Truman Museum and Library, Independence MO
Regardless of how well you plan a long trip, you can be certain that not everything will play out as expected. Indeed, the inherent uncertainty involved is among the draws of the open road. You may be delighted or infuriated, but somewhere along the way you are likely to meet up with the unexpected. Once you are away from the comforts and familiarity of home, you will necessarily place your fate in the hands of strangers. This vulnerability is documented all the way back to the Biblical book of Genesis, where Abraham went to great lengths to treat travelers from afar as honored guests. Even today, travel necessarily exposes us to the potential for disaster away from the supports of family and friends. A dash of good luck goes a long way, but ultimately, we travelers must, like Blanche DuBois, depend on the kindness of strangers.
We have been on the road only five days, yet we have already been on the receiving end of many kindnesses, great and small. Despite the persistent pouring rain making driving difficult (we miss the California sunshine dearly), our days have been brightened by the largesse of caring strangers, some outstanding business practices and more than a bit of serendipity.
On the first night of our trip, at a motel in Rock Springs, Wyoming, we awoke early to find that a portion of the carpet had become totally sopped with water. As we were experiencing violent thunderstorms and heavy rain, I figured water must have seeped in from somewhere. As I checked out at the front desk, I remembered to mention it to the clerk. “You may end up getting mold,” I warned her. I was shocked when she deducted $15 from our bill! She clearly did not have to do this. And this for something that barely affected us.
After another long day of driving in the rain, we slogged through Omaha and into Iowa, where we searched for a motel at 10 pm. At a tiny local motel in Glenwood IA, the office was already closed. But an employee, who appeared to have be sleeping, opened up for us and even let us into the room to use the toilet before we paid! We asked him if there was any food to be found in the area and he pointed us to a Pizza Hut three miles down the road. Just our luck: It was Saturday night and they stayed open until 11 pm! We were the only customers in the place. Not only did we get two pizzas and two salads for $15, but they deducted $12 from our bill by applying a coupon that we did not have!
For decades, I have hoped to one day visit the Truman Museum in Independence, Missouri. Now I can cross this off my list. When we arrived on Sunday, we were gobsmacked to learn that, of all the days of the year, it was Truman’s 132nd birthday and admission was just a dollar!
From the Doubting Thomas files: We had to demand a refund when we arrived at a Nashville motel to find that they did not have a ground floor room for us as reserved. “Where are you going to stay tonight?” asked the clerk. “We’ll find a room,” I assured him. “Well, good luck with that,” he responded, sarcasm dripping. “Oh, we’ll find a place, even if we have to go out of town,” I assured him. Due to multiple conventions that had convened in Nashville, all his rooms were booked. The hotel next door was full also. We made a few calls and, within five minutes, we had a lovely ground floor suite reserved at a hotel a few minutes north of Nashville. God is good to us!