"America's Creepiest Motel!"
And yes, I did read reviews and articles. All seemed to claim Clown Motel as "America's Creepiest Motel". Don and I were not afraid.
Flurries were swirling when we pulled into the big lot off Highway 95, about halfway between Reno and Vegas. The blue and white motel with clown sign, looked just as worn and curious as the photos I'd seen on the internet. I was surprised to see the dramatic mountain in the background and all the vehicles in the lot. At least the motel had some business.
Then the owner Bob Perchetti, entered and gave us a warm welcome. He'd been expecting us. I'd called a month before and requested a room with lots of clown decor. He'd been very chatty on the phone and said he would book us for the Clown Suite.
The walls behind Bob's desk were covered in sticky notes and paper work, but framed clowns shared some of the space. Acrobatic clowns and a parachuting clown hung from the ceiling.
I peeked around as Don checked us in. It was clear that most of the clowns were for pure decoration, but a few had real jobs, like holding books.
Bob laughed about all the attention the motel has gotten from being on a few TV shows about haunted hotels. He casually brought up the fact that someone had recently died in the motel. I tried to unhear that bit of news, since we were staying over. But now I wish I'd asked. I can't find anything on the internet about it.
Bob and Me
So we posed near the cluster of clowns. I took off my jacket so my very fine t-shirt from Angie's Circus Diner (Hugo, OK) could be seen! Then we chatted some more.
Actually Bob's stories of small town, Tonopah were more interesting than the Clown Motel history. He loved growing up in the once mining town, just a couple doors down from his Serbian grandmother. I loved hearing Bob talk about his grandmother first coming to Tonopah, as a mail order bride. And I had to laugh to hear that Bob was named after his Uncle Bob, who happened to go by the nickname, Bozo.
Bob and His Mom
There was a photo of Bob and his mom on a bulletin board. He said at 97, she still lives in the house where he grew up. Every morning he eats breakfast in town, but he has coffee at his mom's, first. He talked about the importance of family, his own now and his good family memories from the past. Those memories included lots of gatherings with Serbian food!
Bob said there were 500 to 600 clowns on display. Of course I had to ask if he had a favorite.
This sad little guy is Bob's favorite. He showed up at the motel one day, with a note. The note is kept under his foot.
I think of all the clown figurines at the motel, this is the only one I would have snatched up, had Bob been selling clowns. I always loved the real Emmitt Kelly, who created his little Tramp, Willie character... the first clown to break away from the "whiteface" clown image. I loved this sad little guy.
One Last Look
Don and I took one last look at the china, metal, crocheted, wooden, plastic collection... and took our key to the Clown Suite.
Up the Stairs
We had to cart our stuff up some icy stairs, but Bob said, we would have a good view of the Tonopah Cemetery from up there.
At the End
The last 2 rooms for some reason didn't have a colorful clown figure. All the others did.
Our room was at the end, but this sign was right between the last 2 doors. Who was Joe? Were both rooms suites?
We opened the door to our clown suite and saw a few clowns, right away. Our room at seventy dollars, was at least $20 more, than the other rooms. That seemed a bit pricey for an old motel... but we did ask for a room with clowns and by golly we got them.
We also had 2 beds, tons of space and a door adjoining another room. Maybe if you book both, you can have a super big clown party with some friends. Or I guess we could have knocked on the door, since we could hear voices and smell some kind of food cooking. We could have invited our neighbors over for a clown appreciation party.
Pondering the Guests
Actually, after doing some internet searching, I learned that "Joe" is a motel manager and he may have been the neighbor we heard, next door. Hmm? At least the article I read, said he lived at the motel, in the Clown Suite. Maybe he lives in both rooms and moves out of one, when there's a request. I'm not sure.. and I'm kind of glad I didn't know that at the time.
Don and I wondered about other guests. The truck filled parking lot, made it clear that most of the overnighters were workmen and such. Besides the work related travelers, I think the Clown Motel actually gets more guests who are interested in paranormal activity than clowns. Luckily that doesn't faze me, since most of the historic hotels we visit claim to have ghosts.
A Very Big TV
Our 2-bed room was spacious and the TV was huge. However, there were some room issues that most reviewers might gripe about. Yes, it needed new paint and carpet and there was a crack in the window, but it was clean. And if I were Bob, I wouldn't be wanting to put money into renovation before selling. Don and I were just pretty excited to have our oddball Clown Motel experience... before it's too late.
When will we ever again stay in a motel that has a cluster of colorful clowns displayed on the dresser? When will we be able to pop some microwave corn, while a cookie jar clown grins from above?
Washing up, With Clowns!
There were clowns dangling near the mirror over the sink. And look at the special make-up mirror! Most old motels don't provide magnified make-up mirrors! But then again, I would need that if I had brought along some clown make-up.
Toilet Paper Delight!
This display on the toilet tank, put the biggest grin on my face. First of all I expected no toiletries, but there they were... laying on a colorful circus fabric, right next to a crocheted toilet paper keeper with a clown head!
There was artwork, too. I liked the triple-image-art with Emmett's, Willy character in the circus ring. But what was the other one? With closer observation, it made me think of a fever dream, featuring an aged Emmett, floating with eerie cloud faces. We chose the bed furthest from that print.
Night at the Motel
We had a great dinner at the charming historic Mizpah Hotel, in town. That's on our list for next time. When we returned, there was a nice layer of snow on the parking lot. That is not a moon in the photo. That is a mystery. I have no clue how that orb ended up in my photo?
Morning at the Clown
We woke at 6 am, to sounds of snowplows. It was bitter cold, but I threw warm clothes on, over my p.j.s and wandered out with the camera.
The Clown with Snow
There wasn't a ton of snow, but it did make everything look clean and tidy.
I walked past the office, which I knew would be serving coffee soon.
I walked just a few steps past the office, to the old miners cemetery. It looked very peaceful on a snow covered morning.
The cemetery opened in 1901, when miners were hit with some sort of plague. Evidently, the father of Clown Motel's original owner is buried here.
My footsteps weren't the first. I saw some kitty paw prints when I stepped in through the gates. I was told later there is a local program that captures and fixes local feral cats. Many cats are fed nearby and call the cemetery home.
I studied Mr. Smith's grave for a moment. He was "murdered in his cabin, behind the Midway mine." Hmm.? Maybe it was his spirit orb, that I captured in my photo, the night before.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!