Travel Adventures & Pictures From Barber
Travelling to races can always be an adventure. You never know what you might encounter. Such was the case this past weekend, when Susan and I attended the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. The weekend at the track was great – except for the rain on Sunday, which couldn’t be helped. Any surprises we encountered at the track were good ones. The same cannot be said for some of our time spent away from the track.
We stayed in the same hotel as last year – an easily recognized establishment known to cater to the budget-minded traveler (translation: cheap). It is in a respectable area in Birmingham, surrounded by all the respected chain hotels such as Marriott and Hampton Inn; as well as the usual dining establishments like Outback, Lone Star, Chili’s and Macaroni Grill. I mention this to let you know that we weren’t staying in the worst part of town just to save a few bucks.
During last year’s visit, we encountered no problems. The hotel was clean, had all the necessary amenities, was in a decent location and cost only $59 per night. Why would we not stay there again? Things didn’t turn out quite as rosy this year.
After spending all day at the track, we checked in around 6:00 Friday evening. As Susan opened her car door upon arrival, she was greeted by the decaying remains of a dead mouse. It was a sign of things to come.
As we got out of the car to unload our luggage, we were greeted by thumping sounds that you felt more than heard, that were emanating from an SUV with the back opened up – so that everyone could enjoy their sub-woofers. There were three gentlemen sitting on the asphalt around it, drinking from quart bottles of Natural Light as they were being serenaded by the rhythmic thump-thump of their sound system. We had not even opened the door to the room and we were already off to a bad start. It got worse.
Our non-smoking room reeked of smoke when we walked in. Of course the air-conditioning had been turned off, so the air had a chance to get really stale and stagnant. I walked into the bathroom to turn on the light and was greeted by a dimness that would have been appropriate for an indiscreet bar. I looked up to see that three of the six bulbs over the mirror were out. I saw they had one of those silly heat lamps on a timer in the ceiling. I figured I’d turn it on and let it light up the bathroom. Yes, it was burned out also.
I made the mistake of getting up to go to the bathroom during the night. Once I had flushed, I realized the toilet emitted a loud gush of water that was reminiscent of a jet engine, for about ten seconds every minute. This went on for the next thirty minutes before it mercifully subsided. I finally went back to sleep probably an hour after I first got up.
I’m glad that smart phones come with alarm clocks. The alarm clock that sat by our bed had a blank face staring at us. I figured it was unplugged. Silly me. It joined the list of things in our room that didn’t work.
It really didn’t matter that the alarm clock didn’t work. At 5:40am on Saturday, I awoke to the monotone sound of what I perceived to be a toddler playing in the room next door. I thought it odd that it would be playing right next to the wall. As I tried to go back to sleep, the single note I was hearing grew louder and louder. Then it developed a rhythm. It finally dawned on me that this was no toddler I was hearing. Instead, it was an amorous couple that decided that 5:40 Saturday morning was the perfect moment to show their love for each other – and she was a screamer. It sounded like bad porn (or so I’ve been told).
Needless to say, I was not in a good mood when it was time to go. The saving grace for the bad hotel was their free breakfast, which was quite good. I can put up with a lot if I’m kept well fed. However, I don’t think we’ll be returning to those accommodations next year. There were enough decent looking hotels in the area that we may cough up a little more to avoid the adventures we got to experience. It did make for some good conversation at the track however. I had done a lot of griping about it on Twitter (@Oilpressureblog) that morning and many there had already seen it and were giving me a hard time about it. Oh, well.
Beyond that, it was another great weekend at Barber. I have assembled some very random pictures from the weekend that I thought I’d share. There is only one of Susan and one of me (with loyal reader Mike Silver). The rest are various shots from the weekend ranging from Saturday’s practice, Joe Namath and Josef Newgarden in a cooking demonstration to the flurry on the grid just before the race, Will Power leading the first lap and the victory lane celebration including race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay’s family. I wanted to post a few of my pictures before the page and looking forward to what’s ahead in the Month of May. Again, thanks to those who followed along with us over the past weekend.