Dream City Home

Welcome to day 31 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They are all listed here.
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To be an outlaw you must first have a base in law to reject and get out of, I never had such a base. I never had a place I could call home that meant any more than a key to a house, apartment or hotel room. … Am I alien? Alien from what exactly? Perhaps my home is my dream city, more real than my waking life precisely because it has no relation to waking life…  — William S. Burroughs

Dream city as home. This idea works for me. My dreamspace, which feels like a place where I live even more vividly, more sensually, than usual, is often architectural in form and setting, with past houses (which obviously do have a relationship to waking life) — especially this one …

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Maine house, Feb. 2001
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partial kitchen, Maine house, 1994
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Thanksgiving in Maine house, 1995
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fireplace and living space, Maine house, 1994
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stairs and warming oven, Maine house, 1994
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Christmas 1996 (with Cactus) in Maine house

… and apartments, hotels, restaurants, frequently other people’s houses, auditoriums, hospitals, bridges, schools, bathrooms, meeting rooms, buildings and built spaces that I don’t think I have ever been in except in dreams (and there they are typically recurring settings) — all common in my dreams. Of course, dreams have to be set somewhere, like plays, but what interests me is the transformation of knowledge and memory of the building, and the exploration of it in the dream, and how often dreams are set in places I don’t recognise except perhaps from previous dreams. (This dream, e.g., about my dad a year or so after he died, takes place in several buildings I’ve never been in in waking life.)

My “dream city” feels like a multiplicity of places — some real, some not real as far as I know (or at least not remembered by me in real life) — that are significant for various reasons: because of my emotional and aesthetic memories of a real place; because of the feeling evoked by its architecture or layout; because of some association with it through other people’s stories (what my imagination conjures — from novels, from what friends have described, from song lyrics or lines of poetry, from what I’ve heard on the radio — or what my eyes have actually glimpsed, momentarily, in paintings, on TV or in movies, riding past, etc.); or who knows what reason.

DeliveranceChurchinYemasseeSC29Dec2013
Yemassee SC Dec. 2013
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Rocky Mount MC Dec. 2013
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somewhere in Rhode Island, Feb. 2008
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somewhere in Connecticut, Feb. 2008

Why do buildings and other places resonate and spark imagination? Why do they “make us” feel a certain way, evoke moods and sensations (e.g., “haunted houses”)? Is it because they contain us, hold us, bring us together or split us apart, both exclude and include us? Do they somehow form an external correspondence to our interior spaces?

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More to Burroughs’ point, my sense of homelessness, placelessness, alienates me from real life sometimes. My family moved often — due to my dad’s corporate life promotions and transfers — so when asked, e.g. as a security question on a financial site, “what is your hometown?,” I have no idea. I have no hometown, and my home is pretty much where I am at the moment, so in one sense I feel “at home” almost anywhere. But coming home after being away feels jarring — home is familiar, a place I know well and am comfortable, but re-entry to normal life after being away feels oppressive, constrictive; I feel restless, like I’ve lost something. I think it’s partly that on the road (hotels, motels, trains), there is much less stuff and therefore less emotional tiredness brought on by the emotional and physical demands of stuff.  But I think it’s more than that, perhaps something to do with the way, as I’ve mentioned previously, that travel disrupts, questions, and subverts conventional thought and behaviour. Coming home, I feel the demands (that word again) reinstated, the sense of what I am expected to be and do limited by the circumference of “home.”

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Unlike Burroughs’ experience (“I never had such a base. I never had a place I could call home that meant any more than a key to a house, apartment or hotel room”), I have in my life almost always had a base, a room, apartment, or house to come home to day after day — and yet these places have always felt transitional to me. (I’ve written about this before, 5 years ago, in Oct. 2012). I can’t help but notice that all our lives and all our places are transitional, ephemeral, not made to last. In the short run, someone will dig up my garden or terrace it, a storm or fire may take out trees and destroy homes and towns, objects and materials constantly wear out, living things die (some exceedingly quickly, others at a slower rate) and everyone I know, including me, including friends’ children and their children, including all the animals now alive on earth, will die soon. In the long run, all bodies, all buildings and things, all governments, all human constructions will disappear and wild nature will take over, as it is wont to do now when given half a chance.

