Treasures in the hills

On a bit of a whim, the kids and I decided to accompany Bob on his trip up to the Gold Country Saturday night for his Sunday enduro. We had no room reservations, a bit of an issue when you're about 100 miles from any chain hotels OR motels. So, off we drove Saturday afternoon, leaving from Mia's First Communion party in the Bay Area. It's about a three hour drive through four climates. I often wonder if any other state has this feature. Where else can you drive three hours and go from Marine to Mediterranean to High Dessert to Boreal Forest. We crossed over the Bay, through the other wine country, the spring crops of strawberries and up the California poppy-covered hills to the evergreen forests north of Yosemite. It was all beautiful, but in and apples-to-oranges kind of way. The people are different, the landscape, the food, the architecture...all of it. It feels like you've been to four different worlds.

We stopped for a great dinner at a little steakhouse in a one-horse town. Peanut's jaw was in her lap as it was prom night. It was nice to see that the up-do has remained a prom prerequisite. It was also amazing to me that these kids appeared to be sober. This was not the case at my first prom night. Odd...

Anyway, after dinner we headed up the road to one of the last towns on the map to find a room. Relying solely on internet printouts, we stumbled into a rustic little place with a big sign advertising their Ice Rink, Motel and Cabins. Why not? Would you expect anything less. It was well lit. So, we gave it a try. We're so glad we did.

We have stayed in many hotels, B&B's, vacation rentals, et al, and were blown away by the customer service we received. Not only did the manager find us a room, she made sure it wasn't near some of the other guests who'd been staying up till 11pm (a Quilter's Guild retreat group), with two full size beds and a futon so that we'd all have a place to sleep. When Bob mentioned he wouldn't be able to get any breakfast at 6am (the time we needed to depart for his race), the manager promptly told us to meet her over at her cabin so she could give us some fresh fruit and orange juice she had on hand for the retreat. She put together a care package of utensils, napkins, half a honeydew melon, watermelon slices and bananas. But wait, there's more. For just $19.99 you too can have the manager carry it all out to your ice chest, up to your room and then come by and gently knock on your door for a 6:15 wake up call the next morning. But that's not all, when you arrive back at the motel after dropping seeing your husband off at his race, taking the kids out to breakfast and returning to the motel to pack up and check out, the manager will gladly phone a local tow truck for you when you lock your keys in the truck. All of this, for $86/night. I'm quite certain we've paid three times that amount and had a complete asshole check us in, received a late or non-existent wake up call and had to wait in line to check out at 5am for an early flight in a hotel where we have platinum status.

Yes, the beds were like sponges, the pillows probably original to the motel and the futon folded up like a taco on Bug as he slept. But, hey, customer service reframes circumstances in an amazing way. It can truly turn a sow's ear into the proverbial silk purse.