Sunday, May 1, 2022

Possums, Trolleys and Fancy Places to Stay

We just got back from Nashville this week after spending a few days with our son who lives there. We got the rental car and headed out early on a Friday morning. Not planning to be in Nashville until Saturday evening, we stayed in the town of Keokuk, Iowa the first night. While we were traveling, I thought I would be all into online booking the motel. And so while we were driving I was searching for an affordable decent motel for a decent price. I found a great one in Keokuk, only $58 a night. They were running a special so it was about half what the other places nearby were charging. Looking at the pictures and reading their description it sounded incredible for the price. It had a heated indoor pool, breakfast buffet and updated rooms. I’m always hesitant to do stuff like book motels, car rentals and such online.

When I booked the car rental online and it was for $385 for the week I was excited we could afford it. When we drove to downtown St Paul to get the rental, and the clerk started ringing us up for the insurance, sales tax, rental tax, and all the things that were not in the online price the total came close to $700 and that wasn’t even the $300 damage deposit ! Talk about sticker shock! I asked what the heck happened to the quote of $385, the clerk said that Expedia online didn’t give us the total costs up front. We canceled the rental and headed towards home figuring for that price it wasn’t any cheaper than taking the minivan. On the way home we stopped at an Enterprise rental and walked in and told them what happened. I asked the guy point blank how much for everything, keys in hand and out the door. Their price was almost half of the other company. So they lead us out to the cars available and let us choose a car. We took the Hyundai Elantra since the gas mileage was the best at 40 mpg. It was actually cheaper to rent the car than take one of ours.

But back to online shopping for a motel room. I had the reservation ready to hit the reserve button, but got hesitant thinking back to the car rental escapade. I sat and re-read the description, looking for loopholes for extra charges. There were none and all of a sudden a flashing warning was on my screen saying: “Book Now, Last Room”. So I hit the non-refundable button and booked our one night stay at the motel in downtown Keokuk, Iowa. 

When we pulled up to the place there was a giant parking lot…with not one car in it. We were across the street from a bail bond place and a few bars up the street. The motel clerk was sitting out on a bench outside on her phone. She looked a little perplexed as we started walking towards the door. She scurried around and went behind the desk and smiled and welcomed us. The entire lobby was stacked floor to ceiling with boxed toilets and plumbing supplies. Where the buffet was located were more boxed toilets. I was getting pretty leery about having hit the non-refundable reserve button. When I asked about the pool, we were informed it was empty with not a drop of water in it, because of construction. When asked about the free breakfast we were told they had a few things they'd put out for breakfast. I was having reminiscent feelings of when I booked the car online. The old bait and switch routine. When I showed the clerk the online pictures and amenities they were supposed to have, she told me they just hadn’t updated their site recently. They were in the middle of bringing the place up to code and remodeling. Being we did the non-refundable booking, we just decided to stay. We just needed to sleep for the night anyway. So we got to our room and it was clean and seemed ok for the night. 

The next morning we found lunch bags with a granola bar, an apple, a bottle of water with a pouch of  lemonade powder taped to it…breakfast. Our continental breakfast compliments of the motel. We got in our car and off we went for a day's drive to Nashville.

Down the road,in Missouri, we found a small town cafe to get an actual breakfast. It was a busy place and everyone knew everyone. So we got the looks from the locals as we entered. We got a table over in the corner with the family of the server. They were having breakfast with mom. We ordered and waited about 45 minutes for our meals. Our waitress, Rhonda, who was the grandma of the kids at the table by us, was making the rounds pouring coffee and of course was visiting with all her neighbors. The food was good and plentiful. I heard the lady behind me ask for a take home box so I figured I’d do the same. When the lady got her box, she and Rhonda started talking about her taking the box to her new neighbor, the possum under her porch. She started telling Rhonda all about the possum who lives under her porch and is so afraid it will “play dead/possum” everytime it sees the lady. When Rhonda brought me my leftover box, I almost gave it to the possum lady for her fearful neighbor, but decided best to move along before Rhonda and her start talking again.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful and we got to Nashville about 7 in the evening. We picked up our son and headed to get some supper. Our son works in Nashville so knows his way all over the downtown area. We had so much fun after supper looking at the sites. It was almost like being at the state fair with the crowds of people and the noise. Every cafe had live music going, crowds and smells of fried foods or barbecue. We drove around and made our plans of what to see on Sunday morning.

Sunday we had breakfast and set out to see the sites. We had tickets for a trolley that you can jump on and off all over the city.  The driver told us all about the different places and history of places we were going by. So much history in the town and so much music to listen to. 

We had one night, compliments of our son, at the historic Hermitage Hotel. it’s a really really fancy 5 star hotel where they charge about $550 a night. It was kind of fun because when we walked in it was like Ma and Pa Kettle come to the Big City. It was a night of being pampered and eating chocolate covered strawberries and looking out over the Nashville skyline. 

Our last night in Nashville was a quiet night at our son’s apartment. We made dinner and afterward sat around and made music together. I had brought my guitar, my ukulele and my strumstick. The night was filled with bluegrass and the old country gospel music from the area we had visited the past few days. It was an awesome ending to a great short vacation to Nashville. There’s nothing I love more than playing and making music with my family. 

The next morning we were up and on the road home at about 5:30. We had a long ways to go and a short time to get there. A good 14 hour drive home. As usual it was a tearful goodbye for this mama. I have yet to get comfortable with having my kids living across the country from where they were brought up.

The drive home was long and uneventful. No motels to deal with, no cafes with people homing possums under their front porch, just the open road and the long drive back to Minnesota through God forsaken Iowa. We got home where it was 50 degrees colder than Nashville and raining. Exhausted from the 14 hours driving straight through, we got home in the evening,showered and fell into bed, both of us grateful to have made it home…and to have gotten through Iowa. 

Thanks once again for reading or listening to Solid Rock Minnesota. Don’t forget to go over to our website at and sign up for our drawing for an Amazon gift card. Just let us know your favorite episode of our blog/podcasts and where you are from. The drawing will be held May 15th, so get your name entered by midnight May 15th. 

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