Travel Gone Bad…

It is a rite and passage of ministry. Interesting Motel Stays. You cannot get around it, whether for speaking engagements, mission trips, or conferences, it’s going to happen.

Yesterday, @terracecrawford was posting about an upcoming stay for a speaking engagement that promises to be eventful. the 1/10 review almost guarantees it.

This brought back memories of two of my most memorable stays:

1. Streator, IL – This was in my pre-ministry days. I was working with a contracting company doing Y2K upgrades for a very large corporation. I was a 19 year old fresh off the farm kid, working with a bunch of “seasoned” contract workers that grew up in the “city”. Our team lead was “James from Columbus”, and he had booked the hotel room next to me in Streator.

I’ll try my best to describe this motel. Blue, 2 inch-tall shag carpet? Check. A building dating to roughly 1800 ? Check. A Lounge built onto the side where the locals and travelers get equally tanked? Check. Advertising on the main sign that shows “Air-Conditioned Rooms”. Check.

James seemed to have the room from Hades that week. We check in and walk to our assigned rooms, and I hear a blood-curdling scream from James’ room. I walk through the open door to make sure he didn’t find something truly horrible, and he asks me “What is that cockroach doing in the toilet” I peek in and look and reply “looks like the backstroke”…This was only the start for James that week.  The next morning, he woke up to an air conditioner that had malfunctioned and dumped enough ice-cold water to make the blue shag carpet wet and cold all the way to where his bed was. He made his first step out of bed into it and “screamed like a girl” loud enough that it was what I woke up to that morning. He goes into the bathroom to find (not kidding) not one, but two cockroaches in the toilet…Awesome.

The end of the story is this – our company travel agent booked our rooms there because “it was the only accomodations close to the worksite”. We found out after staying there five days that there was a Super 8 AND a Ramada 10 miles north of the worksite. GAAHHHHH!!!!

2. Peoria, IL – My first trip taking youth overnight as a Youth Pastor. Our church was taking a group to a State Denominational Youth Conference in Peoria. I was not familiar with the town and looked online for the “best deal”. I was pretty green to Youth Ministry(and the world) and should have realized based on a couple factors what I was getting in to. First, anything nice close to the convention center was extremely expensive. Second, all the chain motels were on the outskirts of town (10-15 minute drive from the convention center).  I found a motel for cheap about 5 blocks form the convention center – Great!…

We arrived in Peoria, find the motel and drive into the parking lot through a large metal gate that a worker opens and closes (yellow flag). I check into the office, and the office worker is behind bulletproof glass (another yellow flag). That night, after the first session for supper, we were trying to order pizza, and I had to convince and cajole the Papa John’s worker to deliver our pizza to our motel (RED FLAG!). We spent that night hearing everthing from any surrounding room (appropriate or not), because the walls were that thin.  We heard sirens and apartying in the neighborhood all night. The brightest point of the trip is that we were only staying one night!

What memorable Hotel/Motel/Travel experiences have you had in ministry?

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