seaweedgrowingonseawallrockSeasideInn29Dec2014
seaweed growing on rock, Kennebunk ME, Dec. 2014
ferngrowingoutofbrickColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015
fern growing out of rock, brick, in Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, GA, Dec. 2015
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trees growing out of rock ledge, Northern Rail Trail, NH, April 2015
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watermelon plant growing on beach, Jekyll Island, GA, Sept. 2013

And in the longer run, land, sea, and all mortal beings, all species of flora and fauna, will disappear.

Which is why perhaps a heterotopia appeals to me so deeply … the placeless place, neither here nor there: a ship between shores on which an ad hoc society exists only as long as a cruise or passage; a tourist town, which shutters up and closes down after a few months; a public garden, where antiquity meets modernity (and as Louis Marin says, “the unsurpassable contradiction, where art and nature, artifice and truth, imagination and the real, representation and being, mimesis and the origin, play hide-and seek”); a museum (hard on the back and wearying though they are), where the past is reinterpreted by the present (“Foucault’s museum is not a funereal storehouse of objects from different times, but an experience of the gap between things and the conceptual and cultural orders in which they are interpreted”- from Beth Lord); a cemetery, where past and present collide and almost all of us have a relationship with it. A place, in other words, where here-there-everywhere and now-then come together in some ambiguous, disturbing, provocative way. A place that deviates from conventional norms, a constant reminder that ‘normal’ is always and everywhere just a temporary construct. These heterotopic places are where I feel I belong, if one can be said to belong to such a place, because they match my sense of what’s real.

momsspotinEvergreenCemetery13Dec2014
my mom, Evergreen Cemetery, Roanoke, VA, 13 Dec. 2014
dadsashesunderrhodoonAToffNicksCreekRoadinMtRogersNatlRecArea6June2013
Dad’s ashes, scattered in Mt. Rogers National Recreational Area, Virginia, June 2013

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We each exist in a place now, places that seem real, solid, geographically tangible. At the same time, or in another time that runs alongside the chronology we obey, we are placeless, standing at a threshold, that liminal space, waiting, one foot here and one foot there, waiting, inhabiting multiple realities, multiple places and times in one moment, in one space. That’s how it feels to me, and I guess it’s why hotels, motels, lodging, and the movement of travelling resonate for me, reminders of the non-linear world beyond and inside and overlapping this other world we are inexplicably placed in. They remind me that we’re here for the moment, we’re in this spot in each moment as we move toward another spot in each moment, places we’ve never been, or have visited in dreams and in memory.

We live out of suitcases, uncertain in the middle of the night how to find the bathroom and the lights; we wake up disoriented, aware of strangers coughing, flushing, moving about next door; we check ourselves in the mirror before opening the door and stepping through.

MollysinkmirrorConservatoryLongwoodGardens13Oct2017

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Thanks for traveling with me on this part of my journey.

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Almost Certainly Not Axe Murderers

Welcome to day 30 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  (More about heterotopias and liminal spaces.)  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.

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exteriormorningFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017

“The man behind the check-in counter gives the impression that he has just axe-murdered the motel’s owner (and family, and family pet) and is going through these procedures of hostelry so as not to arouse suspicion.” ― Paul Quarrington, The Ravine

I mean, how could I not use that sentence in this series. But seriously, the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Kennett Square, PA (the Brandywine Valley) is nothing like this! It’s just a clean, simple, normal chain hotel in a medical/corporate park alongside Route 1, perfectly located for visits to Longwood Gardens, exactly two miles away from the hotel. It’s also only about a mile to charming Kennett Square, with shops and restaurants, and about 1.5 miles to Victory Brewing, a brewpub on the outskirts of Kennett Square. Spouse and I have stayed at the Fairfield Inn three times now for six nights total — in Aug 2015, July 2017, and Oct. 2017 — and will use it in the future when we visit the area.

