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Tag: motel

Enraging: Poodle found dead in parked car

mulcahy - CopyA Virginia woman has been charged with  animal cruelty after two dogs were found locked in her car Saturday — one of them dead.

Sharon Mulcahy, 62, of Richmond, told  police she’d arrived at a motel in Baltimore the night  before with her “bowels overflowing,” and left the dogs in her car while she checked into a room, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“Ms. Mulcahy stated that she was going to go back downstairs to care for the  dogs, but instead decided to go to sleep, leaving the two dogs inside the vehicle for approximately 19 hours,” the police report said.

Temperatures in Baltimore reached the mid-90s on Saturday. Police said one window of the car was cracked open about two inches, but that the dogs — both poodles — had no food or water.

Inside the car, they found a six-year-old brown poodle named Missy dead, laying across the center console. A second poodle, Bear on the floor of the drivers seat. Bear survived.

Police found Mulcahy in the laundry room of the hotel. She was charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of restraining a dog without shelter or food and water.

Live nude kudzu, and other thoughts

 

Sweeping back through the south, we’ve crossed Tennessee and made it to North Carolina, this time without the benefit of what, back in the summer, was our favorite form of highway entertainment — looking for dogs in the kudzu.

The Vine That Ate the South is naked now, having lost its leaves for winter, leaving behind only long strands of clumped-together, spindly, bare vines. I can no longer see big green animals in the leaves, only stick figures, spider webs, spaghetti and road maps.

The kudzu will be back, though, in spring — and ready to spread as quickly as “adult superstores” have through Tennessee. There are a lot of “adult superstores” in the Volunteer State. Going down I-40, it seems like every other billboard is either touting an “adult superstore” or the fact that Jesus Saves.

After crossing the Mississippi River, we stopped outside of Memphis for a quick visit with my son, checking into a Best Western, where I had reserved a room online, after seeing it touted itself as dog-friendly.

Not until I arrived did I see that there were pet fees, according to a posting at the front desk  – $15 for a dog between 5 and 20 pounds, $25 for dogs 20 to 40 pounds, and $35 for dogs 40 pounds and up.

I immediately squawked — I’ve become a bit more of a squawker in recent months – pointing out that I’d be paying almost as much for the dog as for me.

“How much does your dog weigh?” asked the desk clerk.

I thought about lying, but, having seen too many God billboards, couldn’t. Over 100 pounds, I said, adding that he’s much better behaved than a lot of 10 pound dogs, and pointing out that the whole charging by weight concept was ludicrous.

The desk clerk made a face like he’d swallowed something yukky and excused himself. Ten minutes later he was back, with a room assignment and news that they’d only charge me $25 for the dog.

Too tired to have any principles, and wanting to get off the road on New Year’s Eve, I accepted the discount and took the room. Then I seethed about the whole thing — especially the weight part — for a couple more hours.

Charging fees for dogs is not dog-friendly; its dog-greedy. I wonder how much damage dogs do to motel rooms across America, compared to that done by people.

Rather than pet fees, maybe motels should be looking at rock star fees — for they, if we’re going to stereotype, are famous for trashing rooms. Why not a fraternity boy fee? A student on spring break fee? A crying baby fee? A loud sex fee?

Only twice in our travels have we experienced loud sex — both times from the room next door. Ace and I did the only thing we could. We tilted our heads and looked at the wall the sounds were coming from, then turned up the TV.

This particular Best Western — where we neither experienced loud sex nor managed to stay awake until midnight — had another sign at the front desk that bothered me: “No Visitors.”

Is that constitutional? Even prisons allow visitors.

Depite all the control being exercised in motels, or at least the one we stayed at, Tennessee, as a state, seems less successful at reigning in kudzu, or adult superstores. (Not that I have anything against adult superstores; it’s a free country, except at the particular Best Western we stayed in.)

As we passed through Tennessee, I stopped at several huge thickets of kudzu (and at no adult superstores, though I was wondering what exactly made them “super”).

I searched the bare vines for dog shapes, which some some of you may recall became a bit of an obsession for me over the summer, but I could find none.

Instead, all I could see in the withered and weepy vines were hunched over old witches, overworked peasants and evil motel desk clerks who charged exorbitant pet fees.

Johnny finds his harmonica

Sometimes, what sounds like noise is really music. Sometimes, what looks like trouble can be a joy.

I’d pulled into a trailer court to turn around after my visit to the Howdy Manor  when a voice called out: “Hey, bro!”

It being a neighborhood that’s even sketchier than it was 35  years ago, when I briefly lived in it, I was going to pull out when I heard it again. “Hey, bro!”

