Tag Archives: vacation

When Vacation Lowlights Become Highlights

florida

The other night, I asked my son to tell me his favorite memory from our recent vacation in The Happy House. It was a good one. We swam in the pool and the ocean. We visited with neighbors and spent a day at Magic Kingdom. We planted palm trees and went bike riding. We even had a dinner party where guests came over to watch Syracuse University get crushed by the Wolverines in The Final Four.

“Sitting in my rocking chair and eating pie,” my son said.

Seriously. That was the highlight?

But then I remembered.

When my brother and I were young, we went on a family vacation to Florida with our parents. For weeks, they told us we were going to have the best vacation – ever.

After a long flight and what felt like an even longer drive, we made it to our hotel It was nighttime, and we were all exhausted, so my father left us in the car and went to check in at the front desk. After a while, he returned with a map, a compass, a walkie-talkie and a survival guide.

Not really, but it would have been nice if he’d had that stuff.

Because we walked in circles forever, trying to find The Nepa Hut.

Apparently, the clerk had given my father explicit instructions. We were supposed to walk down a path to where the crushed shells ended, take a left, then a right, being careful not to fall off the pier into the ocean. Eventually, we’d see a gecko sitting on a rock. Or something. I don’t really know.

What the guy at the front desk should have given us was a flashlight.

It was so freaking dark, we couldn’t find our damn room.

Dragging our bags behind us, we wandered back to the lighted lobby where my father confessed we were lost.

My mother must have caused a fuss because we ended up with a guide.

Once in the room, we started to unpack. Someone went to the bathroom.

I heard the flush.

And then I heard my father. “Oh no! he begged. “Omigosh! No!”

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Click for photo credit

You guessed it. The crapper was overflowing. Water poured over the lip of the toilet, spilling onto the floor until the tiles were soaked.

Though my mother threw towels onto the tile floor, the icky water would not stop, and the carpet outside the bathroom door was soon drenched.

While my father dialed housekeeping, my mother chastised him for using too much toilet paper.

My brother and I couldn’t stop laughing. The poopie geyser in the bathroom? That was the best.

He and I danced around the ever-widening wet-spot as our father warned us to keep away from the bathroom door.

It’s one of my favorite vacation memories.

Memories are weird. If I think about it, I suppose it isn’t so much that I love the fact that our toilet overflowed. It’s more that my parents had set this expectation that our vacation was going to be totally awesome, and even when things didn’t go to plan, we found a way to make the most of it. I love the memory of all of us being together, flailing around, figuring things out, being perfectly imperfect with each other.

I suppose if my son forever remembers kicking back in a rocking chair eating a slice of raspberry pie, well, as the kids say, that’s the shit.

What is one of your weird vacation memories? What about memories involving toilets?

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Why We’ll Never Go Back to Aruba: Part 2

I already told you about how miserable check-in was when we arrived in Aruba HERE.

And while an air mattress did eventually arrive for Tech Support, there are plenty of other reasons I’ll never go back to The Happy Island.

Inconvenient Flights. We got up at 4:30 am and took three flights to get to Aruba. We all know the airlines don’t offer much in the way of edibles anymore, so we made sure to eat before our second flight.  The last leg of our journey involved traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to Aruba; it would be four hours. We knew we wouldn’t have time to stop and get anything, so we mentally prepared ourselves to shell out $24 for sandwiches we wouldn’t normally consider consuming. But it was a complete shock when the cart finally made it to us back in row 25  — the non-reclining last row of the plane in front of the bathrooms — and we were told there was no more food. Nothing. We were ravenous, but managed to stave off our hunger with chewing gum and gummy worms.

I would have paid $30 for these nuts.

The Smokers. They should call Aruba The Smokers’ Island. When I am on vacation in a tropical paradise, I like to smell the fresh air. Quick word to the smokers out there: If you are smoking a cigarette within six feet of others, please know that we can smell your stinky second-hand smoke. And while you might enjoy the stench of your cancer stick, you should know others do not. If you light up when people are eating, you are officially a douche-bag. Sorry about your addiction, but we are hating on you. As far as I am concerned, there were way too many smokers in Aruba.

Smokers in paradise suck!

The Americans. Downstate New Yorkers had taken over the island and, I have to admit, initially, I looked for camera crews because Tina and Chrissy and Margo and Ellie were like something out of The Housewives of Long Island. {Is that even a thing?} These folks and their families were every bit as loud and demanding as they were pierced and tattooed. I tried to ignore them, but they spoke at a decibel that made this impossible. Here is a bit of unintentionally overheard conversation:

“Omigawd, Teeeeena. Yor down! Howa you feelin?”

“Omigawd. So sick. You have no idea. Last night, I thought I was gonna die.”

“Do you think it was the food or somethin’?”

“I dunno. But I was pukin’ until like three or somethin’.”

“Shuttup!”

“No, I’m serious.”

“Omigawd, that’s terrible. How are you now?”

Believe me when I say, I didn’t want to hear all about Tina’s dosing schedule.

How the Tylenol wasn’t touchin’ it. How she was “gonna take sumthin’ else around two OAR so.”

