Trying not to make a snap judgement about Duluth

I am not in the mood to appreciate Duluth.  I got to my hotel last night right around midnight (central time, so it felt like 1am).  I was a little lucky getting in, though.  The rental car counter closes at 11:30, and that’s when my flight was supposed to land, so I thought I was going to have to take a cab to the hotel, then a cab to work (since the rental car counter doesn’t open again until 7:30 in the morning, which was when I was supposed to be at work), then a cab to the airport to pick up the car after work.  I wasn’t looking forward to that.  Fortunately, my flight landed ten minutes early and the rental car counter is less than 10 feet from the baggage carousel.  The one baggage carousel.  Duluth is tiny.  So, lucky me, I got my rental car.  Small yay.  Anyway, midnight at the check-in desk and thankfully, no one else was in the lobby, ’cause the check-in guy took it upon himself to bellow my room number to the space at large rather than just point to where he wrote it down for me like most hotels.  It was 1am before I could turn off my light, and all I wanted to do was sleep for hours and hours, but 1) it wasn’t dark in my room, and 2) I had to get up 5:45 to get to work on time.  Why wasn’t it dark in my room?  Because the Holiday Inn in downtown Duluth doesn’t believe in blackout curtains.  All I had were sheers, and my room faced the bright green Holiday Inn sign.  Still, I was tired, so I didn’t notice as much as I might have on a normal night.  5:45 came too early, but I made it to work okay and then through the day without falling over.  The day itself could have been better (I forgot to buy candy to bribe my students, so they were less enthusiastic than I was used to, and the lights in the room we were in were either too bright to see the projector screen or too dark to keep anyone awake), but it went well enough.  I headed back to my room thinking I might take a walk down the lakefront to find dinner, but it was raining, so that idea went out the window.  Speaking of the window, I was going to change clothes, but I saw a rope dangling from an upper floor.  I took a closer look and found a guy on one of those window-washing platforms about three feet down and three feet to the right of my window.  I could see him, and if he looked to his right, he could see into my room.  Not okay when I only have sheers on my windows.  On top of that, about 30 seconds after I noticed him, he started drilling into the wall outside my room.  SO loud.  I was on the phone with John, and he could hear it, too.  That eventually stopped (around six), but when I called the front desk to ask about it, they said it’ll be going on all week.  Shortly after that, the fire alarm went off.  The front desk made an announcement asking us to stay in our rooms while they investigate to find out if it’s a false alarm.  The alarm went off again, and then I heard the announcement of the false alarm.  Except that then the alarm went off again.  And again.  And again.  All in all, it went off about six times before I gave up and found a new hotel.  So now I’m somewhere else, in a hotel that has a really nice lobby and really nice employees (the check-in guy was great – upgraded my room while keeping me on the rate I’m supposed to be on for work) and HEAVY CURTAINS ON THE WINDOWS.  I never knew how important that was to me until the last few weeks.  In NC, the hotel only had sheers, but it wasn’t downtown or anything, so it got fairly dark at night.  In RI, the B&B had shutters that didn’t completely block out the light, but they were so cute and I was so relaxed that, while I would have preferred a darker room, it didn’t really bother me.  When I don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock, I enjoy waking up to sunlight streaming in my window.  But for work?  While traveling?  I want a dark room and real curtains.  Especially when there are men working outside my window.

Anyway, Duluth is not winning me over.  I’m sure it’s fine, and maybe I’ll like it better when the sun is shining and I’ve had a good night’s sleep, but I’m not seeing its charm at the moment.


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