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HOTEL HELL–Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA

October 24, 2011

Rested and refreshed after staying in one place for a few days, I was eager to set off for Seattle.  I checked out of the Ramada “Limited” and walked outside into the bright Spokane sunlight.  The weather was beautiful and promised to be a fantastic day for motorcycling.  Today’s ride was easy, just under 300 miles. 

I rode along I-90 West and passed Moses Lake, past Royal City, Ellensburg, and towards the Wenatchee National Forest and Snoqualmie Pass.

I don’t recall the elevation but it seemed to me that I was riding along on top of the world.  The views along the road are expansive and it’s pretty country.

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I could not help but notice this sign.  How can you not?  I was low on gas, I hit the turn signal and rode down the exit ramp.  After filling up I had to get a picture of the Caponord next to this gigantic sign.  It was absolutely GLOWING.

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Check out the reflection on the bike!

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Rolling towards the Pass.

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At the summit, it was cold, slippery and grey.  I saw so much snow and cold, wet weather on this trip.  Sheesh, can’t a guy get a break?  It was high 90’s when I left and now dipping into the 30’s at every available opportunity it seemed.

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I rode into downtown Seattle (SEATAC actually) and followed the GPS to my destination.  The lovely Doubletree Hotel.

I’ve had very good luck with using Priceline to find what I believed to be very cheap rates at better hotels. When I say “better hotels” I’m talking about Hilton, Hyatt, etc. I gradually realized that while Priceline may get you a hotel room for $50.00 it’s not a good value. The so called “better” hotels charge you for parking, internet access, resort fees, and just about anything else they can get away with. Ultimately, I chose to stay at two star properties as they represent a real value (free breakfast, internet, parking, etc.).

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What I failed to realize was, that the hotel was directly across the street from the SEATAC airport. If you can imagine the flight line of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier during tactical operations – F-18’s hooked up to the steam powered catapult, running into full afterburner and being launched down the deck, A6 Intruders warming up, spilled jet fuel, screaming deck hands………. That’s what the air around the SEATAC airport smelled like.  The area is frantic, smog filled, traffic laden and generally awful.

The Doubletree was massive. Spread out across what must be a mile of land, the hotel appears to be the work of a deranged Albert Speer, working on designs for the fatherland. Without out a doubt, this is absolutely the most complicated and difficult hotel to navigate you can imagine.  They should provide guests with not only room keys but GPS devices, survival packages, and breadcrumbs when they check in. There are six towers, spread out like scattered marbles on a cement floor. The room numbers run into four or more digits “4546-A1”, the hallways yawn into the distance like highways running into the California desert.

I passed countless families who looked like Oakies from the Depression. Sitting on piles of luggage, children crying and screaming with despair – clearly they had given up the dream of finding their room and were consigning themselves to spending another night in the hallway before setting off again the next morning in hopes of their “Californie” e.g. – their hotel room. It’s a Grapes of Wrath kind of place indeed.

Of course, I did not know this as I rode up to reception. I shut down the bike, took off my helmet and walked inside. The first warning sign was the robotic like gaze of the front desk people. Clearly they were broken and damaged by the prospect of sending another chunk of humanity into the yawning chasm of the hotel. I was given a room key, a “complimentary” hot chocolate chip cookie, and then the fun started. I asked where my room was and the clerk sighed heavily, yanked out a map and started scribbling. The results can be seen in the picture below.

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I made the mistake of trying to carry my things to my room, thinking it could not possibly be that complicated – WRONG MOVE, seriously. I walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. I got lost three times and rode three elevators. I began to worry about my motorcycle still parked in the arrivals lane. I said I’d be right back to the nervous looking Valet. Hell, this could take hours. I walked along, Alpinestar boots squeaking, sweating and cursing now. All I wanted to do – get to the room, drop my gear, put on swim trunks and jump in the goddammned pool. Now it appeared it would be dark by the time I sorted things out. FINALLY, I made it to the room. I slid my plastic key into the magnetic reader and nothing happened. No beep, no light, no click, nothing. That was too much. I began cursing loudly and kicking the door. I dropped my gear at the foot of the door, pulled off my leather jacket and tossed it on top of the pile and stormed off in search of the front desk.

