I have no reservations about traveling.

The Glorietta Bayside Inn ... overnight travel is not like it used to be.
The Glorietta Bayside Inn in San Diego … overnight travel is not like it used to be.

MEMORIES DATING BACK TO WORLD WAR II include “tourist courts”—forerunners of motels—and first spins of Roger Miller’s King of the Road—a 1965 song hit. The lyrics included the line, “rooms to let, fifty cents.” (Three years earlier, Motel 6 had begun, so named for its $6 nightly rate.)

   During childhood, I thought my late Uncle Gene, a hotel bellman, looked like the guy shown on billboards peddling Phillip Morris cigarettes. Gene worked at the 12-story Hotel Brownwood, a now-vacant structure that still gives my hometown the hint of a skyline. “Big-eyed” at his piles of coins at shift’s end, I was astounded so many people didn’t choose to carry their own bags.

  “When Crossbows are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Crossbows” warned a lobby sign, or maybe this was in another hotel.



Don Newbury
Don Newbury

A half-century of travel vignettes push and shove forward in my mind’s eye, as if vying for recollection.

   They include:

   –Flying to the Permian Basin from Dallas on Muse Air’s final trip there in the ‘80s. I thought it odd the boarding announcement offered “my choice of seating.” Little wonder, since I was the sole passenger. Three flight attendants fawned over me, even inviting me to play cards. Alas, “Old Maid” was the only card game I knew, so they dealt a hand for their “phantom fourth player.” That was OK by me; I wanted nothing to take my mind off first-class seating for the only time in my life. (I’m sure Muse didn’t make the flight to accommodate me; there were two-dozen people at Midland Air Terminal going to Dallas Love Field, where the short-lived airline failed to make a dent in Southwest Airline’s dominance.)

   –Requesting a wake-up call at a small town “Mom and Pop” motel near Seattle. “Pop” handed me a wind-up alarm clock, mumbling something about the last Texas guest not knowing how to set it or wind it and preferred to miss his flight than to learn how.

   –Pleading for a room. I almost never make reservations in advance. With few hours to sleep before an early flight from Calgary, I heard “sorry, we’re full” laments at numerous hotels. My wife–with “I told you so” looks on her face–vigorously patted her foot for emphasis. Told that the nearest vacancies were 75 miles away, I asked, “Why?” The wise guy clerk questioned: “Ever heard of the Calgary Stampede?” How about meeting rooms? Yes, they had them for 40 up to 400 guests. Did any have sofas that make beds? One did. He rented us one at the single room rate and handed us bed sheets and pillows.  A tearful wife sealed the deal.


   –Learning what “quaint” means in London. Our hotel room was tiny, but did have electricity. Sadly, it was timed and coin-operated. 

   We were plunged into darkness during an early morning check-out.

   Not about to put in another coin and leave unused electricity behind, we finished packing by flashlight.

The famous Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego
The famous Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego


   We have come to appreciate truly unique hotels with interesting histories and yesteryear charm that trump most big chain hostelries. Three visited recently—all more than a century old—are in San Diego’s “garden spot” coastal communities—La Jolla and Coronado. La Jolla’s Grande Colonial Hotel is known for its historic charm, heralded Nine-Ten Restaurant and strategic location. It’s only a few steps from the beach, where guests throw down towels between seals that gather there for daily sunning.

   The world-famous Hotel Del Coronado Hotel is the second-largest wooden structure in America and was once the largest resort hotel in the world. We weren’t guests there, but joined other visitors in absolute awe of this “must see” place.

   We lodged across the street at Coronado’s Glorietta Bay Inn, which originally was the home of then-owner of the Del. The boutique property has a marble staircase, brass amenities and perhaps the most accommodating staff ever. Won’t soon forget the tray of cookies and pitcher of milk left in our room for nightly snacks. I heard distant calorie bells faintly clanging with each bite. My wife, however, heard the calorie bells more clearly. But hey, I couldn’t let four fresh-baked cookies go to waste.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Archived at calebandlindapirtle.com.

Please click the book cover image to read more about the humorous and inspirational stories of Don Newbury in When The Porch Light’s On.



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