Here’s how one online review describes the Royal Oak Inn: “It's not a luxurious stay by any means, but well kept, tidy, and has all the basic necessities.”
The basic necessities. TripAdvisor got that one right.
Last year, the kids and I stayed here before our week at Camp Ozark, and I remember feeling a combination of things.
Amused at the earnest-but-dated décor of our kitchen-carpeted room;
Relieved/delighted that Mom and Pop establishments are still alive and kicking;
Charmed by the owners’ kids and their cousins frolicking in the middle-of-the-parking-lot pool.
Welcomed by the unpretentiously friendly folks who ran the place.
That night as I talked to my husband on my cell phone (since our room didn’t have one), I tried to describe it to him—the room, the town, the simplicity. But my words just didn’t do it justice.
But this year he’s with us. And after a 10-hour drive, our Honda Pilot rolled off Arkansas Highway 270 and in to the parking lot of this unpretentious 15-room motel in the heart of tiny, rural, 104-degree Mt. Ida.
The 20-something man in the office handed me a key to Room 4. “There’s an ice machine in the room next to yours. Help yourself.” We did, also noticing the haphazard assortment of towels, laundry detergent, paper towels, and other cleaning supplies.
No frills here. Just the basic necessities.
I slid the key in the door and hoped nothing had changed since our last visit.
Faded towels? Check.
Paneled walls? Check.
20-inch tube tv? Check.
Unmatched bedspreads? Check.
Silk plant hanging in a dark corner, fooling no one? Check.
Sighing with relief, I turned the knob on the window unit and stretched out on the bed with my family.
There we were, together, comfortable.
Sometimes it’s nice to stay in what we like to call a “fancy-schmancy” hotel. We don’t mind getting a little pampered from time to time. But when we do, there’s always the chance that I’ll leave feeling like I need to spiff up my house, my yard, my hair, my personality . . . . me.
But on this steamy July evening, my family and I settled into this place that’s just plain comfortable in its own skin. I was reminded of how very little we actually need.
And I wondered whether God might be inviting me to step away. Away from the ipod – iphone – ipad – itouch – ithis – ithat – I – I – I – I – shower – me – with – unnecessary – luxuries – to – make – me – feel - significant world. Towards simplicity. Towards refreshment. Towards peace.
Towards the basic necessities.
So . . . .
Nothing fancy. And that’s just fine.