What I Did on My Summer Vacation
I realized a couple of things:
1)In order to get a FUNNY story, something has to go just a little bit wrong. This account isn't going to be all that funny, because it was an incredibly good vacation!
2)I like taking pictures out the windshield while driving through tunnels (well, while Jif drives me through tunnels):
Go toward the light!
Taking pictures in the tunnels served as a very effective distraction from the claustrophobia that I might otherwise have felt.
Our little cottage was, according to the website and the brochure, an elegant place. The price of the place would have seemed to support this description. Our friends arrived there before we did, and when we called them on the cell, I asked the Dad of that family, "So . . . is it GREAT?" And he answered, "We're doing fine, having a good time . . . " Ruh-roh. OK, it wasn't elegant. It was over 100 years old, truly. It was rustic. Once we embraced rustic, we really did enjoy it, had no real complaints (except about the toilet paper, but I'll get to that in a minute).
We stayed on this road:
In this cottage:
We were with Jif's friend, who is LG's godfather. "Parran" is allegedly the cajun word for godfather, and since this friend married a girl from N'Orleans, we all are apparently cajun by association, so we now call this Maryland-born friend "Parran." And Jif is Parran to Parran's little girl, as well. You with me? We had two Parrans, two wives, and two little girls. In one 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom cottage in the mountains in southwestern North Carolina. Frankly, I was a little apprehensive. I need a considerable amount of personal space -- no, that's not another "ass crack," it's a crack, I mean a commentary, on my level of introversion, my need for privacy. I must say, though, that we blended wonderfully with these good people. There was no tension, no awkwardness, nothing at all unpleasant between the six of us. I think that's quite something. We would happily go on vacation with these people again. (And no, they don't know about the blog, so I'm not just blowing smoke up their chimneys.)
To describe our experience overall, the phrase that comes to mind, attributable to another blogger (I don't remember who said it first -- if it was you, by all means take credit here in the comments) is: "moist as a snack cake." The phrase was originally used in a sexual context I believe, but isn't it just an appealing combination of words? Oh, how did it apply to our vacation? Well, we went to the "cool" mountains, where the lowest daytime temperature most days was 94 humid freakin' degrees. That makes for a certain amount of "moist" right there. Add to that time in the pool, in the river, on the lake, and hiking in the heat to misty waterfalls -- moist, we were. As snack cakes.
We were all over Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Asheville, Brevard, Chimney Rock, and various points on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We met interesting, exotic critters:
These bears were among many that line the streets of Hendersonville, until they are auctioned on October 22. They're quite wonderful.
This guy stood guard outside the Biltmore House, the largest private home in the country, built by the Vanderbilts in 1895.
We relaxed a lot, in hammocks and swings . . .
We hiked to these beautiful waterfalls:
We had excellent food, wine, company, scenery, and daily arrangements of the loveliest flowers, freshly picked and masterfully arranged by the sweetest little girls:
We were doing just fine with everything until we ran low on toilet paper. We waited a bit to see if "housekeeping" at the resort would bring us some, but no one showed. So when we went to the office to mail our postcards, we asked for some. There was a failure to communicate, I believe. First, I handed over about 15 postcards to the young woman behind the desk. As I was saying, "Will you mail these for us, please?", she was saying, "I'll put these on your bill." I thought, "WTF?" And I said, "You're going to charge us for putting our postcards in the mail?"
It seems she didn't notice that our cards already had stamps on them; when she saw that she agreed not to put a postcard mailing charge on our bill. Then I said, "Oh, we'd like to pick up some bathroom tissue and some small wastebasket liners, please." She looked at me as though I were crazy (I know this look well). She said nothing. So I altered the vocabulary. "Some toilet paper and trash bags? Please?"
She says, "How long are you staying?" Now I was quiet for a moment. Did she have some formula about how much toilet paper or how many trash bags a guest is entitled to, per day? Per week?
Finally, I said, "Seven days. Why?"
"Oh, if you are staying for less than 7 days, we supply toilet paper. More than 7 days, we expect you to supply your own."
I thought, "WTF?" But I said, "We're staying for exactly 7 days." And I waited.
And she said, "Then we expect you to supply your own."
And I said, very pleasantly, "I called this office, twice, before we came, just to make sure we had everything we need. I would have been happy to bring toilet paper, except that both times when I specifically asked about that, I was told that it would be supplied. In fact, both times I called, I read down a list of 'will we need to bring...' and both times I was told that you supply -- among other things -- toilet paper and trash bags. In fact, both times I was told that ALL we needed to bring is dish detergent and laundry detergent. So we did."
