I almost stayed in a hotel tonight. All day long I toyed with the idea, like a hungry cat first toys with a death-row mouse. There is a certain adrenaline that comes with the hunt; a rush that accompanies chasing something down and eventually eating it.
The seed was planted early in the day, when I realized I would be arriving in Prescott before noon. Prescott being a city. I haven’t been to a city for a while. I started imagining spending a night or so in the area so I could enjoy city-things; a gallery, museum, maybe a show. All of which could be enjoyed easily from nearby BLM or National Forest sites. My intention was to camp.
Then I imagined a bath. Perhaps the only “tangible” thing I miss on the road is a good long soak in a deep tub. It has been well over a month since my last one and the idea became wedged into a tight corner of my mind. I floated on the image, which was becoming a sudsy fantasy I knew I wouldn’t part with easily.
But what was this nervousness in the pit of my stomach that came with it? Yes, it was colder than it has been, but I was coping – maybe even enjoying it. Wasn’t I? I was feeling restless.
I pulled over and researched hotels near “Historic Downtown Prescott” , finding them reasonably priced. I made a list of things I could accomplish while in the city; reasons for my hotel-need. It had been a long time since buying anything but fruit and veggies from a fruit truck, so groceries were a good idea. I was still looking for a coffee percolator. I had clothing to donate to a thrift store. All seemed valid reasons to “treat myself”.
But did I really need a hotel? Because of my hesitation and indecision, I decided to postpone booking.
We arrived downtown and Pippa and I wandered. I window-shopped along Whiskey Row, taking note of a number of the pub-style restaurants along the way. They call their pubs “saloons” here, making them sound like great fun; tourist attractions really. I love these kinds of places. Local haunts full of interesting local people. I read a variety of menus, and choose some good food in advance of a possible night out. I peered in windows, wondering if there might be live music in the evening.
After a good walk, I tucked Pippa in the van and went to a cafe nearby to eat, drink and write. Ah, the warmth of civilization. Ah, the warmth of the room, the coffee, the Indy music that made me think of my kids. Ah, the “familiar” of it all. The hum of humans. I miss my kids.
I had asked about a dog park at the pet store and knew I would be taking Pip for a play in the afternoon. Knowing this helps me to spend time away from here. Although, she seemed a bit under the weather in dog-like ways. Loose stool this morning. Staying under the covers longer than usual. Maybe she was suffering the cold? Maybe she needed a night of play in a big room where she could jump from bed to bed with abandon?
Maybe while she enjoyed the warmth and comfort of the hotel, I could have a bath and maybe even a swim or a sauna. Maybe there would be a restaurant at the hotel so I could have breakfast the next morning. Where it would be warm. I could give Pippa a well needed bath. It was all sounding pretty perfect.
But it didn’t feel perfect. The yucky feeling got worse. Now my heart was starting to pound in my ears. The closer I was getting to eating that damn mouse, the worse I felt. I was becoming irritable.
After writing and eating at the cafe of urban delights, Pip and I headed to the coolest dog park I’ve ever been too. A woman had won an essay contest for a brand name Dog Food and won $350,000 and donated it to the city to build the park. It had Astro-turf, a rain shelter, and agility areas- with separate play areas for big and small dogs. We spent almost an hour there, and while Pip played I tried to find an alternative to a hotel on my phone.
Maybe I just needed a swim and a shower and I’d feel better.
I called around to a number of pools but didn’t find one that was “working for me.” The YMCA only had a pool and no sauna or whirlpool. One of them had a steam room, but it was out of order and the pool was outside and unheated. Really?? Unheated in these temperatures?
Frustrated with my dead-end search, I decided to abandon my swim-plan and end the day with groceries. Maybe that would help me decide. I could feel the day getting away from us.
On the way into the store I noticed a hair salon, and wondered how much it would cost just to have my hair washed and dried. Maybe that was all it would take to feel better. Maybe after groceries I’d check it out. But a Sports Clips? What kind of service would I get there?
What the hell did I want?! What was going on?! Why was I so freaking discontent?
I had trouble deciding on groceries, and chose a weird assortment of high-protein energy bars, corn tortillas, chocolate truffles and organic/non-gmo/cruelty free/low fat Greek Yogurt with digestive enzymes. I don’t even know what a digestive enzyme is.
I must have been in that stupid aisle 15 minutes reading ridiculously complicated yogurt labels, before I realized where I really was.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the familiar golden glow of a bottle of California Chardonnay. When I finally let my head follow my eyes, I noticed it was connected to a large section of the grocery store, each square foot dedicated to my favourite addiction. I stood there, staring. I was baffled.
Suddenly, it all came together.
A downtown hotel, with no need to drive. (Reduce the Risk) The bath, with a glass of wine in my hand (The Reward) Dinner and wine at a “saloon” within walking distance with live music (The Cover Story) A warm hotel where Pippa could be warmly kennelled when I went out (Guilt Alleviation) A bottle of Chardonnay at the hotel (The Final Bullet). All followed by a mindless, high-carb breakfast in the morning. After the carnage. (Numb the Shame)
This was my addiction hunting. Oh, and it was cunning. It was powerful.
I left my food in the cart and returned to the van.
I opened my Allstays app and found this campsite, just ten minutes outside of town and close to the dog park. I took a deep breath as the pieces fell into place.
No mice tonight I said to Pippa.
I sat for a while, letting it all sink in.
Yes. Right. I remember now. This is how we have to do it.
One mouse at a time. No mouse today. Just one day.
With that realization, I felt my addiction release it’s prey, and watched it scurry under a dumpster beside the grocery store.
When I was sure it was actually gone, I turned the key and heading for the hills.