A few years ago I was traveling between Arizona and New York state in early May, and had a reservation to stay at a campground in New Mexico just outside Santa Fe. Even though I’d spent the past winter in Flagstaff I hadn’t been thinking about the fact that it could fall into the teens there in New Mexico as well. At any rate, it was far to cold for the camping gear that I had available to me at the time. It was already nearly dark and I’d only been in Santa Fe once before in my life.
I headed back down the hill toward the city, with the intention of finding a certain well-known Motel chain that would have its light on. But before I got to one I realized how tired I was, and saw there at the next exit a locally owned motel. But I could at least see where it was, and it was clearly going to be reasonably priced. Pulling in I could tell a few things about the place. First, as I said, it was going to be reasonably priced. Second, it had a number of long-term residents. Any time several people have grills going outside at a motel, they’re long-term residents. I found the manager, filled out some forms, got a key and took my laptop and suitcase into the room. To my great surprise, the room was amazing. A clean, well-lit room with a single king bed, exposed beams, a decent bathroom with water that was hot as soon as I turned it on. And legitimate cable, not some bootlegged system that you expect in a motel that depends on weary travelers and long-term renters.
Now, I was still nervous, especially since I couldn’t find the place in my AAA book for New Mexico. According to the book there was nothing at this exit. I had already eaten so I had no need to go out again, and I set my little rolling bag up in front of the door so that it would make a loud bang and trip anyone trying to get into the room in the middle of the night. I slept through the night. In the morning I woke up, packed up the car, and discovered that the “office” was actually inside a gas station, giving the motel a very 1930s feel, which is likely when it had been built. I’ve been through Santa Fe several times since then. And never found the place again, as if it were my own Hotel California, never to be found again.
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