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Traveling Across the West

Driving Across Country with Little Money

Bonnie and I were traveling back across country from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Virginia Beach, Virginia. There Bonnie would stay while I went off to Vietnam.

At this point in our trip we were driving across the western plains. Towns were few and far apart. Not having a lot of money, we were looking for an inexpensive yet decent place to spend the night.

As things happen, however, we found ourselves tired and driving across a desert that had few interchanges and fewer motels.

It was discouraging, to say the least.

But then we came upon an interchange where we saw a brightly lit motel. We pulled off the road and Bonnie waited in the car while I went in to check out the facility.

I asked if they had rooms, and the people at the desk said they certainly did.

I asked if I could look at a room, and the people at the desk said that I could certainly do that, and they handed me a set of keys.

I found the room, used the keys, and went inside. The room was beautiful!

But since I was only earning pay as a Second Lieutenant, I figured that it would be priced way beyond the small amount of money we had to travel clear across the country.

I went back to the front desk, and the people there asked me how I liked the room.

I replied that it was nice and inquired about the price.

They told me the room was $14 a night. This was a great price and at least half of what I thought they would tell me.

But somehow - and to this day I do not know what got into me - I responded by laying the keys on the counter and saying something like, "That is good, but a lot of money," turned and begin heading back out towards the car.

But after three steps or so I turned around and asked, "You don't happen to have a military discount, do you?"

They did, and Bonnie and I got that room, that fabulous room, that room out in the middle of the desert, for $12 a night.

Also to this day, I cannot imagine what would have happened if they had let me go and I had to go back out to the car to report to Bonnie that I turned down a $14-a-night room.

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