Tag Archives: vacation

Dear Diary, It’s The Most Epic Vacation Ever!!

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And then we had to run away from the sand seal who popped up out of nowhere and  tried to steal our Doritos...Connecticut...who knew?

And then we had to run away from the sand seal who popped up out of nowhere and tried to steal our Doritos…Connecticut…who knew?

As we all know by now, my vacations suck. They always have all my life. From the first time I went to Disney when I was 5 and came down with the flu and strep throat and almost died, right up till this past May when I took the kids to NYC and spent 2 days lost in the subway. This vacation is no different. I guess since I expect nothing, I am never disappointed. That is my consolation. 

Someone gave my 15 year old two free tickets to a Broadway show. That means I have to figure out how to get us to NYC and back…on zero dollars. This is sort of my specialty…well, that and having sucky vacations. I wonder if those two things are connected….???….nah….Anyway, how do you get from Upstate NY to NYC you might ask. Well, through Connecticut of course! I’m a sucker for a road trip. And New Haven CT is on the ocean. Drop the dog to the boarders and off we go!

I had booked us a hotel, a wicked cheap hotel, in New Haven CT. The plan was to drive to CT, tour Yale University, hit the beach, go back to the hotel, sleep, get up, take the train into NYC, window shop, then, my 15 year old, and her buddy who is already in NYC, go see the show while my 11 year old and I do other free NYC stuff, get the 15 year old after the show, take the train back to CT, to the motel, sleep,get up, drive home. Ta DA! 

We were right on schedule. Drove into a really sketchy area, but that’s par for the course with me. No matter where I go I always seem to be able to find the scariest part of town. It’s like my super power…Generally, we just go THROUGH the bad part of town but not today! Today, we follow the GPS and it leads us right to an Econo Lodge straight out of an episode of CSI. But we won’t judge a book by it’s cover…or a motel by it’s crime scene tape…we go into the lobby, such as it was, and check in. Get our key, push down our misgivings and fears and head to our room. The chipped paint is something I could overlook. My house needs a paint job desperately so…I get it. The weeds growing up through the cracks in the parking lot…my driveway is really weedy, the cigarette butts littering the walkway…well, smokers can be careless…the old lady who fell on the stairway and decided to not get up…we all have those sort of days don’t we? 

We got to our room, opened the door and were greeted by the most horrific smell. Now that is saying something as I lived with Spencer who was trying to kill me with his farts. But this smell, this was something special. It was cheap incense with an underpinning of urine and a subtle hint of old blood…Truly it was unique. And spine tingling terrifying. We came in, shut the door and my 11 year old said “Hey! At least there’s a microwave!” which was not plugged in and just sitting on the floor next to the door making a sort of weak whining sound. I had to pee so I used the restroom. It was a pee-while-squatting sort of sitch…ladies know what I mean. I came out, told the kids to put on their suits. We had to get out of this nasty nasty room. So, we headed to the ocean.

It was overcast and chilly. But the kids jumped right in and swam. There was a little water park and a light house that we couldn’t touch and a carousel that we weren’t allowed near and the best part was when the truck came to clean out the porta potties that were UPwind from where I was sitting. Connecticut is filled with incredible scents…

Maybe it was the breeze from the ocean, maybe it was the breeze from the porta potty but I had a brilliant idea whilst sitting on the beach…we would go to Walmart and buy pillows and some quilts and put them on the beds and sleep on them thereby protecting us from the communicable diseases and bed bugs! So, I google Walmart and of course there are 3 within 5 miles of each other and me! Makes sense right? We drive to the one that is closest to our hotel. But ya know, I get a better idea on the way! Let’s just find another hotel! And I look to my left and there is a Days Inn! I go in to check to see if they have a room for us and we get the last one! But, before we went in, we sat in the car and debated getting a new hotel because like I said, I am doing this on my good looks and I’m not sure my looks are good enough for a Days Inn. We get out of the car, my 15 year old in her red bikini bottoms with her white see thru cover up, my 11 year old in her swim suit and jean shorts which immediately fall to her ankles when she stands up and me with my wild hair and no make up…we are lookin GOOD!  We would like to see the room first please…being all discriminating consumer like…He opens the door and it doesn’t smell like death, there is nothing in the microwave and the toilet seat isn’t crusty…it’s like Heaven on earth. 

So, we drive back to the other hotel, check out, step over the chalk outline of a body, get back in the car and GO GO GO!!!!

