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Monday, August 7, 2017

Hitting the Wall at the End of the Road on the Central Coast - Atascadero, California


My wife has given me one request for her birthday this year, that we not be at home.  Sure, we've been on trips on her birthday before but that day has always landed on a travel day so she got to spend it in airports, on trains, in a car...you get the picture.  This time, she wanted to be gone and able to relax.

After mulling over several destinations, it was decided that we'd go up to the Central Coast to the wine country of Paso Robles and the Edna Valley.

It's not a cheap place for hotels, especially in the peak summer travel time.  A very basic room at a Motel 6 would be edging up towards a hundred dollars a night, rooms in Pismo Beach were in the $300 - $500 range, Morro Bay around $200 - $300, Atascadero and Paso Robles were $150 - $400.

I settled on the Holiday Inn Express in Atascadero (just ten miles south of Paso Robles) for $190 a night because it seemed like they had a very nice, wheelchair accessible suite with a king bed and sofabed in the living room, hot breakfast, and a decent pool to swim in on those hot, wine country afternoons.

The drive up was pleasant enough with just a stop for breakfast at the Main Street Restaurant and Steakhouse in Ventura.  It's a very good diner with great food but this morning was hosting a party of clueless parents who let their kids climb on the table, run around the restaurant, and bang on windows. We couldn't wait to get back on the road...


Being summer in Southern California, the great ocean views to the left of us on the 101 were balanced out by the many wildfires burning to the right of us.


A bathroom and gas stop in Buellton lands us next to an old used car lot filled with some great, classic and antique cars.

About four hours later, we pull into the Holiday Inn Express in Atascadero for checkin.  After the paperwork is done and room keys issued, I send Letty and Tim ahead to the room while I collect some luggage from the car.

When I get to the room, Letty greets me at the door with "you'll never believe this. Come inside and look."


I go inside to a nice, rather large room (no way this is a two-room suite, like I booked, maybe a studio, at most) where my wife has pulled back the curtains to reveal the view of the rolling hills of the Paso Robles wine country going off into the distance.  At least that's what we expected. Instead, we get a view of a stucco wall, 3 feet away, completely blocking any view at all (it's part of the facade of the portico over the hotel's entrance).

"OK, lets go back down and see if they have another room," I tell her.

Marching back to the desk, we explain the dilemma. "That's the only wheelchair accessible suite we have," the clerk tells me. We have a regular room with one bed that is accessible."

I let her know that we will not be able to fit in that room and, since this room is not what I thought it would be and is obviously inferior to a non-accessible room, that they should have no problem if I go ahead and cancel, right?

"You need to cancel 24 hours in advance, you'll forfeit a night's room rate."

This is not good.  I know I could probably fight this and win later but I just want to give my wife a nice getaway for her birthday so, when they won't budge, we go ahead and stay in the room.

It's not a great room for sleeping, either, as we'd find out listening to the people upstairs walking around all night and the air conditioner cycling on and off repeatedly.

The next morning, we go to the breakfast buffet. It's not great. It's pretty bland and we decide after today, we'd rather spend extra and go eat out.

The manager spots me as we're getting ready to go out for the day.  "Mr. Musick, I see that you wanted to cancel yesterday but you needed 24 hours notice. If you'd like to cancel today at no charge, that would be fine."

I tell her that today is my wife's birthday. All she wanted was to be away from home and not dealing with the actual hassles of traveling and that the last thing I want to do on her birthday is to have to try to find another hotel on short notice in this expensive town and to move.

The manager says she'll knock off ten dollars a day for our troubles.

Well, at least I know where not to stay next time I come up here (you can see my review of the hotel at Tripadvisor).

At least that's the height of our displeasure on this trip. The rest of it will be pretty fun and relaxing...I promise.  See you next time.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

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