We had to cancel our ten day vacation to North Carolina at the last minute last year. It was disappointing for all of us because we love to travel. Truth is, we'll go just about anywhere at anytime if we can. Whether we travel by plane or by car, there's always an opportunity to create lasting memories. Some are warm and fuzzy, others you just can't help but laugh at. Here are a few of my favorites:
~My husband had to go Texas for a few weeks on business, so we made plans for my son and I to visit him there for a weekend. I knew we were in for an interesting trip when we got to the airport to find that they were having a power outage. They had emergency generators keeping the computer system going, but there was no air conditioning and it was a sweltering day. Our flight was delayed by an hour and a half, and once we boarded the plane, there was trouble getting clearance to enter the runway. We were seated next to a man who smelled terrible and got angry when he had to let us pass so my son, who was six at the time, could use the restroom. We flew through thunderstorms, were served stale sandwiches and warm bottled water (they called it a "bistro meal"), and were reprimanded for opening the curtain between coach and first class when we couldn't get past the beverage cart to get to the coach restroom (they were drinking wine and eating steak in first class, by the way). When we finally landed, the runway was overcrowded and we had to sit and wait for another hour before we could pull into our gate (during which time we were not allowed to get out of our seats, and my son needed to use the bathroom again). Instead of the lovely reunion scene I had pictured, I ended up running into the terminal, dragging my son behind me and shouting to my husband "He has to go to the bathroom!".
~On our honeymoon, we spent a few days in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, also known as Amish Country. When our son was four, we decided to take another trip there. We wanted to stay at the same quaint hotel where we had stayed on our honeymoon, but they didn't have any vacancies. It was Memorial weekend and none of the other hotels had available rooms, either (who knew that Amish country was a popular Memorial weekend getaway?). We drove around for an hour or more before finding a motel with an empty parking lot (that should have been our first sign of trouble). The manager, seeing we had a small child with us, offered us "the best room in the whole place", which was attached to her living quarters and behind the actual motel. She had to stop and grab clean towels for us out of the dryer, first. She came out with an armful of wadded up, mismatched beach towels and then opened the door to our room. It was filthy and she had to jiggle the cord on the lamp to get the light to stay on. The bed had lumps the size of softballs under the bedspread and the one chair in the room was covered with stains. There was a door on one wall that opened to her apartment, which she said was sometimes unlocked because her son liked to play in our room. She dumped the beach towels on the bed and walked out. Mr. Willoughby said to me right away, "We're not staying here." I told him we could go, but I wanted to use the bathroom first. He turned on the bathroom light and found silverfish scurrying in the tub. "We'll find a nice clean gas station", he said. We got our money back and found a slightly (just slightly) better motel with a vacancy down the road.
~When we go to North Carolina, we fly out of Detroit Metro Airport and fly into Myrtle Beach Airport in South Carolina. There are staggering differences in the two, especially in the baggage claim area. In Myrtle Beach, other passengers tend to be helpful and courteous. They will step aside so you can reach your luggage, or sometimes hand it to you. At Metro, you're lucky to get your bags without losing an eye or being trampled to death. My son has had to literally lay down on the baggage carousel to reach our bags. It's a complete madhouse. When my parents travel with us, we try to get them seated somewhere out of the way while the kids and I get the bags and my husband gets the car. One year, my dad was getting impatient waiting to get out of the airport, so he and my mom went outside. She found a bench where they could sit and wait for us, but he didn't want to sit there. By the time the kids and I came out, he was complaining, so I said "Shut up and sit down old man!". My daughter thought this was so funny that she skipped around him in circles, laughing and singing "Shut up and sit down old man, shut up and sit down old man!". He did.
~On our last trip to the Carolinas, we let our son bring a friend along. Another friend flew down a few days later (his dad was in the area for work), but flew back with us. When we got back to the airport in Detroit, we had to jam all eight of us and the luggage into my mom and dad's mini van. We were packed in like sardines. As soon as we hit the expressway, my daughter dropped her ring. It was dark and no one could find it so she started crying really loud. About the same time, the door ajar signal started dinging and wouldn't stop. My husband popped in a CD and turned up the volume to drown it out. The CD, which we had made for my parents, was all easy listening music. So for the hour it took us to get home, it was crying, dinging, Barry Manilow singing "Mandy" and Chicago performing "You're The Inspiration" (repeatedly, because it's my mom's favorite). That was the longest hour of my life!
I'll be back later to open the bar!