I’m not sure what so appeals, besides primo location and hotel staff who in no way resemble or suggest axe-murderers.

It’s not the Pumpkin Spice coffee.

pumpkinspicecoffeeFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017

It’s not the wacky carpets, although it is kind of fun to try to walk only on the straight lines.
corridorcarpetdesignbFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017

The breakfast is variable, though usually the oatmeal and fruit are good.

partialbreakfastroomFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017

I think it’s really just the combined sense of comfort and anonymity that appeals. The staff is friendly and efficient but non-intrusive. They look up when you walk in and out, so you feel someone is noticing your presence, but their eye contact, body language, and spoken words (if any) don’t suggest they are watching too closely or monitoring your movement. Housekeeping comes at a predictable time. The public space is impersonal but there is coffee and tea and sometimes lime water offered at all hours, as well as candies at the front desk sometimes, and complimentary newspapers on weekdays.

The private space, the rooms, are comfortable, too, with all the basics provided.

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view into room, Oct. 2017
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two double beds, Oct. 2017
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one king bed, July 2017

The desk has additional electrical outlets and jacks. There’s a microwave, fridge, and coffee maker. There’s ample drawer and closet space.

bedACmicrowavefridgedeskTVdresserFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017
microwave, fridge, desk and chair, dresser and TV, coffee maker, lighting, Oct. 2017
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microwave, fridge, desk and chair, dresser and TV, coffee maker, lighting, July 2017

The bathrooms are big enough with capacious counters and lots of space for shampoos and such in the shower.

bathroomFairfieldInnhotelKennettSquarePA12Oct2017
bathroom, Oct. 2017
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sink, counter space, mirror, Oct. 2017
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tub/shower, July 2017

The rooms aren’t cheap — from $105-$165 per night depending on what season and nights we stayed — but they’re comparable to other places in the area, and I feel there’s good value for the money (just the location near Longwood alone means we can return to the room and then back to Longwood easily during the day).

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Speaking of Longwood, and since this is a garden blog, a few pics from our visit this month, starting with the almost-futuristic bathrooms in the conservatory:

toiletsinkbConservatoryLongwoodGardens13Oct2017

This is what they look like from outside:

bathroomcurveConservatoryLongwoodGardens13Oct2017

I’ll be doing a longer post on this trip to Longwood soon, but for now, a few teasers:

oldbeechtreeLongwoodGardens13Oct2017
old beech tree, meadow
monarchredadmiralbutterflyredyellowdahliaFlowerWalkLongwoodGardens13Oct2017
monarch and red admiral butterflies on dahlia
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mimic fly on chrysanthemum
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lanterns in conservatory
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dahlias
HarpageantEasyDoesItFloribundarosepinkorangeLongwoodGardens13Oct2017
‘Easy Does It’ floribunda rose … pink and orange

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Next time I’d like to get to Chanticleer, Mt. Cuba again, and maybe even Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA. Might need a trip to the area just for garden-going. And a few more nights in the cheerfully disinterested Fairfield Inn & Suites.

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Myrtle Beach Days

Welcome to day 29 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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I grew up going to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for summer vacations with my dad and sisters, and in recent years we (spouse and I) have considered retiring in that area, so in June 2014 we stayed in a condo there for a couple of days to look around at houses and amenities and get a feel for the place now.

When we went, three summers ago, we reserved a one-bedroom oceanfront condo at the Wyndham Towers on the Grove in NMB three weeks ahead of time for $255 per night. Looks like about the same pricing for June 2018. Off-season prices are quite low, with availability of $102 per night for a 1-BR oceanfront, and for a week around Christmas (18-26 Dec), a 1-BR oceanfront is going for $62/night! Hmmm ….

WyndhamTowerontheGrovehotelsignNMB20June2014

The Wyndham Towers on the Grove is actually a timeshare condo building, and when we checked in we could have had a reduction in cost and some goodies if we sat through a sales pitch for one. Having done the condo-sales-pitch thing once before in New Orleans (hours of my life that I will never get back), and with only 2 days to spend here, we decided against it. (We’re not looking for a condo to retire to, particularly not one that’s a quasi-hotel.)

