So, will my luck hold? Let's see. My lunch was "comp'd" at the White Chocolate Grill in Scottsdale because the manager felt I had to wait too long for my meal (not really, but who am I to turn down a free lunch?). That was just a lucky break, and now it's time to go about my business of winding down my stay at Villa Mirage and getting packed for my trip home.
Call me obsessive, but I really hate getting out on the road without a planned destination for the night, no matter whether I'm on the motorcycle or in the SUV. To me, it's just really nice to be able to pull into the hotel, go ahead and park the vehicle and bring my luggage in to the reception area to check in, knowing I have a room waiting for me. Not only that, but by booking a room ahead, I always have the opportunity to compare rates with neighboring hotels and to use Loyalty Member points wherever possible. So there...I've said it. I am a plan-aheader.
I drove to Van Horn on Friday and checked into the Hampton Inn on the outskirts of town. Over the years I've watched the town grow and add a couple of newer hotels on the west side. I didn't quite have enough points to get the room for free. That would require 25,000 points, a bit steep for an average Hampton Inn in a non-tourist town. But I suppose they can command a premium because there's not much else for a hundred miles.
The room was nice, if a little small by Hampton Inn standards, but it was comfortable. I dropped my bags in the room and got back in the SUV to drive to the other end of town where there is a Subway at the Love's truck stop. I brought the sandwich back to my room and settled in for the evening.
About 2:30 AM I woke up, freezing cold. Brrrr! I put the light on, put my glasses on and went in search of the thermostat. It was on the wall, these instructions spelled out to me when I lifted the little lid on the standard-issue hotel wall unit that was under the window. When I peered at the digital display on the wall unit, I saw that it was 61 degrees! No wonder I was cold! Now some guys who are reading this are probably saying, "Perfect sleeping temperature!" but those guys probably carry a bit more body insulation than I do.
Well, no matter what I did, I could not get that thermostat to trigger the wall unit to start blowing warm air. I bumped the little up arrow button to read 70 degrees, waited, and nothing happened. Then I bumped it up to 75 degrees and, again, nothing happened. I turned it off and then back on. The display always reverted back to the room temperature reading. I pulled on my half-zip fleece top and dug through my carryon bag and found a pair of socks. I even contemplated putting my long pants on, too, but I planned to wear these again the next day and didn't want that slept-in look.
If I was at home, I'd have my down comforter to snuggle back under. That down comforter works better than any electric blanket! It takes only a few moments and I'll be in a nice warm cocoon. But I wasn't at home and I didn't have my nice down comforter. All I had was the lumpy synthetic fiber-fill comforter that is standard in all Hampton Inn hotels. These definitely do not trap and hold body heat. Every time I moved I had to warm up the bed again. So it was a long rest of the night for me.
When I went to the front desk to check out in the morning, the clerk asked me if everything was okay. I told her it wasn't, that the heater in my room did not work, and that it was 61 degrees in my room this morning when I woke up. She didn't hesitate, but immediately told me that there would be no charge for my room. Oh, my! I certainly didn't expect that. I mentioned it only so that they'd fix it before the next guest used that room.
There's a McDonald's right near the hotel so I took a few minutes to go through the drive-through and get a large Latte. I thought that would help me warm up on this cold, 37-degree morning on the long desolate drive across west Texas. That, and those lovely heated seats in my SUV.
McDonald's coffees are always scalding hot. Even the Lattes, which have steamed milk added. So I got down the road a bit to let the coffee cool off a little, before peeling back the little cover over the drink hole and taking my first sip. Yack!! It was cloyingly sweet! Damn it! No matter that I distinctly told the McD's drivethrough speaker that I wanted a "large hot latte, no flavor, no sweetener." I've learned to be very specific when I order one of these because every once in a while they screw it up. I've stood there at the counter sometimes, watching them make my Latte, and watch them pump a healthy shot of flavoring into the cup before realizing, Oh wait! You wanted that plain. And then having to start over.
I was soooo looking forward to sipping on that nice hot latte while driving across the hundred miles or so to Ft. Stockton. But it was totally undrinkable. I knew I would be stopping for gas in Ft. Stockton and I also knew there was a McDonald's there, as well. So if I could just hang in there until then.
Once I got to Ft. Stockton, I got the gas tank filled then drove the short ways to the McDonalds and parked and went inside. I lucked out here, because there was a woman buzzing around behind the counter, no doubt the manager judging by her age and demeanor. A young girl was working the cash register, but there was a bit of a backup so this manager-type woman stepped up to the adjacent register, made eye contact with me, and said she could help me. I told her I wanted a large hot latte, no flavoring, no sweetener, and mentioned that I had just bought one in Van Horn and had to throw it away. She said, "Let me guess...they put flavoring in it."
She wouldn't take my money. She zipped over to the Latte machine, made my large drink, and then handed it to me, saying, "No charge. The owner of this store also owns the one in Van Horn. We've got their back." Once again I'd lucked out. I thanked her profusely, took my latte out to the car, and took a few scalding sips, letting a sigh of satisfaction escape my lips.
All is now right with the world.