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Vexing vacations


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    I was just reading the posting by John Allen about his somewhat trying boat trip over the 4 TH and it brought to mind some of our vacation outings that didn't turn out too well.  This is the start of his posting here.


Boat Trip ,


July 4th to Horn Island a barrier Island off the Mississippi Coast. All started well loaded family members on the Zephyr (brothers boat) he just recovered from reconstructive shoulder surgery, today he was passenger only. Wives, children, grandchildren son-in-law a truly motley crew. For those of you getting long in the tooth it reminded me of Hitchcock's (LIFEBOAT with Tallulah Bankhead a good ole girl from Alabama then referred to as a Starlet).


    What follows here is a somewhat long recounting of a less than exciting trip that we took some time ago. (Sorry no pictures)


    It seems that whenever we go on vacations with my family they are always referred to later as the family vacations from H%#L.  The first one, in the summer of 87, was also the one of the largest with a total of nine of us involved.  We traveled in a caravan of three cars and a boat on a trailer, heading from Madison to Eagle River and on to Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan.  Our motley crew consisted of my sister with her husband and two sons (10 & 13) from Brooklyn NY in their car, one of my younger brothers with his wife and 6 mo. old daughter from Madison in their car with the trailer, and my wife and I in our car leading the parade. (I should mention here that it is was quite a hot stretch of weather and none of our cars had air conditioning)

    We got as far as Portage before things began to go wrong.  The boat trailer got a flat which took us about an hour and a half to change in a heavy rain storm. (Of course!)  Then it was on to Stevens Point where we stayed the night in a big motel to dry out.  They had a pool and restaurant in the complex, so the boys had a good time for a while, and a good meal to boot.  (Sound good so far?)

    Well, not so fast!  We left about 9:00 that morning and drove as far as a rest stop just past Mosinee when we had to make a pit stop for diaper change.  Then we drove about another two hours or so and made a stop at a rest stop for a lunch break.  As we packed up to continue on we discovered that the baby’s bag with her diapers, formula, and bottles was missing.  (Opps!)  We figured that my brother forgot to put them back in the car when we stopped earlier at Mosinee.  The bottles had some kind of special nipples and the formula was something that the baby needed and not readily available everywhere.

    So now my brother had to drive back to the rest stop to get them.  Of course when he got there he found the bag alright, but it was empty!  I guess that someone else must have thought that it was just what they needed so they emptied it and just left the empty bag.   Of course my brother got quite an earful for that when he caught up to us again.

      OK then!  On to Wausau where we had to hunt for replacements which we found at about the fourth place we stopped at.  At this point we were wondering what next. (What indeed!) We then had to get another motel there, as it was already about 7:00 and we were all hungry, especially the baby.

    The next day we finally got to Eagle River and the place we had made reservations at, told us that we were a day late and they had already given the rooms to someone else.  They were full up now!  We drove around till we found another motel just outside of town without a pool that had their last two rooms available.  (Of course we had to pay extra for one of the rooms because they only had rooms for four guests!)

    At this point, I had deduced that this vacation was in trouble.  Trying to make the best of it, we got something to eat and hoped for some better luck the next day to make up for the bad that we had already dealt with.  Alas, bad Karma was not even close to being done with us yet.

    The girls decided to do a little shopping while all the guys went to one of the many rivers to do some swimming and a little fishing.  After swimming in the river my younger nephew discovered that he had picked up a leach on his back and was a little panicked until we took it off of him.  Meanwhile his older brother had a good laugh about it while he was still swimming, but when he came out he found that he had several on him also.  Unfortunately for him, he discovered one in a VERY uncomfortable spot inside his trunks.  Needless to say, he was in quite a panic himself over that!

   Apparently trying not to be outdone, my brother went over to the boat ramp to launch his fishing boat.  He had a Subaru station wagon with a manual four speed transmission and launched the boat alright, but in the process his car was nearly launched also!  He couldn’t drive forward, it was stuck in reverse and whenever he tried to shift gears, the car would just roll back a little more. The boat floated off the trailer, but his car was now stuck about halfway down in the water and it started leaking into the back of his car.

   We had to call a tow truck to pull him out and were told by the driver that he gets calls to this ramp all the time as it was way too steep for safe use.  It should have had a notice posted.  So much for fishing that day I guess.  So now it appeared that Mr. Murphy had joined forces with Mr. Bad Karma to go on vacation with us!

