Home Sweet Home is a simple yet true statement. I think of this saying every time we go on vacation. While some families pack for sun and sand, some for skiing down snow -capped mountains, my family packs for disaster. Unlike the family that will regale you with stories of their incredible (and probably exaggerated) adventures, my family will regale you with our misadventures. Sometimes hiccups such as flat tires and the car breaking down occur before we even get to our destination, amplifying the dread of things to come. One hiccup was on a trip my husband and I took alone, without the kids. This weekend trip was pre cell phones and pre-GPS. We were driving from New York to Vermont to see the fall foliage and stay at a B&B. I left my mother, who was watching the kids, a list of instructions posted them on the fridge. Secure in the knowledge my kids were in good hands and eager to be on our first solo trip since becoming parents, my husband and I set course for Vermont. Once we were out of New York my husband asked me for the directions to the B&B. I looked in my bag–they weren’t there. I checked the car–they weren’t there.
“You had them this morning when you wrote the list for your mother.” He inquired. “I saw them both on the table. Where did you put them?”
“Oh, now I remember.” I said. “I put them together with the list of instructions on the fridge.”
“Why would you do that,” he asked in a calm voice that sounded oddly strangled. I had never heard him use this tone before–very interesting.
“I wanted my mother to have the phone number of the place we are staying at in case she needs to reach us.”
“Well, it sure is great your mother has the address and number of where we’re going, but you know what would be really great,” he said.
“What,” I replied.
“If I had the directions so I’d know where I’m going!” he yelled.
I now refer to this tone as his calm before yelling tone. Luckily the man remembered the address stamped on the B&B hotel confirmation letter and got us to our destination.
The car ride may have been our hiccup, but our (bath) room was where our real misadventure began. Navigating the bathroom required skill and agile mobility. The size was equal to a ladies’ public restroom stall. You had to enter, duck behind the door and then close it in order to sit down. If you forgot this system and sat before shutting the door your knees would be smacked. If you bent over when standing up you would smack your head against the door. All weekend long cries of “Ow!Ow!Ow!” echoed from the tiny room.
We headed home with bruised knees and bumps on our heads. Once home, I removed the directions from the fridge and threw them out. We wouldn’t go back.
When you travel with three kids adventure is guaranteed. You learn when you travel that if you stay at a mom and pop inn, bring a plunger. I can attest that the plumbing at these little establishments is not up to par like the big hotels. First mom, and then pop, will give you the evil eye the third time you ask for the plunger–take my word for it. Upon checkout, when they hand you the plunger as a souvenir, you get the message – don’t come back.
On our first night at one hotel my son got sick in the middle of the night. Being disoriented and unfamiliar with the room’s layout he bumped into things as he zigged and zagged to the bathroom. Unfortunately, everything he bumped into he heaved on. We all woke to the sound of him heaving and knocking into furniture. Heaving and knocking, heaving and knocking. Then the smell came. We called management to inform them of the situation and were told we couldn’t switch rooms as there were no vacancies. Since our windows didn’t open we had to endure the nauseating smell all night. Upon checkout, when housekeeping gave us a mop and shovel, we got the message – don’t come back. I’m pretty sure the shovel was overkill and for dramatic affect.
Over the years, my husband and I have learned to bring along extra hangers as most hotels don’t provide enough. What we never thought we would need, and took for granted (like toilet paper) until our last trip, was a closet. Yes, you read right, a closet. The room had two teeny tiny drawers that were Barbie doll size, but no actual closet. It did have an iron and ironing board resting against the wall where the closet should have been, but no closet. Guess there really is a first time for everything. I had hangers to hang and by golly I was going to hang them. Creativity took over. With clothes draped on them I hung them on door knobs, shower rods and curtain rods. I even hung one on my husband when he sat down. The do not disturb sign was replaced with a satin hanger and satin negligee, giving the same message. We learned for the future to ask if a closet is included before we book any room. You can’t take some things for granted.
Our last vacation to Washington D.C taught me to pack earplugs. The first night in bed, I heard noise. I went to the window to see where the noise was coming from. Turns out it was construction from right outside our window. The second night, they brought in jackhammers. So, not only was it noisy, but the earth shook. Without earplugs and soundproof windows sleep became an elusive dream. But, on the plus side, this hotel had a closet. Upon checkout nobody had to give me the message–don’t come back. I learned in the future I’ll keep my earplugs in my bedroom closet along with my hangers. I’ve had enough adventure. I’ll stay Home Sweet Home.
Cindy Argiento is a freelance humor columnist and a public speaker for her book Deal With Life’s Stress With ‘A Little Humor.’ Her website is: www. cindyargiento.com