Supreme Courts: A Good Motel is Hard to Find

May 05, 2012 View Comments by

No, I’m not talking about those interstate joints with the instantly recognizable logos and monikers of soothing, focus-group-driven words with the obligatory “Inn” tacked on. The motels I’m looking for are the old-school motor courts. They used to be everywhere, their colorful, flashing neon signs beckoning weary travelers with promises of “Color TV” and “Air-Conditioning.” These remnants of road travel’s glory days are now few and far between, victims of outlying interstates and a traveling public that has become frighteningly homogenous. Motorists today sail past the old stretches of highway and see small towns only as exit signs. Modern superhighways are featureless, soulless slabs of concrete that serve merely as a means to a destination. Maybe I’m just an old road-trip romantic at heart, but I miss the mom and pop touches those exit signs have all but driven to extinction.

Why do we ride, really? For most of us, it’s the sense of adventure and the feeling of freedom that only two-wheel travel can provide. Motorcycles take us out of our comfort zones—and we like it that way. Maybe that’s why shacking up in a sterile rack stack across the parking lot from Applebee’s and T.G.I. Friday’s just feels wrong. If we wanted familiar, we would have stayed at home. I know, we could camp, but I hate carrying a bunch of extra gear, and Kathy’s idea of “roughing it” is a Motel 6. I’m thinking our aversion to sleeping in a zippered bag beneath a thin layer of nylon is an integral part of the human evolutionary process. Well, that, and we’re both in our 40s and wusses.

Yet despite our seeming aversion to the great outdoors, we truly do prefer being, well, outdoors. Most motorcyclists do, or else we wouldn’t ride, would we? That very reason is why we’re now devoted to finding good old-fashioned motor courts. The bike sits right outside our room, and most places have lawn chairs or rockers, perfect for relaxing under the stars, sipping a few adult beverages, and reliving the day’s ride. We’ll take screen doors, warm breezes, and our own keen observations of the local comings and goings over American Idol reruns any time.

It’s a sad fact of life, but finding a clean, quiet motor court has becoming increasingly difficult. But this past weekend, we added a new favorite to the list. Our first overnighter of the season landed us in Blowing Rock, NC, at the Blowing Rock Inn & Villas. Everything you need is within walking distance, our room was spotless, and the mountain breeze jetting through the open windows encouraged glasses of wine with our new friends staying next door.  The motor court may be a dying breed, but Kathy and I have vowed that we will continue to fight the good fight and help ensure these slices of Americana live on. If any of you know of a nice, independent motel, please do share. Mom and pop will certainly be grateful.

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About the author

At 16, I got my motorcycle license and cut my street teeth aboard a Honda MT250 dual sport. I quickly discovered that motorcycle touring was an excellent antidote for acute wanderlust.