Lexus vs. Sleep Inn

May 23, 2004

Or 'There and Back Again in 22 Hours'

In anticipation of a phone interview Monday morning, Michele and I decided to visit Kansas City on Saturday. KC is the location of one prospective opportunity and, since it is only 5 hours away by car, we wanted to have a quick look see before I had my interview.

Little did we know that the next 22 hours would be so, ah, interesting.

Our trip started out smoothly enough. We have for some time maintained a travel bag, with duplicates of our basic toiletries, et cetera, so we were off in a matter of minutes. Along the way we had a great conversation about the pluses and minuses of each of the three hottest prospects coming our way.

As we were navigating the highway interchange between I-270 and I-70 West on the outskirts of St. Louis we both noticed that the air in the car was getting warmer and warmer. The A/C was working as we could feel cold air trickling out of the vents, but either the fan had quit or a hose a come off, as there was no real force behind the air. Fiddling with the controls elicited an ominous thump sound from inside or underneath the car.

We turned around and made our way to the nearest St. Louis Lexus dealer, Plaza Lexus. Mind you this is a Saturday morning in the Midwest, most automotive dealers in this part of the world have service hours Monday through Friday only. Also keep in mind that we had purchased our pre-owed LS 430 from non-Lexus dealer, and we had never before graced the service department of Plaza before.

In less than 30 minutes our car had been diagnosed enough to know that the right side of the dash needed removing to get at the climate control duct work. Apparently a flap of some sort was jammed or broken in the wrong position. We had an appointment scheduled for first thing Monday morning. And just so we wouldn't be inconvenienced, we had a 2003 LS 300 to use, free of charge until our car was ready Monday afternoon. Try that at your local Ford dealer, I dare you.

With no further difficulties we made our way across Missouri to Kansas City. Along the way we saw signs for free wireless internet access at any number of motels in and around the KC metropolitan area. We chose to stop at the first one we came to, Sleep Inn of Blue Springs, simply because it was first, and it was on the east side of town; making our departure on Sunday that much easier.

We netted a corporate rate thanks to the generosity of the desk man and were soon in our room preparing to explore the city. Wanting to test the Wi-Fi setup I unpacked my PowerBook only to discover no signal. Stopping and restarting the Airport didn't work, nor did restarting the whole computer. I moved the machine around all four walls getting no signal at all. Opening the hallway door and stepping outside the room got me a very weak signal.

So going down the hall to the front desk ( where by the way the signal was very strong ) I asked about my difficulty. My buddy with the corporate discount insisted that the signal worked fine all the way to the end of the hall, several rooms past where we were staying. In the end he was unhelpful.

We left the room and spend several hours driving around KC ending up at a Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. Back in our room with hours to kill before bedtime I again tried the WiFi access with no luck. Discount-boy down the hall said, "Hey, it's free, what do you want?"

I wanted to hit him. Free? Not hardly. I was paying $55 to NOT have free wireless internet service in my room. To add insult to injury the television had occasional fits of interference that washed the screen with a solid red tint. Oh, in addition the weak-kneed A/C in the room was fighting a losing battle against the 85 degree outside temp. And the bed was lumpy and equipped with sheets that refused to stay on the mattress.

We left the room about 2 am, figuring if we couldn't drive the 5 hours home before collapsing, we'd sleep more comfortably in the car on the way. Taking turns we did make it home in less than 5 hours. Got to sleep in our own bed. Nice.

Final score: Lexus - all the points, Sleep Inn - Zero.

P. S. We liked Kansas City enough to make it doable. The biggest minus is that is would be an oasis, there isn't anything nearby to go see. If KC didn't have it, we'd have to go for hours to get it. It also makes getting home to Michele's mom impossible without flying or driving two long days.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.