A reality check on Ashland, and the best travel advice I can give.

Posted on
Oct 4, 2010

I want to say thank you to everyone who, either on the blog, in person, or via email, expressed their sympathies about our fiasco at the Plaza Inn and Suites in Ashland. Your sympathies were much appreciated, but as I look through the pictures, I wonder if all the attention you’ve given me is undeserved. Because in the end, I think I may have had a fantastic time.

Don’t get me wrong: our stay at the Plaza was pure hell and I hate that hotel more than I do mayonnaise and the work of Andrew Calder (and those who know me well know exactly how much that is). But the rest of the trip? It was, like most free moments spent with my husband, pretty damn wonderful. Somewhere in the midst of moving rooms for the third time, I forgot that. I managed to convince you all, and myself for that matter, that our entire anniversary trip was terrible. This was, in no small part because I wanted the entire trip to be perfect for my husband.

And that’s the irony of the matter: the one person who never wavered in his conviction that our trip was fantastic was Rand. He just shrugged everything off, even when he was clearly frustrated. Looking through the photos from the trip, it’s hard to find one where he isn’t smiling – or at the very least happy. Come to think of it, in very many of them, so am I. I was so worried about whether or not he was having fun, I didn’t realize that he – and I – often were. It was a good reminder that even when my brain thinks I’m miserable, my heart knows that I’m not.

Like all trips to Ashland, we started out in Portland, visiting Matt and Kim. For those of you following along at home, Matt and Kim are on my list of things I love about Ashland, even though, like I said, they live in Portland. What? I suck at geography. You should know this already. The point is, no matter how terrible any hotel stay is, Matt and Kim are around. And they are lovely (edit: Kim is lovely. Matt’s kind of a goober. Still, you understand what I’m getting at.)

I didn’t take a picture of them, though. Nor did I take a picture of a brownie that we ate that was drenched in foie gras. Yes. You read that correctly. It was awesome. Here is our reaction to it:

Not pictured: Matt, Kim, foie gras brownie

Not pictured: Matt, Kim, foie gras brownie

Besides, did I mention we were on our way to Ashland? A place I love, inexplicably and dearly, more than anything on earth? With a man who I love, not-so-inexplicably but just as dearly?

Here he is eating a hand pie. Mmmm ... hand pie.

Here he is eating a hand pie. Mmmm ... hand pie.

Plus, the above photo is proof that we didn’t spend the entire time being miserable in a hotel room the size of an airplane lavatory. And that wasn’t just the half of it. Why? BECAUSE THERE WAS A SAUSAGE FEST. I mean, they called it Oktoberfest, but who are you gonna believe? Me or IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO ELSE SAID WHAT BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE ME.

Blah blah blah YOUR MOM blah blah blah SAUSAGE. My work is done here.

Blah blah blah YOUR MOM blah blah blah SAUSAGE. My work is done here.

The band was all kinds of hysterical. They kept threatening to sing.

The band was all kinds of hysterical. They kept threatening to sing.

And then, folks, I may have polkaed.

Sometimes, you dont know how to polka, but you do it anyway.

Sometimes, you don't know how to polka, but you do it anyway.

I really don’t understand how I lost sight of all this. But it’s a tendency I have, from time to time. I get so caught up in everything that goes wrong, I forget about everything that is blissfully, wonderfully right.

Who the hell needs a hotel, anyway?

Who the hell needs a hotel, anyway?

Rand always tells me, time and again, that if you get upset, the bad guys win. It’s a silly little thing he says when I get frustrated with mankind and bureaucrats and a-holes. Because the only difference between a wonderful time and a rotten one is how you feel. If you’re happy, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. It doesn’t matter if your hotel room sucks, or if things aren’t like in the brochure.

The only things that matter are the things that you decide should matter. Like the little gray hairs on the side of his that pick up candlelight. That he may hate, but that you love.

And you try and convince him that going grey is fine because it worked for Roger Sterling.

And you try and convince him that going gray is fine because it worked for Roger Sterling.

Or chocolates made from blue cheese. I could elaborate, but there’s no point. Writing about desserts is like dancing about architecture. Just trust me: it was glorious.



Or days that are spent doing absolutely and precisely nothing.

I don't even know where this was, and I have no intention of finding out.

The rule is a simple one: if you want to have an enjoyable trip, then quit complaining and enjoy it. As obvious as this advice is, I lose sight of it all the time. And I can’t promise I won’t get frustrated and upset again. There are more Dick Moves on the horizon, I’m sure. But when I do get upset and angry, I hope I come back to this post, and realize that circumstances aren’t so bad.

Maybe you’ve already realized all of this … that the things that cause us to be worried and upset are stupid and inconsequential. That all in all, life is pretty spectacular. And there are even moments when you think that no one on earth is happier than you. Not a single person.

And there aren’t enough shitty hotels in the world that could take that away.

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