, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here I am with my son, Joshua, and my daughter, Madeline, at the Baymont Inn and Suites in a little town in Illinois. The purpose—to return from Michigan to the general vicinity of my youth in order to celebrate the baptism of my sister’s newborn son, Charles. I’m glad to be here, but when it comes to hotels, you win some and you lose some.

I won’t share all of the grisly details, but it’s important to know that upon crossing the threshold of room 115, we were greeted by a strange odor and a medium-sized spider clinging to the wall near the headboard of one of the beds.

Then there’s this wall in the bathroom.

I’m pretty sure something terrible happened here. Clearly, it has been repaired. And not very well. I have in my mind that a meeting between two secret agents went horribly wrong and one of them got his head slammed through the drywall and he was later dismembered in the tub.

And since we’re talking about the bathroom, I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo, but if the toilet were any lower to the floor, I think it would be more appropriate to classify as a litter box. All that’s missing is the chalky gravel in the bowl.

Well, at least we have this wonderful view from the window.

Never mind. Let’s go try the pool. Ah, looks nice enough.

“Excuse me, sir. Sorry to bother you. We’re just wondering—how’s the water?”

“He says it’s fine, guys. How about getting in and giving it a go?”

“So, Josh, how was it?”

“Did you have fun, Maddy?”

“Let’s just go watch TV in the room.”

And so, the TV is on. Josh has selected “Ancient Aliens” on the history channel. At least we get to behold Giorgio Tsoukalosto offering his less-than-educated opinions about who built the pyramids. Maybe he knows why the pool is only a few degrees from icing over.

Whatever. Now the kids are playing Monopoly on the iPad. While they do that, I’m going to review the Suntory Whisky Toki edition I picked up from the local liquor store. “Toki” is the Japanese word for “time,” and apparently that’s what I have right now.

With that, a sniff of this eastern blend not only provides a moment of relief from the musty hotel room smell, but it does so through a gentle miasma of red spiced apple rings and light caramel. I’m already tempted to swab the inside of my nose with this stuff before going to bed.

The palate is equally comforting, offering at first a fairly substantive taste of the barrel oak. I like that. In the next moment, there’s a tangling with a variety of fruits—apples and pears in particular. Maybe even a very ripe plum.

Now, if the name of this whisky has anything to do with the finish—as in, there is a reasonable expanse of time in which the whisky remains—then they missed the mark. This stuff leaves quickly. It took me a few sips to realize that the sweeter fruits have become more soured and acidic in their variety—grapefruit, maybe. There’s also the hint of wheat toast.

Speaking of toast… two things. First, if the complimentary continental breakfast tomorrow morning is playing at the same level as the rest of this establishment’s amenities, we’re going to spend the rest of our stay in the van. Second, Josh just beat Maddy pretty badly at Monopoly, which means he gets to govern the remote control, and so now he’s torturing us with another episode of “Ancient Aliens.”

“Hey, Maddy. You wanna go swimming?”


Still, in the end—spiders, crime scene bathrooms, swimming pools with drifting icebergs, and other things left unshared—I must confess that it was all more than worth it.