This day was such a debacle that it merits its own, separate post.
Tim’s cousin, Patti, lives in a mid-size town (about 12,000 people) called Port Orchard, and Saturday was devoted to visiting her. Unfortunately, there were a few things that kind of ruined the visit.
First, we stayed in a Port Orchard motel, which we’ll get to in a minute. But as for the rest…
Stilted small talk
We’d planned on hanging out with Patti for most of the day: Chilling out in the afternoon, then heading over to watch her DJ karaoke that evening.
We arrived around noon and… Things were awkward. We couldn’t quite find a good subject that’d get everyone into a natural conversational rhythm. We even went to lunch to see if things would be easier over food. But it wasn’t really any better there either.
We just couldn’t find much common ground. No matter what topic we latched on to, the talk faltered. And somehow almost everything I said seemed to come off as condescending or slightly superior.
I couldn’t figure out how or why it was happening, and nothing I said made it better. But not saying anything led to more awkward silences.
What makes it worse is that I like Patti. She’s cool, and I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with her in the past. She’s fun and funny. Heck, there was even a time Tim and I were trying to convince her to move down here.
But this time… Eesh.
It got better (briefly)
We decided to go chill out at the motel for a few hours so she could get ready for the night. Really, I think we were all just escaping the awkwardness.
I told myself that the evening would be easier. We’d have a drink, play a little pool and applaud her (very good) karaoke-ing. At the bar, I was sure I could stop putting my foot in my mouth. And there would be stuff to chat about if only via people-watching.
And that was true. Sorta.
We got to the bar before the karaoke started. I followed her out on a smoke break while Tim ran back to the motel to get his pool cue. She and I chatted pretty easily (thank god).
But after that, everything went wrong.
Tim had talked extensively about how much fun they had the last time he was here. There was karaoke and pool and a couple of drinks.
So when Patti said she’d be DJing on Saturday night, I told her that was the best day for us to hang out. It seemed like a no brainer. But apparently the last time, Patti hadn’t been DJing. They just went to a bar where karaoke was taking place
This time around, she was in charge, which meant most of her time was going to be spent (duh) working. She hung out for a few minutes before the karaoke started, and she introduced us to/sat us with some of her friends.
But then she had to work.
Meanwhile, we were at a table with strangers, trying to make occasional small talk over the din of music and bar noise.
The cherry on the top was that Tim was having a noise-sensitive day. Some days he’s fine in a crowd — even a loud bar. Other days, his ADD makes it hard to block out what’s going on around him. So he hears everything at once. Which is understandably upsetting.
Alas, this was one of the bad days. So he was miserable, I hated the high volume and Patti wasn’t available to hang out with. We left after less than an hour.
Beyond being bummed about how things turned out, we were hit with the unpleasant fact that we now had to spend yet more time in our motel room. Which brings us back to that subject.
To try to help Tim keep things loose, I didn’t schedule any hotels after the Seattle stay. Which means that Saturday morning we had no idea where we were going to stay that night.
Had I realized that Port Orchard was only a half hour drive from Puyallup (at least the way Tim drives), I’d have booked us for a second night at the Puyallup Holiday Inn. But I didn’t find out until we’d already made the drive.
Instead, I was diligently searching for a place to stay. The options turned out to be very limited.
Turns out, there are three — count ’em three — hotels in Port Orchard. And according to Patti, Choice Hotels is the high end of the spectrum.
And hey, we’d have been perfectly happy at a Choice Hotels. They’re affordable and perfectly nice. Unfortunately, that and the other chain hotel were all booked up. Might have been because of Mother’s Day, or maybe it was because the boat had come in at the nearby naval town, Bremerton.
Speaking of which, there were plenty of options there, and it was only about a 10-minute drive away. But when I mentioned this to Patti…
“DON’T GO TO BREMERTERON!”
Yes, she typed it in all caps.
According to her, the town is full of junkies. I guess she sensed my skepticism because she said (well, typed) that it was obviously our choice if we wanted to risk it, but frankly it was an issue of safety.
My gut told me to choose Bremerton. I know people who grew up in Bremerton, and they’ve painted it as perfectly lovely. Of course, things can change over the years. But how much of a junkie haven could a naval base be?
Also, Tim shaves his head in the summer, which, when he’s strolling purposefully down the sidewalk, makes him look relatively intimidating. People tend to give him a wide berth if he’s not actively smiling.