So I rolled to a stop there in the driveway next to the Bucking Bronc motel and trailer court, a couple of motels down from the Howdy Manor.

Four people — three men and a woman — were sitting in front of a trailer enjoying beverages that included beer and vodka. One of them approached my car, with something in his hand.

“I want you to have this,” he said.

Thinking he might have mistaken me for a drug buyer, I was ready to beg off when he passed it through my open window.

It was a children’s book — “Touch and Feel Wild Animals.”

I hesitated to open it, fearing some illicit narcotics might be hidden between its pages — that maybe children’s books were the drug dealer’s delivery method of choice in this particular neighborhood.

Seeing my skepticism, he grabbed it back and opened it himself, showing how, through the holes in the cardboard, you could touch the fake fur and fake skin and get an idea what each animal — tiger, lion, alligator, polar bear, chimpanzee — feels like.

“Tiger, tiger, running through the grass, your black-and-orange stripes go quickly past,” read the first page. “Tiger, tiger, I can hear you growl, as you get ready to go on the prowl.”

I wasn’t sure why I deserved the book, and told him he really should give to a child. He explained that he saw the ohmidog! magnet on my car door, and figured I liked animals. I should have it, he said.

I was waiting for him to quote a price, but he never did. Instead he asked about my dog. I got out and popped open the back door to let Ace out. He greeted the man with the book, then went over to see the rest of the gang.

He snuggled with Sherry, and knocked over her bottle of beer. She didn’t mind at all.

Then he met Johnny, who said he was a former Marine and Vietnam vet who now sells newspapers to get by.

There used to be two daily newspapers in town. He sells copies of the remaining one, the Arizona Daily Star, where 35 years ago, I used to work as a reporter. The newspaper costs 75 cents now, but Johnny sells them for less. My suspicion — and perhaps it’s just my cynicism again — is he pays for one paper, then pulls them all out of the vending machine and sells them on the street. Call him an entrepreneur.

He said he also plays the harmonica, and he asked if I’d like to hear a song. At that point, he grabbed his knapsack and began rooting through it. Ace helped.

Ten minutes later, he was still looking. When you carry your life in a knapsack, things can be hard to find.

I asked them if they lived in the trailer court, and they said they didn’t — that they just lived “around.”

After another five minutes, Johnny’s search paid off, and he pulled a slightly rusty  harmonica out of his bag.

Johnny sat on a plastic chair, Sherry on a cinderblock. I took a seat on the guest rock — actually a rock atop a cinderblock, which functioned kind of like a rocking chair. Everyone’s jackets hung on a nearby tree.

Johnny brought the harmonica to his mouth and started playing a happy but unidentifiable song. Everyone tapped their feet and hummed along, and one member of the group started howling like a dog, leading Ace to look at him with tilted head.

I love the tilted head — a dog’s transparent, non-judgmental way of expressing puzzlement when he hears or sees something different. It seems to say – and here I am wrongly interpreting dog behavior by human standards – ”I don’t get this … I will turn my head slightly to the side and focus even harder to understand.”

If only humans could do that. Instead, when we see something different, we far too often judge, frown and walk away. As adults, our childish curiosity gets crusted over with cynicism — to the point we can get fearful of something as innocuous as a “touch and feel” children’s book.

Johnny played for about five minutes, and the song never really came to a distinct ending; it just kind of tailed off, once Johnny switched from harmonica to the vodka bottle.

I thanked them for allowing us to hang out, wished them all the best and headed for my car – feeling I’d made some new fleeting friends, but still, being human, expecting to be asked for money. They had, after all provided me with a book and musical entertainment.

As I started the car, the man who’d given me the “touch and feel” book appeared at my window. But all he did was shake my hand one last time.

“Vaya con Dios,” he said.

Tucumcari tonight

Route 66 through Tucumcari is like Route 66 through a lot of places — a step back into the past that leaves you wondering if the old road and the motels that line it have much of a future.

Bypassed decades ago by Interstate 40, they fought to survive — and many have managed to do so nicely — but the economic downturn has made that a far fiercer fight.

Some, like the Blue Swallow (above) seem to be hanging on, thriving even. For others, the neon has burned out, the windows have been boarded up and weeds rise waist-high in the parking lot.

The Relax Inn, for example, is a ghost motel — and I’ve seen at least a dozen of them in my travels on Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona: Its outdated sign remains, but glows no more.

Route 66 was established in 1926, originally running from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ending in southern California – 2,448 miles in all.

