Sometimes a gal just needs to get away.

My sister and I had been talking about taking a trip together. No kids. No husbands. Just her and me for four whole glorious days. Our first ever sisters trip.

We would be able to talk and giggle all night. Eat ice cream in bed. Even jump on the bed. Sleep in. Walk around in our underwear. Share lipstick. See girly tourist sites and stores no male eyes want to bother observing. Go to tea or coffee and sit all day just chatting about all the things that connect us and make us sisters that share the same blood and childhood so that we know each other better than we know ourselves.

Choosing a spot for our destination between the two states of Missouri and Mississippi was a bit of a challenge. We settled on Nashville. A city with a Roman temple, boot stores galore, country music, and historic homes.

Once we had finally decided on the time frame and destination, we then needed to choose accommodations from the plethora that Music City had to offer.

Here’s something to know about my sister and me: we love to save money. And so the idea to use accumulated hotel points wasn’t momentous for either of us.

“So how many points have been acquired on this card?” I asked the all-knowing customer service voice after 15 minutes of hold time.

“5,000 points,” he answered.

“5,000 points,” I repeated, writing down the magical number. It didn’t sound very promising, especially when we had needed 40,000 points to get a free night on another hotel card.

“Can I help you in any way?”

“How many points are needed for a free night?”

“That depends on the city and hotel.”

“Of course,” I laughed. “I mean how many points would be necessary to get an average room free.”

“Free rooms start at 2,500 points.”

Elation bubbled up like oil shooting skyward from a well.

I texted my sister. “Looks like I have two free nights on a hotel card.”

She texted back that from the past ten years she had also managed to rack up 5,000 points on her same hotel card. Minds whirled. With her points and mine, we had four free nights. That meant only one thing to our cheap-loving minds: More money for other things.

I know miscommunication happens. My definition of a standard hotel room might be different from another person’s. But I think most people would agree that we are talking about a room with sleeping and bathroom accommodations.

Now, I don’t know if the customer service man had been confused by my question, if he was texting while talking to me and not really paying attention, if he was putting in his lunch order, or if he was trying to pull a practical joke on the 93rd caller of the day, but I soon realized he had given me some misinformation. And to say he had a sense of humor would be a little sarcastic.

When I started researching hotels in Nashville and the points necessary for a free room, the very cheapest one started at 30,000 points. The bench by the front door and the couch in the lobby were both going for more than 2,500 points.

The average 2,500-points hotel room this man was talking about had to have been on the top of a Montana mountain where the sign at the edge of town read, “Nearest town 342 miles away –last overnight stop.” It would be a stagecoach stop built around 1863 that had never been updated. I am sure it was a shared room, meaning you had to share it with the critters and varmints who regularly made their home there, as well as with any other guests who wandered over to this remote mountain.

As for facilities, they would be conveniently located outside. All options and choices would be within the guest’s control. They could choose the nearest bush available in that sparsely plant strewn altitude. Toilet paper would be old catalog pages or plant leaves. Once again, the guest’s option. Choose wisely and know the difference between three-leafed plants and others. Avoiding stinging nettles would be advised.

At this price point, bathing accommodations would be the mountain fresh stream, only a short, brisk three-mile hike away. Don’t forget to bring a towel and shampoo as these items are not provided for you. If the proprietors wanted a long laugh, they would forget to mention that the stream had been dried up for the past 6 years, due to a drought and an upriver stream diversion called a beaver.

Disappointed, I texted my sister and asked her if she wanted to go to Montana.

“What happened to Nashville? she asked.

I called her and broke the news. With her 5,000 points and my 5,000 points we had only enough points for a Montana mountain top or a four-night stay in a cardboard box behind the dumpster of a Nashville hotel. And not a refrigerator-sized box, but a mini-fridge sized one. To acquire indoor facilities for our personal hygiene needs, we would need another box equipped with a bowl and bucket. I also told her to bring some toilet paper because I was pretty sure (okay 99.97 % sure because I’m an optimist) that the maids would not be visiting our roomy box to re-supply our bare necessities or tidy our spartan premises. I also suggested packing a blanket or two. I then assured my sister we would not be without some luxury. I could bring a blow-up mattress.  It would be a twin, though, as the queen wouldn’t fit in our box. Since she was the youngest, she would, after all, be given the honor and privilege of blowing up the mattress.

My sister protested. “My lungs might not be up to inflating the mattress. We could just sleep in the car, which would be a touch warmer, and even more luxurious.”

I was beginning to think her enthusiasm for the trip was waning.

Thankfully, she then remembered times that she had spent a night in some car trying to sleep and decided the box would actually be more conducive to sleeping. “I do have a large box I could bring for bathroom facilities!” My sister, always a genius, then had the bright idea to cut a skylight in the facilities, so we could see the stars at night. She has a knack for thinking of everything. I no longer doubted her enthusiasm.

We soon had the whole trip planned. Down to the neighborhood where we would set up our en-suite accommodations.

When my husband asked where we were staying, I told him our plans. Immediately he pooh-poohed the idea saying we were nuts. Then he started raving about safety and health concerns, street people, and ended his tirade with our facilities not being up to code and the lack of privacy they would provide without a door and whatnot.

He has a tendency to work himself up sometimes over such minor details. Voice slowly escalating, he started counting reasons on his fingers, waving his arms around like he was leading an aerobic exercise class. I thought it best not to interrupt him. Best to let him run out of steam. He eventually did.

Lack of privacy, I told him, would be taken care of by tacking a small rug to the front of the box. Presto, a door.

Some people have no vision.

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THERESA BOEDEKER remembers the exhilarating day when some girl-friends laughed at one of her stories. Since then this laughter seeker has been spreading humor into the lives of others. Read her blog, Things to Remember, to be encouraged, regain hope, and stop feeling alone. Listen to her podcast, Life as it Comes, to hear funny stories and observations about life. Theresa Lives in the Midwest and credits her husband, two children, a bird, and this messy and not-so-predictable life in developing her sense of humor.

One response to “Motels, Sisters, and Cardboard Boxes”

  1. Christin says:

    Hilarious!! I hope you and your sister end up having a great vacation–cardboard boxes and all!

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