From the moment we arrived in Three Rivers, things started to take a turn for the worse. We learned a good lesson in deceptive advertising and the difficulties of finding decent lodging in the middle of nowhere.
When Jason and I learned of our High Sierra Camp trip cancellation, we promptly began making new plans. We decided to add a visit to Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. Of course, since we were only two months out, lodging in the parks was completely booked (except for the campgrounds, which were out of the question for us on this trip). Three Rivers came up as we investigated lodging options outside of, but near, the parks. And the Western Holiday Lodge was tops in almost every search.
I felt like we did a decent job of looking into the property. Online, it looked like a cute motor lodge. We could see it was right along the river, and it appeared to be a nice base camp.
As we pulled into Three Rivers, I could see from Google maps that it should have been located right on the edge of town. We came around a bend, saw an motel, and I immediately said, “I hope that’s not it.” Yeah, not good.
We parked the car and walked in. The front desk creeped me out immediately, although I can’t really explain why. We were given our keys, we got back in the car, and drove over the other opposite edge of the lodge to where our room was located. We figured we’d scope out the room before before hauling all of our bags in. As we walked up to the room, we noticed that something was definitely not right – the room door was wide open.
We walked in to see that the large air conditioning unit was pulled out of the wall. No way. Back in the car, back to the front desk. The response: “Oh, I guess they didn’t finish working on that room today.” Duh. Why would you put people in a room that was undergoing repairs when you weren’t absolutely certain that the work was finished?
We were given another room, so we jumped back in the car and drove over to the same area. Thankfully, this door was actually closed and locked. We went in and scoped things out – it didn’t seem too terrible. Since we wanted to make it into the park before dark, we decided to leave dragging our bags upstairs until we got back. The one and only thing I left in the room was our cell phone charger.
Keep in mind that it is now about 5:00pm, well past the typical check-in time.
Another red flag popped up when we were at the Sequoia Foothills Visitor Center. The woman helping us lived in Three Rivers. She gave us great tips, including restaurant recommendations (hence how we found our way to the River View Restaurant). She then asked where we were staying. When we told her, she looked disappointed/concerned and said, “Well, I guess that’s as good a place as any other.” There’s a ringing endorsement.
After exploring and having dinner, we headed back to the hotel. It is about 9:00pm at this point. We pull in, park the car, and grab a few of our bags. Upstairs we go. Upon entering the room, I immediately go to plug my phone in as it’s almost dead. No charger.
I look through my tote. No charger. I look under a couple of the bags we set down. No charger. I think to myself, maybe I didn’t leave it on the table, so I check the nightstand, dresser, bathroom, basically any flat surface. No charger. I ask Jason if he has the charger and he looks through his bags. No charger.
At this point, I am beyond sketched out. Yes, it’s just a phone charger (although that happens to be my techie life-blood). But the thought that someone had been in the room (in the late afternoon/evening, mind you) and took something that wasn’t even valuable was beyond not ok. I believe some tears ensued at this point.
We grabbed all of our stuff and stormed over to the office. We explained what happened and made it clear that we would not be staying. The lady understood. She asked again what item was missing. We told her a phone charger. “Oh, this?” She grabs our charger out from behind the desk. Apparently, the cleaning lady returned to the room for some reason, saw the charger on the table, and brought it to the desk. Seriously??
We didn’t care. I was too shaken up by this point, and Jason was just irate. We were out of there.
The lady at the desk called the manager over (who we think was her husband – it was a creepy couple nonetheless). While we could leave, we would have to pay for the one night – there went $140.
So at 9:30pm, we were out on the street thousands of miles from home.
Luckily, we landed on our feet. While the local Comfort Inn & Suites was booked that first night, they did have vacancy for the following two. Booked! (The lady there also told us that we were not the first couple to jump ship from the Western Holiday Lodge that night.) They recommended driving the 30 minutes back to Visalia where we could find another Comfort Suites. Vacancy! By 10:30pm, we finally had a place to stay.
If you visit Sequoia/Kings Canyon, do not – I repeat, DO NOT – even consider staying at the Western Holiday Lodge. Capital of creepy sketchiness.