When you reach the turnoff to continue north on the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee, you don’t quite reach the town of Clewiston. After all the heat and bugs while camping and cooking outdoors, the group decided to enjoy real food and a night in an air-conditioned, bug-free motel room.
The owner gave us a very fair “group rate” and didn’t mind that we squeezed in four hikers into several of the tiny rooms. With our van loaded with sweeter-smelling hikers after showers, we drove to the local “all you can eat” Chinese buffet. Let the eating commence! There’s nothing like a hiker appetite at an all you can eat buffet. We made a stop at WalMart across the street for resupply before returning to the rooms.
In the morning ,while our group was preparing to depart, the owner of the motel spotted “the dog”. And boy, was she not happy. The plan had been for “the dog,” belonging to one of our hikers, to spend the night in one of the vans. And I can honestly say that I’m not sure where she slept. But when the owner of the motel saw a water bowl in the motel room on the floor, she was extremely upset.
Everyone assured her that the dog stayed in the van, but why should she believe us? What bothered me was that, WE had just left a bad impression on someone about hikers. How can we be trusted, doing things like this? And that WE might be the reason that hikers might never be welcomed at this motel again.