Max and the Grim Motel

Finding overnight accommodations while on road trips can be a challenging assignment, especially when one is seeking a pet friendly establishment on a weekend night during the peak travel season.

I subscribe to the Rolling Stones’ dictum: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard…sometimes, you get what you need.

Usually we luck out and locate a clean, nice place at a reasonable price, in a good part of town, often with pleasant amenities.

That’s not always the case, and when the quality of shelter fails to meet their lofty standards, my traveling partners are quick to abuse me.

We pulled into the small town late on a Friday night. All day, the AJF had been hounding me to make motel reservations but I kept deferring action.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, no problem, it won’t be busy in this little burg. Trust me, nobody stops here. Relax.”

Nailed it

Nailed it! In my self-defense, one reason I was late arranging a motel was that I had to fix a flat.

The town was pretty much sold out. Even the Motel 6 had lighted its “No Vacancy” sign. I warmed up my phone’s browser and started practicing my Google-Fu skills.

In short order I located a dog friendly room available at a small motel in downtown Eureka. The rate was $114 which sounded a bit high for what looked to be a down market place but knowing that the AJF was ready to pounce like a scorned hyena should I not secure shelter, I transacted the deal.

We plugged in the location data to Google Maps and drove to the motel. The closer we approached, the worse the neighborhood became.

To call it “sketchy” would be akin to describing the grease trap of a curry restaurant in Mumbai as “pungent.”

It was impossible to ignore the debris in the streets, the hookers on the sidewalk and a guy on the corner whose trousers looked like he set off a firecracker in a jar of Nutella.


Pro travel tip: when the trash bins need to be protected with concertina wire, you are in a sketchy neighborhood.

Having lived in Hawaii I recognized the feeling of being close to a powerful volcano that was getting ready to erupt. I’m talking about the AJF. She had passed “miffed” a long way back.

I tried to keep everyone’s spirits up. The drug deal going down about 50 feet from the hotel entrance didn’t help my case but we parked next to the office door and I ran in to get the key. Neither the AJF nor Max was thrilled with being left in the car.

I don’t recall the place’s name but we now refer to it as “Motel Desperation” and it’s motto, “Where Dreams Go to Die.”

As it turned out, the room was perfectly adequate, if depressing. To inject a bit of levity, I reminded the AJF of the many scurvy places we’ve stayed over the many years of our blissful marriage. That was the wrong tack to take.

Dog in bad hotel

The camera settings were fine. The interior walls and ceilings really were painted in this bilious green. Max is trying desperately to make a break for it.

Then we realized there was another problem. The AJF exclaimed that she had studied the landscape upon arrival and noted that there was not a single blade of grass visible within three blocks of the motel.

Where was Max to poo? He always goes out about 10 PM for his constitutional and he expects at least a semblance of a lawn. Did I expect her dog to poo on concrete like a common cur, a street mutt?

I took a wild guess that the answer she sought was “no.” I could see the subject of her concern standing behind her with a snide smile on his Maltese face.

Max on grass

“This is what I expect when I need to do my business.”

“Calm down,” I said, a phrase that sealed my fate as one of the damned. “I’ll find a place for him.”

Max and I hit the bricks at about 10:00. I guided him behind the motel and up a block or so where I could see bright lights. At least our bodies would be easy to find.

Turns out the lights came from a police station whose facilities included a large parking lot behind an intimidating fence festooned with obvious security cameras.

As we approached, an officer was waiting for the sliding gate to open fully so he could drive out. Right on cue, Max pranced into the middle of the driveway in front of the police car and, to my growing horror, went into the Maltese hunch. When he gets into that position, nothing can budge him.

Sealed for your protection

I pointed out to the AJF that, according to this strip of paper, the toilet was “cleaned and sealed for your protection.” She was not impressed.

So there we were, late in the evening, in a bad art of town, hunched over and pooping on the police station driveway under the glare of security cameras, blocking the police car. I should also note that I was dressed in black and wore a wide brim hat, no doubt appearing suspicious.

