First I stopped in Austin, then I tried Pflugerville, then Round Rock, then Georgetown. In Georgetown I messed up bad by settling for a two-star type hotel that could give me both nights I needed in a non-smoking room. I booked, paid up, and walked to the far end of the place to settle in. Let's just say that I wish I'd had a cigarette of my own to mask the horrendous odor coming from the room...and to burn the three or four bedbugs I immediately spotted on the bedding.
So I went back to the desk, asked for a refund, and headed north again. But the refund is not likely to come because the clerk behind the counter, a traditional Mr. Patel, said he would only refund one night because I had "soiled" the room already by going inside and removing the bed cover. But he assures me that within five business days I will have credit for the second night. I assured him that I would contest the charge...all of it...if that did not happen. We parted on less than friendly terms. (My fellow Southerners, have you noticed that the Patels own and run at least half of the "independent" hotels in the South? When did that happen...and I'm not being racist: I swear that the vast majority of them share the Patel surname.)
Anyway, here I am at a new Holiday Inn Express in Salado, Texas, a historical little town almost all the way to Temple. So I'm only about 65% closer to the Austin than I would be sleeping at home tonight. Live and learn? I won't count on it.
Tomorrow is bound to be a better day. I'm counting on it.