Sunday morning I wake up in the guest room at Mike and Laurie's apartment. I was feeling exhausted and groggy. The apartment was silent, so I was very cautious as I tried out my failiing voice. I needn't have worried about waking anyone up though: I had no voice at all. It wasn't that it hurt to talk; it was that I physically could not. We got up relatively early, 6 a.m. or so, and turned on the t.v. in our room to entertain Winter. We tried to keep the volume down so as not to wake up Keigan in the adjacent room, but she did start crying a while later. I hoped it was her normal wake up time.
We got ourselves around and dressed and went downstairs. Winter announced that he wanted to go for a walk, so he and I went out to stroll around the neighborhood while Jon finished packing up our room and taking stuff out to the car. Winter and I walked until he didn't want to walk anymore, which if you know Winter, is impressive. I had to whisper anything that I wanted to say, and Winter always whispered back, thinking that I was implying he had to be quiet. When we got back to the house, Mike made us a lovely breakfast and soon we were facing another 8-hour drive the rest of the way to Sarasota, Florida.
I felt pretty bad for this part of the drive. Not only was my voice gone, but my nose had started to stuff up, and I was still very tired. Talking in the car was almost impossible, so I felt useless for helping to keep Jon awake. I nodded off a few times, and after what felt like forever, we were at the Florida border, stopping for some free orange and grapefruit juice.
We'd forgotten to prepare Winter for the concept of the vistor's bureau and the specialness of the orange juice, so when we went in and asked him if he wanted some, he said “no, I want apple juice!”, to which the Florida orange juice woman made a half-hearted attempt to hide a sneer. The Welcome Center was in the middle of reconstruction, and a bunch of it had been closed off or torn up. There was pretty much no where to go except into one big room, and the lovely area out back that we remembered relaxing under the trees was all gone. Maybe when it's all done being remodeled it'll be nice, but for now, a big thumbs-down for the Florida Welcome Center.
Back on the road, it seemed like the trip would never end. Winter started saying that he hurt his foot, and was clearly in actual pain. He was, like us, also tired and sore from being in the car too much, and it was not much consolation to any of us to tell him “just three more hours.” By the end, the drive had been so awful, I just couldn't see how we were possibly going to make the trip back.
But finally, our motel appeared. My experience with motels is that they are never as nice as you hope they will be, so I was trying to prepare myself for it to be really awful. The drive had been so long that I knew there was nothing we'd be able to do about the room that night at least, no matter how bad it was. From the outside, the place looked OK. We'd seen some real dumps along the way, so it was a relief to note that the neighborhood appeared to be OK, the outside of the building looked well kept, and a handful of respectable-looking people were sitting out by the pool.
The room itself, though.
We walk in, and there are clearly one or two pictures missing from the wall. We pull the bedspreads off the beds, and the sheets have dark circles on them. Winter is so exhausted, I lay him on one of the beds, but the pillowcase is so dingy that I worry that I shouldn't have. The shower walls were just grody. It was a dark, dark moment, and I really didn't know what to do. Like I said, I knew there just wasn't anything we could do about it that evening. We didn't have the energy to try to find any place else, and we had no way of knowing what would be better. Plus, I know that after such a long, horrible drive, that I don't have the best attitude in the world.
We go out to dinner at Perkins, come back to plug with tissues the mysterious holes in the wall, go to bed, and hope to awake with a brighter perspective on what had, so far, been a less than fantastic vacation.