As a hotel, the place is fabulous. It’s on the beach. View from room:

viewfrombalconyWyndhamToweronGrovehotel8pmNMB21June2014

The hotel room is really two full, separated rooms plus a real kitchen with stovetop and oven, dishwasher, sink, cabinets (with bowls, plates, glasses in them), fridge, microwave, coffee maker, etc. The bedroom is the first room you walk into (in ours; layout varies by unit), then through the galley kitchen to a living room and balcony overlooking the ocean and the pools below — there are outdoor heated pools, a hot tub, plus a lazy river partly underneath the building.

LazyRiverWyndhamToweronGrovehotelfrombalcony815pmNMB20June2014

In all, the space was almost 400 square feet, with two TVs and a washer and dryer in the unit. The wifi worked well once we got some kinks ironed out. Parking in a big garage across the street was a bit of a pain, but that inconvenience was totally offset by having the washer and dryer in our condo.

livingroomintokitchenWyndhamToweronGrovehotelNMB21June2014
view from living room into kitchen (door between), and bedroom is beyond. Note washer/dryer!!! And you can see the handle for the pull-down Murphy bed should it be needed.

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In Myrtle Beach — part of the 60-mile Grand Strand — the beach is the thing and that’s where we spent most of our time when we weren’t driving through neighbourhoods looking at houses.

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beach looking north, 8:30 a.m., 22 June 2014
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underside of live worm on beach, 22 June 2014
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brown pelicans in flight, 21 June 2014
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beach looking south, 8:30 a.m., 22 June 2014
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view of Wyndham Towers from beach, 21 June 2014

As I recall, from the condo we could walk to a grocery, a couple of restaurants, a few souvenir shops.

BarnaclebeachstoreNMB20June2014

It’s much quieter in North Myrtle Beach than in Myrtle Beach proper. A drive from the hotel but still in the North Myrtle Beach area are ziplining (Go Ape in Little River, SC), mini-golf, arcades, bowling, a winery, music shows, a small boardwalk, and Barefoot Landing, a sort of golf resort and upscale eating/shopping area — with 100 stores, restaurants, and attractions — that’s also home to Alligator Adventure and Alabama Theater. We ate at the Joe’s Crab Shack there.

onpatioatJoesCrabShack21June2014MollyatJoesCrabShack21June2014

And of course Myrtle Beach itself has the boardwalk and is an extravaganza of amusement parks, the Skywheel, Ripley’s Believe it or Not franchises (Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium museum, Aquarium, 5D Moving Theater, Haunted Adventure, and Marvelous Mirror Maze), pirate-themed attractions, museums, outlet shopping, eating, brewpubs, beachfront bars, golfing (including many mini-golf and par-3 courses), on and on. Broadway on the Boardwalk, on the Route 17 bypass, is a “shopping complex set on 350 acres … with 3 theaters, 17 restaurants, more than 100 specialty shops, attractions, nightclubs, and 3 hotels, surrounding Lake Broadway. It is the largest festival entertainment complex in South Carolina. It has an IMAX theater, Ripley’s Aquarium, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and The Pavilion Nostalgia Park.”

South of Myrtle Beach are Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, Huntington Beach State Park, and quite a bit further south in the state are the Yawkey Wildlife Center, the Santee Coastal Reserve, and the 400-square-mile Francis Marion National Forest. We’ve spent a little time in the Francis Marion National Forest but not much.

We didn’t actually do anything in Myrtle Beach itself, except drive through a bit of the town (on a Sunday morning) — so many little motels! —

inMyrtleBeach10amSunday22June2014

and then divert to Route 17 …

HollywoodWaxMuseumMyrtleBeach21June2014

… for the drive south of Myrtle Beach to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet.  We really enjoy this hybrid sculpture garden with plantings, a short boat tour, historical signage and sculpture related to rice plantations and slavery, wild and tame animals (some in cages and some not), etc. I posted lots of photos (and some info about Brookgreen) in July 2014 from that visit.

daylilygardenbedBrookgreenGardens22June2014.jpg

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Christmas at Myrtle Beach has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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Elephants, Swans, & Monkeys, Oh My!

