December 3, 2011

Family Vacation Disasters- Thanksgiving Edition

The only truly peaceful moment of the trip- right before M was pulled over for speeding and they both woke up.
Doesn't look like much, but trust me it was.
We don't always have the best luck with our family vacations.

Take our very first family trip.  The girls weren't even three months old.  We hit the road early on December 22nd as the snow was falling.  A few hours later, we spun out on some black ice, miraculously spun through three lanes of busy traffic untouched, and then slammed at 65mph into the cement barrier between east and westbound traffic.

The car was totaled.  I had a concussion.  The girls were fine.

We made it the rest of the way to Minnesota in a rental car that M couldn't quite fit in to drive properly- have I mentioned that I'm married to a giant?- and then home again in Grandpa's car.  And that was our very first family vacation.

Cold and wet in August
Take our last vacation as another example.  We went to Michigan to visit my childhood paradise for a week.  A week in the middle of summer, where it rained continuously and temperatures fell below fifty degrees.

Nobody was injured, but the day M went home (we followed a day and a half later) the sun came out, and the temperature climbed at least twenty degrees.  It was a huge bummer to have M miss out on the best part of the vacation.

There was our very first experience going somewhere without the girls.  We went to M's cousin's wedding, and left the girls (who were about 8 months old) at a hotel with M's sister-in-law.  A few hours into the reception, a tornado was sighted basically between us and the hotel.  I spent a very tense evening listening to tornado sirens and praying that everything would be fine.  It was, but it's not a night I'll soon forget.

Am I morbid for photographing this?
That same summer, while we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa a neighbor's house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

Basically, each time we traveled that summer we were followed by tornadoes, hailstorms, and all manner of acts of God.  I think I heard more tornado sirens that summer than I did marriage vows, and we went to at least five weddings.

Then there was our last quick trip to Michigan- when DD nearly took her eye out in the process of falling off a couch.  I still get chills when I think about what would have happened if her face had been turned just a few millimeters to the left.
It was quite a shiner.

And this started before the girls were even born.  On the second to last day of our honeymoon, M devoured one of the most amazing sandwiches I've ever seen- you would not BELIEVE what people put on hamburgers in New Zealand!- and found himself dramatically ill until well after we had made our way from Doubtless Bay to Auckland by car, from Auckland to Los Angeles by plane, slept a night, and then flown from LA to Chicago and finally made our way home.

So our family vacations are a bit... dangerous.  For us and for anybody near us.  And at the very best, they're just interrupted by inclement weather.

I got M an LA an Oscar because even though the only
 part of Hollywood he saw was the bathroom, he was still
absolutely the "Best Husband."
When we decided to take off for Thanksgiving. we were already too busy with current disasters to worry much about this.  I have been extremely ill, and had spent the previous week in bed.  Which meant that I hadn't looked into a certain matter... the tire on the car that had been a little low.  We just hit the road.

We drove to that lovely Bed and Breakfast.  We had a nice spacious room, we had a ton of privacy, and we had a very nice night.  And in the morning, while our host baked us some wonderful pecan and peanut rolls, an older gentleman walked up to us and announced that we had a flat.

We were optimistic that we could make it the rest of the way on the spare- but there was a problem.  As M soon discovered, we did not have a spare.  We had a huge rusted out spot on the undercarriage where once there had been hardware to mount a spare, but the hardware, the apparatus, and the tire were completely gone.  It was Thanksgiving day.  We were in a tiny, isolated town with a population close to 0, and we were miles from the freeway.

That's the whole town.  The big red building is the B&B.
 Everything else was closed.
We had no AAA.  We didn't have our checkbook.  We had no cash.  The only bank in town (just past the Town Hall which was annexed to the gas station) had no ATM.  The gas station had no air pump.

The owner of the Bed and Breakfast called a friend of a friend of a friend of some sort, and after a few hours he came by to assess the situation.  Another three hours and more drama than I care to relate later, he had taken our tire to his shop, filled it with air, and returned it.

