M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, May 09, 2003  

Intentional Tourists

Trash and I used to be able to get in the car, drive in a random direction, and drive up to the first motel we saw when we got tired. Things have changed.

For instance, we’re going to Hawaii in two weeks. Does this sound like a dream vacation to you:

· Get up at .000001 in the morning to catch a plane.
· Catch plane.
· Catch another plane.
· Continue until middle of Pacific Ocean.
· Troll up and down the miles of car rental counters to find the best deal on a Kia Rollerskate.
· Wait three hours for Kia Rollerskate.
· Get screwed on Kia Rollerskate.
· Drive up and down the Kamehameha Highway, wandering into every hotel, high-rise, and resort in Honolulu in descending order of habitability, inquiring about room rates for the next five nights.
· Realize we can no longer pronounce “Kamehameha Highway,” let alone keep driving on it, and therefore submit to the exhaustion of twenty-plus hours of traveling and end up dropping three bills a night on a “room” with a U-shaped mattress, wildlife, a door that doesn’t lock, and two walls.

Our first big road trip was a year after we got married. Basically, we pointed the car West and then saw how far we could get before it was time to turn around and come home. We hit our apex in Butte Montana, then headed back like one of Goddard’s early rocket prototypes returning to earth. That trip was when we developed our time-tested lodging-recon method, which consists of walking up to the front desk and demanding, “how much?” How I hate this. Trash and I took turns, but I think she was stacking the deck:

Trash: Go ask at this Super-Spectacular-Radisson-Doubletree-Hyatt-Ritz™ here.

(M. Giant goes, asks, returns to the car looking defeated and extremely poor)

Me: Nine million dollars in diamonds. Extra if we want a bed.

Trash: So much for that. Let’s try Uncle Pennybags’s Palace of Splendor™.

Me: Forget it. Your turn. I’m still sore from being physically removed from the Vanderbilt & Rockefeller Bed, Breakfast, and Gratuitous Gold Plating™.

Trash: Okay, I’ll check the Clean ‘n’ Cheap™ over here. You can start bringing the bags in.

We’re getting too old for that nonsense. Last summer, we arrived in Seattle at a time of day that should have allowed us to check every hotel in town before one o’clock; sadly, we ended up actually having to. The thought of doing that up and down the Waikiki Beach area, which fairly bristles with shining high-rises of temporary residence, makes me want to jump into the nearest volcano.

Instead, we exploited a brilliant secret, and I’m going to share it with you. It’s this.

It’s marvelous. People with space to rent-whether it’s an apartment, condo, or house—post information and pictures on the internet, you look at them, and make reservations with the owner. They’re listed by state and area, so if you’re going somewhere and can’t face a hotel room, get a house instead. It’s especially nifty if you have a group of friends who can all kick in. Our friend CorpKitten actually found this site last year, and we’ve used it ever since.

Now, instead of sleeping in cookie-cutter hotel rooms stacked one on top of another and paying exorbitant rates to multinational hospitality chains, we get a home-away-from-home that’s actually some real person’s home. Or home-away-from-home, as the case may be. And then we pay them exorbitant rates. Except not even exorbitant. So rather than spending our Hawaii vacation perched up in a honeybee cell on the thirtieth floor with a view of the thirtieth floor of the building across the street, we’re going to be staying in a secluded, one-bedroom cottage a short drive from downtown Honolulu and a watermelon’s-throw from the Pacific Ocean. And we’re paying about what we’d pay for the same number of nights in a Dreary Cinderblock SunSandSuicide Moto-Court™ if Honolulu had them. Are we excited? I’ll tell you what, we are as excited as really, really excited people.

Of course, if it turns out that the website lied and we end up trapped for five days picking our way around lava puddles in a smoking, sulfur-reeking caldera with a junior high soccer team next door, a tribe of headhunters from Gilligan’s Island on the other side, and an industrial mosquito hatchery in our back yard, you’ll be hearing about that, too.

posted by M. Giant 3:41 PM 0 comments


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