hamilton Pool on a later trip not to mention the skid marks going into nearly every sharp corner.  Nothing like a 180 degree switchback to jolt you back to reality after drifting off into a dream of motorcycle nirvana.

Our route was mostly sweepers and nothing too technical, still some riders lagged behind and got separated.  The museum itself is just a metal warehouse looking building with nothing else around and easy to miss.  One rider blew right past us at full speed, there was no catching him.

For being a bit isolated way out here the museum was pretty interesting with many unique pieces I’d never seen before and a couple of high dollar motorcycles.  If you are out in the Texas Hill Country it’s well worth the trip to stop by and check it out.

They have a rather nice collection to browse through and the guys up front were really helpful with a map to give us some ideas of where to go for the remainder of the day.

We were going to eat once we got back to town at some BBQ joint they knew about so none of us ate at the little museum diner.  After a long day riding the sisters and then looking at all the awesome motorcycles I imagine this would be a good place for a rest and a bite to eat.

I’ve never seen what our bike looks like from the front, I think the triangle of lights does make it a bit more visible than the passing lamps that blend into the headlight and are less distinguishable.  Thanks for all the pics Mark & Paige and Nick.

Motorcycles on the beach

Salty sea air and motorcycles do not mix!    I was quite shocked at how quickly the rust appeared all over my spokes and my braided stainless cables the last time we were spent some time on the Gulf  coast.  Since I had bought the bike new it had never seen the inside of a garage and had been left out in the elements for 5 years and even ridden on salty roads in the winter with only a few small spots of rust appearing in that time.  5 days near the beach in Texas, however, and rust everywhere!!!  I swear the thing looked like it aged 15 years in 5 days.    I couldn’t even ride with my visor down on my helmet, it’d get a coating of salt over it in 10 miles that only smears trying to wipe off.

This time I came prepared, before we left I’d lightly coated every surface I could think of with a light coat of wax.  I’m not one of those clean freaks and have better things to do than sit and polish a bike for hours thats just going to get covered in dust 2 hours later whether I ride it or not so by waxing everything what I mean is rub a bit of hard carnauba wax into a cloth and rub everything chrome down with it and quickly wipe off,  15 mins max.

This is why!

One of the Dolphin Dock employees rode this Shadow.  It’s not very old and was in pretty good shape before he started riding it a year or two ago and leaving it yards from the docks every day.

Look at all the rust and aluminum corrosion that can happen in just a short time near the ocean. Wow!

If you lived near the ocean full time I’m not sure what one would do to stop this, maybe dunk your bike in a vat of WD-40 every week.

So if you are riding to the ocean from some place where rust does not exist like the desert South West be sure to take appropriate measures or your bike will turn to dust before you get home.  Seriously you’d be shocked at how fast it will start to rust, I’m talking hours.

Dolphin Dock 2

We had such a good time fishing yesterday and the crew enjoyed talking to Cece that they offered us a discount to go again the next day.  Unfortunately it was windy and rough seas that morning and we didn’t get to go out again.   Instead we went shopping around the island that morning and tried another go at some bay fishing in the afternoon.

Texas has triggerfish?

It was very cool when Cece pulled up this triggerfish, I thought they mainly lived where there was coral.  This one is rather ugly compared to the clown triggerfish I used to take care of back in high school.   If you don’t know where they get their name from, that spine at the top of their head locks in place to secure themselves in holes and to make them harder to eat but if you press the second spine down (the trigger) the top one will unlatch.

This one was too small and had to be thrown back.  I’ve never heard of eating triggerfish anyway I’m not sure if I’d have wanted to keep it even if it was big enough. It’d feel like eating an ugly cousin of one of my pets.

What are these things called?  Strange looking fish with a giant eye.

We didn’t seem to have much luck the second day with the bay fishing.   We only seemed to catch these poisonous toadfish I think they were called.   Others caught a small stingray and a few small gafftopsail and hardhead catfish.   We still had fun getting to go out on the water a second day.

Coast Guard

Competition down the road did not go out either today.

The triple hull Polly Anna shrimp boat

 

 

Castaways Seafood and Grill

Where do you go when you’ve eaten at every place in Port Aransas?    Castaways again!

Yum!!