And even if something did start, he knows how to defend himself. When he was in kindergarten, three sixth graders jumped him. They lost. (Weirdly, he’s the one who got suspended. #TacomaSchools) Fighting off a junkie would mean a ton of extra pain for a few days, but he’d be able to do it.
All of this passed through my head. Multiple times. But in the end I deferred to Patti’s opinion. After all, she’d been there far more recently than either of us.
We should’ve braved the junkies
I called and booked the one remaining Port Orchard option, which was a motel Patti used to work at. She said that it wasn’t bad and that allegedly some of the rooms had been updated.
Not our room.
Lest you think us snobbish, neither Tim nor I have a problem with motels. We happily stayed at three on our road trip down to Arizona. We stayed at another one while our apartment was fumigated for cockroaches. (#ApartmentLiving)
We don’t mind motels. We did, however, mind this motel. Because… Eh, why tell when I can show?
Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared nearly as much if we’d paid a reasonable rate. Which I’d say would be $35 or $40 a night. But presumably due to supply and demand economics, the room cost $72. (And no wi-fi.)
Seventy-frickin-two dollars: The nasty not-so-sweet spot of being waaaay too much while also being too low to erase with Barclay’s rewards points. (You need a charge of $100 or more.)
So we got to just eat the cost.
The gift that keeps on giving
We left the motel first thing, even though it meant sitting around the Days Inn lobby for hours waiting for a room to be cleaned. (At least that had wi-fi.) We just wanted to leave the motel behind. But it wasn’t done with us yet.
After our first night at the Days Inn, I woke up with rows of small bites all over my left hand and forearm. My right hand and arm got a few too.
After some denial, I accepted that it was probably from bedbugs. And that it was almost certainly from the motel, not the current room.
Why do I think that?
- It can take your body as long as three days to react to bites.
- We checked the Days Inn mattress and found zero signs of infestation
- I didn’t get any more bites, despite staying at Days Inn a second night
To be fair, it’s possible that I got bitten up at the Puyallup Holiday Inn. We hadn’t checked that mattress either, and people forget that bedbugs don’t pay attention to hotel star ratings.
So yeah, the bugs might have been in Puyallup. But… C’mon. It was the Port Orchard motel.
Of course, we can’t be sure that it was bedbugs. Not all of the bites were groups of three. On the other hand, I’ve never seen bug bites in rows either. One row was several inches long.
So we erred on the side of caution and assumed we — and, therefore, our luggage/clothes — had been exposed to bedbugs. Which means we had to quarantine everything from the trip.
We took the luggage around the side gate, not even briefly letting it inside the house. We changed clothes out on the back patio and put the ones we were wearing on top of the luggage.
The next day we washed everything that could be safely laundered. Unfortunately, we don’t have a high heat option on our washer or dryer, but the regular settings should’ve been more than enough.
Everything that couldn’t go in the wash went into plastic bags. The temperatures need to reach about 120 to 140 to properly kill bedbugs. We’re already into days with 100+ temps, so the plastic bags should ensure that nothing survives.
Then there were things that I just threw away. My shoes were nearly worn out anyway, so they went in the trash. I wore my workout shoes until I could get replacements.
I also tossed my hairbrush and toothbrush. Neither was a likely hiding place, but both were nearing the end of their life cycles anyway. I already have a spare hairbrush and several packages of toothbrushes, so I decided to play it safe.
I looked over every makeup and haircare product I’d taken with me. Plastic is also an unlikely spot for bedbugs to nestle, but it was worth checking. Then I tossed all the sandwich bags I’d used* and the shoebox that had held it all.
We still have to actually bag up the luggage. In the meantime, it’s all outside baking in the 90- to 100-degree days. Still, we’d like to vacuum the suitcases out and bag them up, just to be safe.
So far, no new bites have surfaced, so I’m relatively certain we avoided bringing anything infested into the house.
Still, it’s important to make sure we don’t take any chances. Bedbugs can live up to a year without food. (These bastards are scary!) So we want to take every precaution so that we don’t have to worry next year, when we bring the bags in to pack for our trip.
And we’ve learned our lesson. From now on, we keep all luggage off the floor and check the mattress before settling into the room.
What’s your hotel/motel horror story? Have you ever encountered bedbugs?
*This prevents messes if products’ tops come off in transit