Don’t ever stay at the Red Roof Inn on Busch Blvd in Tampa

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how my brief time in “motel hell” could have gone worse. Let me just give you the basics about why this place is so bad, and then you can read my full tirade if you’re so inclined: tiny, dreary room. Zero amenities, no microwave or fridge, no cheap “Continental Breakfast” in the morning, not even one of those low-end, one cup coffeemakers in the room. Even though the web site plainly lists the micro and fridge. Bad place, priced about the same as any mid-range motel where you’d happily stay and visit again. Setting that felt totally not-safe and staff completely indifferent to the guest’s needs.

The details: when I entered the office to check in, the front desk clerk had just found my reservation when another guest came in and proceeded to unleash a torrent of “stuff” on the staff member. She had bad things to say about the place and the way it was operated; while I cannot say whether or not her criticisms were on-target, I was about to experience first-hand what a truly bad motel this was.

By the way, that part of Tampa is not what it used to be. I’ve visited Busch Gardens before and never had any concern for my safety in the area around the park. But I did not feel safe at all when walking from the office to my room. Not at all. That should not be taken as a criticism of Busch Gardens directly, that’s not why I was visiting Tampa; I think it appropriate because this Red Roof Inn is quite close and mentions the park in their promotional materials.

It looks like they also rent rooms weekly. All I have to say about that is that motels that offer a weekly option are usually not a good place for a tourist or traveler to stay.

My room was tiny. Really, really tiny. Didn’t take the dimensions, but the staff placed the chair for the desk at the end of the desk because if it were put in the usual spot, you would not be able to pass through to the bath room without climbing over the bed. I generally travel alone, but in the case of a couple, if “John” was using the desk, he would have to jump up every time “Jane” needed to get to the sink or the toilet! Which were crammed into an infinitesimal space. I’ve never seen such a thing. These cramped conditions were unacceptable even for a single traveler.

But here’s the thing that really got my dander up: the room was so minuscule that there was no fridge or microwave. No way they would have fit. I have nutritional needs that require me to be able to take along food and prepare it in my room when I travel. Otherwise, the cost of getting what I need is outrageous, to say nothing of the time required. This was so upsetting because I checked their web site before I made the final booking and a microwave and fridge were plainly listed as amenities. When I went back to the front desk to complain, the staff did not lift a finger to make this right.

Of course, no coffeemaker in the room either. Not even the uber-cheap ones most low-end motels have switched to these days. The combined weight of all these issues was so great that I checked out, cancelled my plans for the next day and drove the two hours back home. I told the clerk that the “bait and switch” about amenities was not acceptable and that I wanted a refund. He, not unexpectedly, said that an approval for that would have to come from higher up.

Because I booked this third-party over the internet, the company through which I booked made a call the next day and told the owner that their client–that would be me–expected a refund as I had plainly told the clerk when I checked out after only 45 minutes in his dreadful establishment. He, of course, refused, telling the staffer who made the call on my behalf that it was not a “bait and switch” but that it should have been my responsibility to contact them after booking and ask for those amenities even though his web site mentioned a micro and fridge.

Don’t ever book the Red Roof Inn at 2307 E. Busch Blvd in Tampa. It’s by far the worst place I have ever stayed/not stayed. I’d love to have my money back but do NOT regret my decision to grab my stuff and get out without so much as unpacking. And I hasten to add that I’ve never done anything like that before, even though I’ve booked bargain-priced Motels many times. Recalling my experience at this place still rankles me even though this happened three weeks ago.

One final thought: I noticed that many other travelers have had very bad things to say on travel sites about this place, mentioning issues not too different from the ones I experienced. Don’t go there. No, really. Don’t stay at the Red Roof Inn on E. Busch Blvd in Tampa.

The Squirrel and the Spiritual Experience

Not the actual squirrel from this awesome blog posting.
Not the actual squirrel from this awesome blog posting.

This is a classic blog posting from a while back, before I
had my blog here with the folks at Word Press. I’m going
to re-run it here, as it’s a fave of mine:

Now about that squirrel and “the spiritual experience”!

I had just dropped off a fare in my taxi and i decided to stop in at
a fast food place in Altamonte Springs for a quick bite. If you do
know the territory, Backyard Burgers is a better-than average
burger drive-through in an Old Checkers location. It’s quite popular
with the locals.

It’s pretty popular with some furry critters up there too! I got
my “Black and Bleu” burger, an extremely yummy burger featuring
black angus beef and bleu cheese, and proceeded to make short work
of it. It truly was as good a burger as this dog had ever put into
his jaws!

Just as I was about to toss the last morsel down, this very tame
squirrel began to make her way over to the patio table where I was
enjoying this late lunch. (At Backyard Burgers, there is no indoor
seating.)

As she got a little closer, I became transfixed at the sight of her
approach and could not eat that last bit until I knew what she was
up to. In pretty short order she hopped right up on the bench next
to me and reared up on her hind legs. By now she was only about six
inches from me–from me and the last few crumbs of what had been the
best lunch I’d had in quite a while…

As I extended my hand in her direction, she actually put her little
claws right on my first finger and clasped my hand very gently
with a measured and seemingly purposeful pressure. I was quite
surprised to say the least. What I had expected her to do was to
reach for the bite o’ burger and scamper away like a bandit.

For a moment or two she just stayed there clasping my hand and
looking me right in the eye. Then, with consummate timing, she took
the morsel in her mouth and ate it in two or three bites all while
maintaining her eye contact with me, her very flabbergasted
benefactor.

Then she turned away, paused for just a moment and scampered
away towards a towering oak on the edge of the patio.

I suppose it’s a routine she’s quite comfortable with. I have not
been back to Backyard Burgers since but I’m thinking that she
probably has a regular stable of folks who share the last bite of
their lunches with her. I’ve even wanted to get back up there to see
if she’s still around, looking for humans who want to share their
grub with her, but I don’t get that far away from downtown
Orlando in my cab very often.

As I cruised back towards my preferred territory a little closer to
home, I could not get the image of her pausing with her paws on my
hand out of my mind… She seemed to be saying, “Thanks for sharing
your lunch with me! I hope you’ll come back and see me again” or
some such thing in her non-verbal squirrel language which humans may
be graced to understand just once in a while…

The memory of my shared lunch with my furry mistress comes back to
me often; especially when I’m passing any burger joint or when I see
squirrels scampering up and down our majestic oaks and through our
many parks. I would surely love to have a “Black and Bleu” burger
again. And you know I’d save the last bite for my new lunch
companion!

Bulldog Ben, respecting all of my

furry friends today just a bit more…