Welcome to day 28 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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I still enjoy traveling a lot. I mean, it amazes me that I still get excited in hotel rooms just to see what kind of shampoo they’ve left me.  — Bill Bryson

Or, what kind of animal the towels have been arranged to make.

At The Cove Motel in Orleans, MA (Cape Cod) — the sixth of our favourite motels and hotels — one of the housekeeping staff is remarkable for leaving fairly elaborate towel animals on the beds and we also heard, but did not see, that for guests with children she makes towel monkeys to hang in the closets, too.

We came back to find this elephant one day, with real cedar or yew cuttings for the eyes:

elephanttowelCoveMotelOrleansCapeCod17Sept2017elephanttoweleyesjuniperorcedarCoveMotelOrleansCapeCod17Sept2017

I wanted to bring it home but that sort of behaviour is frowned upon at most lodgings.

The day before, it was a swan, similar to the swans in the cove –Town Cove, off Woods Cove, off the Atlantic Ocean — from which the motel gets its name.

 

Even before these enchanting creatures appeared in the room during our September 2017 visit, we had decided that The Cove would be our go-to spot on the Cape, after staying there in April and having tried two other motels (another in Orleans, and one in Hyannis) on previous visits.

The waterfront location, on the cove, is tranquil and quiet.

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April 2017 cove view – note gazebo and patio
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another April 2017 cove view
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the cove view in mid-Sept. 2017
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a song sparrow at the cove, April 2017

It’s also walking distance to some restaurants (e.g., Hole in One for full breakfast; Mahoney’s Atlantic Bar & Grill for dinner — love the sole almondine; the wonderful Hot Chocolate Sparrow coffee shop most mornings and many evenings) and to the Ice Cream Cafe in season. Also walking distance to the bike rental shops and access to the 22-mile Cape Cod rail trail. It’s well located for exploring walks and beaches in our favourite parts of the Cape — Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro — but it’s not too far from Chatham’s restaurants, Dennisport, parks and trails in Harwich and Brewster, or more shopping, eating, and entertainment action in Yarmouth and Hyannis. (It is, however, a longish drive to the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich.)

Location and charming housekeeping staff aside, the Cove is just a pleasant and agreeable spot to rest. The wifi works well, beds and pillows are comfortable, windows can be safely opened to let in fresh air …

bathroomwindowviewCoveMotelOrleansCC30April2017
window that can be opened in bathroom

… ample parking is available …

exteriorCoveMotelCC27April2017

… there’s seating and a firepit by the cove, and “quiet hours” are posted (and enforced) for all guests, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., which I really appreciate. When I couldn’t figure out how to work the newfangled TV, someone came right over from the office and got it going. There’s also an outdoor heated pool (which we haven’t used), ice, vending, the usual motel amenities. Some rooms have a kitchenette (most have at least a microwave), fireplace, and/or water view.

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In April, we had a deluxe queen room; this is how it looked:

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sofa, table, queen bed, microwave, coffee maker, fridge … I like that they leave a roll of paper towels in the rooms, too.
bedbathroomdoorclosetdoorTVdressertabledeluxequeenbedroomCoveMotelOrleansCC30April2017
dresser, TV, chair, mirror, closet door, closed door to bathroom
microwavefridgecoffeemakerbathroomdoordeluxequeenbedroomCoveMotelOrleansCC30April2017
closer look at ‘kitchen’ area
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computer table, chairs, window, door to outside & deck
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bathroom with sink, lighting (the soaps etc are Terra Green brand)
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bathroom toilet, shower

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In September, there were two queen beds and no sofa:

bedsclosetkitchenareaCoveMotelOrleansCapeCod19Sept2017
beds, nightstand, closet (different from the April room)
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one bed with elephant, closer look at closet and kitchen area with microwave, coffee maker, and fridge (and paper towels)
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the beds and the table and chairs
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computer table and chairs by window, door to outside & deck
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dresser, TV, armchair, mirror, exterior door
sinktoiletbathroomCoveMotelOrleansCapeCod19Sept2017
bathroom sink and toilet
bathroomCoveMotelOrleansCapeCod19Sept2017
bathroom tub/shower combo, sink, mirror, lighting

Of the two, I preferred the one queen bed with sofa, but both were perfectly accommodating.