The moment she went back up to her room, Tina’s devoted friends shared their thoughts:

“Can you even freaking believe she came down he-AH? Omigawd. Keep that shit to yor-self.”

“I know, right?”

“I paid seven thousand dollahs for this trip. Fuck if I wanna virus! Jeezus. What is she thinkin’!”

You get the point. We got to hear that for six days.

Oh, and we also got to hear the Downstate New Yorkers at 2 AM as they stumbled back to their rooms, cackling and swearing.

Most. Unpleasant.

The Palapa Line. If you wanted to make sure to get some shade on the beach, you had to stand in a queue to reserve one of those circular thatched-roof structures. Palapa reservations started each day at 4 PM. I assume at any other time of the year, this would have been no big whoop because there were 147 palapas. But because there were sooooo many guests at the hotel during this particular week, folks started lining up at 3 PM. Which made me feel like I had to get in line at 3 PM. If my math is right (and it might not be), I spent five hours waiting in lines trying to ensure my family would have sun protection when I could have been doing water aerobics with Dushi.

Put 1,500 people in this picture and then you'll have a more accurate idea of what we were dealing with.

The Lack of Non-Touristy Destinations. For some, sitting in the sun doing nothing is the best vacation in the world. But Hubby and Tech Support have ants in their pants, so we had to move. And frankly, I was underwhelmed by Aruba’s downtown that was filled with one souvenir shop after another. Perhaps the greatest disappointment? Baby Beach. I had been told this beach would be deserted and romantic, but we encountered a crowded beach with dozens of travelers who were obviously thirsting for solitude as well. Meh.

Baby Beach would have been great if it had looked like this.

The Public Pooping. I still can’t believe I really saw this, except I did. If you walked waaaaay past the fancy hotels, you would have seen children using Nature’s potty. And I’m not talking #1. {I assume they were doing that in the ocean.} No, I’m telling you I saw littluns crapping in the sand. To be fair, I did see one mother pick up her kid’s turd in a plastic grocery bag, tie it up, and toss it into a larger trash bag. I’m not known for having delicate sensibilities, but I did not want to walk on that stretch of the beach after that. Hubby declared it was my fault. “You went past the last resort,” he said. “You went too far.”

The Surprise Charges at Check Out. I enjoyed arguing with the manager about the $87 worth of bar charges that the hotel said we had accrued. Thing is, we didn’t drink any alcohol or charge anything to our room. The hardest drink I consumed was a mango smoothie. After much investigation, we discovered the drink charges were leftover from the prior occupants of the room. (I’m guessin’ they may have been from Downstate New York.)

Wheeeeeeeee! Yeah. No. That wasn't us.

The Masters. Hubby had prepared me that The Masters was going to be on while we were on vacation. I knew this meant I would be on-duty with Tech while my husband relaxed in the room. For two full days. Secretly, I prayed Aruba would not have televisions, but they did. And of course, Hubby had to watch. Until the bitter end. So good for you, Bubba.

"Must. Watch. Bubba."

The Cranky Arubans. We visited Aruba over our son’s April Break which coincided with Easter and Passover this year. It seemed the whole world had come to Aruba. Like nineteeen-bazillion people had crammed themselves onto this relatively tiny island. People told us we wouldn’t have any problem grabbing dinner; that we would be able to just walk into restaurants and be seated. Um, not so much. Every restaurant was packed with hungry tourists. One night, we had to wait 45 minutes to be seated at a mediocre Italian place. Two hours and two meatballs later, we realized our original server had vanished. There had been a shift change (or something), and we had to beg the manager to please take our credit card so we could leave.

My Theory. Peak tourist season in Aruba is between December and April, so if the Arubans had to deal with abrasive, high-maintenance visitors for five months, well…who can blame them for being exhausted? I know the Housewives of Long Island wore me down, and I only had to listen to them for six days. {This is why we told everyone we were from Canada.} Still, when your nation’s economy depends on tourism, you’d better smile and figure out a way to be nice.

Grrrrrrr.

But it wasn’t all bad. I mean, we were together on a tropical island, right?

So here is some cool stuff I’d like to remember about Aruba:

The colorful lizards & iguanas

The fabulous, consistent weather

The soft sand

The $87 smoothies

The funky trees

The awesome starfish I stepped on

Finding a live starfish was pretty cool.

The 20-minute ride on the Big Mable. Worth every florin.

From here on out, I’m taking a tip from Annie over at Six-Ring Circus and keeping my vacation expectations low.

If you could go anywhere & money was not an issue, where would you go?

Closed For Vacation

It was time.

I swear, I am thinking of all of you.

Right now.

On this beach.

Anyone want to guess where this beach is?

If you’ve been to this place, you’ve seen this tree.

At least that’s what I’m told.

No, I don’t have access to my blog.

Yes, I’m totally unplugged.

But I am writing.

Yes, I am using my sunscreen.

And, yes, someone with a very big gun and an enormous pit bull is watching my house.

Duh.

What’s the best vacation you ever took? Where’d you go and what made it so great?