Sunday, July 10, 2011


I received a message this evening from Rob Smith, the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette's Gridlock Guru: he's leaving the paper. I guess it now falls to me to keep up with what's going on road-wise?

Oh crap! Does this mean I have to get more serious?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Unchivalrous Behavior

I spent the 4th of July weekend in northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas looking for old bridges. My primary destination was near Newton, Kansas looking for some abandoned arch bridges, but wound up with more photos than anticipated: over 1700. I darn near maxed out my photo card! Included were at least 25 bridges plus the usual assortment of sign oddities, old traffic signals, old gas stations, etc.

I spent way too much time running around Sunday so I was a couple hours behind schedule heading for home (I didn't really have a set schedule, I just wanted to be home before dark). As I was heading east on US 400 out of Wichita , I hit a pop-up thunderstorm with lots of heavy rain...heavy enough that I pulled over in a Burger King lot for about 10 minutes. I pulled over again near Beaumont as I hit another heavy pop-up storm.

By the time I made it to Neodesha, there was yet another storm brewing about 5-10 minutes behind me, so I opted to stop for the night in Independence. Of course, there were no hotels along US 400, so I had to drop south on US 75 then west on US 160 to find anything. There wasn't much selection: an old "Mom & Pop", a Super 8, and a Knight's Inn. Against my better judgment, I opted for Knight's Inn.

I've stayed at Knight's Inn before with very mixed results. Although they are owned by Wyndham (parent company of Super 8 and Ramada), they have a well-earned reputation for being low quailty. But a cursory glance of the outside looked decent, so I decided to stop.

I was a bit surprised when the front desk clerk quoted me $50 for a room. I showed my AAA card and was informed they no longer accept AAA discounts (despite two decals in the front window advertising AAA). AARP? No (despite brochures in the lobby advertising AARP discounts). Wyndham Rewards? No discount. The clerk wasn't even sure if they offered reward points for staying there. *sigh*. Well, I was tired, so I took a room anyway.

It seemed clean enough though TV reception was kind of crappy (several of the listed channels had nothing on them) Then I noticed 3 dead roaches in the bathroom. Since they were dead, I wasn't as concerned as I would have been if they were still alive (giving the benefit of a doubt, maybe the motel had just sprayed and hadn't had time to clean things up...maybe). The Vending room was littered with lots of dead roaches, but while the ice machine worked, the snack and drink machines were both empty.

After it got dark, I noticed the lights didn't come on in the parking lot, so I called the Front Desk. The young lady who had checked me in said she didn't know how to turn them on. They don't come on automatically? Luckily, it was a quiet night (the storms went around) and everything was still in my van when morning arrived. And despite having flat pillows, the bed was fairly comfortable.

Breakfast was like a bad joke: 2 kinds of cereal (luckily one wasn't pre-sweetened) and mini muffins. No toast, no bagels, no fruit or juice: just cereal, milk, and mini muffins (no coffee either). This was beyond a bad joke: it was a waste of time and money.

I have since contacted AAA regarding the lack of a discount despite being "approved". I received a form e-mail back: we will respond within one business day. That was Tuesday, today is Saturday, so maybe they're investigating my claim?

Either way, between what I consider to be false advertising, a poorly lit location and skimpy breakfast, it will be a long time before I stay here again. Perhaps even a long time before I stay at another Knight's Inn.


AAA says official endorsement of the motel has been withdrawn and it no longer listed in the AAA TourBooks. They go on to say that use of the AAA insignia is unauthorized and the Official Appointment Department will review my complaint.

I also received my Wyndham Reward points, but only after filing a complaint.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sometimes... find more than just bridges ;)