If you visit, make sure to walk a couple of blocks to the little Orleans Conservation Area pocket garden; it also overlooks a cove.

covefogthrugrasseswildflowersOrleansConservationAreanearmotelOrleansCapeCod16Sept2017
cove fog, boats, through grasses and wildflowers, Sept. 2017
wildflowersOrleansConservationAreanearmotelOrleansCapeCod16Sept2017
wildflowers, Sept. 2017
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asters and goldenrod, Sept. 2017
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purple asters, Sept. 2017
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sumac and goldenrod, Sept. 2017
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tansy flowers, Sept. 2017

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Sand Under My Toes

Welcome to day 27 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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“I used to dream of a week-long beach vacation with white sand under my toes… right now, I’d settle for 48 hours at a Motel 6 with some Lysol and a UV lamp.” — Ingrid Weir

I was lucky enough to spend several days at a motel almost on the beach, with almost white sand  ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶e̶s̶  under my shoes.

The Sand Dollar Inn on Pine Point Beach in Scarborough, Maine, is one of those motels with an impermanent and insignificant name, or at least part of the name (sand). Even sand dollars don’t last long on the beach: they’re either washed back to sea, picked up after dying on the beach, or picked up and killed by someone who doesn’t know how to tell a live sand dollar from a dead one. (I tried to explain this once to a woman who was picking up live sand dollar after live sand dollar off a beach; she didn’t give a damn. Yes, I’m bitter.)

Alive:

livingsanddollarbeachJI15July2016
Jekyll Island, GA, July 2016

Dead:

sanddollarOceanBeachSanfranciscoCAJan2004
Ocean Beach, San Francisco, Jan. 2004

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Anyhoo …. The Sand Dollar Inn is sweet. I mean, look at this kitchenette, with its painted pink cabinet and drawer pulls, two-burner stovetop, King mini-fridge, plastic drying rack, Country Living dishtowel:

kitchenetteSandDollarmotelPinePoint22June2013stovesinkfridgeallinoneSandDollarmotelPinePoint22June2013

It’s a block from the beach, with a porch you can eat on. (Well, on a table on the porch.)

SnowberryParkPinePointScarboroME18June2017
The Sand Dollar is that white roof on the right, just a block from Pine Point beach on this cute path. (June 2017)
SandDollarMotelbackporchPinePoint24June2013
porch with table and chairs (June 2013)
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Negra Modelo and peanuts on motel porch, 24 June 2013

Pretty comfy inside, too.

bedroomSandDollarmotelPinePoint22June2013

And it attracts rainbows (view from parking lot adjoining back porch).

rainbowoverSandDollarmotelPinePoint24June2013

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We stayed in mid-June, when it was a little more than $100 per night. A block from the beach!

And the beach is 4 miles long!

beachwithjoggerandstormysky530pmPinePoint23June2013
Pine Point beach looking toward Old Orchard Beach, stormy evening sky, 23 June 2013
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Pine Point beach, late afternoon, 22 June 2013
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Old Orchard beach in fog, 18 June 2017
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Pine Point Beach, dense fog, 18 June 2017
Pinepointbeach1145amPinePoint29Aug2014
Pine Point Beach, Aug. 2014
sandandsnowPP27Feb2015
snow on Pine Point Beach, Feb. 2015

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You can walk all the way to Old Orchard Beach, which we did.

viewofMystdeckferriswheeloceanOOB24June2013
we had a cocktail and shrimp outside at Myst, with a view of the ferris wheel and carousel, 24 June 2013
ThePierandtheoceanfromMystOOB23June2013
The Pier and ocean from Myst, 23 June 2013
oobboardwalkmidjuly2009
the Old Orchard boardwalk, mid-July 2009

