But after, let’s say, a hundred or so nights in various hotels, I got tired of certain things.
Little bars of soap, for instance. Most hotels now have two of them: a regular little one for the shower and an even littler one for the vanity. They each have to be unwrapped. And I would use a tiny fraction of each one during my stay. It is disturbing to think how much unused soap I left in my travel wake.
I caused a lot of excess pillowcase laundry, too. Most hotel beds these days come with four pillows — two soft and two firm (allegedly). I only used one or two per night, but they all had to be washed.
And speaking of hotel beds, I will say that excessive softness or firmness is not a problem for me. But two other things are.
First, I hate the way sheets are tucked in so tight on hotel beds now. It became a nightly ritual for me to walk around the perimeter of the bed, yanking sheets free before I turned in.
The other bed thing I do not understand is the heavy comforter. Three quarters of my trips were in summertime, but my hotel beds often had the kind of bedding you would expect on an Alaskan winter night. And a thick comforter — never mind the soft feel and plush appearance — contributes to the single most common cause of a bad night’s sleep in a hotel:
Being too hot.
I am pretty sure I have stayed in more hotels than 90 percent of the population, but I have never really mastered nighttime temperature control. Especially the first night in a new room. I can pretty reliably predict that I will wake up about 3 a.m. in a near sweat. The comforter is part of the problem. But as you probably know, the room’s heat/air conditioning unit is a big contributor. If it just has a warmer/colder dial, you never know where to set it for overnight comfort. And if it is controlled by a wall thermostat, a setting of 70 in one room is the equivalent of 76 in another. Too hot is always worse than too cold. In fact, I can’t remember the last time was too cold in a hotel room. Too hot happens all the time.
And don’t even get me started on the various noises that come out of hotel ventilation systems. Plenty of times I have stacked heavy things from the room on an A/C unit to stop it from buzzing. Other times I have yanked the vibrating plastic cover off and leaned it against a wall.
I got pretty sick of hotel breakfast bars, too. Cereal gushing out of the rotating plastic dispenser when you turn the knob. Bread that languishes in the toaster for several minutes only to emerge soft and untoasted. Scrambled eggs that began the day in powder form. Microwave omelettes, greasy bacon, gray sausage patties and various potato atrocities.
I did get to be very good with the make-you-own-Belgian-waffle thing. Dispense a paper cup full of batter. Spray the hot, black grid with cooking spray. Dump in the batter. Rotate the assembly 180 degrees. Wait for the timer bell to chime. Rotate back. Use the plastic fork to hoist the golden waffle onto your Styrofoam plate. Modestly accept the applause of other breakfast bar patrons.
But the fake maple syrup was always so bad I gave up on the waffles too.
Toward the end of my adventure travels, I was pretty much just an oatmeal guy. The nicer places would have a steaming kettle of it. The others would have the instant kind. I would mix in some raisins and brown sugar, have a small juice and maybe a banana and call it breakfast.
But I am home now. The sheets are tucked just right. The breakfasts are fresh. The soap is full-sized. We do not use any form of room deodorizer. The heat and A/C are quiet. And the windows are able to be opened. There is never anyone noisy in the hallway or the room next door.
Life is good.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not up for a road trip the next time the opportunity arises.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.