Friday, January 30, 2009

Hotel Life

I'm sure that everyone is aware of the disastrous weather that has covered much of the nation in one form or another. Here in Ark we had one hell of an ice storm. The worst in the last 9 years. It doesn't really get that cold here, below freezing is a real event and only a couple inches of snow a year, maybe. This ice storm was predicted but in true Redneck fashion, most chose to wait and see what was going to happen rather than prepare. It must be North West Arkansas close proximity to Missouri that prompted the "show me" mentality. Many are regretting it now.

The storm was called for to hit on Monday and by about 3pm most people were headed home through Ice and rain. Kyle and I went to his eye doctor apt at 4:15 and had some trouble getting home after. It rained hard through the night while ground temps were around 30 and ice was beginning to form. I got up Tues am to icy conditions and watched as branches began to fall from the many huge trees in my back yard and the yards of the neighbors. A branch took out my cable at about 9am and the power went out for good by 10:30. The dogs refused to go outside to potty because the sound of cracking wood scared them. Smart Dogs! They could have easily been hit by huge falling branches. My basset hound chose Becca's room to be his "litter box" while Tiny, the English Mastiff ran out quickly to do his business. By 11am I knew we were in trouble and started making phone calls to hotels. I was lucky to be able to find a room close by that still had power. It took Kyle and I a couple of hours to pack up clothes and get the house ready for abandonment. We put the dogs in crates in the living room, got the cats ready for an absence, packed up the snakes for delivery at Kyle's girlfriends house (she had heat) and defrost my car.

That is where our Hotel Life started. Actually, we were lucky to get a room at all since every hotel was booked up by that night. Many of the hotels themselves lost power as well and mine lost power for several hours on Tuesday night but we were safe, warm and had internet!! Imagine, life without yahoo, google, facebook, blog, email, online banking, etc, what would we do???

I'm very used to staying in hotels while on business and everything is very civilized. People are quiet in their rooms, sleeping or working. Breakfast is usually people getting coffee and juice, yogurt, hot tea and the like. A major annoyance would be a screaming child, a barking dog or a smoker who refuses to obey the no smoking rules. Easy huh? By Wednesday morning I knew I was in the Hotel Twilight Zone.

First of all, everyone had dogs. Many rooms had several four legged occupants and dog parties were spontaneously occurring in the lobby and on every square inch of what had been grass before it became solid ice. By Thursday, the ice looked like it was chocolate chip ice because of all the poo, well lemon chocolate chip ice, you get my meaning. Just in case you're not familiar with my dogs, I have a basset hound that weighs 56 lbs and loves everyone and every other dog. His name is Beullar (yes, for Ferris Beullar). I also have and English Mastiff named Tiny who weighs about 170 on a skinny day. He's friendly but any time a dog that big comes to see you with their owner hanging on for dear life behind him, it can be scary. Kyle has been in charge of Tiny since he can pull me across the ice like I'm on skates.

Breakfast was an education in itself. Arkansans in footie pj's with bed head and fuzzy slippers were packing the breakfast nook as if they had never eaten hot food before. Small children had plates before them that had waffles, bagels, muffins and toast. It was a carb nightmare! They also had cereal, juice, fruit and hot chocolate. Their parents never even thought about stopping them, after all it is free.. Visions of "Vegas Vacation" and the endless all you can eat buffet plate came to mind. I had trouble squeezing in to get my tiny cup of hot water for tea. At one point, they ran out of hot chocolate and I thought there would be a riot. If only I could begin to describe the conversation... peppered with "I'm fixin to blah blah blah" and "Scooter, don't LICK the syrup bottle, use yor fingers..." and "Ooops, it's only bin on the floor for a second, it's still good" I may have permanently lost my appetite, which would be a good thing in itself..

Days come and go. People come in, dogs go out. Trash bags full of empty cases of beer and pizza boxes litter the halls. Rednecks with too many children populate the pool. It's very weird to see people in swim suits when we're having a major ice storm and power outage.

Then...Nirvana!!! Power trucks from all over the country start to arrive to help us. We're jumping up and down, waving our arms and yelling "Thank you, my Hero....." offering coffee, anything we can. That's when it hit me....

This has just been an minor annoyance, a blip on the screen of life. We are so lucky and we don't even know it. Yes, it sucks to be out of our house and out of all of our comforts but, lets put it into perspective, shall we? We're in a hotel room, albeit expensive and uncomfortable, we're warm and safe. There are places to eat and things to do. We can help ourselves and live a fairly normal life. Our pets were not blown or washed away, they are with us. We are not giving birth or having a heart attach in a football stadium with no one to help or advise. How dare we complain? It's time to pull up our Big Girl Panties and get on with it. I have nothing but renewed respect and compassion for those who endured hurricane Katrina and I feel so blessed and lucky that I'm here and not there, or even in Kentucky where things are way worse than here.

So that's it, we're still in the hotel, five days later and waiting for our electricity to be restored. I did spy a convoy of workers from North Carolina on my street today and cheered them enthusiastically. I'm just so thankful that we can pay for a hotel room where we can have some of the comforts of home and that all the people that I love are safe and happy. Three older couples are holding down the lobby and playing a fierce game of Mexican dominos and they let me look over their shoulders for a while. Hotel life is not so bad after all.


  1. Quite an experience Tracy. I know you must be really ready to go home and we are all hoping that tomorrow will be your day. A day for home with power and a day to celebrate making it one more year. In fact I do believe this next one may be one of your best. You are due and we are saying our prayers for you.

  2. It sounds like you have had what I like to call an adventure. I am glad you will hopefully be getting power back on soon. I know that in a few weeks you will be thinking that this was just another adventure on the road of being you. If it makes you feel any better, my uncle in Louisville is in the same boat as you. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. What a vivid description. Thanks for giving us a good look into your experience. Glad I didn't have to live through it. Sorry you did.

  4. I am so glad you found perspective in all that. Sucks to be you .... true, but sucks even more to be "them" It could always be worse and having perspective into that is being blessed!