Five States of Rain – Day 129

Five States of Rain

Day 129 – August 7, 2003 – Thursday

I don’t like to spend much time writing negatively about the places we’ve been…though there were more negatives in the Northeast. I’ve spent a lot of time on business in the Northeast, and it just isn’t as pleasant as the rest of the country, in my opinion.

The day started with problems at the Borgata Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City. They tried to stick me with $49.10 in local phone charges for two calls to the local internet access number. In 128 days of travel, this happened only one other time. 99% of the hotels and motels have their phone call charges clearly posted on or near the phone. There was nothing at the Borgata, so I just dialed my local access number and did my website work. What upset me most about the Borgata is I felt they were trying to pull a fast one on me. There was no Express Check-Out copy of the bill under my door. Instead, the key holder has a little place to sign for Express Check-Out stating that your bill will be mailed to you. When I saw that, I immediately thought it was strange…because they could charge you anything, and then you’d have to deal with it by long distance when you discover it back at home. Then I went to check out, and the bill was much higher than it should be. I caught it, but I’d guess many would not.

The Borgata cashier woman got an unpleasant look on her face when I objected to the charges. She claimed the information was (buried) in the big thick 3-ring binder that contains promo material about room service, the spa, the casino, entertainment, and other hotel services. That would be about like putting the policies and charges on a page in the Gideon Bible — few people read either during their hotel stay. I asked to speak with a manager, and the cashier just walked away. I stood there waiting…hoping she had actually gone to get a manager. She finally returned with a young man. They said nothing to me and did not even acknowledge my presence, but they began fiddling with the computer. Richard, apparently a financial person of some type, finally looked in my general direction and indicated they were crediting $48.10 as there would be a 50 cent charge for each of the two local phone calls. No apology, just squeezing another buck out of me. While pleased to be getting the credit, I was in awe over the poor customer service that was being delivered by the Borgata.

I informed Richard and the Borgata cashier woman that I was writing a travel book and that I would be writing about this. I suggested that they do as virtually every other hotel/motel and put a big sign next to the phone if they insist on charging folks by the minute for local calls. Richard said he expected I would write that they apologized and credited the amount. I was credited, but I never received an apology, and I was not treated in a manner that would make me ever want to step foot in the place again.

As I drove out of the parking lot, I was charged $3 for parking my own car in an outside parking lot — even though I was an overnight customer of the hotel.

Overall, I wasn’t pleased with the Borgata. I’m surprised I wasn’t charged each time I used the elevator to go to my room on the 32nd floor — or charged by floor. Kimberly was very nice at check-in, but as I think back, I was ignored by four or five desk clerks who never acknowledged my presence. I finally had to ask which one of them would like to help me. I really liked Celeste and the folks at the barber shop. I enjoyed winning $100, and the room was very nice. My sandwich was poor; the pie was not nearly as good as the written description; the service was poor; the rates were high; and the charges for items that should be at no charge were poor. The common areas of the hotel and casino are not nearly as nice as a comparably-priced hotel in Las Vegas. Very plain. Almost makes you wonder if they were so far over budget that they cut back on the finish-out at the end of the construction.

I don’t know who owns Borgata, but there were definitely indications that this might be the first hotel they’ve ever built. Brand new hotel with four big off-color panels on the exterior that caused me to assume it was not open for business yet. Broken entry gates in the parking lot. And hotel room doors that slammed incessantly. The door slamming was like something out of a Three Stooges movie. Every time a room door closed, it made a noise that seemed to shake the entire floor. There were hundreds of rooms per floor, so it seemed continuous. Sorry, but I can’t recommend the Borgata.

The fog in Atlantic City was as thick as I’ve ever seen fog anywhere. As I drove out of town, it became heavy rain. Then the traffic just stopped on the Garden State Expressway. Several hours later, I managed to inch to a spot where a U-turn was legal. It was 2:30 pm before I re-routed to get to Delaware. I was very sorry that I couldn’t see Wildwood and its 50’s architecture and Cape May where I had a scheduled ferry trip, but there was no alternate route…and not much chance I could make the last ferry at 6 pm.

I drove the rest of the day. It rained in all five states that I visited today. I saw bits of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. By the end of the day, the trip Round America had been to every state except South Carolina and Hawaii. 48 down and just two to go.

In Newark, Delaware, I stopped at Bing’s Bakery. I popped in and got a very tasty peach pie. I met two ladies who worked there, Lora and Vicki, and then a customer named Theresa. They were excited that being in the book would be their 15 minutes of fame. The pie was $6.25 — quite a bargain.

There was no “Welcome to Delaware” sign as I was leaving Delaware, so I was out of luck on adding Delaware to my Welcome Sign collection.

At a gas station in Maryland, I met Jeremy. He was a really nice young man who was running the cash register. He saw the sign on the car and asked how I was going to do Hawaii. I told him, and I gave him a card. I told him his name was going to be in the book. Then, he came running out to the car and gave me a place to go for the best pie in those parts.

I followed Jeremy’s directions to Milburn Orchards where I got a flag photo, an orchard photo, a license plate photo, and a peach praline pie that weighs a ton and looks great. I asked a young man who is probably a family member (high school or college-aged boy) what the best pie was after I already picked one out, and he said that the peach praline was the best. Milburn Orchards grows 13 different varieties of peaches, and I learned that they ripen at different times. The peaches in their store were beautiful. Milburn Orchards had many different kinds of pies that I had not seen anywhere else.

I went back to the gas station and gave Jeremy half of a pie. He was really pleased, and I saw him eating pie as I drove away. The pie was very tasty, different. It had a praline syrup, really fresh peaches, a good crust, and some nuts on top. I didn’t consider it an award winner, but it was certainly different and excellent.

I saw signs for peaches, blueberries, plums. I didn’t realize there was that much farming in this part of Maryland, but it seems to be farm country. It was pretty, green, rolling hills, a nice area. It changed almost immediately when I crossed over into Maryland from the industrial northeast look.

The sun was setting when I reached West Virginia. I managed to photograph the “Welcome to West Virginia” sign, but I had to double back a couple times. The Shenandoah River was flowing by as I drove along.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a quaint place with a lot of history. I photographed a flag and a license plate at the Harpers Ferry Town Hall. There were quaint old houses and buildings.

I saw a sign indicating that radar detectors are illegal. I didn’t have one, but it looks like Virginia has a law against them. I really enjoyed Kim and Cathy at the Fairfield Inn in Frederick, Maryland. I also met Scott, Shelly, and Celeste.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Borgata Casino & Hotel — Bing’s Bakery — Milburn Orchards — Harpers Ferry West Virginia