Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day Five - It's Gettin' Hot in Here...

Monday, June 18th

First travel-free day!!!

We slept in, and did not plan on doing anything until 11:00AM, at the earliest. This girl is learning quick about proper hotel behavior: Stay in comfortable clothes (anything with an elastic waistband will do) for as long as possible, bypass all the fruit and oatmeal for the brightest, most sugary cereal that Mom never buys, and how to recline in bed to watch TV without spilling a drink down your shirt.

But our leisure was short-lived.

To avoid any shock or concern, let me first state that nothing happened in OUR room. I had left her for a moment to get ice for the cooler. As I walked down the hall, I noticed one of the rooms, which had its door propped open as the housekeepers were moving through, was a bit smoky. No big deal, I thought. The housekeepers seemed to smoke while they work. Well, that is a big deal, as the people running this place clearly didn't give a shit. That's what I get for $63 a night, I figure. Anyway, I get the ice, come back, and notice that I wasn't really smelling cigarette smoke. Pass by the same room again and now the haze is so thick I can't see through to the window. As I bolt back to my room the alarms go off, scaring the living daylights out of my child, who was just trying to eat an apple and watch Elmo's World.

Have you ever been asked, "What would you grab if you could only grab two things (one for each hand) before escaping a fire?" I'll tell you what: Your kid and her favorite stuffed animal. In hindsight, I might have also wanted to grab my purse and her shoes, but I wouldn't have been able to move my car to go elsewhere if I wanted to.

At first, the firefighters seemed to almost mill about apathetically, and I saw one guy take a giant fan off a truck to bring in to exhaust the smoke, I assumed. Suddenly, a few more trucks showed up and they actually moved with a sense of urgency to get in gear and run inside, telling the guests and staff that had just been waiting downstairs in the lobby. The smoke was upstairs, after all, and everyone was under the impression that it was going to be quickly controlled. At this point, there were eight trucks. A bit excessive? Probably, but they had to get up on the roof as a fire had actually ignited in the ceiling and started to spread upward.

Moments after the burst in activity, the receptionist came out and told some of us the firefighters had given her the impression that they were going to have to close. Fortunately, there was a hotel next door. As in, they shared a parking lot. After smacking myself in the forehead for not going with this second hotel to begin with (online, it was $20 a night more), I trudged over to check us in. They were willing to give us a bargain, considering our circumstances.

They also gave us cookies.

Yes, I shared. A little.

After about a two-hour wait for hotel #1 to get the all clear for guests to return, we went back to round up our things. They assured us we could actually remain there if we wanted to, that the firefighters said the building was clear. Uh, no thanks. They were at least kind enough not to charge a cancellation fee.

Finally it was time to run!

I took the Little Miss to a lovely park where I had once clocked easy miles as I first started out running again. This place has miles of winding paths over mostly flat terrain, with enough bumps and dips to make you work but not kill the legs. It was perfect for me when I was a noob runner, and great today with extra cargo to push. We got in between three and four miles before she was chompin' at the bit to get out.

As I watched her play, I mused about how with the passage of time and - of course - having a child, my perspective of my home town has changed quite a bit. Places where I used to sit to be left alone in my thoughts, or perhaps have a run-in with a love interest so he could see just how deep and profound I was, sitting there all alone in my thoughts, are now only significant if they have bars to climb, slides to zip down, and sandboxes to dive into. And of course, they have to be stroller-accessible.

So for kicks, following our afternoon in the park I took her to the old cafe, where I used to work and would write on my days off, mostly waiting to be seen writing so someone could come over and ask me what I was writing about. This was back in the day when I walked around with a tattered spiral notebook and a Bic pen... not a laptop. The cafe, which used to pay me $5/hour under the table, has actually come a long way from the crappy sandwiches I used to throw together for people. And we enjoyed a nice pesto chicken panini with spinach and tomato. I would have snapped a pic of this because it looked and tasted awesome, but I was trying to keep someone from making it snow by opening all of the sugar packets.

Tomorrow: One more stop at one of my favorite places on this too-brief of a journey home.

I did not, for the record, type this entry while at a coffee shop. I am curious to know if any of you are guilty of this?

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