In honor of Saturday, B! and I decided to take a road trip to Tucson, a city he’d never been to and one I can’t spell without a dictionary. We had grand ideas, he’d made big plans, and we had a lot to get done. What we didn’t have was a lot of money. Solution? Budget hotel. I mean, I’ve traveled, I know what’s up, and although I love a swank pad to rest my head at night I’m not above some scratchy sheets and questionable comforters. I stayed at roadside dives in Costa Rica, I mean, how bad could it be?
Passing through Tucson en route to San Xavier Mission, we spied a row of old-timey joints on the aptly named Miracle Mile. “There!” I cried, transfixed by blinking neon, “We should stay in one of those!” B! was in agreement, especially after several well-made Mai Tais, and so it was that we found ourselves at the Terrace Motel.
From the outside, it didn’t look that bad. Standard one-story construction, rooms circling the parking lot like wagons on the trail, a run-down pool at the epicenter with weeds sprouting up through the chain-link fence. Forty bucks a night. Sold.
Moments later, we were reconsidering the value of a dollar.
The room was tiny, tiled throughout, and smelled of cheap cleaning products and years of aged nicotine. It was lit by a single bare bulb dangling from the ceiling fan, which, it’s worth noting, only rotated if you gave it a push start. I pulled the quilt off the bed straightaway, a dingy old thing that smacked of 1980s Vegas, and a wad of toilet paper unceremoniously floated floorwards in its wake. The bathroom boasted but a single towel from which a long black hair dangled, and the water had a faint odor of rust. Its single window, covered by a plaid burlap fabric swath nailed into the drywall, looked out on an alleyway, beyond which was the saddest trailer park I’ve ever seen. Opening the kitchen cabinets revealed one plate, two stained glasses, and little else. There was no coffee offered, no complimentary mint. The sheets were like sandpaper. We had no ashtray. The toilet refused to stop running. I was a little scared to take off my shoes.
B! and I stood dumbfounded by the sheer unchecked seediness of the place, dirty kitchenette and all, and as our eyes locked we realized our escape plan for the evening: a strip club lay in wait just steps down the road. They don’t call it Miracle Mile for nothing.