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If you’re inclined, you can walk on the Eastern Trail, or kayak in the marsh:

EasternTrailwithwalkerskayakersPinePoint23June2013
Eastern Trail, 23 June 2013
marshpatternsScarbroughmarshoffEasternTrailPinePoint23June2013
Scarborough Marsh, off Eastern Trail, 23 June 2013
redwingedblackbirdonbranchScarboroughMarshoffEasternTrailPinePoint23June2013
red-winged blackbird, Scarborough Marsh off Eastern Trail, 23 June 2013
phoebesEasternTrailatScarboroughMarshPinePoint23June2013
phoebes, Scarborough Marsh off Eastern Trail, 23 June 2013
sparrowwithbugScarboroughMarshoffEasternTrailPinePoint25June2013
sparrow with caterpillars, Scarborough Marsh off Eastern Trail, 25 June 2013
snowyegretcloseinmarshoffEasternTrailPinePoint25June2013
snowy egret, Scarborough Marsh off Eastern Trail, 25 June 2013

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Or just hang out on the beach.

myfeetbeachoceanPinePoint24June2013
I did manage to air out the toes. 24 June 2013
pipingploverPinePoint6June2014
piping plover, June 2014
manyclamshellsbeachPinePoint31March2016
many clam shells, March 2016
pinepointbeachseagullskirmishmidjuly2009
gull skirmish, July 2009

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We used to live 2 blocks from this beach, way back in the winter of 1994. I love a winter beach walk.

This is what it looks like in December on the beach:

MollyslegsshoessandPP11Dec2015
my legs and shoes on the beach, 11 Dec. 2015
purplemolluskshelloakleavestableauPP11Dec2015
beach tableau, 11 Dec. 2015
pinepointsquawkingseagullse9Dec2011
gulls squawking, 9 Dec. 2011
pinepointlookingtowardOOB9Dec2011
beach and sky, 9 Dec. 2011
pinepointsandollarinn9Dec2011
The Sand Dollar Inn, boarded up, 9 Dec. 2011

It really is impermanent, ephemeral.

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How far is the unseen world from Midtown?

Welcome to day 26 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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signforMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015

“There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?” ― Woody Allen

Woody Allen is no doubt speaking of Manhattan’s midtown, while I’m referring to Midtown Hotel in Boston, the fifth of my favourites.

entrywayMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
exteriorMidtownHotelfromacrossstreetBoston28Feb2015

I had long admired its mid-century low-rise almost-western motel sort of look, smack dab in the middle of Boston, a city where glamourous, luxurious, high-rise, grand hotels reign supreme — Boston Park Plaza, Mandarin Oriental, Eliot Hotel, Four Seasons Boston, Taj Boston, Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston, Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, Boston Harbor Hotel, Hilton Boston Back Bay, Copley Square Hotel, Fifteen Beacon, The Loews Boston Hotel, to name a few.

TheFairmontBoston14June2012
The Fairmont, Boston, June 2012

The Midtown’s price is great, usually about $100 per night, and the location is pretty perfect, near restaurants and shopping at Copley and Prudential, across from photogenic Christian Science Center pool and plaza, with its Mary Baker Eddy library and mapparium, and walking distance to the symphony and the Museum of Fine Arts (and really to Boston Public Garden and Common, only about a mile away).

MaryBakerEddyplazaandPrudentialCenterbuildingsBoston14June2012
Christian Science plaza and Prudential Center, June 2012
PrudentialCenterCopleyBoston28Feb2015
Prudential Center and Copley Place, Feb. 2015
horsesculptureXmaswreathinfrontNeimanMarcusCopleyBoston12Dec2015
outside Neiman Marcus at Copley Place, decorated for Christmas, Dec. 2015
atriumfountainCopleyPlaceBoston1March2015
atrium with fountain, inside Copley Place, March 2015
MaryBakerEddyplazawithtreesBoston23March2014
Christian Science plaza, March 2014
gardensatMaryBakerEddycampusBoston14June2012
gardens on Christian Science plaza, June 2012
MotherChurchChristianScienceCenterlibrarygardensBoston14June2012
Mother Church of the Christian Scientists, and Christian Science Publishing House with Mary Baker Eddy library and mapparium, June 2012
Mother Church of Christian Scientists, Feb. 2015
Mother Church of Christian Scientists, Feb. 2015
DudamelsmilingLAPhilharmonicatSymphonyHallBoston23March2014
conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at Symphony Hall, March 2014

