Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Northcoast Travelogue: 8/17-8/18

Headed to San Francisco again Sunday. Didn't think I noticed much tourist traffic until we got to Richardson Grove. Then it seemed there was a fair amount of people stopped at all the tourist traps. I guess not everybody stayed home this summer.
With what looks like a serious drought looming, it was no surprise the Eel River was low, but it's usually low this late in the summer. What surprised me was the Russian River. It looked about as full as it always does to me for this time of year. What's with that?
Worst time we had getting through Santa Rosa and Petaluma in quite a while- going both ways. Must have been our timing.
All good things must come to an end. We had been staying fairly regularly at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. The Pacific Medical Foundation owns the hotel and and had been offering free rooms to cancer patients from their hospital and UCSF Medical Center. They apparently can't handle UCSF patients anymore so the door is closed there. A devastating development for those who benefited from them.

We could have stayed there for $110 a night, I think it was, and be given the same deal we usually got: Free breakfast and parking. That's not really that bad a deal for San Francisco and at first I thought we'd just stay there as a real guest for a change. In the end I decided to stay at the Novato Day's Inn. We've stayed there a number of times before and enjoy it. It's not only cheaper, but not in San Francisco.

So I made a reservation weeks earlier specifying we wanted a room with a fridge and microwave. Some rooms don't have them but they can often bring one to you. Last time we stayed there they said there weren't any available and we did without. This time the whole arrival was a bit goofy, though I don't really fault the management. Well, it wasn't too big a deal to me, anyway.

I go to check in and reiterated that we wanted a fridge in the room. The manager says they had a room on ground level and one above. The upper one had a fridge in it already. I prefer ground level but wanted the fridge so chose the upstairs room. She makes a phone call to confirm the room is ready and gives us the key.

We drive around the corner to the room. I go upstairs to open the door and find the door already open, someone having left the door lock open to block the door. The cleaning gal was cleaning the room next door so I figured she had just finished our room. I go in and notice the room hasn't been touched- trash is full, bed all messed up. I use the phone to call the office and advise them of the situation.

I go back down to get another room. They give me the room next door to the first one. We go in there but there's no fridge. I call down again and they say they'll have the one next door brought to our room. Nobody comes, although I didn't wait very long.

I finally decided the fridge/ microwave combo was light enough I could probably drag it the eight feet through both room's sliding glass doors myself. I went next door- the cleaning gal was in that room now- and used my worst spanish to explain to her that her boss said I could take the fridge. I don't think she understood me or really cared either way.

Moved the fridge fairly easily and called down to tell them they didn't need to send someone to move it. Gal in the office seemed really appreciative that I'd moved it. End of story but strange how hard it was for them to get it together.
Next time we might be staying at that place for free, though. Just by coincidence, the day before we left, I received some mail from that [formerly] Trip Rewards program. It's now called Wyndham Rewards. It's one of those programs where you get points when you stay at certain places. Eventually, you can cash in your points for a free stay at certain hotels.

I had been using my Travel Rewards card for a while but gave up on it for a couple reasons: First, I had a hard time figuring out how the rewards worked. Their web page was difficult to find information on. Not only that, but I had problems when I first logged in and ended up with two accounts. I could only log in to one account and that one wasn't the one the Day's Inn points were being accrued in.

Secondly, from what info I could glean, it would take something like 20 nights at the Day's Inn for one free stay. Hardly seemed worth it. Eventually, I stopped presenting my card upon checking in and pretty much gave up on the program.

But I'd figured the points accrual wrong and, luckily, Saturday was the first time I'd closely read anything they'd sent me. Right off the bat it mentioned I had over 6000 points and was entitled to one free night at one of their Tier 1 hotels or some "travel miles", or some such.

I also hadn't realized that once Day's Inn had my Rewards number in their system, the Rewards program adds up my stay points without me having to present my card to the front desk. They had our last two stays there listed correctly. Cool!

That gave me the incentive to go back to their web site and try to log in to the right account. Took just a few minutes to get the right username and password. Why I gave up before I have no idea.

The only problem is, they have Tier 1 through Tier 4 hotels. I'm sure the Tier 1 ones must be the lower class hotels, but is Days Inn low class enough for Tier 1? I tried but couldn't find the Tier criteria on their web page. I'll just have to find out when I make our next reservation. To get the free stay you have to make the free stay's reservation thru the Rewards program. I'll find out then.
After hearing that leaving my truck's tailgate up was supposed to be better aerodynamically than leaving it down, I decided to give that a try. I'd always left it down thinking there'd be less wind resistance thus better gas mileage.

Last time I believe I got a little over 19 miles per gallon driving from Willits to San Francisco and back to Willits. This time, with the tailgate up, we figured around 18.5. That shows slightly worse gas mileage but that could be due simply to different driving conditions.

I'll call it as there being no significant difference between leaving the tailgate up vs. having it down.


At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Days Inn in Novato takes 10,000 points - tier 2.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Figures. Wonder what the Tier 1 places are like? Where do they have that info. I think I found it once before.

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know since I had to talk to someone about my account on the phone and she looked up how many points it took. On the web site you can call an 800 number to book a room for your free night.

Does Days Inn in Novato have WiFi? Probably going to stay there in Sept and now have a lap top that I just got.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I was checking out their web site to find the Tier info again and was unsuccessful. Weird thing is, to make reservations online, they only give you the option of maybe ten major cities, but you can say how far from that city. I picked fifty miles from San Francisco and it looked like all the choices were in San Francisco and southward. Maybe I would of eventually come to the Novato Day's Inn but I gave up.

Novato Day's Inn has wifi and advertises itself to the freeway as such. They have a big banner saying they're a wifi hotspot. They're probably a mile north of the freeway offramp and there's not much out there, so you can't just walk out and stroll around town if that's your desire.

But we like it because there's a lot of wildlife around. Haven't seen as many deer this year as when we first started going there, but there's deer and wild turkey around. There's a Chinese restaurant there that serves ok food if you want chinese and you can have pizza delivered.

We've been picking up sandwiches from the Cloverdale Quiznos on the way down, lately, and having those for dinner.

The only real downside, if I were to nitpick, is their air conditioners/ heaters don't have much ooomph to them and, if it's hot outside, the conditioners don't seem to help enough.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Narration said...

I dunno why I like these travelogues so much but I do, Fred.

Probably because reminds me of all the places along the way, and so forth. Keep'em up!

Thanks and best,


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