It served as pathway for migrants moving west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Mom and pop businesses began popping up along it around then – restaurants, gas stations, motor courts, curio shops and more. Most of those businesses managed to survive the Depression, even prosper from it, catering to those moving west in search of a better life. World War II led to more westward migration, further bolstering businesses along Route 66. By the 1950s, the road served as the main highway for vacationers headed to California, or to see the sights of the West, and Route 66 thrived.

It would become a cultural icon in the decade that followed – featured in songs, TV shows and movies. It was distinctly American – and even today, some of the motels tout, in addition to their color cable TV and Internet connections, their American-ness.

The Tucumcari Inn, for example boasts that it is “American-owned”, but right next door, the sign at The Historic Route 66 Motel — as if casting aspersions on whether its neighbor is true-blue American — reads “Genuine American.” (Apparently, genuine American-ness, is worth an extra $2 a night)

The beginning of what many thought might be the end for Route 66 came in 1956 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act. Interstate 40 offered a speedier alternative, one in which motorists wouldn’t need to go through or slow down for towns like Tucumcari.

Instead they could avoid places of character and, eventually, fulfill their needs at lookalike, chain motels and restaurants conveniently located at the exits.

Despite the opposition of business and civic leaders in many of the bypassed towns, I-40 stretched on absorbing some parts of Route 66, sidestepping others.

In 1963, the New Mexico Legislature enacted legislation that banned the construction of interstate bypasses around cities by local request – but that didn’t fly. The federal government threatened to withhold federal highway funds. Instead some towns, Tucumcari included, worked out agreements with the federal government, in hopes that the new Interstate would at least come close to their businesses.

By the late 1960s, most of the rural sections of US 66 had been replaced by I-40 across New Mexico, and in 1981 the section bypassing Tucumcari was completed.

Route 66 would be “decommisioned” in 1985 when the federal government decided it was no longer “relevant” – given the presence of the Interstate Highway System.

Since then, there have been many efforts to preserve Route 66, and the businesses along it. In 1999 the National Route 66 Preservation Bill was signed by President Clinton, which provided $10 million in grants for preserving and restoring its historic features.

But the economic downturn has made the struggle to survive along Route 66 even more intense. Two years ago, the World Monuments Funded placed Route 66 on its list of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Today, Tucumcari, whose billboards attempt to lure travelers off the Interstate and into town — “Tucumcari Tonight,” they urge – has fewer motels, fewer restaurants. It’s down to one bar, and the signs of struggle are apparent in boarded up buildings, bargain rates and beckoning neon.

Some of it, like hope, flickers at times, but it still shines bright. Long may it do so.

(Photos by John Woestendiek)

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

We coulda stayed in a wigwam

Ace and I had planned to get across the New Mexico state line Monday, but once we hit Holbrook, Arizona it was close to 6 p.m. So I pulled out my AAA “Traveling with Your Pet” guide to see what lodgings might be friendly, and saw that all four listed accepted pets “with restrictions.”

We hate restrictions.

We’d decided to push on to Gallup when we saw, on the edge of Holbrook, a Motel 6 — the chain that we’ve come to rely on for under $40 a night dog friendliness, with no deposits or restrictions. We checked in there — it’s the nicest Motel 6 we’ve stayed at yet — and I left Ace in the room while I went back into town trolling for somewhere to eat dinner.

It was then I found where I should have stayed. Had I done a little research, or taken 10 minutes to tour the town first, I would have seen it earlier. Now, I’ll have to wait until the next time we pass through to stay at that kitschy monument to thinking outside the box — the Wigwam Motel.

It’s a glorious sight — especially in the modern day world of look-alike, smell-alike, sound-alike motels: 15 individual concrete wigwams perched on a dusty lot.

From the looks of things, it has managed — though it died once — to survive where a lot of other family owned motels, thanks to the Interstate bypassing town, have not.

I stopped in and chatted with Guy Thielman, the great grandson of Chester Lewis, who opened the motel in the 1940s after seeing a similar one in Kentucky.

It was part of a chain, and Lewis — of a mind that if anywhere should have a wigwam motel it was Holbrook — took out a loan and got himself a franchise, or at least something close to that. According to Wikipedia, he purchased the rights to the design, as well as the right to use the name “Wigwam Village” in an unusual agreement: The chain’s owner would receive the proceeds from coin operated radios (30 minutes for a dime) installed in rooms at the Holbrook Wigwam Village.

Lewis closed the motel in 1974 when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, his two sons, Clifton and Paul, and his daughter, Elinor, renovated and reopened it and later managed to get it listed on the  National Register of Historic Places.