"Well, our policy is to supply toilet paper to guests staying less than seven days..."
STOP. We've paid roughly 2 grand for this rustic/elegant place. And this chick is gonna stand here and go all TP Nazi on me? Uh . . . NO.
"Um, seriously, are you refusing to give me toilet paper?"
"Well . . . I could give you one roll . . . would you like for me to give you a roll?"
Would you like for me to give YOU a . . . "I would like that SO much. I really would appreciate that." So she gives me one roll. We told the story to the menfolk, who said they'd go over and tell the TP Nazi that they needed LOTS of TP, and they needed it NOW, implying some impending toilet crisis . . . they came back with two more rolls, so we were good. It's the principle of the thing, you know?
My very favorite part of the week was after we went to Chimney Rock Park, and stopped by the Rocky Broad River. I love rocks, as I've said here in blogworld many times. I love their history, their permanence, their evolution. The photo from yesterday was taken as I sat on a big rock in the middle of that river. We put our sneakers here:
And we went out to the middle of the river and climbed on large rocks and just sat there and watched the water rush around us:
Imagine how this feels:
OK, so they're dirty and have sneaker-dents, and the pedi could use a touch-up; I'm not showing you because they look good, I'm showing you because they feel good. Just imagine, after a long, hot hike, sitting on a rock chair resting your piggies on a rock ottoman in a cool river . . . aaahhhh . . .
Oh, I just remembered. Before the river and after the hike, I was sitting on a bench outside a little store, enjoying a bottle of Deer Park, when this little fellow comes up and sits down beside me. He's a cutie, Mexican, I believe, and chubby, about as wide as he was high, probably not quite 3 years old. He leans on my thigh to get a good look at my drink, jabs his finger at it and says, loudly and accusingly, "You got frekkin' donkey water!"
OK, first, why is a two-year-old using language like that, and second, what the frek? I look at him quizzically, and I hold my bottle up to the sunlight, cautiously inspecting it for evidence that it is, in fact "donkey water." I got nothing.
"No, FREKKIN' DONKEY WATER!!"
"Show me." So he points to a picture on the label on the back of the water bottle, some kind of promotion that depicts . . . SHREK and DONKEY. I'm drinking "Shrek and Donkey water." Phew! That was a relief. "Ha. Yea, I guess it is Shrek and Donkey water. It has their picture, right?"
The only real "crisis" of the trip occurred when I got locked in the bathroom at the cottage. I was in mine and Jif's bathroom, which, I had discovered, had a broken lock. No worries, there were plenty of bathrooms in the place, and intruders weren't likely. But this one evening, after we returned from the day's adventures, I went in there and I locked the door automatically, out of habit. And the lock worked. OK, good. Until I went to unlock it. Uhohnowlook. It won't open. My companions are all outside, now. Remember, I'm claustrophobic. I was really OK, though. The fan was blowing (the switch to it was outside the door; had it been off, I would have been more anxious); there was a window; there was all the water I could ever need. And, to be blunt, if you're going to be locked in somewhere, a bathroom isn't the worst place to be . . . like, you know, the worry about "what if I need to go" is pretty much a non-issue. So, after I established that I was, in fact, calm, and giving myself credit for not freaking out, I started yelling and banging on the door until Jif came and picked the lock with one of those fancy "Leatherman" pocket tool things. I think that's what it was. Hakuna matata restored.
That night at a restaurant, we had to wait over an hour for a table that we were told would be ours in 20 minutes. We were uncomfortably tired and hungry by the time we were seated. My little bathroom incident only served as a reminder of how good my life was at that moment. While the others grumbled, I said, "I'm not going to complain. I'm just thankful I'm not locked in a bathroom anymore." Sometimes a little attitude adjustment makes all the difference.
On the way home, we stopped in one more NC town, Montreat. What a charming, lovely little place. A college town. And they liked me, too. I made such a splash there that they named the lake after me ;)
Well, that's purty much it. It was really nice. Thanks for your happy vacation wishes, and your "welcome backs." (Welcomes back?) And thank you for visiting and praying for Sarah. She's in trouble, now. Please don't stop praying. In fact, how about right now? THANK YOU :)
(Please pardon any wacky formatting here, I used blogger's pop-in-a-pic feature, and I clearly don't know how to do that very well.)