I looked at the policeman as he waited for clearance. He simply shook his head in disdain and looked down. Finally, Max finished what may have been his most leisurely dump ever.

I scooped the proceeds and gave a wave to the cop using the hand holding the poo bag, a move universally recognized by dog owners. My gesture wasn’t returned.


I like a closet with a lot of hangars. The walls and door are optional.

A little later we got back to a rather frosty motel room. The AJF skewered me with a baleful eye and asked, “How’d it go?”

“No problem,” I replied. Those were the last words said that night but my pain was not over.

Upon checkout I learned the motel charged a $30 “pet fee” on top of their usurious daily rate. The AJF still doesn’t know about that little detail.

Over breakfast I Googled several options for the next night’s accommodations and made a reservation at the most expensive one.

38 replies

  1. Ok, so I laughed my way through this. No eye rolls, though. The ironing board in full view is a nice touch. But–it you needed a table, there it was–no need to search. The customary motel binder….gave all the details about the free breakfast buffet and room service?
    Many years ago, we stayed at (what seems to be) a place similar to this one. We refer to it now as ‘remember that place that smelled like…..?’ This, too, shall pass.
    Oh, and nice touch to wave to the officer with the poo bag in hand. Secretly, he appreciated it from the out-of-towner, I am sure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could make out he officer tapping the steering wheel with two fingers and he was clearly impatient for us to get out of his way. It was a dark night but all the lights in the parking lot let us see his face full of disdain as the Malt went on and on and on and then gave a little shake of the tail to indicate he was done. No place to hide. I know what you mean about strange smelling motel rooms. We stayed in one during this trip that reeked of clams. Not the deep fried version, either. But during August on the West Coast rooms are in demand and the good ones went to those people we mock for being so prepared.


  2. 10 PM in that neighborhood? You are so lucky to be alive. If that ever, ever happens again, PM me. I’ll stop laughing long enough to give my sister a call on your behalf. Hahahahaha…. Maybe I’ll stop laughing. Then I’ll tell you about the time I dropped into Elko, Nevada in the middle of a miner’s conference, all rooms taken, and a guy chased me out to the parking lot to offer to, I kid you not, share his room. Until that fine day, I’ll just let you imagine how it went.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG!! I’m laughing so hard the tears are running down my leg. Wait! Maybe that’s not tears!! 😂😂
    The ironing board has a nice blue cover, but I don’t see an iron to go with it. Hopefully you didn’t have need of more than 6 hangers.
    The expression on Max’s face while in the park is priceless. I think he got his message across to you about how mortified he was at your choice of accommodations by pooping in the police station driveway. Good thing you had a poo bag. I don’t think the AJF would’ve bailed you out of jail!
    I gotta tell you Tom, I’m so glad I don’t eat Nutella because after your description of the man’s trousers I wouldn’t be able to walk down the market aisle where Nutella is shelved. 😳😬😱
    I think Max and the AJF deserve a medal!!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the little paper strip on the commode was an elegant touch. Made me confident that all was sterile. The cop’s face was beyond description too as he waited for the little dog to finish. I kept expecting a siren to go off as he got ab emergency call. Both Max and I would have had heart attacks but Max would have been in the more embarrassing position. Later the AJF laughed about all this but it took a good 48 hours before I was forgiven.


  4. Perish the thought that Max might expedite things….we’ve ended up in some decidedly dodgy places in our time…but we leave the canine masters at home, training their dog sitters.
    I can just see that policeman…here I am, patrolling the mean streets and I have to wait to finish my shift while a Maltese poops in the entrance…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly right and the officer’s face telegraphed his emotions. Probably a fan of big dogs and not those little frou-frou yappers. Max was not to be hurried. Three feet on either side and it would have been an innocuous encounter. But noooo, the Malt chose to be dead center when he hunched.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The “flat rate”…ba boom tsss…try the veal, tip the waitress, Kismet will be here all week. I guess the cop was feeling moderately tolerant. One boop on the siren and I would have had Malt poo all over me and the pup would probably be traumatized into eternal constipation.


