Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dream Vacation or Vacation Nightmare? by Amy Vastine

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.

Nothing. 

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!


35 comments:

  1. Oh, forgive me--I'm still laughing. Hoping everyone is well. But, you know...still laughing. Happy Anniversary.

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    1. Thanks Liz! I can laugh about it now but not so much that night!!

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  2. Wow--glad to hear your son is okay, and I understand why you were worried. At the same age my son had those symptoms and it turned out to be a burst appendix and emergency surgery. Food poisoning is bad enough. I was really feeling for him, and you! But the family story will be one of those epics that gets passed down, I suspect. The vacation when...Glad you survived the heat--happy 20 years.

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    1. Thank you, Virginia. I was worried about the appendix but it was definitely just a bug! And yes, we sure have a story :)

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  3. I'm with Liz here...still laughing...with you. I have to say. Nearly EVERY vacation I ever had was exactly like this. Probably why when someone says "Vacation" to me, I break out in hives. I've always thought vacations were when brothers and sisters and sons spend the week in the bathroom or throwing up. Yep. I get it. Truly.

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    1. Sorry to hear that Catherine! My one sister in law feels the same but she lucked out and her son was healthy the whole time! Sometimes it just works out that way.

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  4. Amy, I'm so sorry that you had this terrible, horrible, awful wind-down to your lovely anniversary vacation. Especially your trip to beautiful Arizona. I'm not sure any of my vacations came close to being the nightmare of yours. I hope you are getting some down-time at home.

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    1. Thanks, Roz. We loved Arizona in spite of the sickness. So many beautiful things to see!! We will be back.

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  5. ...And that's why I don't take vacations. :-0 So sorry for what happened on your anniversary vacation.

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    1. My husband says this is why we should have gone ALONE! LOL

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  6. Oh my... This was even worse than I knew. I'm Lol-ing and cringing at the same time. But you, being you, managed to make the best of it. Here's hoping for no Orlando nightmares! (Or may we at least have only the kind we can laugh about!)

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    1. No Orlando nightmares. I got it all out of my system. Only fun, fun, fun!!

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  7. I with Carol here, laughing and cringing at the same time. Like:"Wow, so glad this isn't me. I wonder what happens next." Your son will not ever have a milkshake or pizza again. Or, at least, not for a few weeks! Great story, Amy! Glad it had a happy ending.

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    1. He will never ever have another milkshake!! :)

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  8. Oh my goodness. I feel so bad for you and your family, but I admit, I'm also laughing. I've been to all those places, and I can just see you all in the car stuck in traffic with a puking kid in the heat. Truly a nightmare. But you survived. May your 21st anniversary be extra wonderful. You deserve it.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Nothing worse than a sick kid in a car. Yuck!!

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  9. No laughter here, Amy. I felt sadder and sadder for you and your sons as I read on. I saw some of your fabulous pictures of your vacation on Facebook and had assumed you were having a wonderful time. I'm so sorry to learn of the illnesses and the effect on your vacation. :(

    Still, happy (belated) 20th wedding anniversary to you and Jerry. It was nice to see the picture at the end of your post of the two of you looking so happy!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! We still had lots of fun. It was worse for Jake than the rest of us. I guess it's just another reason we need to plan another vacation!

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  10. I started out giggling, Amy and then wanted to send hugs to you and yours. Your poor son! I can totally relate to some of that - the desperation for a service centre - but oh my. At least it all happened when you were on your way back and climbing up,the mountain or in the canyon. I think there's a lot of 'fodder' here for some great events (?) in books to come. Thanks for this post that kept me riveted through 2 cups of coffee!

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    1. Yes, thankfully he turned around and did not do the hike. THAT would have been a real nightmare!

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  11. The 'not' part of climbing up the mountain etc got left out. LOL

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  12. Hands down, Amy, you win the nightmarish vacation award. I'm SO sorry you all went through this. But in a few months...you all are going to be laughing about this around a campfire. Okay, maybe it'll take a little longer. Hugs!

