No-Tell Motel

It’s a good thing I’m not high maintenance, despite what the number of shoes in my closet might indicate to the contrary.

Because if I were, I might have insisted that we go to a different hotel than the one we came to along the highway, late at night, in Michigan.  We were en route home from Minnesota and had gotten up at 5AM to take photos of the sunrise on Lake Superior (that will be a blog unto itself, though from what I understand pictures “from the other side of the lake”–a/k/a Canada–are better), so by 10PM we were exhausted.  And maybe it wasn’t quite so long of a day as I’m implying because we lost an hour due to a time zone change but, 5AM is 5AM and…oh, anyway.  You get the point.

Much of Michigan?  Empty.  Like, nothing, but for trees and wind and trees…and trees.  And a couple of great lakes nearby.  Which is fine in the day when you’re all “Ooh, look at the romantic wilderness” but at night when you just want to sleep?  It’s less charming.  So.  We saw an exit that seemed to have *stuff* and we took it…and there were some things, and a bit of a town square, but then…?  Car dealerships, and repair shops, and random businesses.  And no hotels to speak of.  Until…some nameless place in Michigan…



When we got there, the woman behind the counter said, “I only have two rooms left, one’s got one full-sized bed, the other has two. You can have them for the same price; which do you want?”

Two please. Because if we’re going to stay in this place, at least we won’t have to fight each other for space on the bed.

p.s.  If there’s only two rooms left…how come the parking lot’s so empty?

I don't want to know.

I. Don’t. Want. To. Know.

It wasn’t bad, if you could get past the smell of old cigarette smoke, Carpet Fresh/Febreze, and despair.  We got ourselves in the room and I spent the first twenty minutes or so chasing moths that were roughly the size of my palm and wrestling them to the ground.

OK, they weren’t THAT big.  And I smooshed them.  Good times.

Of course, I felt strangely like I was in some film noir movie set: the seedy motel, the dark paneling.  Though I don’t quite remember as much particle board in the movies.

Paneling. And who needs a desk and lamp? It's not as though any reading will be going on here.

Paneling. And who needs a desk and lamp? It’s not as though any reading will be going on here.

“I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.”  The Maltese Falcon

The sink was, of course, not in the bathroom but rather, next to the bed (because we always want to watch our partners brush their teeth and pop zits over the sink); you turned the overhead light on with a pull chain.  A PULL CHAIN.

Sorry 'bout the mess, honey.

Sorry ’bout the mess, honey.

“It was the bottom of the barrel, and I scraped it.”  Out of the Past

The wallpaper, on closer inspection, looked strangely like the heavy fibers you see woven together on the bottom of a carpet.  Which, I suppose, is sturdy and will last forever, but also seems strangely difficult to clean and/or get unwelcome smells out of.


His bed was more comfy than mine, but mine was the one from which you could see the TV. It’s all a trade-off.

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”  The Woman in the Window

I did enjoy that a prominent–and arguably the most well-secured–feature in the room was the industrial-strength beer bottle opener attached to the wall.

Look! It's an amenity!

Look! It’s an amenity!

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine.”  Casablanca

I will say this: the room was so crappy it prompted us to be up by 6:30 and out the door in search of breakfast by 7:30, which got me home with just enough time to change clothes and head to the gym for a class.  Had we stayed in the Quality Inn we drove past–two short miles down the road, of course, which we would have seen if we listened to our Spidey senses and driven away from the no-tell motel–we might have dawdled and then I would have had one more day of being a totally inert, non-mobile chair jockey.  So that’s something.

In all fairness, it had a front door we could triple-lock, and we had to sleep somewhere.  And they had a completely incongruous lake with a gazebo and fountain, so it was…classy?

I'm still trying to figure this out.

I’m still trying to figure this out.

“No names, no addresses. Just companions for the evening.”  Phantom Lady

But I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to sleep without touching anything.  We got up in the morning and decided to scram, vamoose, hit the road, let the wind blow the stink off us.  (Though, true story, at the gym that evening?  The owner said to me, “Why do you smell like smoke?”  The smell of the room permeated everything I had, including my hair.)  This lake, this gazebo, it’s kind of the motel equivalent of putting a tuxedo on a turd, no?  So no, I won’t be rushing back but hey…thanks for the memories, nameless place in the wilds of Michigan!

14 responses to No-Tell Motel

  1. marjorie

    That should get you in the mood for finishing the novel!! But did you notice anything about the trees in Michigan, how they were just “the right height”? I thought you did.

    Now I’m off to the store to purchase my own Febreze, in the new Despair scent.


    • beyondpaisley – Author

      Wonderful! See if you can get Stale Cigarette scented Carpet Fresh, while you’re at it. And YEAH! It totally made me start thinking about the book!


  2. Ohhhh, so funny! Except for only one detail, your description of the room matches one my former husband and I once booked on line, in Niagara Falls, Canada. The ad stated, accurately, that there was a Jacuzzi tub in the room, and we were looking for ANY room that didn’t have our three kids in it, so a Jacuzzi was sounding goooood! I doubt they do much repeat business….


  3. All your film noir movie quotes were fabulous! But I like this quote the best: “If there’s only two rooms left…how come the parking lot’s so empty?” I was thinking the very same thing! What did they get, a busload of cult members on a retreat? I still can’t figure it out. And it does look like a film noir but what went though my mind is wondering if you’d been dropped into some 80’s flashback or something. The wooden paneling, the small CRT TV. Pure 80’s! 🙂


    • beyondpaisley – Author

      Regarding the lack of cars: I suspect (but do not know) that the rooms were rented for cheating couples, who didn’t need the room for the overnight, but it’s rented out anyway. It was pretty cheap. LOL Ewww. I took those parking lot pictures at 7am, so it’s not like that’s prime time for people to leave, especially when checkout is 11! But it was just as empty when we pulled in. I had so much fun looking up film noir quotes! And more than a few noir films ended up in my Netflix as a result. Thanks!


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