We live in a sort of hippie, outdoorsy college town of about 65,000 people. People bike everywhere and there are bike lanes everywhere for them. Breastfeeding, baby wearing and home births are normal. Chacos are worn with any outfit, even when dressing for a wedding or job interview. In order to be super cool here you need to drive a subaru and own a dog…and take that dog to the local ice cream shop downtown for a doggie ice cream cone…and be loyal to that ice cream shop and no other ice cream shop even if you have to wait in line for an hour. There is an ordinance that buildings and signs have to be under a certain height in order to preserve the natural beauty and mountain scenery. We have one of the largest numbers of nonprofits per capita because people are so passionate about causes. People love buying local and taking part in local events. This is my town. hehe And although I don’t own a subaru or a pair of chacos and I don’t love dogs or biking…this is where I am comfortable.
Now switch gears to me visiting, well, just about any big city at all, and I am suddenly completely out of my comfort zone. People really care about their clothes and their vehicles and purses and shoes…? Everyone has a smart phone and they are on them all the time. There are a lot of people…everywhere…and it’s exhausting. Finding a parking spot is like a sport- you have to stalk people and stop traffic with your blinker on and claim your territory. And it takes at least 30 minutes to get anywhere. Am I right? 😉
My husband needed to travel to a bigger city in another state to attend a work conference. The city is actually not as big or as different as I described above, but it is still a bigger city than I am used to. Since he was going to be gone for five days, we decided to go with him. The hotel and gas were paid for, after all, why not jump at the chance for a practically free vacation? I looked up all these fun things I could do for cheap with the kids while we were there and we all had a really good time. But I just have to tell you about this hotel. It is known for it’s swankiness and the cheapest rooms run normally around $180 per night (they gave everyone attending the conference a discount so it actually didn’t cost any more than any other hotel in the area…but either way, we didn’t have to pay for it!)
So I’m super pregnant, right? I mean, I’m about 7 months pregnant but look more like 8 or 9 because it’s my third kid and I’m pretty sure this boy is going to be huge. (I hope that I am wrong about that!) Because of this, there is no way I’m roadtripping in normal clothes. Loose gym shorts, tank top, and sports bra. My kids also have comfortable travelling clothes, plus they’ve been sleeping, sweating, and eating snacks…like trailmix with chocolate chips. So their hair is messy and they have chocolate faces. We pull up to the hotel and they have valet. Seriously? Valet? Isn’t that something they just do in the movies? 😉 Of course we want to avoid paying for something like that but we also have a ton of stuff to unload so we pull in and ask what to do. They say we can park there long enough to get our stuff out and then we need to go to the parking garage across the street (for $15 per night, by the way…so much for a free trip!) I ask if there is a cart we can grab since we have a lot of stuff (five days with two kids…we have bags of food, a cooler, toys, luggage, a pack’n’play…) so they send a bellhop over to help us. My husband takes the van across the street and I follow the guy and our cart of luggage up to our room on the 11th floor. But first we have to go past a swanky restaurant, a little cafe, the hotel lobby, and a lot of beautifully dressed people. I am holding Big Sis’s hand and she is holding Little Sis’s hand and Little Sis is carrying a baby doll. As I look at my adorable, messy children, my huge belly sticking out under an old gray tanktop and black sports bra, and the little train we have formed as we walk through this fancy pants hotel, I can’t keep the huge grin off of my face. Between my smile and the cute kids, the people we walk past can’t help but smiling back.
When we get to our room the anxiety of having someone help me with my luggage sets in. Am I supposed to tip him? How much? Do I have any cash? Before I can figure out what to do, he has unloaded everything and is on his way. Oh well. haha
Then as I’m organizing all of our stuff I realize that there isn’t a fridge or a microwave! What? I’ve never stayed in a hotel that didn’t have those things that I can remember. We always have a cooler full of food and I always look forward to having a microwave because we don’t have one at home (by choice) so it’s a treat for us to have microwave popcorn and easy mac! hehe I actually brought some with us. But no microwave. Luckily I had just had this conversation with a friend earlier that day. He had said that some hotels will bring you a fridge. I was skeptical that a nice hotel wouldn’t have fridges in the rooms, but he was right. And he was right about them bringing us a fridge too…for $7 a night plus tax. Not what I’d like to spend my money on, especially since this hotel was supposed to be free and parking is already going to be super expensive. But it’s better than letting our food go to waste. Especially since it costs $11.50 to get some juice, two pastries, and a coffee here. Come on, where’s the free continental breakfast? 😉 Also, the water bottles they leave on the table have a little sign that says they are $2 each. And there are very few channels on the tv- you have to pay a ton of money to watch most things. Does it really make sense for a hotel to be so expensive but offer way less than a cheaper hotel? I’d much rather be staying at a Best Western or something!
I say all this though because I think it’s fun to share our experience and I find humor in my family staying at such a place, not because I want to complain. Amazingly comfortable beds, a fun view from the 11th floor, and a fantastic location. We were downtown and could walk to a lot of the cool places I wanted to take the kids. It was SO fun to get out of town and the girls were thrilled to stay at a hotel- they did great too with sleeping and nap time and not being rowdy. It was a really fun trip. We visited a lot of fun places- they had a great children’s museum a few blocks from our hotel. That and swimming at the hotel were probably the girls’ favorite parts.
It never stopped making me laugh to walk through the lobby with my silly kids while all these fancy adults were there to eat at the fancy restaurant. We didn’t see any other kids there until the last day- we happened to be in the lobby when another family showed up in their normal clothes carrying their pack’n’play and a cooler- and I recognized the expression on their faces as they walked through the swanky lobby. I think that although we felt a little out of place, we were a welcome site. We got smiles wherever we went. A lot of people we came across were men on business trips and some of them would tell us that our girls made them miss their kids back home and that it was hard to be away from them for more than a day or so. And I bet the housekeepers get a kick out of cleaning our room. Toys, cereal boxes, a sheet to divide the room for naptime, and we’ve decorated the tv with photos from Chuck E. Cheese.
I hope you enjoyed my random ramblings about our trip. Thanks for reading!