This cost us $150.  And a home made pumpkin pie from our cooler (it had been destined for dinner at my in-laws, thankfully I had brought two) that I had given him in thanks for taking time on Thanksgiving to help a stranded family.

Grumbling and frustrated, we hit the road.  We had just enough time to make it before the meal started.

The girls loved dessert- big surprise!
M got overenthusiastic and began speeding to make up for lost time.  He forgot that he was in Wisconsin, driving a car with out of state plates.  Not too surprisingly, he managed to rack up a $275 speeding ticket about an hour later.

Dinner was lovely.  The company was excellent.  We had a wonderful time with our family.  But I'm afraid the woe doesn't end there.

The day after Thanksgiving, I became violently ill.  I nearly had M take me to the hospital in the middle of the night, but decided against it and spent much of the night in the bathroom having a gall bladder attack instead.  (For those of you who haven't been following closely or long, I've been having gall bladder issues off and on since I was pregnant with the girls.)

I called my doctor the next day, and stayed off of solid food for as long as I could take it.  I thought things were looking up.

Maybe this picture of the girls playing will help distract you
from the imagined pain.
And then, bizarrely, inexplicably, I got a small piece of broken glass lodged under my big toenail.

I'll let you think about what that must feel like for a minute before I go on.


Worse than that.  Try again.


Yeah, there you go.  I managed to get the thing out a few days later, by which time we'd already made it home.  By which time I had been yelled at by not one, but two doctors for not going to an ER when I had my gall bladder attack.  By which time I had managed to crack the rim on the flat tire (oh yeah, we made it back on the same stupid tire) by basically rolling it the four blocks to a gas station where I could put enough air back in the tire to get me to my gall bladder ultrasound.

That little green thing is the cause of my current woes.
And now?  Now I've had a doctor's appointment approximately every other day since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I'm on a SERIOUSLY restricted diet, and I'm consulting with a surgeon next week who is most likely about to remove my gall bladder.

Which I am not thrilled about, to say the least.

There is a complicating factor in all of this, one which I'm not ready to talk about (it's always hard to know what medical information is pertinent and what is best kept to ones self) but I'll probably get to that once a little more is known.

So in short, yet another family vacation where somebody was injured, where our car was damaged, and where illness played a significant role.  Part of me is actually relieved that I was the one to take the brunt of our travel curse.

...and in two and a half weeks we'll do it again.

On second thought, maybe I should just sit that one out.

Despite it all we still had fun.  And no, I won't be sitting out vising Minnesota again for Christmas.  Or visiting Michigan again for New Years and belated Channukah.  I promise.


  1. Oh my goodness! I was thinking about you and wondering how your trip was going (because I was missing your posts). Little did I know you were on the trip from Hell! I'm glad you all managed to survive.

    I am going to hope for a very quiet, uneventful rest of the year for you. Good luck w/the gall bladder! I've had several friends who've had theirs removed, and they felt much better afterwards.

  2. If you ever decide to come to Southern California again. ... can you please warn me in advance?!

  3. Lea. Oh my god. I want to scream just reading this.

    I hope you are okay. Gall bladder surgery is much better than it used to be. Keep your head up honey. :)

  4. Wow. Just wow. Not sure if I would ever brave another vacation, if I were y'all.

    Two years ago, I, hesitantly, had my gall bladder removed. I was given the option of being on that 'SERIOUSLY restricted diet' for the rest of my life or removing it (gallbladder). So I took it out. I agree with Lisa's comment about g-bladder surgery being much better nowadays. Mine was a laparoscopic surgery, not a brutal recovery period.

    Whichever way you go, I wish you well.

  5. Oh my goodness! I don't know how you guys leave the house! I am sorry to hear about the medical woes. I have been through a lot lately as well. I hope everything gets better for you and that your future trips goes far better than the past.




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