    The next two days were uneventful, but of course it didn’t last long.  It was time to continue our drive and between Iron Mountain and Escanaba Michigan I drove over some roofing debris just over a crest in the road. Of course some of the shingles had a few roofing nails included that must have fallen off some remodelers’ truck.  I caught two nails in my front tire at about 55 MPH which was kind of exciting but not in a good way!  Our spare was buried under a pile of stuff in the trunk that we of course had to unload to get at it.  Eventually we were just reloading the car when a Sheriffs car pulled up to see if he could help, which was just a little too late, but he put on his flashing lights so we helped him clear up the debris. 

     After that delay we stopped in Escanaba to have my tire fixed and got something to eat.  We couldn’t delay long as we had reservations that day at a place in St. Ignace lined up and didn’t want to repeat our motel problems we had at Eagle River. It was getting late and we had about 150 miles to go, so off we went again.

    When we arrived, (the temperature was in the low 90’s) we discovered that the place was an old three story dormitory from a former summer camp.  It could easily have accommodated a few dozen more people, so we had our pick of beds. (On the top floor alone, was a room with 18 cots.)  We took our stuff inside and left to get something to eat at a local restaurant that thankfully was air conditioned.

     We soon discovered upon returning, that only two of the ten window air conditioners were still working.  Unfortunately they were in the smallest rooms in the house.  We thought that opening a few windows would help, but as in a lot of old homes, they were painted shut. (Tried to pry open one anyway with a putty knife from our car but only opened about an inch or so and cracked one pane of glass.)  There was only A/C available for seven of us so my brother and I slept in the hall outside one of those rooms. It seemed that even with the A/C running on high, the temperature only went down a few degrees.  THAT was a long and uncomfortable night and the kids were the only ones that really got any sleep.

    The next day was hot, cloudy and humid again so we decided to take the passenger ferry over to Mackinac Island and do a little exploring.  The ride over was a bit cooler, so at least that was refreshing after a long stifling night in the house. (They don’t allow gas powered vehicles over there for some reason, so the only vehicles in use were electric golf carts.)  We toured the hotel and grounds until just before the last ferry was going back to shore.  By then a big storm was brewing when we got on board.  It got to be a rough ride and got very dark ahead as we headed right into it.  My older nephew was terrified of thunderstorms (A fear of lightning apparently inherited from my sisters close encounter when she was about six.) and was in a real panic especially when the ships radio announced that a tornado was spotted nearby.  We were all quite happy to finally make landfall.

    We found out the next day on the news that a tornado did in fact hit very close to the house that we were staying at.  At least the storm really cooled things off and made our last night there a lot more tolerable.  My sister and her family left that morning to return to Brooklyn via the bridge to Michigan. (She apparently had had enough of this vacation.  Go figure.)  The rest of us also started back to Madison along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  We stopped after just a few hours of driving at Escanaba again as we were all still tired from two nights in the summer camp building.

    The next day we drove as far as Appleton and stopped at a motel and restaurant to rest up before the final leg of our trip.  We had dinner there that night as the restaurant was closing and went to our rooms.   Later that night my sister-in-law found that her credit card portion of her wallet (which also had her check book and driver license) she used at diner was missing.  Right away we went outside and retraced her steps, hoping that she had just dropped it.  No luck there.  We went to the desk in the motel office and asked if someone had turned it in.  No luck again.  So we went back our rooms for the night.  

     We had breakfast there and checked with the staff again, still no luck.  They left a note with the desk in case someone eventually turned it in.  Driving home seemed to be the final straw in the vacation from H$%L, as we were worried about getting her cards cancelled and stopping payment on her checks if someone tried to use them.  But low and behold, both Mr. Karma and Mr. Murphy finally let us get on with our normal lives, as the restaurant  had called and left a message when we got home to say that there had been a shift change after we left and that one of the cleanup crew had found her wallet and had put it in the safe!  When she came back to work that day she told the manager that she had indeed found a wallet and put it in their safe, so they were sending it to her in next day registered mail.

    So, I ask you, did the final outcome of our trip make up for all the problems we had or not?  It did turn out all right in the end, but as I said in the beginning we all still refer to it as the first vacation from H#$L.








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