A Night in Tulelake

Miserable nights seem to find me in motels in the middle of the winter when the mercury in the thermometer is virtually non-existent.  One goose hunting trip had me holed up in a motel in Tulelake California.  I had called ahead to make reservations for two rooms, and I am pretty sure I was able to reserve the best deal (i.e., cheapest) in town.

The motel had some very unique “qualities”.  I am sure “motel” brings to mind a mental image of Motel 6 or Econo-lodge.  In this case it was a turn of the century two-story home with living quarters on the ground floor and  bedrooms on the second floor.  Six bedrooms to be exact.

The second floor was heated using an old heating oil furnace located in the hallway.  A transom above each door allowed for some heat to trickle into each of the rooms.  I found it far more effective to stand in front of the heater and warm my bones. A little searching and I found an extra blanket that allowed me to survive the night with just an occasional shiver.

There was also a single shared bathroom, for the entire second floor.  This place was more “boarding house” and less “motel”.  The bathroom was very pedestrian and no towels were provided.  With six rooms all sharing a single bathroom, the shower had to be pretty hit or miss depending on where you fell in the batting order.  That comment applies to both the amount of cleanliness and hot water.

It was, in general,  a very old building that smelled a bit musty.  The rooms had wardrobes rather than closets .  The beds were old and tired with outdated mattresses.  The sheets seemed clean or at least I wanted them to be.  The room had a bed and a wardrobe, no chair, nightstand or lamp.  No phones or televisions either.

However, it did provide some entertainment. Under the bed I found a stash of adult magazines.  I am not sure what that says about the clientele of the motel or the effectiveness of the cleaning staff, but I found it interesting that the requisite Gideon bible was missing and Playboy had stepped up to fill the gap. 

The carpet was very old and there was an excess of dust under the bed.  Plenty of dust bunnies but no leftover food were found under the bed. No art hung on the walls and the paint was dreary. This place seemed to find a niche in housing hunters during hunting season. I have no idea what anyone else would think if they were to check in.

The room had just what we needed, a place to lie down and close our eyes for a few hours.  Wet muddy boots and shot guns were more than welcome and most of the hunters had an old wet dog with them. There was more than one pair of boots drying out next to the heater. 

Yes we stayed the night there and we woke up early to go hunting.  I remember waking up at 11 PM and thinking it was the earliest I had ever gotten up to do anything in my life.  The old motel served a purpose and I learned to appreciate the difference between basic Spartan accommodations and modern high brow luxury.  When I think of a cheap no frills motel just to lay head down and catch a nap, everything else just pales in comparison to that place in Tulelake.


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