The kids learned many lessons today. The least of which is to always check the Yelp reviews before booking a 50 dollar a night hotel. I could tell you how hard we laughed at ourselves and our situation today. It takes a special kind of silly to be able to laugh at this sort of stuff I know. So, although I would not recommend this route, especially if you are on a budget, I will say that we can find the fun in just about anything up to and including a motel with an active on site murder investigation! 

Check back tomorrow for our adventures in NYC…

This bird was such an asshole. He was totally stalking me because he knew I had a sandwich in my purse.

This bird was such an asshole. He was totally stalking me because he knew I had a sandwich in my purse.

 

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What I Did On My Spring Vacation

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After the drugs kicked in...

Any of you who have read my previous posts where I tell you about my fun and relaxing vacations are obviously reading the wrong blog…because I have never had a fun and relaxing vacation. Ever. My vacations are filled with stress, anger, fear and vomit. That’s MY idea of a good time! This year, despite my recognized and accepted fear of flying, I decided to fly the kids and myself to Florida to visit the Mecca For The Modern American Family, Disney World.

This isn’t our first time. I went as a kid and have been back twice more with my own children. I like Disney. It isn’t an obsession or anything. I appreciate it for what it is, the iconic nature of the place that was built for families. But my idea of a great vacation would be to rent a house in Martha’s Vineyard and shop and eat in small, exclusive, upscale places and read on the beach. But I have kids, so I felt the pull…Disney it is. But, I am a single mother and I just can’t see driving from New York to Florida with a 13 year old and a 9 year old.

I tried the train, which would have taken about 24 hours and doesn’t leave the ground, but it was booked. I thought about the bus as I had taken the bus to and from Texas and Philadelphia and Chicago when I was a wild and crazy teen. The bus would have taken about 28 hours and I remembered how the smelly, weird, drooling guy ALWAYS sought me out, sat next to me and then fell asleep on my shoulder. Not only do I have NO patience for the smelly, weird, drooling guy anymore, but I didn’t want to subject my kids to him either. Because in my experience there is a smelly, weird, drooling guy on every bus. So, no to the bus. I tried to talk my neighbor into driving with me but that was a no go also….which leaves me with the last resort: flying. Shit.

The last time we went to Disney we flew and it was the first time I was aware that I was terrified of flying. Prior to that trip, I knew I wasn’t a huge fan of flying but I would take a Dramamine and usually sleep. That last time I flew I had a panic attack for the 2 and a half hours we were in the air. I took about 10 Dramamine while in flight, which did nothing for me, until we landed and I basically passed out on the ride home. This time I knew I needed to be better prepared with stronger medication. I called my doctor.

She prescribed me 6 calmthehelldownyouspaz pills which sent me into a panic attack. Because it was only 6. I know how my vacations go. I was anticipating a week-long panic attack and 6 calmthehelldownyouspaz pills weren’t going to cover it. So, I wrung my hands and creased my forehead for 3 days and then called and exposed my crazy to my doctor and asked for at least 6 more. She listened to my logic and called in 6 more. Honestly, if my doctor could live inside my body for just one day she would burn thru her prescription pad writing out all sorts of meds I have no doubt.

And so the day came  to take myself and my two kids to the airport. I have read thru all the new rules and regulations, I have reaquainted myself with all my meditation techniques to relax, I was concentrating on the fun we would have once we got there. I know how to do this stuff but it is a Don Quixote sitch in my brain. The Don Quixote where he is going full tilt at the windmill but with a toothbrush…? Anyway, we are there waiting for the required 15 hours before the flight takes off. Ya know, 15 hours to sit and get nice and worked up with fear and anxiety. I took my calmthehelldownyouspaz pill  an hour before we were to take off. And it did nothing. Not. A. Thing. My panic was escalating by the second. The kids were doing their best to act as if all was right in the world, playing with their Nintendo, listening to their iPod, giving me sideways glances to see if my head would actually explode. I decided to kill some time and distract myself with a potty break. Good idea.

Except that being in the bathroom made me think of throwing up. I didn’t want to throw up. So I got the hell out of the bathroom. But the seed was planted and I began to notice that I felt sick to my stomach. Dramamine! My old friend! I popped two Dramamine and waited. Half hour later we had to do another potty run. That damn bathroom…despite the calmthehelldownyouspaz pill and the Dramamine, I totally puked. Now I KNOW it’s a vacation!

