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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Cure for the Motel Blues

I don't mind camping, but with a CPAP, I have to camp near an outlet. Then there's the climate control issue: on RAGBRAI last year, I camped out and there were so many nights when I was bone exhausted but it was almost impossible to fall asleep in the heat of the tent. So while my wife generally prefers tent camping, I generally prefer a bed in a climate controlled environment. Except it's expensive.

When I decided to register to judge in Indianapolis at the Indiana Brewers' Cup, I got on Expedia and started looking for bargain motels. I thought, since the competition is part of the Indiana State Fair, that I was actually going to be there during the Fair: which I figured might mean camping at the fairgrounds was a possibility but a lousy one, with the noise of a State Fair and a definite possibility of blistering heat through the night. I planned to bring a bicycle, that's just common sense: who wants to wade through 50,000 Hoosiers in their cars in an automobile when a bicycle gets you right to the freaking door?

Anyway, I'm searching Expedia for cheap thinking that I'm probably going to be out, minimum, $80 a night. And I see $26. It seemed so impossible (even a joint with bed bugs runs more than that in Motel Land), I called the place. The girl who answered said "Yes, that is the rate, unless you want to camp, that would only be $10, and oh wait, we're sold out for camping that weekend. Or unless you want a private room."

So what you get for $26 is everything I ever wanted in a motel room: a 110 outlet for my CPAP and iPhone charger, and a bed in an air conditioned environment. It's a bunk bed in a coed dorm, but I'm just going there to sleep, and I'm a sound sleeper.

And as I enjoyed the first Three Floyd's Alpha King I've had since the Kansas City Bier Meisters hosted the National Homebrewer's Conference (in Y2K if memory serves), I got to thinking: motel rooms are fucking depressing. A hostel is not, it is chock full of people from all over the country and world, who have an international pot luck on a nightly basis ("I have more salad than I can eat...I love free food, and it's healthy me finish this bottle of wine...")

A hostel is full of vibrant, interesting people, a motel room has HBO, a parody of art on the wall, and if you're lucky a mini fridge (where a hostel has a kitchen, so if you're feeling a little broke restaurant-wise, you can just go to a grocery store and cook up as if you were home).

I told Nick (from Brazil, about to get his mechanical engineering degree and move to Italy, talk about interesting folk), I didn't know there were hostels in the United States. Nick said, 'this might be the only one.' But then Sam (from Wisconsin) piped up and said, no, there's not a lot of them but they exist, mainly in big cities. Sam said there was one in Chicago that tried to keep Americans out, be strictly international, but he got to crash there when he had a Japanese girlfriend.

The only real drawback I could see to the hostel is I have trouble putting myself to bed. It's not insomnia, once I head to the dorm and put on my CPAP it's pretty much lights out, the moans of Marley's ghost won't wake me. I'm not even aware of my hostel mates coming and going in the morning and whatnot. But while there's a half dozen interesting people having a rambling conversation in the living room, how can I go to bed? Even as I try to get there, I find myself on multiple digressions and sidetracks and tangents. So I guess if I'd payed three times as much, I could have spent my three nights in Indy in some shitty isolation chamber watching a few minutes of cable TV to remind myself why I quit owning a TV or a cable subscription, and gone to the Brewers' Cup sessions (and my drive home) better rested? No sale.

No, from now on, if I'm looking for overnight accommodations I'm searching for hostels first.

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