Pennsylvania: A Guide to Lodging Volume 1: The Inns of Western PA

The Clearwater Inn

Amenities: Crop view from rear windows; basement dining; 2mi. from bus stop; daytime electricity.

Menu: Cold Egg Broth; Chicken Frankfurter; Spaghetti with “Mega” Sauce; Lucky Strudel.

Nearby Attractions: Area famous for apple-butter; Colony for the Feeble-Minded at nearby Ebensburg.

Review: Checked in after regaining consciousness on access road, north end of soybean field. After nap, strolled beneath trees in garden (pictured). Noted trail of bread-crumbs in upper hallway. Drank nine crème de menthes. Suffered one attack; possibly induced by the sudden appearance of a face in upper left-hand window on building’s western side (pictured) while strolling in garden. Realized I have no one but myself to blame.

Rating: ✰✰✰


The Tyrol

Amenities: Volleyball net; on-site parking; World Wide Web booth; infirmary.

Menu: Winner’s Pie; Sausages of Lent; “Purity First” Corn Punch; Deer Casserole; Local Chutney.

Nearby Attractions: Rupel-Vaartland House.

Review: Over nine feet of snow. A strange sound in the room—like a bowl of rice crispies after the milk has been poured. Felt like someone kept yelling at me to “shut up” though I hadn’t said anything. Opened my eyes to see pale light through a coarse white cloth over my face. Checked out after I’d removed all of the bandages.

Rating: ✰✰


The Maylock Hotel

Amenities: Buried treasure; Isolation Room; pond (diving bell can be rented full/half day); “black box” checkout.

Menu: Six-Item Salad; Clam Broulée; “Father’s Pride” Walnut Cake; Hot Ham Soup.

Nearby Attractions: Child Abuse Prevention Center; pontoon ride.

Review: Noticed a smell which reminded me of something. Saw an elderly man or woman climbing up a dry golden hill into the brush. Racked by a fit of jealous hope. Passed a stone.

Rating: ✰✰✰✰


Oakhurst Manor

Amenities: 5% discount for blind; “Cotter Cola” available in lounge; anti-terror policy.

Menu: Placemat Platter; Fresh Fruit Combination; Hong Kong Crab Taco.

Nearby Attractions: Pumpfrey’s Funeral Home; “That’s Amoré”; double-decker bus.

Review: Laundry came back almost uniformly gray. Arms like flabby windsocks buoying me on the breeze. Accused of arson (charges unfounded). Atmosphere of deep, almost permanent Christmas.

Rating: ✰✰


Winthrop Estates Courtyard

Amenities: Wake-up call; service elevator; “Nullification Thursdays”; all rooms feature partial privacy.

Menu: Cascade of Lentils; Austrian Fish Pie; “Grab Bag” Sandwich; Candied Wedding Wreath.

Nearby Attractions: Site where A Long Mountain of Feeble Elevation was composed; slot machine; leaf art (shuttle provided); Imperial Library.

Review: Man in lobby took me aside and made reference to proprietor’s “deformity of the face area,” though I hadn’t noticed any such deformity. Long-outdated newspapers in breakfast nook. May have been a hospital; unclear; but difficulty checking out; had to leave via window over back stairs. Got completely lost.

Rating: ✰✰✰✰


The Alpenhof

Amenities: Information pamphlet; disposable checkers; wind-proof hallway; United States Postal Service.

Menu: Broiled Loin (served w/ french fries); Basket of Assorted Cupcakes; Foie Gras “Candle” with Hazelnuts; Elvis Wrap.

Nearby Attractions: Beekeeping exhibit next to gas station; religious school.

Review: Suffered a recrudescence. At dinner was presented with large dish of variously colored and labeled packets of different kinds of sauce; server tried to explain the different kinds but I found myself too tired to listen. (Server visibly intoxicated.) Light stain on pillowcase. At least two cats in room. Felt some relief in being out of the way of things.

Rating: ✰


Dutch Haus Motor Court

Amenities: Facial soap; “American” landscape; strange funereal structure in vacant lot behind building.

Menu: String Beef; “Governour” Platter; Twice-Fried Fish Salad; Roast Turkey “Headache” with Pearl Onions.

Nearby Attractions: Railroad-themed pantomime at nearby community center; automatic bake sale/vinegar tasting.

Review: Quarantine in effect throughout district. Room key almost impossibly tiny. Sense that history must have ended by now. Dreamed the hotel was on fire; awoke weeping softly; took breakfast in room.

Rating: ✰✰✰


Maryvale GuestSuites

Amenities: Spiral staircase (“cockle” stairs) lint-free bedding; Finnish receptacle w/ “inside part”; prayer hotline.

Menu: Bistro Ball; Creamed Crawdad Cup; “Have You a Minute?” Dumplings; Four-Alarm Bread.

Nearby Attractions: Sand factory; rope-walk; Circle of Learning; Mutascope Peep Show in back room of local grocery.

Review: Heard voices coming through vents in bathroom. Dried bridal bouquet mounted under glass bell. Shameful tableaux from my own childhood displayed on wall at several points during night. Continental breakfast decent.

Rating: ✰


Wren Crest Lodge

Amenities: Hot-pink wallpaper; storage area beneath bed; wash stand; electronic warning bell.

Menu: Shrimp Stub with Coriander; Elk and Portobello “Handkerchief”; Collar of Ham; Lettuce Chips.

Nearby Attractions: The Mummy’s Castle; historical monument; Pot o’ Gold; rock climbing.

Review: Premonition that I would come back to this place to die. Realized that the only way to redeem the past (aside from annihilation) is to plant seeds in the present moment that will bear fruit in the future. (Even so it will be a bitter fruit.) Earwig noted on window sill.

Rating: ✰✰✰✰✰

Note: all photographs © Brian Booker.

A modified version first published on The L Magazine website.