We go back to the boarding area to wait some more and then we board the damn plane. I immediately check for barf bags. None. WHAT??? I flag the flight attendant and ask for one. I also give her a heads up that I am probably going to be her “annoying” passenger on this flight because I am not a good flyer. To her credit, she smiled, brought me a handful of barf bags, some plastic bags and a ginger ale with a smile. Just before we started taxi-ing I turned to my kids and said “I don’t think I can do this.” and they, being 9 and 13 said ” I think you can mom!” And just as I was about to stand up and run off the plane we started moving and I knew it was too late. I popped another calmthehelldownyouspaz pill and 2 more Dramamine, said a prayer, and tried to find something to watch on the tv while I ignored the safety instructions about what to do if we were about to die…I mean crash (same thing).

All of the sudden, I felt numb. Like mentally. Like it didn’t really matter that we were in a plane, flying above the clouds. It was totally fine and if we crashed then oh well. My 13 yr old, on the other hand, came to a very sudden realization that she didn’t like flying! thru her tears she downed a couple of Dramamine while I held her hand and tried to get my “whatever” state of mind to rub off on her. What would a vacation be if it didn’t involve crying and panic and vomit? Well, it would be not MY vacation that’s for sure!!!

Come to find out the 9 yr old has a problem with landing. She didn’t cry but she squeezed my hand so hard and tried to make everyone around us be quiet and still. We really are a fun family huh? But we made it. I casually mention to the kids that we could always take the bus home…

After that beginning you would think that things could only get better right? Except that this is me we are talking about. Ofcourse I am on an antibiotic that says right on the bottle “avoid direct prolonged sun exposure” and ofcourse I am in Florida in April and the weather is completely perfect, sunny, 80’s beautiful. Now, I didn’t notice the STAY OUT OF THE SUN warning on the bottle of pills. I was just amazed that we were lucking out with the weather. Because this was my vacation, I just assumed it would be the first record snowfall in Florida in April ever and packed accordingly. We had jeans and long sleeve tee shirts. We all had 2 pairs of shorts and 2 tee shirts. So, we did some shopping. Hey… the weather is nice, we get to shop for new clothes…this has GOT to be someone else’s vacation…

Day One...survived the plane ride, the weather is perfect...who's vacation is this???

Day One we shopped. Day Two we did The Magic Kingdom. It was awesome! The sun was shining, the lines weren’t very long, the sun was shining. I got a bit of a burn but nothing bad. Day Three dawns just as sunny and warm and we head off to Animal Kingdom. I wasn’t feeling great and the places where the sun had burned my skin were feeling very prickly. Like needles under my skin but itchy also. I stopped taking the antibiotic that day after I read the sun warning and I grabbed some Benadryl from the gift shop just incase. I have taken enough vacations to know that if it is gonna happen, it’s gonna be bad. Later that day we went to Hollywood Studios. By that time I had purchased a black umbrella (because that is all they had) and was walking around like I was Michael Jackson, trying to stay covered. My mood was deteriorating rapidly although I was trying so hard to stay happy in the happiest place on earth for the sake of the kids. We went back to the resort and once night fell I started feeling a bit better. The kids joined a Wii competition,we swam and I took some Benadryl. All the other parents were having a drink and here I was pounding the Benadryl, praying that I didn’t wake up with hives. I didn’t wake up with hives. I woke up with my entire body tingling like it was on fire from the inside out. But what do I do? take some more Benadryl and head off to Epcot as it is our last day…and I love Epcot.

We got thru 3 rides and my lips started to swell. And as hip as swollen lips are, I knew it was a bad sign. So I get the kids, we go back to the resort and I call the front desk to try to figure out how I get help before the swelling travels to my throat. The front desk lady helpfully called me a cab to take me to Celebration ER. The kids and I pile into the cab and I feel like I want to die except I can’t cause I have a zillion needles under my skin trying to poke their way out and I have the kids who would be so bummed if I died at Disney World.

We walked into a hospital the likes of which I have never encountered. It was nicer than our resort. I said allergic reaction and I was immediately whisked away to  triage. I was put into a room that had doors and tv and a private bathroom. The last time I went to the ER in NY where I live, I was stuck on a cot in the hallway and the only entertainment was a drunk, crazy guy who was spitting on the cops and hitting on me. Celebration ER is paradise! They dose me up with steroids and pepcid and fluids and the Doctor tells me I do have hives but they are internal and on every nerve ending in my body. Leave it to me to have a unique allergic reaction while on vacation! Don’t be jealous.

