After scheduling the Train-ee ExpressionEngine class in Richmond, I began looking for campgrounds near to town. I found two places that were basically run-down mobile home parks with a couple of open slabs that made parking lots look spacious.
Next I looked at Pocahontas State Park. Google maps stated it was about 21 miles. We decided we’d rather not have to drive that distance along with the other commuters—one hour drive each way seemed to add too much to an already full day.
The next step was to look at hotels near to the training location. I found a good price at a Best Western that appeared to be within walking distance. I called to ask if the parking lot would accommodate our trailer. With the affirmative answer, I booked a room.
Storybird loves hotels, so she was excited. Of course, I wasn’t able to fulfill her requirements for a good hotel—complimentary continental breakfast and a pool. The pool was outdoors, so it was closed for the season, but the hotel did have complimentary continental breakfast (donuts, hard-boiled eggs, chocolate milk, and other healthy choices). Storybird okayed the reservation.
On the day before we were to check-in, we made our trip to Richmond. First we enjoyed a visit to the Maymont Park, then we drove to check out the training building and the hotel. After a drive through of the hotel parking lot, we decided we did not feel comfortable with this choice.
We drove another block or so and noticed a really nice looking Ramada. We stopped in. I spoke to the clerk and she talked about all of the features of the hotel and how large it is. She also suggested I book on-line for a cheaper rate. So, after canceling the Best Western reservation, I went on-line to the Ramada Plaza Hotel.
On Monday morning, we pulled into the Ramada parking lot. I checked us in. We went to check out our room before hauling anything in. The room smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. We walked back to the front counter to request another room. We walked to our new room. Neither key worked, so we all walked back to the front. The keys were re-scanned and we returned to the room to discover that the keys still didn’t work. Walked back to the front. The clerk told us he’d have the engineer check out the door reader.
While waiting for the engineer, we walked around the large hotel to look at the parking situation. We decided on a place to park the trailer. I returned to the room while Mike and the kids moved the trailer to its place. The engineer was finishing up and tested our keys. Since they worked, we began moving our stuff in.
The first night of sleep, Mike chose to sleep in the trailer while Storybird and I shared one double bed and Data slept in the other. Do you know that 2 adult sized bodies do not fit well on a double bed for a night of sleep? Around 10:00pm, someone knocked on our door. I couldn’t see well through the peephole, but figured it was Mike. It wasn’t. It was a man planning to meet a woman at our room—I had to tell him that I was not the woman he was looking for.
The next day, the kids and I joined Mike and the class for lunch. When we returned to our room, the door was ajar, yet housekeeping had not yet been in. Hmm. That evening, after telling Mike about the door situation and reminding him of the first night stranger visit, as well as discussing the fact that we hadn’t found any outside doors that locked, I returned to the front desk. I told the clerk that I felt unsafe. He offered to “upgrade” us to the Tower, telling me that the doors there do lock. (We found out that most of the doors in the Tower lock at night, but the hallway leading from the section we were in the first night to the Tower is open with no doors or locks).
We moved rooms. This second night both Mike and Data slept in the trailer while Storybird and I each took a bed. The outdoor temps were quite low, so the boys returned to the hotel room around 5:00am to warm up. Nights three and four, Mike slept in the trailer, the kids alternated having the bed and sleeping with bedding on the floor, and I had a bed.
Storybird was disappointed that this hotel had no continental breakfast (the manager pointed out that the restaurant does offer a continental breakfast, it’s just not complimentary), but she was excited about the pool. I took the kids to the pool on Tuesday afternoon. We discovered that the outdoor pool was closed (when we stopped on Sunday the clerk had pointed out that both pools were open), but the connecting indoor pool was open. The kids quickly discovered that the temperature of the indoor water was the same as the outside water. I think they lasted maybe 7 minutes trying to get in to the pool before calling it quits.
Oh, yeah - another great upgrade to the new room: the tub liner had a crack in the floor, so there was water between the liner and the original tub floor. I felt like I was balancing on a water balloon while showering (I had to hold on to the wall bar to keep my balance). Data stepped on the crack this morning and the crack spread, allowing the trapped (gross) water to flow back into the tub.
So, it is now Friday. This morning the kids and I moved all of our belongings to the trailer while Mike taught. The training will probably wrap up mid afternoon and we’ll drive back to the Ramada parking lot to hook up the trailer, and move back to Pocahontas State Park.
Well, that was plan, anyway. The other issue was a Yukon who decided to park directly in front of the trailer two days ago, essentially blocking it in. Apparently the owner hasn’t been out to his vehicle since then, since the note we left him is still under the wiper blade. The hotel never bothered to get license plate numbers from its guests, and when we informed them of our issue their essential response was to shrug their shoulders.
Faced with another night in the slummy hotel Mike decided to see if he could get the trailer out anyway. He took advantage of the sliding hitch in the pickup, and hooked up to the trailer at a 90 degree angle. He was barely able to open the door on our truck to get out because it was so close the the Tahoe. After slowly pulling the trailer out 4-5 feet, we unhooked it from the truck and re-hooked up at a better angle. We were just able to squeeze the trailer out, and (after amending the note left on the Tahoe window) were finally able to leave this place.
And are now happy to be back in our 270 square foot home on wheels!