Monday, October 30, 2006

Countdown to heaven

Who knew that Mt. Laurel, NJ was such a hotel hotbed. My last trip here a couple weeks ago involved a drive from Newark airport in the rain on the day that a small aircraft flew into a building in New York. It was dark, rainy, and difficult to navigate. All I wanted was my hotel and food.

I'm back for another brief trip, and discovered why I haven't been able to book myself into the Hilton Cherry Hill during either of these two trips.

It no longer exists. Well, the building does, but it's now a Crowne Plaza.

Today, while lumbering over toward Exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike, I noticed not only the hotel during my prior stay (Courtyard), but also a Marriott, Wyndham, Doubletree (where I'm staying tonight), and a just-ground-broken Westin?!

Heavenly beds are coming to Mt. Laurel! That should not excite me as much as it does.


FG18 said...

weren't you going to buy a heavenly bed??

Jason said...

I was! Good memory. I opted for a heavenly bed clone which is equally as heavenly.

Further, I did not think I would be able to keep the ultra-whiteness of the sheets, so I bowed away.

FG18 said...

you cannot comment on keeping your sheets white and not expect to be snarked on .....

Boulder Soul said...

Hi, Folkgirl told me to check out and post something on your here I am.

I'm back for another brief trip, and discovered why I haven't been able to book myself into the Hilton Cherry Hill during either of these two trips.

It no longer exists. Well, the building does, but it's now a Crowne Plaza.

For whatever reason this reminded me of a time I was traveling in the Tuscany region of Italy. Here is my tale:

After spending several glorious days exploring the museums, boutiques, food markets, and back streets of Florence, I decided to venture southward to Monte Oliveto Maggiore—a Benedictine monastery friends had told me was a must see. Apparently, I was told, if you arrive before a certain time you can get your name on a list and then are able to spend the night in one of the rooms, dine with the monks (in silence), and sit in on their daily vespers. I figured why not—what could be more fun than spending a portion of my four week holiday with a bunch of celibate men. So I hopped in my rental car and was off.

On the relatively short drive my attention was diverted from the task at hand—getting to the celibate men—to another matter—taking in the sheer beauty of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. I stopped several times along the way to photograph the rolling hills of the province of Siena. The distant hill towns at sunset were breath taking.

Once I got my fill. if one can EVER get their fill of the Italian countryside, onwards I trekked. By this time it was dark and I, of course, missed the time for sign up to stay at the monastery. No problem, since my itinerary was loose, I would just do it the following night. Now it was time to find a place to spend the night. As is typical for me when I travel in this loose un-scheduled manner, I had no reservations for lodging—I wing and a prayer it, finding places along the way wherever I happen to be. It had ALWAYS worked in the past—and I have met memorable people and experienced fabulous places—that is until that night.

Lets just say there was no room at the inn—any of them. While I was deciding what I was going to do an elderly man at the pensione I had stopped at told me of this new, small motel that was about 20 kms away. He was certain there would be availability. I took him at his word, got directions, and headed there.

The night was dark, the rural country roads winding, and I was getting tired. After what seemed like an hour I finally saw, off in the distance, a building with lights. Ahhhh, slumber would soon be upon me. As I approached the motel I remember thinking that the building's architecture seemed oddly out of place for the area but made mental note that all the doors to the rooms were nicely lit with candle like light fixtures. When I pulled up to what I thought was the front door, I started laughing. The building was a large mausoleum. All the nicely lit doors were actually the individual crypts. LMAO. I, being who I am, stayed long enough to take some pictures.

Anyway, it was approaching midnight and I needed sleep, so I drove the car to the first road I spotted, turned on to it and pulled over. I arranged the contents of the car so I could put the back seat down, pulled a coat from my suitcase, and fell asleep. In the morning I awoke to the barking of a dog. When I sat up I saw the most beautiful of sights. I was on top of a hill with nothing in sight but a meadow that was covered with poppies. At the bottom of the hill were a small lake and the ruins of an ancient building of some kind.

I have no clue where the new motel was—or even if it existed. But some sort of building did, a place where guests check in but they never check out.

Wonderful experience. Wonderful memories.

Boulder Soul said...

I know the previous post did not quite fit the talk about clean white sheets but what the heck. :o)

Jason said...

Thanks, Boulder Soul! Excellent story. I loved Siena, and while in Italy, only got my fill of Basilicas. How many Pietas can one see in a week?

If I had done the same series of actions here last night...

- I could have awoken to a gorgeous sea of turnpike entryways

- My poor midsized sedan might have been jacked

Welcome to New Jersey!