The nurses were so nice and after 3 hours asked if I felt ready to leave, that I could stay as long as I wanted…what??? But I knew my kids were getting bored, ya know, after the excitement of having their mother almost drop dead and all…and I opted to go back to the resort and let the kids swim. The Doctor gave me strict orders to stay out of the sun, a prescription for more steroids and 2 epi pens because now I am apparently going to be allergic to bees also. Good to know.

We went back and the kids swam while I slept and then packed.

Oh crap. we have to FLY home?!?

Day Five we went to Downtown Disney and shopped like the girls we are. Had a lovely lunch and grabbed the resort bus to the airport. Oh damn it. We had to fly home!!! In all of the excitement of almost dying, I totally forgot that all three of us had serious issues with the whole plane thing. Great. Three calmthehelldownyouspaz pills for me, Dramamine for the kids and we are off! The flight went well except that it was packed and my 13 yr old wound up sitting with two young girls who tried in vain to comfort her as we took off. But all in all, it was an incredible vacation! I mean obviously right?

Single Mom Takes Kids on Vacation (Hilarity Ensues.)

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that is my “i’m trying to be happy” face….

So, this past spring, I decided to take my three kids on a  vacation. After all, I am an adult, we are a family and this is just what you do. Apparently it is not what I do. I was listening to A Prarie Home Companion the other day and they did a skit about Lutherans and how their vacations are always rittled with sickness and uncomfortablilty. Had I known that before I had my brilliant Let’s Take A Vacation idea I may have been more prepared with less expectation.

It was spring break and I “surprised” the kids with the idea just two days before we were leaving. I had booked a hotel in Virginia Beach! My oldest, who was 14 at the time, was not amused. My younger two (10 and 6) were really caught off guard but quickly warmed to the idea. Good, we were all on board with the family vacation! Well, not the 14 year old, she was soooo 14, I almost dropped her on the side of the road  to fend for herself. But I didn’t. Cause I am the mom.

We packed up the car with  everything we  needed on the 10 hour drive. We have snacks and DVD’s and headphones and games. This was gonna be great! A family vacation! And to be totally honest, I was kind of proud of myself to be doing this all on my own. No husband, no friend…just me and the kids. I am SuperMom. Well, according to me anyway. The 14 year old may have a different take on things.

And we’re off! Along about Philadelphia, I hear the first “how much longer?” Are you kidding me??? Kids actually ASK that?  We stop for a potty break and I buy a map. Yeah, I buy a map. I had my directions from mapquest, but I wanted a map.Let me explain. I like to feel spontaneous. Like taking a road trip to a place I have never been before with just my kids and no other driver spontaneous, so I  didn’t bring a map. Around about Philly, I decided that part of being spontaneous and fun would be to see where we are going. I bought a map.

I unfold the map and I see a line that goes right through the water. The Chesapeake Bay. My hands start to sweat, and I am not sure why. I would soon find out why. So, the directions have us going straight through Delaware from the top to the bottom. Ok, I have never been to Delaware. Yea Delaware! Oh how naive.  Ever been to Delaware? I am sure it has some redeeming qualities, I mean, I didn’t see one, but maybe you know of some. It was 3 hours of strip malls and road construction. Stop and go. Nothing to see here ma’am. I hate Delaware. Now I know. But I tried to keep the kids happy “Hey look girls! Another Walmart!!! That makes 5 and we have only traveled 15 miles!! 10 year old, tell me how many Walmarts is that in a square mile radius?” Kept them on their toes. The 14 year old just stayed asleep, waking up only to complain that she was hot and refusing to take off any of her three sweatshirts finding it more pleasurable to whine at us about her body temperature. Good times.

All the way through Delaware I am checking the map, knowing that we are getting closer and closer to the line through the water. My anxiety starts building. I don’t like bridges. But most people don’t. It is just a means to an end. It won’t be pleasurable for me but I have driven half way across the country, I’m not a wimp.

At the end of Delaware I see “Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel” labeling the line through the water on the map. And I start to feel really sick to my stomach. I am trying to convince myself that it could mean that there is a choice. Take the bridge or the tunnel. I would choose the tunnel. That’s easy. Ok, I reason things out with my 3 kids…it has to be an either or option. They agree with me because they are starting to get wary of my behavior, not because they have any idea what I am talking about.They have never seen me in full blown panic attack mode.

