The Blue Spruce Lodge is a little run down around the heels, but my husband and I stayed there during a Route 66 trip to California last fall and found it clean and comfortable.
The furniture is old but serviceable, and the neon sign out front is absolutely gorgeous. The owners were very nice, although we wound up having to pay cash for the room because their credit-card machine was down the evening we were there. No big deal; that's why God made ATM cards, and I'm sure they got the problem fixed as soon as they could.
Our only complaint was with the neighbors. Like many motels of its age and type, the Blue Spruce has had to resort to renting a certain number of rooms by the week to make ends meet. Of course this practice sometimes results in less-than-ideal clientele; the night we were there, our next-door neighbors were spraying lacquer on cedar art projects in the parking lot, which we found amusing. Even funnier was their salespitch; they were eager to show us their creations and explain how they were all handmade and not mass-produced like the stuff we'd seen in curio shops along the way. Had we not been traveling in a Honda Insight, which leaves little room for large souvenir acquisitions, we probably would have bought something from them just to help them out. I'm still kicking myself for passing up the opportunity to add another hopelessly tacky item to my Route 66 collection.
We love moments like that, when we run into real people who are rough around the edges but generally harmless; those sorts of encounters are balanced on the cusp between poignant and funny, and I'm always left feeling a bit off-kilter but grateful for the chance to see something real instead of the cookie-cutter sameness of the interstates and their predictable chains.
Less amusing was the woman who joined their party later. She had obviously had waaaaay too much to drink, and she was begging us to go down to the liquor store and buy her a 12-pack, because they wouldn't sell her one. We declined. She wasn't combative, but the desperate tone in her voice when she repeated her request still rings in my ears, and I wish I could have done something to pull her out of her obvious addiction and put her back on her feet.
The encounter didn't scare me, but it made me sad, and some travelers might find such an exchange unnerving or irritating. But maybe moments like that are the point of a road trip -- to see this country in all its beauty and harshness, and to find out who your fellow citizens are and what they're up against.
With a little TLC and a little more supervision of the full-time tenants, I think the Blue Spruce could be a real gem. It's not for everybody, but I would stay there again and would recommend it to travelers who are out to learn something about this country and their fellow man instead of demanding a sanitized, censored adaptation of American culture.