It isn’t often I go back to my home town, but this past break I spent 5 days there.  At my family’s recommendation, I booked all five days at what they told me was the best hotel Inn in the county.  I won’t name it here because I’m about to rip it to shreds.   Once, shortly after Katrina, I booked a room there.  They placed us in an outbuilding beside the main hotel.  It was horrible.  The door had been recently kicked in and the safety latch was hanging by one screw.  The couch was soaking wet and the room smelled like piss.   I checked out and didn’t come back until last week.  When I made my reservation, I told them specifically not to put us in that outbuilding and detailed the reasons why.  I was giving them a second chance.  The lady on the phone seemed very nice and quoted me a rather low price.

I guess the rates went up, because at check-in the price was a good fifteen dollars higher (not including tax).  Not a big deal – I budgeted for more.  The room, though, was just sad.  Uncomfortable, mismatched furnitureBare stark walls.  It was late and raining outside and we had been on the road for a good seven hours.  At least nothing smelled like piss.  We decided to tough it out anyway and went to sleep.  That’s when we found the real gem of this hotel – a freight train passed by several times that night gleefully blowing its whistle to announce the fact.  That, combined with the rock-hard mattress, had me packing the car the next morning.  When I canceled my reservation and checked out, the girl at the front desk didn’t even ask why I was leaving four days early.

I drove across town to America’s Best Value Inn and checked in for the rest of the trip.  It is an older motel (was a Ramada back when I was a kid) and is in the process of being repaired and remodeled – but it was marvelous.  We’ll stay there every time we visit.

My conversation in the last post kept me out of Felsenthal, but I couldn’t stay inside.  After having a couple of Christmas celebrations with my family, I gave the kids a day or two to play with their new toys.  Went down to Monroe, LA to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with Momma.  Then took Bear Bait out to a deer camp to celebrate a bit of local culture – shooting stuff all to hell.

Bear Bait got a couple of Nerf guns for Christmas, something I have been resisting for about seven years now.  I don’t like toy guns, plain and simple.  He was getting some anyway, so I decided to take him out and teach him gun safety.  He fired a .22 rifle and a 9mm.  (He didn’t like the pistol at all.)  With the number of guns in our family, chances are he’ll find his way around one without adult supervision.  I just wanted to make sure he knew the difference between orange toys and the real deal.

Later, I took all the kids out on a walking trail with their new scooters.

The trail skirted around Arkansas’s only other zoo.  We stopped in and looked at camels and monkeys, cows and deer.

Ended the day at the playground, wearing those kids out as much as we possibly could before heading back in.

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