.Welcome to the fabulous Budget Motel. $40 a night. Cash only. . . Its weird. These fleabag motels offer nothing but the basic essential for human life. Four walls. A bed. Water. A toilet. . . . And cable TV. I guess most Americans would feel completely discombobulated if they had to spend an entire night without a TV set.
My first impression of Eureka, California? Bus pulls into Eureka around 11PM. Kind of a desolute area. As I step out of the Greyhound bus onto the sidewalk this old guy with white hair is cursing out the bus driver (who’s in the process of pulling out people’s luggage). “You stupid fucking idiot!” “Ahh, fuck you!” They’re jawing back and forth. I have no idea what that was all about. But it was like “Welcome to Eureka!” I don’t know if it’s an omen or what.
Then it’s midnight and it’s dark and I’m wandering around the deserted streets of Eureka trying to figure out where I’m going to sleep. I haven’t been up here in 17 years, so I only have a vague sense of where I am. So I’m tring to orientate myself. . . I’ve got a very crappy sleeping bag in my pack. This down bag I’ve had for 20 years that has lost 75% of it’s down, so it’s pretty thin. (On the positive side, it’s so thin, it fits easily into my little backpack. When I’m on the road, I strive not to look “homeless” so I can blend in and out of all the different facets of society). I figure I can always shiver through the night in a back alley if it comes to that.
I stumble across a cheap motel. Believe it or not, I’ve never rented out a motel room before. So I’m not sure how this works. Left to my own devices, I’d just pull out my sleeping bag and find some cozy crack in the urban landscape to spend the night. But I have to meet some people in the morning, so I need to look presentable. . . Or at least make a half-assed try in that direction. Ha ha.
The Budget Motel, says the sign. “Cash only.” Sounds like my kind of place. I can see the clerk through the window, so I rap on the locked front door. The clerk is kind of a squirrely-looking guy in a ski-knit hat. I don’t know if he’ll rent me a room or not. Must be weird dealing with total strangers after midnight and exchanging money in seedy neighborhoods. So there’s a certain amount of tension and distrust. Kind of reminded me of a late-night drug deal. As luck would have it, he said: “We have one last room. You can have it if you have a California picture ID and exact change. I have absolutely no change.” You can tell he was nervous about taking out any cash. Probably paranoid he was being set up for a late-night robbery.
I turned the TV off and immediately fell asleep. Had extremely weird and violent dreams. I figured the motel room was probably haunted from all the weird people, and all the weird things that had happened in this room over the years.
Now it’s 7 in the morning and it’s just starting to get light. I can hear the traffic from Highway 101 rumbling along like the sound of the ocean, from the other side of my shaded window. Guess I’ll get up and see what Eureka looks like in the daylight.