It started with pure luck. While checking rates for a motel in Staunton, VA I came across the Red Roof Inn and their special 1 cent room for the first person to register at 12 noon. Only needing the room for Sunday night I decided to give it a try. I would not register anywhere else and just take my chances at noon on Sunday. Early on Sunday morning my wife and I headed south on I81. By 11:30am we were going through Winchester, VA and pulled over at McDonalds for some free WiFi. I set up the laptop and got on the RR Inn website and waited until 12pm. At exactly noon I submitted my request for the one cent room at the Staunton Red Roof. Each participating RR Inn was offering one room per motel at the 1 cent price and my wife and I was the lucky ones winning that room.
Our main reason for visiting Staunton was of a personal nature and was to be a one day thing. Down one day and back the next. But then we got to thinking. If we got this room for 1 cent, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to get others. The rules were simple. First to register at precisely noon would win the available room at that particular motel. Only one night per customer per motel. So, our idea was to go anywhere in the state of VA that we could book a room.
Since we were going to make a vacation of it we had to come up with things to do in the general area we would be staying. Staunton was easy enough. Since it was the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson we decided to visit the Woodrow Wilson Museum and Presidential Library. We decided to be the first customers on Monday morning with intentions of getting thru it early enough to book our Monday night stay. It couldn’t be done. We did the guided tour thing of his birthplace mansion and then left in search of WiFi.
At precisely noon I sent my reservation in for the RR Inn of Charlottesville. Missed it and had to quickly resubmit to another motel. Fortunately I had a back up. We booked at the RR Inn of Roanoke. Having our room booked we headed back to Wilson’s Library to finish our visit.
After our visit in Staunton we were again heading south on I81. We checked in at our 1 cent room and immediately headed out for dinner and a movie. The next morning we decided to visit The Transportation Museum of Roanoke where we experienced the only remaining examples of the Norfolk & Western’s legendary success along with antique automobiles, truck and bus exhibits.
Our next booking took us back to Charlottesville. We decided to take the scenic route and go thru Poplar Forest (Jefferson’s Getaway Home), over to Lynchburg, and Appomattox. A lot to try and take in with just a few hours to work with. Needless to say, it was late when checking in to our room. Although we were right there at Monticello we decided to bypass it on this trip and let it go until the fall. We were just too pressed for time running these 1 cent rooms.
Because it was late, we ended up sleeping in and having a late leisurely breakfast. By the time we finished it was time to try and book our next room. Again we lucked out and got our first choice in Richmond and headed right over.
We spent a leisurely day just running around Richmond and up to an amusement park called King’s Dominion. Great place to take the kids.
Of course at precisely noon we were online booking our next motel in Virginia Beach where we would wander the boardwalk. Even in April we found the boardwalk to be beautiful and full of life. The Va. Beach Boardwalk is AWESOME! There are many activities that occupy it day and night. There are restaurants, arcades, mini amusement parks, and sometimes even concerts. It is a really neat place to visit where you can enjoy many activities.
Saturday morning we decided to head up to Yorktown and take in the local sites. Of course our first task after arriving was to get online and do our final booking. We would be finishing our 7 cent vacation in Alexandria. Knowing we would be heading straight back on Sunday after breakfast we decided to stick around Yorktown for the day and check in late in Alexandria. The DC area would be for another time.
I know this seems as though all we did was run from motel to motel but actually we had enjoyed ourselves and was fortunate to see parts of VA that we never saw before and may never see again. Including a place called Gertie’s Country Store that had signatures of people from all over the world. These were written on the walls, ceiling, floor, you name it.
We also took a walk thru a place call Holy Land, USA. This place was about 250 acres or so of land that was redone like that of old Israel. Shamefully it was no longer open for business but my wife and I found it quite enjoyable just to walk around it and imagine what it may have been like when open. And even more, imagined what it was like walking thru the Holy Land, 2000 years ago.
I thank the Red Roof Inns and the promotion they ran and look forward to seeing this same opportunity pop up some time in the future. Who knows, the next time I may be bouncing around in your state.
Published 1/8/12 by Rick Backstrom