Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Return Roadtrip!™ Day Two: "You Can't Beat New"

Winslow, Arizona - Tucumcari, New Mexico

We had a great breakfast in the Turquoise Room at La Posada and hit the road. It was cold, snowing, blowing and drifting snow today on the route east into New Mexico. I had to do some two-hands-on-the-wheel driving.

I had lunch at Blake's Lotaburger in Albuquerque, "a New Mexico owned and operated fast-food favorite with 76 locations statewide". I wasn't too hungry so I just had the Kiddy burger; really good. On the receipt, it said that this was Blake's Lotaburger #10 -- this means that there are only nine in the whole world that came before this one. How exciting is that?! I had never been to a Lotaburger before, and had no idea it was a New Mexico chain. I'll make it a point of trying to go to one from now on when in New Mexico. I like to support and try out regional chains.

We blew on past Santa Rosa, NM because we wanted to get within shooting distance of Tulsa tomorrow. We decided to stay in Tucumcari. But where? It has to be pet-friendly. I was planning on staying at a Comfort Inn, but when we took the exit, we saw a sign for a "Just Opened" Quality Inn at $59. If there is one thing I've learned from my roadtrips when it comes to lodging it is this: "you can't beat new". Last year we stayed at Holiday Inn Expresses on the way down. Uniformly, the new ones were great; the ones that weren't-so-great were the older ones in Branson, MO and Winslow, AZ.

I went in and asked if they accepted pets. "Yes, a $6 charge." Six dollars I can go along with. Pet charges are all over the map. The lowest, of course, is "free" -- pets can stay at no extra charge. Six dollars is probably the next lowest. Then, 10 dollars at La Posada. $25 at the Holiday Inn Express Santa Rosa (ouch!). Whenever I get a big charge like this I tell Robbie that we're going to have to get rid of him, but it doesn't bother him at all. Apparently his theology runs towards the doctrine of "eternal security", and he knows we would never get rid of him! At the Scottsdale Renaissance, the fee was $75 per visit. I didn't mind this too much for two reasons: firstly, we were staying on points so the room for the entire week was "free", and, secondly, it is per stay not per day and we were staying for a week. The highest rate I'm aware of is at the Marriott's TownePlace Suites, which is a hefty $100 per visit. Can you imagine staying there for one night and getting hit with a $100 add-on pet fee!

Back to the Quality Inn. Next, I asked them if the motel was really new. No, it's the old Holiday Inn that's been bought. But the beds are new and the rooms have been made-over. You can't beat new. But if you can't get new, then at least try to get refreshed and refurbished!

The price was right and the motel has two additional features that we value. Both are time-savers. Can you guess what they are?

1. The room is on the ground floor with an exterior door, so you can drive your car right up to the room. Believe me, this saves time when you have a dog and a bunch of stuff to carry in.

2. The motel has a restaurant onsite. This saves time for weary travellers at the end of their day. You don't have to get back in the car until morning!

A third bonus at this place is the sign advertised "Free Hot Breakfast" and at this location that means we get a coupon and a credit at the restaurant in the morning. So I can get eggs and pancakes. I figure this is worth at least $10.

Thank you, Lord, for safe travel today. You are wonderful in every way and we stand in awe of You.

Approx. distance travelled: 700 km.

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"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"