Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happy Thoughts In La Junta

I'm writing this from my motel room in La Junta, Colorado, where I'm spending the day doing four assemblies for grades three through six at La Junta Intermediary School. When I eagerly accepted the invitation I didn't realize quite how far away La Junta is from Boulder: a three-and-a-half hour drive south and east across the plains. But the drive last night was lovely. I do adore seeing signs that warn drivers that there are no services at all for the next seventy-five miles! For all that I am such a gregarious extrovert, something in me comes alive when I drive through such open expanses of land.

The school promised me a fixed sum of payment for honorarium and expenses, out of which I would make my own travel arrangements. So I had every incentive to economize on where I would say. I could have booked a room at the Hampton Inn outside of town. I stay often in Hampton Inns; their beds are divinely comfortable, and a hot breakfast is included in the price. But the price for a room at the Hampton Inn, even in La Junta, was $109 for the night, plus tax. So I booked instead at the Travel Inn, for $45 plus tax.

The night before I left I began to feel a tad uneasy about my choice. While some reader reviews praised the friendly management, one of the reviews made an accusation of bed bugs! I do draw the line at bed bugs! But that customer seemed to have an axe to grind, angry that the management had taken him to task for rowdiness in his room that bothered other customers: I'm on the side of management there. So I decided to believe the management when they replied indignantly and emphatically to this online complaint: "No bug in hotel!"

I arrived here last night a bit past six. The folks at the desk were every bit as friendly and welcoming as promised, eager to give me a dinner suggestion for a cheery Mexican restaurant a mile or so away. While all the pricier hotels are on a commercial strip just outside of town, mine is right downtown, directly across from the railroad station, around the corner from the main downtown street. The room has cinder block construction and unpretentious decor (well, no decor, really), but it is clean and comfortable, with nary a bed bug in sight.

No breakfast was included, but that meant I could walk a block to the Copper Kitchen Cafe for hot chocolate with whipped cream, one egg over easy, and half an order of french toast with syrup. The glass-covered tablecloth on my table was patterned with teapots and curlicue handwriting reading "Cup of kindness."

Including the cost of the breakfast, plus tip, I still came out fifty dollars ahead of staying in the Hampton Inn, plus had the fun of being right downtown, plus had that delicious french toast.

Faith over fear! It works almost every time.

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