I kid, I kid. But seriously folks, I'm pretty sure there's a warm place reserved down under for the hotel proprietors in Mobile, Alabama. After a long-ish day on the road trying to find a place to stay in Mobile, Paige and I spent almost an hour in the lobby of a La Quinta while they proceeded to give perhaps the poorest customer service this side of the Mason Dixon Line...but we'll get back to that later.
The day started off well enough. Paige and I spent our final night in New Orleans at "Chateau Spider-Bite." We decided that while we had fun in New Orleans, she is a town best appreciated with a group larger than your months-long travel partner. Admittedly, we could have "manned" up and made our own party, but after our fun-filled Mardi Gras weekend in Shreveport, our livers, spirits, and budget weren't up to the task. So instead we brunched and wandered in the Garden District while Peter Parker, errr, Dave, had his follow up draining at the urgent care facility nearby. For all those concerned, Dave's doctor thinks his ankle is healing nicely and is well over 70% sure he won't lose the foot and will gain superpowers. In light of the good news, we bid him adieu and headed east with vague intimations of where we would stop for the night.
We took I-10 east to "scenic" highway 90 in Mississippi. My overall impression of Mississippi was: "generally a lot better than I expected." The "scenic" highway actually turned out to be fairly scenic. It starts right away from the first rest stop on the edge of the Louisiana-Mississippi border. And talk about rest stop! This rest stop had pull-outs for picnic tables, a triple staffed info desk, free coffee, clean restrooms, free wireless internet, an odd Mardi Gras display with free beads, a free NASA rocket test site tour and a significant number of trees and scenic grassy spots. Mississippi was off to an impressive start. While I probably wouldn't make a trip to Mississippi just for the rest stop, I would sure as hell make it a priority to stop there if I were driving through the gulf! From there, the scenic highway took us along the coast, past some beautiful historic homes and plantations and right through several not-too-shabby looking casinos. We even found a nice place to stop for a Mississippi mud pie and pecan flavored beer! Mississippi, way to go.
But like all good things, Mississippi had to come to an end. No offense to all the good people we know from Alabama, but I if I never find myself back in Alabama again, I won't be too sad. We had checked ahead and knew there was a La Quinta we could stay at, but decided to call around and see if we might be able to get into a hotel with a workout facility using my rewards points from my year long hotel stay in Eugene (remember the blubber layer). It turns out there was a limited number of rooms available in Mobile due to their Mardi Gras celebration. My dad told me they have the original Mardi Gras, but it is just "less advertised." I'm not sure I believe that or not, but whatever. Rooms were scarce and the ones that were available didn't want to let Emma in. So no problem, La Quinta sans workout room will have to suffice.
Unfortunately, at the La Quinta I lost my patience and quite possibly my sanity. Here's the play-by-play: I wait 20 minutes while the lady at the front desk repeatedly tries to scan the gift cards we have. It doesn't scan the first 29 times, but I'm sure it will scan the 30th. This lady is a genius. She finally gives up and calls the 800 number. Then another 800 number. And another. She finally gives ME an 800 number to call. I do so and after punching a few hundred numbers into an automated system I get a real person who tells me both gift cards are working, valid and loaded with the amount listed. I tell the front desk lady this and ask if I can just get into a room while they sort out the issues with the cards. This decision is clearly above her pay grade so she goes into the back room for 20 more minutes. When she comes out, she lets me know her manager is calling about the gift cards-no news on the room yet. In a fit of rage I demand the cards, storm out and make snippy comments about how I'm going to find somewhere else to stay. I am the definition of maturity.
Paige and I then decided that we'd continue down the road to Pensacola where we hoped to find a hotel that knew what they were doing. At the La Quinta Inn Pensacola (spring break 2010!!!! Wooo!!!!!) Teresa, the front desk lady, handled the questionable gift cards with the customer care aplomb of a seasoned veteran. She got me into a room, promised to sort out the issue with the cards and gave me directions to a cheap ale house where I could drink away my soiled memories of Alabama.
In all fairness we didn't give Alabama a fair chance. If my friend Greg is any indication of what the "Yellowhammer State" actually has to offer I regret having missed out on the land of eclectic interests, responsible drinking habits and wildly curly hair. But I don't know if he is. Maybe I'll go back someday and find out...
Probably not though.