Seven Wigwam Motels, also known as Wigwam Villages were built between 1936 and the 1950s. Only three are still in operation – in Holbrook, Cave City, Kentucky and near San Bernadino, California.

The other four – now gone — were located in New Orleans, Orlando, Bessemer, Alabama and Horse Cave, Kentucky, where the first one opened.

Holbrook’s Wigwam Motel has a few bonus features as well — a museum of petrified wood and other artifacts accumulated by Chester Lewis, and many vintage automobiles strewn about the parking lot.

The biggest bonus of all, though, is that dogs are allowed, with no deposit required.

I stopped by the wigwams again yesterday to take some photos and ran into a group that was packing up after what they described as an enjoyable and inexpensive evening in their wigwam.

Amber, her friend Shantelle, and Shantelle’s son, Logan, were headed for the Petrified Forest, but they took the time to say hello. Logan immediately bonded with Ace, and invited him into the wigwam.

The three were on vacation, hitting most of the well-known tourist attractions of the southwest — Carlsbad Caverns, Sedona, the Grand Canyon and more. They learned about the Wigwam Motel while Googling things to do along Route 66. Since Shantelle and Amber didn’t have many pictures of the Wigwam Motel, or the two of them together, I put together an album and slapped it on my Facebook page, so they could have access to them.

Logan babysat Ace for me while I wandered around the property taking photos of them, the wigwams and the vintage cars — some of them even older than me.

It’s nice to see an effort to preserve the past, and to see that the old motel — even though bypassed by an Interstate and pounded by the poor economy — is still up and running.

Wigwams forever!

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. It can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Alabamer Glamour: The ultimate makeover

When you get off the Interstate Highway system, the country becomes a far more interesting place.

We finally did that today, for the first time on this trip, leaving behind all the monotonously lookalike exits to get a taste of yet-to-be homogenized America, where some character still exists.

Our drive across Alabama from Huntsville to Florence on Highway 72 — less than two hours — took us through Decatur, where we noticed this establishment on the side of the road.

I didn’t have time to drop in – I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of makeover, anyway  – because I had to get to Florence, get checked in and get myself gussied up for my son’s high school graduation tonight.

Ace won’t be attending that function. He’s more than content, I’m sure, to stay in the air conditioned room, even if it means he’ll be by himself.

The Knights Inn in Florence allows dogs, with a an extra $10 fee, but has a weight limit of 20 pounds, which wasn’t pointed out — neither the fee nor the limit — on the website where I made the reservation.

“What kind of dog do you have?” the desk clerk asked.

“A big mutt,” I answered.

“We have a limit of 20 pounds,” she said.

“Okay,” I said, “then he’s 19 and a half pounds.”

I’m not sure how I will handle it if I get confronted about my 130-pound dog — nearly seven times the limit:

Maybe, “He’s grown a lot since I checked in.”

Or, “He’s actually very small, he just has a lot of hair.”

Or perhaps, “Praise the Lord! He was a Chihuahua yesterday. It’s a miracle!”

For all of “Dog’s Country” – the adventures of Ace and me as we spend a month or more traveling around the country – click the picture to the left.

Top five pet-friendly hotel chains named

Just in time for summer vacation, Petside.com has released its list of the Top Five Pet-Friendly Hotels — this time (thank you very much) focusing on budget chains that normal people can afford.

Unlike last year’s list — entirely made up of places in which Ace and I lack the bucks to bunk (The James Hotel in Chicago, The W Tuscany in New York, The Hotel Monaco in Denver, Bowen’s By The Bays in Hampton Bays, New York and the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles) — this year’s is aimed at the “cost-conscious” traveler.

The top honors went to Motel 6, where all 900 franchises allow one pet per room with no extra fees or deposits.

La Quinta Inns & Suites came in second. It allow pets at 99 percent of its 650 properties, according to spokesperson Teresa Ferguson. “People who travel with their pets generally have very well-behaved and well-groomed animals,” she says. Accordingly, LaQuinta does not require deposits, or fees for pets, although they do request a weight limit of 45 pounds. (My dog Ace, at 130 pounds, has yet to be turned away from a La Quinta, and if he ever is subjected to that arbitrary and discriminatory rule, our business will go to Motel 6.)

Also making the top five were Red Roof Inn, with 340 locations welcoming pets; Best Western, with more than1,900 pet-friendly locations, 1000 of which are in the U.S. & Canada; and Candlewood Suites, where pets under 80 pounds are always welcome — provided you pay an extra fee and have you vaccination records available.

Petside.com is a pet website created by NBC Digital Networks, in partnership with Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc.

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