So, Inter-net, my first day of "solo 30 trip" wasn't the bed of roses I'd anticipated.
On the positive side, both of my flights (Boston>Charlotte, Charlotte>Asheville) left and arrived on time. Also, my faith in the concept of checking luggage is restored, oddly, by the very airline who made me ALWAYS carry on in the first place, US Air.
I arrived in Asheville, picked up the rental car (an appropriately bland Kia Optima...an "upgrade") and off I went towards West Asheville and Bon Paul + Sharky's Hostel. Since check-in only happens between 10am-1pm and 5pm-10pm and I got there around 3pm, I had a few hours to kill. I explored the Haywood Road business (two thrift/consignment shops, one custom hoopy car garage -- "Lowriders" -- an organice food co-op, and Westville Pub...where I decided to settle in and check out all the literature that I picked up at the airport.)
After two pints of North Carolina-brewed Goldenrod beer and one chicken+cheese quesadilla, I felt renewed in the naive optimism that made me think that I could entertain myself, alone, in a completely unknown city, without blowing the budget, for five days. I even met a few locals, and two (more) beers later I headed down the road to Bon Paul + Sharky's hostel to settle in to my "private" room.
Morgan, the innkeeper (hostel keeper?) showed me my room and...I was blown away. Yes, to what I know will come as no surprise to any of my friends back in The Bean, I had booked myself into what seemed like a $26/night severe fire code violation. The 5' x 10' room -- in the BASEMENT -- had utility carpeting and not much in the way of decorations. The ceiling was covered by corrogated aluminum painted white, with open gaps in some places where pipes and insulation poked through. Buuuut for $120/week, I could deal...until I realized that the door didn't close AND the room had no heat. Eeek...
I went upstairs to see Morgan at the front desk, "I don't think I feel comfortable staying in that room," I said. "Oh, don't worry," Morgan replied. "I lived in that room for a few years and it was fine." Determined to show that I still had my brave, single-self spirit, I hedged...but then (don't put your head in your hands yet)...I forked over the $120 CASH and went back down to my 'room.' (Ok, now I fully permit you to shake your head, put it in your hands, and groan in disbelief.)
After a call to The Prof and subsequent panic attack, I turned off the space heater and headed back upstairs. "I'm leaving," I said to Morgan. "This place just isn't for me." "Well," he replied, "I already put your cash in the lockbox, and no one can open it except Joe the owner. He'll be in on Monday."
So I hauled my suitcase back out to the Kia and proceeded to the Quality Inn Suites Hendersonville, where I am now esconed in not the poshest suite, but at least one with heat, a functioning door, and two means of egress.
Here's to a better tomorrow -- and a refund come Monday.