Vacation. Who doesn’t love being on vacation?
Usually, I love it. No cooking, no laundry, no dishes to wash. I get to relax and put my feet up. I also get to catch up on some much needed sleep!
However, there are those rare occasions when things don’t always go as planned. I have luckily never had an entire trip ruined by a series of events, but I have definitely had some nightmarish moments.
I recently went to Arizona for a family vacation with not only my family but my husband’s two brothers and their families. There were a total of twelve of us on this adventure. Even with all those people (and personalities), the trip started off well. We had no issues flying into Phoenix. Our rental car was ready to go. Our trip up to Flagstaff was totally uneventful. The next day, we ventured up to Antelope Canyon and even though the wait was VERY long, the experience inside the canyon was worth it. After taking our millions of pictures, we headed down to the Grand Canyon. No one fell and died (even though my 17-year-old attempted to give me a heart attack or two) and we again took a million pictures of the beautiful sights. Everything was going great! We were all getting along. Everyone was having fun.
|Antelope Canyon is a MUST see!!|
The next day we headed down to Sedona. Gorgeous. The kids swam in the freezing waters at Slide Rock, we took a Hummer tour out to see the red rocks, and we decided to end the day with a short, little 1.8 mile hike to Devil’s Bridge. No problem, right? It was 115 degrees, but we had survived this long in the heat and had a few water bottles. We would be fine, right? Well … it was not like walking around the block twice in my neighborhood. An hour and a half later, I somehow managed to follow my two kids and two nephews (everyone else in my family had turned back long ago) to the top of this mountain and got to see Devil’s Bridge. As excruciating as the hike was, the views from there were well worth it and I felt accomplished in ways I have not felt in awhile.
|Devil's Bridge in Sedona, Arizona|
There had been potential for disaster, but we felt we had escaped relatively unscathed.
We left Devil’s Bridge parking lot for our short 45 minute drive to the house we had rented for the rest of the week. This place had six bedrooms, an amazing pool in the backyard, a pool table and all the games the kids could want to play in an upstairs loft, and I had won the giant master bedroom because it was my 20th wedding anniversary on July 5th. This was going to be great. One more drive was no problem.
Except that my 17-year-old was DYING.
Okay, not really dying. He just felt like he was dying. He needed to throw up. He needed a toilet. Immediately. My husband pleaded with him to hang on, we’d be at the house in less than an hour.
Cue the nightmare.
Google Maps suddenly rerouted us because there was an accident on I-17. Forty-five more minutes were added to the drive time. Not good. I had to join in the pleading to get my husband to stop at the next gas station, where my son promptly ran inside and settled in for the next thirty minutes. He texted me that someone was banging on the door and could I please come in to tell this person my sick son was in there. Ugh. This gas station was sketchy to say the least, so I sent my husband in. He guarded the door for another ten minutes. When they returned to the car, my son was still not looking so hot. It didn’t take long before he assured us he was most definitely going to throw up.
In the rental car.
I grabbed a plastic bag while my husband cursed that the travel time to our vacation home had now risen to two hours. He was not going to pull over again, he informed us. Our son needed to hold it together. That lasted for about two seconds. Poor Jake unloaded into the plastic bag. There were sounds coming out of that boy, I have not heard from any human ever. My husband quickly found another gas station and ran inside to buy Lysol spray, some Lysol wipes, and some mouthwash. My son ran inside to the bathroom after dumping the bag holding the entire contents of his stomach in the garbage outside.
We would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the poor guy who had to empty that garbage can at the end of the night. So, so sorry!!
Back on the road, we learned from my brother-in-laws that the highway was a parking lot. It didn’t take us long to see for ourselves. My son lasted about an hour before he needed to throw up again. I found an almost empty Frito-Lay multi-pack bag. Tossing the remaining chips aside, I handed it to my son before he unleashed round two. Immediately, the bag began to leak and my husband (ever calm, cool, and collected) began to scream, “Throw it out the window!!! NOW!!” But my son didn’t want to litter and we were sitting in the left lane of a four lane highway. So, he handed the dripping puke bag to my husband, who couldn’t have cared less about the environment in that moment, and flung it into the grassy parkway. The car behind us honked, chastising us for our crime, but the very nice truck driver parked next to us offered water bottles after witnessing the horror of my child retching into the bag.
There truly are wonderful people in the world.
I thanked him profusely and went back to rubbing my kid’s shoulders and begging him not to throw up again because we had no more plastic bags. Jake survived the next hour and half and we were nearly to the house when we learned my niece in another car had suffered the same fate as our son.
Two down. Yikes.
Was it the heat? Was it the milkshakes they had before the hike? Was it the pizza they had for lunch?
I had suffered in the heat, avoided the milkshakes, and had a sandwich for lunch. Please, I begged, let it be the milkshakes.
The woman we had rented the house from had been so kind and sent a 12 page PDF document with all the information we needed about the house before we had even left Chicago. I, unfortunately, did not read it thoroughly, so when we finally got to the neighborhood, we were thwarted by a gate and no code. My sister-in-law called, asking for an ETA. I begged her to tell me how she got in and she claimed they had driven up to the gate and it opened. Like magic. They hadn’t done anything. My husband crept the car up to the gate as we all prayed to God that the darn thing would just open.
There had to be another way in. We Googled and we Apple Mapped. We found nothing but another gate. Neither one thought we were magical enough to let us in. My son was crying at this point, my husband was ... possibly using some colorful language. My other two children had finally decided it was acceptable to complain. Loudly.
Did I mention that this was the nightmare portion of the trip?
Thankfully, someone pulled in as my husband was about to turn around and opened the gate. Without hesitation, I shouted at him to FOLLOW THAT CAR! We made it inside and somehow found the house. My other brother-in-law who didn’t have any sick people in his car had stopped to eat dinner and wanted to know if we wanted anything. The kids ordered and I helped get my sick child situated on a mattress in the room where I thought I was going to get some alone time with my hubby of 20 years - but this is Heartwarming so we won’t dwell on that point. Everyone else ate and found a place to sleep. My sister-in-law (whose daughter was sick) became the stomach bug’s third victim right before everyone turned in for the night.
All I wanted to do was go to sleep and end this terrible evening of horror. As I laid down and closed my eyes, I prayed for everyone to sleep. And then my phone chimed with a text. It was from my daughter, who was upstairs sharing a room with her younger brother.
“Ryan is in the bathroom throwing up. He wants you. NOW.”
So much for that sleep idea.
The rest of the night was spent rubbing backs, doing laundry, cleaning toilets. All the things I go on vacation to avoid doing!
Sometimes, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We all survived. My youngest was feeling better the next day. The oldest was still not 100% three days later. Whatever it was, he had it the worst. No one else went down and we were able to go hot air ballooning and even spent a day on Lake Pleasant, which was surprisingly pleasant given the 117 degree temps that day! My 17-year-old managed to get out of the house on Friday and we saw the new Spiderman movie (which is AMAZING by the way).
All in all it was a great time. The kids all got along. We saw some of nature’s most beautiful sights. I got to celebrate my anniversary with my sweetheart at a wonderful restaurant called A Different Point of View in Phoenix (I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area). My boys both thanked me for taking good care of them while they were sick. And I didn’t throw up. That’s a big win, if you ask me!!
|Happy 20th anniversary to my husband, Jerry!|
Okay, so lay it on me people. What’s your vacation nightmare story? I need to feel less alone.
Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.
Visit her at www.amyvastine.com, where you can join her mailing list!