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    1. Now that everyone is well, we should be able to laugh. At least I can. Jake maybe not!

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  13. No way can I top that story. The whole time I was reading I was thinking he must have gotten sick from the heat then the other victims emerged. How awful for your family! I hope your next trip is uneventful!

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    1. Well, I guess I am happy for you that you can't top that story!

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  14. Oh, your poor son. I'm so sorry your trip and anniversary celebration wasn't what you'd hoped for, but going forward, it can only get better, right?

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    1. That's right! And it could have been worse - it could have been me that was throwing up!

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  15. Oh my. You could have started your post with "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." What a story. But all's well that ends well!

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  16. Oh my god, Ames. I'm laughing and gagging and feeling so much sympathy for you right now. So glad it all ended up okay and that you got to celebrate your anniversary.

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    1. Thanks, Sue! It was quite an adventure!

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  17. Barf just ruins everything.
    My honeymoon many years ago was a doozy. We went to Puerto Rico and wound up with no rental car, a hotel room on the other end of the island, heat stroke on New Year's Eve, a rental car with windshield wipers that quit in a rain forest, and a taxi driver who chased us to the airport because we took the wrong taxi. Ugh. There was more, but we were young and didn't have nervous breakdowns like I would now. I don't ever want to go there again.

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  18. When my oldest son, Matthew, was a year old, we went on a vacation to Pigeon Forge, TN. We borrowed my mother-in-laws car because the A/C didn't work in mine, and as soon as we rolled into Pigeon Forge, the A/C in her car died. (This was in the middle of June too, so it was HOT). The second day we were there, Matthew got sick and broke out into a rash all over his little body. He was miserable and cried nonstop, and this was on a Sunday, so there were no doctor offices open. We spent most of that day on the phone with our family doctor back home, and we bought and used everything from Aveeno to a baking soda and water paste, trying to find something that would help him feel better, but nothing worked. We ended up leaving TN a day early and as soon as we got home to MS, we took him straight to the ER. Turns out both ears were infected and he also had strep throat and a touch of pneumonia. We never did find out where the rash came from, but it went away on its own. We still refer to that as "the trip from you-know-where". Matthew is 20 years old now, and we haven't been back to TN since. LOL.

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  19. Amy! I don't think it's possible to send you and your family enough hugs! I feel so bad for you and have been in similar situations, so I know how awful the whole experience was...but I have to say only YOU could take such a bad situation and make everyone laugh as you recount it. That's what I love about you and your writing/books! Laughter IS the best medicine...not that it can cure puke...but it can help one recover from Vacation Horror PTSD! ;) I hope everyone is feeling better and Happy Anniversary!

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  20. We were on Christmas vacation visiting my husband's family with our oldest two boys. The we hours of Christmas morning the phone rang. I answered it. I normally don't it was my in-laws home. They were all sound asleep along with my husband and two oldest boys. It was my dad. At first I didn't recognize his voice. He keep saying over and over nobody is deal. He wanted to speak to my mother-in-law. After a very longest hour of my life at the time she finally got off the phone to tell us that our home had been set on fire. We lost everything! We spent the next couple of days to try and get ourselves composed enough so we could make the 12 hour drive home. On the way home a northeaster snow storm hit. We were just barely making it through before they would close one road after another behind us. Just 2 to 3 hours away my husband started with the stomach bug, by the time we reached my parents the kids had it and I had it also. We spent a few days in bed until we were able to go over and see what was left of our home and our sons Christmas that we had left behind. By the grace of God we were able to salvage photos that had been in picture frames on the walls. Apparently when the fire fighters arrived and kicked in the back door the gas furnace exploded causing the floor to give way in most areas. The pictures that were hanging on the wall fell through to the ground where they were later found. Most of them are permanently in their frames from the heat that they received. I am grateful for those pictures though. I am even more grateful that God made sure that we were not at home when this happened.

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