  5. Pretty sure that AJF knows about that $30 now!
    Oh, dear, poor little Max having to poop in the street – the sheer horror of it overwhelms me! Please get him some tasty treats immediately!

    And I shall never ever eat Nutella. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. HA!!! I snorted all the way through this!!! 😀 😛 Cooper is looking at me like, “Woman, what are you laughing about now?!” 😀 So, I read it to him!

    Cooper said, “Poor Max!” “Next time would you please pick a better place for Max to do his business, and sleep!” 😉 Maybe you could stay at the Dog-gone Fun Hotel, or the Tail-Waggin’ Inn, or the Ruff-House Resort, or the Pawsitively Pamper You Lodge?!?!

    We stayed at Motel Hell one night in Raton, New Mexico! (Too long of a story to tell here in your comment section!) We’re still traumatized! 😮

    Max’s expression in that grassy-photo is so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
    HUGS to you and AJF!
    PATS and RUBS to Max!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve actually been to Raton NM although I’ve never spent the night there. As I recall, it’s not exactly the Garden of Earthly Delights, no offense to any lurking Ratonians and I’m sure it has its charms. Sometimes, dogs seem to be masters at picking the most awkward spots to do their duty . Max has made a big production of biology in locations guaranteed to draw unwanted attention and leave me standing there with a bag a poo under the judgmental eyes of his audience. I guess when nature calls you got to answer but a little discretion would be appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    • We were not big fans of Eureka, population 27,000 or so. Maybe another time with another itinerary and things would have looked rosier. Much of what we saw in Humboldt County was not encouraging; lots and lots of homeless, many obviously mentally ill and an overall economic malaise. We saw opportunity but there seemed to lack a vibrancy and spirit to get things going. Of course this was a snap judgment based on short exposure to the area.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Omg, I’m still laughing! Poor Max. The indignity! I’m sorry to tell you that I felt the same as the AJF the year my husband booked us into a roadside motel in the Poconos. All three kids needed antibiotics after that trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nothing says “successful road trip” like a nice staph infection with just a touch of E. coli. I think it may be awhile before I can get away with cavalier trip planning. Currently I’m making a paper strip to fit around the AJF’s fancy washlet toilet that says “sealed for your protection.” Let’s see how that goes. Baby steps.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As you are well aware, dogs have a special sense that enables them to maximize their owner’s embarrassment. Yes, we all understand these are natural bodily functions but do they have to do it in front of the church after services, on the lawn in front of the patrons at the outdoor dining section, or the middle of the shopping promenade? Yes. Yes they do. Because…


    • If we asked him I’ll bet he’d say they weren’t so bad. Maybe a little bit “unique,” and “interesting” but probably not dodgy. You female people have really high standards when it comes to things that involve cleanliness and personal safety. Takes all the fun out it.


    • Recently La Quinta changed its corporate policy on pet fees and now allows each operating unit to set its own rules on fees. On our recent trip we found that more than half the La Quinta hotels now charged, usually $20/night with a $40 maximum but it varied. We’ve been actively lobbying with other dog travelers to ask La Quinta to re-instate its free dog policy. I get nice notes from Corporate VPs but no action, just explanations which suspiciously sound like “because we want to make more money.”


      • Sad. For 50.00 get him registered as a service dog. They can’t charge you if you have an ID card. Might be able to get one on eBay cheaper.


        • No, I would never do that. It’s a pet peeve (ha!) of mine that owners should never misrepresent their dogs as something they are not. That’s the equivalent of stolen valor for canines. Max is not a service dog (way too lazy and undisciplined) and not an emotional support dog (we have to give him emotional support). He’s just a lovable, uber-gentle little white dog who likes to travel. We’ll take the lumps and grim hotels and figure it’s just part of the adventure! 🙂


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