Fantastic Disaster

Fantastic Disaster

A 6-hour drive. With an infant. Winding nauseous roads. A little bitching here and there. Getting ready, husband and I, for an 8-day retreat for our new business, Allegory.
We passed the Fat Quill Quilt shop, the Two-Fat Guys Restaurant and the South Park Yellow bus. Wife in backseat with baby asking every 10-minutes.. how much longer?
We get to Arcata California. A friend told us to go there- said we would like it. I look around and in such a catty way say, “Um. Why would I like this place?”
How cosmopolitan and lame of me. Husband and wife decide to give it a try. It will be great, husband says, as we come upon a green square surrounded by little shops and hippies. Hey, I went to over 100 dead shows in my youth, perhaps this is my speed. As long as no one makes me smell any Nag Champa
Our little baby was READY to get out and crawl around. One thing we had not factored in is that our baby isn’t quite walking well enough to get his energy out when we stop at parks.. the little crawler eats everything on the ground and thus he was READY to crawl. Big time.
The front desk person tells us we are in the best room: a Master Suite. We are excited. The Hotel Arcata is a Historical destination according to the plaque. Cool.
We open the door to our room and out wafts a pretty scary yucky smell. Old. Mold. Dust. Rust. The room is dark and needs some paint. The carpet is old commercial variety. The room is just weird.
Ok. I am a princess. I am used to clean. and austere when I go to hotels. I was not prepared for this room. I make a few noises about it and my sunshine hubby says, “Hey let’s make the best of it. It will be fun.”
We set up the flip chart easel and put our agenda around the room. Unpack. Set everything up. Go on a hunt for a steak. John jokes about it being a hippie town. (We passed numerous pickers hitchhiking on the freeway on the way it. (it is harvest season in humboldt.)
SOme really friendly cops give us the lay of the food land and we end up at the finest restaurant in Arcata. The steak was leather. I mean it. Really bad.
It’s ok- John says, we aren’t here for food. Let’s get to work. We walk around the sweet town with our baby. Everyone seems so detached… distant. I remind my husband that we can not assume everyone is high. That would be wrong and the opposite of what we teach.
It’s all good, a deadhead phrase, was repeated many times by hubby and I. We walk past 5 bars on the way to our hotel .. 5 bars with tons of college kids in them. Not even thinking about what that would mean in a few hours.
We settle the baby in.. we do a little work… go to sleep.
At 2am- the bars let out. For the next 2 hours we listened to loud slurring drunken people trying to figure out where the party was going to be. It was worse than pile driving. We decide we should move to the other side of the hotel.
The next morning… rummy, red-eyed….We talk to the front desk person. No apology. no, Gosh I am sorry your baby was up all night. She just said, “It is worst on Thursdays. it is like that all week.”
Now, I am thinking , we told you we were coming here for a retreat AND that we had a baby. Could you maybe have mentioned this on the phone?
There are no other rooms for us .. she hands us ear plugs and goes about her day. John and I joke in the elevator that the customer service portion of our company will be busy with folks like this.
Ok. We can live with this. It will be fine. John goes to get provisions. We realize there is no air conditioning. We also realize there is a festival or something setting up across the street from the hotel. The noise is building. (Turns out it isn’t a festival- it is like this every Saturday and Sunday)
While John is gone, I am afraid to write what happens next. There was Blue Grass music. With each song the sound system cranked up a little louder. Ok. I can handle.. as I sat typing away.
Then I heard the first few chords of a Marley song.
Hearing the first few chords of a Marley song is like being in the middle of the ocean, with a bleeding cut and hearing Da Duh Da Duh *the first few chords of the Jaws soundtrack”
John came home- full of food and good news. He stepped in the room. Heard the music.
We were packed in 7 1/2 minutes. I can handle ANYTHING but Reggae.
The drive home made it all worth it. We made several stops and created some Metaphor lessons for our teaching material.

What we learned on Confusion Hill will be at least two chapters in our book. An incredible place if you ever have the chance to see it.
Gary Warne once said, “Disaster is an adventure you aren’t looking at right.” Arcata, California is our favorite destination – as long as we don’t actually get there!
We are so glad we made the trip and happy to be home. We have disconnected our phone and will pretend we are at a bed and breakfast. A secret hideaway in our own back yard.
Great things learned from bad experiences. The same is true of every communications interaction I have ever had. The bad ones create incredible lessons that are the fabric of this business. Our gift is metaphor- the way to create it… more road trips!!!

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