Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rapid City Meltdown

I am including a few panoramic shots I stitched together using AutoStitch and I think they turned out really well and I hope you enjoy them.

Rice Lake panorama

Duluth shrouded in fog panorama

Badlands panorama

Badlands 2 panorama

Saturday night we checked into our hotel, the Alex Johnson, in downtown Rapid City. I choose this hotel strictly because of the price, I also choose to stay in Rapid City versus Keystone where Rushmore is because of the price difference. I made a mistake. Note the date and time because I rarely admit make mistakes.

The Alex Johnson advertises it's 'historic luxury' on billboards throughout the Keystone area. But don't be deceived by this my friends. Despite the AARP rate of $67 a night, which is half the price of other hotels in the area, you are better off staying at the Super 8 because they at least have wi-fi* and a continental breakfast. And yes, I noticed that I just informed y'all that Tobey is an AARP member. He has been for two years now! Of course I am a member by proxy.

When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by 20-something year old lookie-loos that were seated in the outdoor patio of the bar that adjoins the hotel. The hallway that leads to the elevator or bar entrance, which ever you prefer, smelled of stale beer and urine. Nice. The lobby area is decorated in a lodge-esque style and I fully expected Teddy Roosevelt to step out of the gift shop with his shotgun in hand. Upon closer inspection though the furniture was tired and worn out and had obviously seen better days - like 60 years ago, better days.

Tobey parked the car while I took our bags to our room. Room 424, where the curtains would not open and with good cause. I dropped our bags off and began to look for the bathroom in our postage stamp size of a room. I found the large walk-in closet that was almost as big as the actual room itself and then I found the door next to the bed which led to the bathroom. I am not sure what this room was before it was converted to a bathroom but pantry comes to mind.

The bathroom was so small and jammed with all the accoutrements a bathroom requires, yanno like a potty, sink and shower stall. When you took the 6 inch step into the bathroom you are greeted by the sink which looked to be falling off the wall. It literally was held up with caulk. And this room was so small you had to turn sideways to get to the potty which was to the immediate left of the sink with the shower stall to the right. You may think I am joking on this part but this is the God's honest truth: when on the potty my knees were under the sink and I could have easily brushed my teeth from the sitting position. If I stretched my legs out whilst on the potty they hit the shower curtain. Historic. Luxury? Not! I won't even mention the plumbing that ran along side of the toilet and the 4 different tiles used on the wall and floor.

Now I like to think that Tobey and I are seasoned travellers, I checked out the hotel's website and others in the area. I took their virtual tour and let me tell you the rooms are nothing like portrayed in their tour. Or at least ours wasn't. Our queen bed was low to the ground and the pillows were as fluffy as a padded mailing envelope. There was just enough room to walk around the bed and that was it. We had one nightstand, a television armoir and a desk that had seen better days but we had plenty of closet space.

Everything in the AJ as they like to call it, is monogrammed with their AJ logo which was probably nice back in 1939 when the last of the six presidents visited their hotel. They do like to say that 6 presidents have slept at the AJ. Historic. Luxury. They just fail to mention exactly when that happened. I can't imagine Monica and Bill sleeping here but then again maybe that would be right up their alley. The room we stayed in could easily have been rented out by the hour.

Another reason I choose this hotel was because it had a restaurant downstairs. Their website says it is closed for the winter but since this is July I assumed they would be open and that they didn't update their site. I would be wrong yet again - I know twice in one day! The nice lady that made our reservations told us we had a movie theatre right across the street and I thought if Tobey and I had time maybe we could catch a movie without the kids - what a change that would be!

The theatre was across the street but from the outside looked like the kinda place one would not want to be caught dead in. We surmised the seats were smelly and the floor was probably sticky and since they were showing Night at the Museum 2 which was released two months ago - we elected not to see a movie this trip.

Since we were only staying two nights, we roughed it and decided not to bother with trying to find another hotel. In the future I would never stay there again. They did seem to do a brisk business with the elderly and college age and maybe those people actually got the rooms they tout in their virtual tour because most of them were smiling. Tobey and I, not so much. We sorta hung our heads down and walked quickly to our room in embarrassment.

Upon checking out on Monday I noticed a sign at the front desk. AAA Platinum Star rating for 2009. The Ritz Carlton has the same rating if you were wondering. If there is one thing Tobey and I learned from our trip it is if you see a hotel or restaurant with a AAA rating RUN. Run for your lives. There will be more on our AAA ratings debacle in a later post so stay tuned.

Come back tomorrow for the good and fun stuff without rants: our visits to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and Sylvan lake.

*Upon looking at the AJ website they do list in the amenities list wi fi; right along side hair dryers. There was nothing in our room to suggest wi-fi and the only electrical plug I could find was behind the television and I had to unplug the coffee pot to use it.



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