They are oblivious to the sheer terror that has overcome me. They don’t drive. They just trust me to get them from point A to point B. I always have, why would this be any different? Because I have to drive  17 miles across water. I seriously didn’t know that I had  Gephyrophobia, a severe phobia of bridges. Who knew? I didn’t. The closer we got the more anxious I became. But I was still counting on it being an either/or type thing. As we pull up to the toll booth (because not only will I have the pleasure of this Bridge Tunnel catastrophe, I get to pay for it too) I ask the lady “So, um, how long is this thing?” And she hands us a packet containing the history and blue prints of the damn thing. As if I would want to see ariel views of what I was doing. Or see the horror half constructed. I say “thank you” and she looks me in the eye and asks “Are you going to be ok?” And I look her right back in her eye and say “Let’s hope so!” And I peel out leaving smoke and tire tracks…

Ok, not really. I did proceed at a normal speed towards my greatest fear. Remember, at the time, I had no idea that this was my greatest fear. I was thinking it was just a bit of anxiety. Ha! So, as my anxiety mounts I tell the kids to shut off the dvd player and not move or speak. Not quite sure what them not moving or speaking was going to help, but that is just what I needed in the moment. I threw the information pamphlet at my 14 year old and told her to find out how long this insanity was and how long it was going to take. So, she sweetly starts reading me miselanious facts. I say through clenched teeth “Just tell me how much longer this damn thing is”. As I have the steering wheel clenched, I try hard to focus on the car ahead of me. I zone into the licence plate and pray. And I try to quickly analyze myself and why I am feeling so petrified? I have faith that the bridge is solid, I have faith that my driving abilities are such to get us safely across, so why then do I feel this intense, inescapable fear? Meanwhile, the little one in the back has found a tape recorder and is playing with that. I manage to squeeze out “STOP! NO NOISE!!” Yeah, this has officially turned into the trip from hell. And just when I think I can’t take it anymore, we hit the tunnel. Ok, I can breathe. The tunnel is so comforting. I love the tunnel. I want to live in the tunnel and never ever leave. But all too soon, we are headed up and out of the tunnel and onto the next bridge. Panic. My 14 year old is slightly amused by my obvious discomfort. She starts filming the scenery. And the funny thing is, no one is talking, or moving. I can’t even speak in complete sentences at this point and I say to her “Soda” and she hands me my soda which is literally inches from my hand. I take a sip and throw it back at her. She kind of laughs. It’s like I am in the fields of Vietnam or in surgery. That is how intense I was. I asked her every few seconds how many more bridges, how much longer. It was sheer hell. The next tunnel was again a bit of heaven. Being that it is a two lane bridge tunnel, I stayed behind the same car the entire way. That was also a blessing. I had zoned in on his licence plate and if I had had to look away or been distracted by a new licence plate I may have lost it completely and driven right off the bridge.

As if this isn’t bad enough, there were signs all along the way saying “DO NOT PULL OVER” and “KEEP DRIVING” so I felt like no matter what happened I had to just keep going. There was no way out. As we come out of tunnel number two and on to the last bridge, I try to use distraction as a means to get a grip on this fear. I tell the 14 year old to talk to me. Now, on a good day, the 14 year old isn’t that into making conversation with me. So, she, true to form, says “about what?” AGH!!! I don’t care!!! Whatever!!Distract me!!! So she says “Well, I can’t see the land yet, it’s really like we are in the middle of the ocean and there is nothing around…” AGH!!!! STOP!!! Different topic!!!! So, she tried. And as we exited the last bridge, I really thought I may just have a heart attack. That was way too much stress for one person. I wanted to cry and throw up and call someone to come get me. I am not strong, I am not brave, I’m a wimp. I didn’t want to be the mom anymore. I can’t hack it.

Now who though up something as horrible as The Bridge Tunnel? And why had no one thought to mention it to me? This was a hugely traumatic experience.I was scarred. I couldn’t stop talking about what a nightmare that was. And it was. All of my nightmares have to do with water, bridges and driving into water. Imagine having one of your nightmares come to life. And in that nightmare you realize that you are the sole responsibility for three kids. No one coming to the rescue, no way to wake up. On top of that the extra added pressure of being a good example for these kids and making sure they are having a good time on their vacation. Pretty sure sitting still and not talking while your mother is freaking out is not the traditional “good time vacation”. Although, my 14 year old did derive some sick pleasure out of it I am sure. The peanut gallery in the backseat finally say “can we talk  now mom?” Sure.