skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Monday, 08 May
Once Upon A Time In The East
As has been alluded to before, this last week, the wife and I took an anniversary trip into Eastern Washington's wine country. Specifically: Yakima!
YAKIMA! Does not that name sing?
After extensive (read: desultory) research into lodging in (sing it!) YAAAA-KIIII-MAAAAA!--we rejected many B&Bs, mainly on the grounds that 1. they were pretty expensive and 2. I don't really feel like making forced conversation with bright-eyed strangers over runny-egg breakfasts--we elected to stay with the fine professionals at Best Western.
BEST WESTERN! Does not that name sing? BEEEEEEEEEST WEEEEEEEES-TEEEEEEEERN! (SFX: crack of a whip!) YEEEE-HAAAAW!
Best Western's website promised nice things, such as an "adjacent facility providing a lounge and a 24-hour restaurant." Which was true! If you elasticize the definition of "adjacent" to mean "an unwalkable distance away from you." It also promised that it was "near the freeway," which was also true! It was in fact nearly under the freeway, which we discovered as I maneuvered the car down the offramp, and the wife immediately screamed, "THERE IT IS!" provoking a spectacular, tire-smoking hard right, and we jounced merrily into the Best Western parking lot. Upon coming to a rest, we found ourselves staring at the nearby "adjacent" facilities such as a Harley dealership and an Exxon station. They were both closed. The gas station nearest the offramp was closed at 4 PM. I . . . whatever.
After checking in with the helpful gals at the front desk, we decided to use our never-fail "ask the locals for advice" non-trick for finding the city's delights. "Where's a good place to get a decent dinner?" we asked. The girls looked at each other uncertainly, as if we had inquired about hidden uranium deposits. "There's an Outback Steakhouse down the street." I thought I'd rather eat at the Harley dealership, but remained silent. The wife tried another tack. "All right. So where's a place to get a good drink?"
At this question, the youngest-seeming of the girls positively leaped into action. She began furiously scribbling directions down on some scratch paper. "You need to go to the Lotus Room," she babbled. "They serve a good drink. They'll treat you right. It's a friendly place! You--you--it's very . . . well, these are good people--"
She was starting to decompensate to some unnameable mental pressure, but I was catching a vibe. "Will no one help the widow's son?" I asked her gently. She relaxed visibly and favored me with a relieved smile. "You're going to have a great time."
So we followed her crabbed directions to the Lotus Room. Located in the rear of some faded restaurant called the Golden Wheel, which looked like it had had its peak in 1972, its entrance was a featureless metal fire door set into a plain concrete wall. A white sign overhead read, in black letters, THE LOTUS ROOM. It was about as inviting as a needle exchange center. The mouth of a green plasticpail outside the door gaped, ready to receive gallons of cigarette butts. It looked like a perfect place for enthusiasts of receiving pool cues to the back of the neck. I started to wonder if the hotel gals hadn't set us up for a bad end. Oh God! I thought. They've sent us to our deaths and then they're going to break into our room and steal our nothing!
We made our way inside, and encountered a faux-opium den sort of place, with lots of Oriental dragony carvings and lots of no light relieved by a little red light. It was sort of like walking into someone's mouth. The jukebox near the door had a hand-lettered sign that read, "PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK." Noted, I guess. Someone probably got chain-whipped for playing "I Want It That Way" some fateful night. We found a booth and sat down.
But for all of the ominous portents, the Lotus Room? Friendly as hell! Every person who came in was greeted by some other patrons with "NORM!"-like cries of welcome. A pleasant aging waitress came over and took our order; remembering the possibly-murderous hotel gal's promise of "good pours," I then eyed the bartender make my whiskey soda.
FSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH! went the whiskey from the gun. FSH! went the soda. Our drinks returned to us, and we sipped them gingerly, and we felt icicles forming on our livers and kidneys. Our bladders glumly started rolling out the fire-suppression gel. The waitress eventually returned, and the wife asked for a couple of glasses of water. "These drinks are pretty strong," the waitress said amiably, "so it's nice to have some water." Which was a lot like a doctor saying, "Well, you've been bitten by four hundred cobras, so it's happy news that we have aspirin."
We ordered a second round. Someone braved the threatening jukebox and managed to coax it into playing "Tusk" without sustaining terrible injury. Red-limned dragons leered at nothing at all, and we sipped again at our impossibly alcoholic drinks, which I was starting to think of as some sort of interesting refinement of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: I was beginning to become unsure of both my position and my momentum, particularly when trying to descend the stairs to have a smoke.
We had entered Yakima County. And we hadn't even made it to a winery yet.
Note: Comments are closed on old entries.
Have to love yourself some 'back woods' Calif. ppl. We got similar treatment in San Diego of all places... but our lil treasure was a Motel 6 ! The girls were oh so friendly and helpful... NOT. No one seemed to know where the zoo was and they lived there. No one could tell us how to get anywhere or a place to eat. I'm starting to wonder if it's just Cali.
But you haven't told me what I really want to know. Where did you have dinner????
Ummm . . . a Mexican place. I think it was called Santiago's. The waitstaff had that sort of half-smile terseness that said, "We appreciate your business, but we'd also appreciate your getting the fuck out of here."
Nice! I like it when the restaurant closes and the entire staff of the restaurant - waiters, waitresses, busboys, owners, cooks, etc. - sits at a booth across from yours and stares at you until you leave. That's hospitaliano!!!
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