I have stayed in some nasty, grimy, sketchy hotels in my life but the Riverside Inn in Moab was not one of them. It was clean, bright, pleasant – by all accounts a perfectly legit place to stay.
Unfortunately, my then-husband and I were sharing the room with some guests who would hitch a ride back with us back to our Denver apartment and not leave for six months. I woke up after the first night with a bite on my shoulder and after the second night, a few more. These should have been telltale bites, but this was in April of 2009, a year before the nationwide bedbug invasion. I was also new to the Rocky Mountain region, so I just figured it was some spider or insect native to Utah.
After the vacation, we went home and everything was fine for about two months. And then it began. Bites all over my shoulders, upper arms, and ankles. Horrifically, distractingly persistently itchy bites. Dozens of them. The odd thing was, my then-husband wasn’t getting bit at all. We didn’t know what was biting me because even in the spring of 2009, bedbugs weren’t really in the news that much yet. We set off store-bought bug bombs in our bedroom and I frequently slept on the couch or living room floor to escape but we couldn’t figure it out. Until I saw one. Over the summer, bed bugs had started to appear in the news a little bit and when I saw one, I knew immediately what it was. We notified the apartment manager (which we probably should have done long before) and we had an exterminator come into our unit. That worked. For about two weeks. So he came back. And then came back again. Bedbugs are tenacious.
I’m amazed that one or two little bedbugs snuck into our luggage and made the ride back from Utah, yet when we had hundreds of the little buggers, they never ventured past our bed into the rest of the apartment or, worse, home with some of our friends. The bed was a cheap, porous, manufactured wood platform bed. I’m not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. The porousness made it the perfect home for the bug families and allowed them to breed. It also allowed them to burrow in deep to escape the fumes of the exterminator’s chemicals and survive multiple gassings. But maybe its commodiousness was also the reason those little bastards remained so highly localized. After the third professional fumigation did not eliminate them, we threw out the bed. That finally got rid of the problem.
We still took all the other precautionary measures – vacuuming the mattress and the whole apartment carefully (again), washing every linen and item of clothing in scalding water (again), encasing the mattress in the type of plastic cover that kids who wet the bed use (I didn’t remove that until long after I removed the husband from my life), and throwing out the wooden nightstands just in case. For several years after, every vacation I took began with me going into the hotel room alone–no coat, scarf, luggage, nothing–completely stripping the bed and checking the mattress seams for signs of bedbug life. I’ve gotten over the paranoia, mostly, but a bug bite on the shoulders or ankles definitely sends a shiver down my spine.
What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter H: Her and Her Dogs. I was wondering if someone else out there was doing the phonetic alphabet for the challenge, and sure enough – found one! Look how adorable the drawings are!