It’s Almost Over: Skiing ‘n More at Penn’s Woods
Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania
January 13-14, 2001
A three-day holiday weekend in the winter is a great excuse to go skiing. About 4 days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I get a call from my cousin Glenn. A ski trip to Vermont is being planned for the weekend. As he talked, I knew that the trip wasn’t going to happen and that he, his girlfriend Jodi and I would end up Upstate New York in the Catskills or the Poconos at the last minute. As the weekend drew closer, I knew Vermont was not gonna happen.
Saturday morning I pick up Glenn and Jodi at the train station and we head off for the ski Camelback in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains. During the drive Glenn was calling all the hotels to check for any vacancies. We figured the last place we stayed at was close to the mountain, a dump, and we got a room with no reservation, so we should be able to stay there. Driving down the main road we were looking for the dumpy hotel. We realized it was now a Ramada Inn. Glenn found they had one room left with a Jacuzzi and it was $180 for the night, which we thought was too expensive. Some other hotels had vacancies, but they were 20 minutes away, which was too far. One had a great rate of $75 and a Jacuzzi in the middle of the room. I drove towards Camelback as Glenn made more calls. All of the nearby hotels were booked. We went back to the Ramada and that room was now up to $200. Ok, we decided we would go skiing first, then look for a room.
Just as I headed up the mountain, Glenn said to turn around, he found a great hotel: it’s only 10 minutes away, $75 for the night, has a great deal on lift tickets, a refrigerator and freezer, and the manager “just happens to have only one room left.”
This was too good to be true.
We joked about what a dump this must be if they have a room open. Glenn said it couldn’t be that bad. As I saw the sign, I looked at Glenn and said, “this can’t be it.” Jodi was asleep as I pulled into the lot and noticed not a single car in sight – save for the manager’s. The “no-tell-motel” was a single story structure with dark bricks, yellowish shingles, and windowpanes that haven’t seen a new coat of paint since Lincoln read the Gettysburg Address. There were 10 rooms total.
While Glenn went to register I quickly got on the phone and began to call other hotels, in a last-ditch effort to find a decent place to stay. A nice hotel with a Jacuzzi for $80 was only 20 minutes away. Glenn came outside to check my license plate number. “What are you doing,” I asked.
“I have to give Bob your plate number as a security measure.”
“What security measure? There are no other cars here,” I said while still on the phone with the other hotel. I woke Jodi up and said, “Jodi, this is where we’re staying.” Even though she just woke up, she knew this didn’t look right. I told Glenn we could have a good room 20 minutes away. “It can’t be that bad,” he said (famous last words).
“If it’s not that bad, then why were we the only ones here?” I asked.
Against my better judgement, I hung up the phone and drove to the room. Glenn said to get the camera ready so we could document us walking in the room, as this could become a classic moment. Jodi and I stayed in the car as he opened the rickety screen door. Next he opened up the gross yellow door. As he opened the door, Jodi and I got out of the car, just in caseâ€¦
As the door creaked open, a stench began to permeate the air. “What the hell is that smell?” we all yelled. Glenn walked further into the room and said, “See, it’s not so bad.” There were two double beds and a cot. The TV and pictures were bolted to the floor and the wall, respectively. We turned the heater on, but nothing came out. Jodi and I were pleading with him to leave and go find another place. The smell was unbearable. Jodi began to spray some of her cucumber-smelling body spray around the room. I said I’d rather sleep in the car with it running; carbon monoxide has got to smell better than the room, and the car has heat!!
Glenn began to bring his stuff in the room as Jodi and I just stood there in amazement, as another car pulled up with 3 college stoners. They walked into the room and walked right out, laughing and complaining about the smell too. We figured they wouldn’t notice it if they were stoned. Glenn decided to go buy candles to see if they’d get rid of the smell. Glenn went with the stoners, and Jodi and I reluctantly began to unpack the car.
While we unpacked, I was very careful not to put anything on the floor. Another car pulled up with a family in it. The manager showed the lady the room to which she got all excited, ran to the car and said, “We’re gonna take this one!” Jodi and I looked at each other and began to laugh. Does this lady know what she’s getting into? Jodi went to the bathroom, to which I asked if the toilet was frozen over as it was well below freezing in the room. I looked out the little window and noticed a little frozen creek in the back. The creek looked more inviting than the room. Jodi and I wondered how old the place was, when was the last time someone stayed in the room, and when the sheets were last changed.
Glenn returned with two cases of candles, one case of strawberry and one case of vanilla. The candles were strategically placed around the room and bathroom, and quickly lit while we changed into our skiing clothes. We were trying to get out of there as fast as we could so we could get as much skiing in, but more importantly, to get out of that room. Before we left I blew out the candles so not to start a fire, though a fire could have been a good thing.