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I thought I could find a better way back to the front desk/valet area by cutting across the parking lot. While more direct, it was by no means short. I’m talking about more than a half mile – at least. Then a long walk through the building back to the front desk. At the front desk I was handed what I was assured to be a “working” key card and more cookies. I lost almost two hours thus far. I walked out front, got on the bike, rode around the parking lot security barrier, and headed toward the room. Eventually, I made it to the pool – just as the sun was disappearing behind the building – with no sun; it instantly got cold and miserable there. I was a broken man when I found my room again.IMG_2748

Drink, I needed a massive cocktail, with a cocktail chaser and cocktail appetizer. I changed, grabbed my courage and cell phone and took off yet again for the lobby. By this point I was merely amused at the “we are all in this together” looks from other people wandering the hallways. I passed more families with exhausted children, strollers, and wheelie suitcases. They ALL were wearing looks of defeat. Christ, I needed a drink.

The bar was a huge, dimly lit affair. The bar seats were lower than the floor and the bartender looked down on you – the top of your head actually. I ordered a drink and gasped with the $18.00 bill.  The drink itself looked like it was served in a child’s applesauce cup. I leaned over – or “chinned” over due to the height of the bar and got the servers attention. Hey, what do most people who stay here say about the place? “Why, it’s a lovely hotel, of course, sir” I nearly dropped my thimble sized drink and said “are you fucking insane or just fucking with me” This of course, broke the ice. Her grin froze; she tightened her grip on a bottle of Chardonnay and excused herself.

Thankfully at this point, my brother called, checking in to see where I was today. I waved for the bartender to bring another round and was met with a frosty but humorous look. It turned out that my brother knew of an old family friend who lived in Seattle and perhaps they would want to meet for a drink. Anything to get out of this awful hotel I thought. So I called Steve and Eileen and they gladly agreed to pick me up and show me around downtown Seattle.

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Thankfully, the rest of the night was a fantastic improvement on the start of my time in Seattle.  We walked through the evening along the water and then to Pikes Market.  From there we had an excellent dinner and view of the setting sun.  The company was good and I finally was able to relax and enjoy the scenery of Seattle. 

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Steve and Eileen – my rescuers from Motel Hell.  Thanks guys!

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We walked around and had a few more drink  s.We then made a visit to the famous “wall of gum” Which is exactly that – pictures below.

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They dropped me off back at the hotel and I wandered back to the bar for a glass of courage – I’d need it for the walk back to my room.The bartender was still there and this time, looked like she might actually break corporate ranks and tell me what she really thought.Attractive, tall, and Asian, with straight black hair down to the middle of her back.The bar had cleared out at this point and the only occupants were drunken middle managers enjoying a night out, away from Wilmington, Delaware or perhaps Alexandria, Virginia.

 I sat down and ordered a Pabst Blue Ribbon (which I knew they did not have) “same as before, we don’t have that” she said.I’ll take two PBR’s please, I said.She chuckled, grabbed a tall beer glass and pulled the Stella tap handle.Look I said, I’m not a Cop, I’m not a secret hotel flair checker, tell me really, truly, what do you think of this place?“I hate this place, the tips suck, the customers are rude and management constantly tries to fix everything by trying to solve every problem with a fucking chocolate chip cookie”  

The next morning, I resolved to get the hell out of this place, see Seattle and find a better/lower class hotel where I could unwind.  My first stop this morning was back to Pikes Market for a look around.

WARNING!  WHAT FOLLOWS NEXT IS FOOD PORNOGRAPHY!

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My fantastic 2003 Aprilia Caponord.  With more than 60,000 miles it’s am absolutely perfect adventure/touring motorcycle.

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Crab claws for lunch.  Yes, it was amazing.   Too good!

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NEXT I am turned loose on downtown Seattle with a new Ducati Multistrada 1200S courtesy of Ducati Seattle, and I make plans for visiting Vancouver.

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