Friday, April 14, 2006

Sometimes it pays to be cheap

We met my Mom and Dad in Iowa City yesterday to visit and introduce Alex to his Grandpa. It was a quick trip, but we had lots of fun. And also some adventures I don't care to repeat any time soon.

When it comes to hotels, I'm not a total snob, but I also don't like to stay in cheap motels. I'll always pick the Ritz over Super 8, but sometimes neither is really an option. When we meet my family for a weekend, I usually find the hotels for us. I tend to go middle of the road in whatever Iowa town we're meeting in. That usually means Holiday Inn, Baymont Inn, etc.

For some reason, when I was getting the hotel for us Thursday night, I went cheaper than normal. I'm not really sure why. Money's not tight right now and it was only 1 night. But I was drawn to the TraveLodge for some reason. The price was good. The location was a little farther from the mall and restaurants we usually visit, but I knew we wouldn't have much time for that anyway.

Thursday was an unually hot day for April---90 degrees and very humid. By early evening you could tell a storm was brewing in the distance. We ate dinner, did some quick shopping and headed back to the hotel to hang out for the evening. By 7.15, there were tornado and thunderstorm warnings being announced on TV. The tornadoes were farther north so we were more worried about the hail they were predicting.

By 7.45, the sirens started going off in Iowa City too. We grabbed the kids and went down to the first floor. The kid (and I mean that literally) working at the front desk didn't know where to send us so he called for help. Before he had an answer, the sirens were off and we went back up to our room. Shortly after, they started going off again. This time my dad decided he wasn't going to go so Mom and I got the kids and went back downstairs. The hotel had opened up a meeting room for the guests to sit in and there were several people there already. We took along a comforter from a bed so the kids made a fort under a table and played. They never really were scared. It just seemed like a party to them.

We stayed in the room till 9.30 when the warning ended. We were hearing scattered reports from people about a roof blown here and a fire there, etc. But we really didn't know much more than that. When we watched the 10.00 news, we were amazed to see that Iowa City had been hit by tornadoes! There were buildings down, debris everywhere and no power in most of the city. It seems that by choosing this hotel farther from the action, this cheap hotel which was actually quite nice, we managed to be safer than most people in Iowa City that night. We never lost power, we really didn't even see any wind damage outside and we certainly didn't hear or feel the tornadoes that ripped through town about 3 miles away.

I'm not sure why I chose that hotel, but I guess it's good to embrace your inner cheapstake when it strikes. It certainly worked well for us this time.


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