I drove from Kalamazoo to Louisville, KY a few months ago to pick up my youngest granddaughter. She lives in the Atlanta area and my daughter and I met halfway after an early morning start. A six hour drive each way and plenty of daylight left, I could have headed straight back home. But by 3:30 in the afternoon, Paige and I were getting tired and I was sick of the Spring Break traffic.
We decided to stop and spend the night somewhere in mid-Indiana. After stopping at two of my favorite chain motels and being told "no room at the inn," I called a couple more. No luck. I tried one more, a Hilton Garden Inn. I hadn't stayed in one since long-ago business travels with my late husband. The front desk said yes, the senior rate was $125 and to watch for exit 76 off the interstate.
The Hilton Garden Inn Columbus/Edinburgh was pretty upscale in my road trippin' book! A restaurant and bar on site! Every staff member was personable and obviously loved their job...especially the assistant manager who checked us in. He informed me my husband had had reward points; that I could get them transferred over to my name. Bonus!
Ray was the kind of person-in-charge I'd learned about while getting my Masters in school administration. Walkabouts and client contact are the hallmarks of a good principal or manager of any customer friendly service. I believe my husband watches over me and led me to this place. Ray graciously gave condolences for our loss and made us feel welcome and comfortable.
Indiana hosts a lot of antique shows and offers lots of antique store offerings.
Paige and I needed some exercise, so we walked over to the nearby Antique Mall and browsed for a couple of hours. Saw lots of things we liked, nothing we needed. Mostly it was a walk down memory lane as I recalled childhood days and the way things used to be. Paige was delighted to see "old toys" she played with as a baby eight years ago.
The Garden Inn having a restaurant and bar was perfect....a margarita with dinner and no driving! Their chicken fettuccine was both reasonably priced and absolutely delicious! Paige had chicken tenders and fries. She'd snagged a fresh baked cookie from the lobby to save for dessert. As we finished our meal, Ray strolled through the restaurant, stopping to chat with guests and shaking hands with others. At our table, he asked Paige if there was anything she needed. Usually shy, she spoke right up..."More free chocolate chip cookies!" He immediately checked with the kitchen staff, but the chocolate chip were all gone. He offered her peanut butter or oatmeal cookies, but she declined. I took care of the bill and we headed to our room. Back at the registration desk, Ray waved and beckoned us over. He handed Paige a snack-size package of Oreos and asked politely if they might do. She said yes, giving him a big smile and thank you that made me proud. Small gestures can have big impacts.
Next up was the pool. Luckily we checked it out first....it was packed with running, jumping, happily whooping kids of all ages. Too crowded and loud, she decided. This was spring break and family travel time, not to mention a Saturday night...otherwise it looked quite inviting. Agreeing to let her play games on my phone, I had a happy girl right up to bath and bedtime. We both slept well, waking early to get on the road. She was excited to get to Grandma's house, see her cousins and settle in for seven days.
We had a yummy breakfast in the restaurant. Set up as a buffet with many choices, it was pancakes for her and a made-to-order omelette for me. With full tummies and a full tank of gas from the day before, we were all set for the easy three and a half hour ride back to Michigan. Paige called her mom along the way, raving about our little side trip. The free cookies were at the top of her list, followed by the super comfy king size bed we shared. She carried on conversationally with mama as I drove, telling her about the toys she'd seen at the antique store and that grandma was passing lots of trucks. "Those truck drivers are probably not happy that an old lady is passing them," I heard her say. So nonchalant, so innocent, so hilarious!
Thanks to Ray and the Garden Inn for getting my week with this sweet girl off to a great start! We rode bikes, had manicures and saw Beauty and the Beast. She had a surprise day of snow to play in and another adventure getting home...flying back to Georgia! What started as a quick pick-up trip ended up being a memorable night spent in Edinburgh, Indiana.