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So I was happy to book a room there a few years ago, in late February 2015, for an overnight stay during the 2015 Boston Flower Show, and then another time so that we could take an early train from South Station. In all, I think we’ve stayed at the Midtown three times and hope to do it again.

‘Basic’ wireless is free, with ‘high-speed wireless’ for an additional $10/night. There is also an outdoor pool, which is usually frozen when we are there. Pets are allowed for a fee.

outdoorpoolMidtownHotelNoDivingBoston1March2015
outdoor pool in March 2015 … no diving

The Midtown’s big drawback is that it’s on the Green Line, a confusing 4-headed T monster of a subway/trolley line if ever there was one, so we just Uber when staying at the Midtown. Or walk to the Orange Line. Or walk to the destination. If you drive a car there, there’s parking on site for a $25 fee.

I guess the other downside is that it’s a motel, not opulent, with no breakfast — though Thornton’s restaurant, next door, is quite fine for breakfast. There is sometimes a line after 9 on weekends.

strawberrycrepebreakfastatThorntonsRestaurantBoston1March2015
strawberry crepe at Thornton’s, March 2015
salmonbagelteabreakfastatThorntonsRestaurantBoston1March2015
salmon, bagel, tea at Thornton’s, March 2015

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There’s nothing really remarkable about the Midtown, other than the price, although I do dig the retro decor. They have a bellman to hail a cab if you want one, you can store bags at the front if your room is not ready on check-in, and there is a cute little lobby. But the rooms are just motel rooms, with adequate amenities, though certainly a good value for the price in Boston.

The rooms we’ve had have been fairly large, but with no microwave or refrigerator (you can rent a refrigerator, which probably tells you more about the hotel than they would wish).

bedMidtownHotelroomBoston1March2015
fairly spacious room with queen bed, two nightstands with lights, March 2015
bedTVmirrorwindowMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
bed, flat-screen TV, dresser, mirror, window, Feb. 2015
bedTVtablechairsMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
bed, flat-screen TV, dresser, table large enough for two laptops, two chairs, closet and more drawers, Feb. 2015
closetdresserMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
closet and dresser, with ice bucket and cups, Feb. 2015

The one light/fan combo switch for the whole bathroom area sheds light on the little sink alcove as well as the closed-off room with the toilet and shower, so at night it’s bright as midday in the bedroom if someone needs to turn on the light to use the facilities.

bathroomMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
sink outside bathroom, lit by same light as bathroom (Feb 2015)
bathroomtoiletshowerMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015
behind the door, the tub/shower and toilet (Feb 2015)

On our first visit, we could hear everything from the noisy room either above or next to us, until 1 a.m. and again at 7 a.m.  Which is unfortunately true in many motel rooms, and another reason anonymity is key.

I especially enjoy the aesthetics of the public spaces, such as this hallway/stairway, filled with potted plants, with a view to the parking garage.

stairwayhallwaytolobbyparkinglotMidtownHotelroomBoston28Feb2015

This was the view from our room one time:

pigeononrailingfromMidtownHotelwindowBoston1March2015

I’ve recommend the Midtown Hotel to everyone I know who stays overnight in Boston.

MidtownHotelsignatnightBoston28Feb2015
night view, Feb. 2015

It’s the sign lettering, the font, that makes it seem like a western hotel, isn’t it? Shoot out at the Midtown. Let’s hope not.

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Somebody else, some stranger, haunted

Welcome to day 25 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
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cemeterynearDenverCOJan2004

I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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