Getaway gone bad.

Friday morning

  • Leave 2 hours later than planned due to teaming, pouring, buckets and buckets of torrential rain (after weeks of drought). No way to load the car (or get the almost-never-used-in-the-three-years-we’ve-owned-them bicycles up on the roof rack) without getting soaked.
  • Notice the practical, water-conserving rain barrel is overflowing (despite the overflow valve) and open the valve so it drains down the driveway instead of flooding the garage.
  • Load the car when rain reduces to a drizzle.
  • Drive 2 hours to Cook Forest in the same rainy drizzle.

Friday noon

  • “Arrive at destination.” So announces Thomas, our newly acquired British GPS navigator that I don’t like much because of his proclivity to send us down winding, 2-lane roads when there are perfectly good highways nearby.
  • Unload car and cooler, lamenting the state of the rental house (blast those Internet pictures). Pigs (not pit bulls) in lipstick come to mind.
  • Watch it rain for the rest of the day with family.


  • Watch it rain all day with family.
  • Decide to take a drive in the rain.
  • Discover MARVELOUS BEST-EVER ICE CREAM at the little concessionnaire in the park.

Sunday noon

  • Sun at last! And record heat (mid-’80s). Decide to take almost-never-used-in-the-three-years-we’ve-owned-them bicycles to the park for a ride along the river.
  • Enjoy a lovely 3-mile ride.
  • Curse all things bicycle on the exhausting 3-mile ride back, especially manufacturer of expensive “made for women” bicycle seat akin to riding astride a balance beam.
  • Discover MARVELOUS BEST-EVER ICE CREAM place also makes the MOST INCREDIBLE CURLY FRIES YOU HAVE EVER EATEN. Top them off with another MARVELOUS BEST-EVER ICE CREAM cone to recover from 6-mile balance-beam ride.
  • See careless, inconsiderate jerks from New York park next to us at concessionnaire and think they ding our car door with theirs. Forget to check before they pull away.
  • Visit “rustic furniture” place and dream about owning a log cabin one day. Realize it’s a pipe dream because we’ll never be able to retire due to having to bail out irresponsible home-buyers, mortgagers, insurance companies, hurricane evacuation-refusers, and assorted other money-sucking leeches.

Sunday evening

  • Hunker down to watch nationally televised Steelers game. Notice the wind is really whipping outside, and wind warnings are crawling all over the bottom of the TV screen.
  • Endure blinking lights, intermittent TV outages. Dig through rental trying to find working flashlights (2) and candles (none).
  • Completely lose power at the end of the first quarter. Worry that you will also have no water because there is probably a well and pump.
  • Walk along the road and see neighbors. Hear that power is off all the way to Clarion (20 miles away).
  • Go to bed — nothing else to do.
  • Wake up at 2:30 a.m. when electricity (and all the lights) come back on.


  • Still no cable.
  • Notice considerable door ding from careless, inconsiderate jerks from New York. Realize it will cost at least $100 to fix their one second of “it’s all about me” carelessness.
  • Pack up and go, leaving sister, mom, and brother #1 behind. Drive home in beautiful, cool sunshine.
  • Discover minimal debris from storm. Start to water plants (not using the now-empty rain barrel), unpack, do laundry, clean up assorted cat puke.
  • Stop everything when power goes out at home for 1-1/2 hours.


  • Start working bright and early. Discover numerous e-mail requests for new projects and annoying rework of project drafted 5 weeks ago.
  • Discover through brother #2 that power is still out at my mother’s house since Sunday — literally only her house and about 5 others on the same line (the one where the power always goes out and nobody else’s does).
  • Lament loss of food in fridge and full-size upright freezer.
  • Discover when sister returns home with mother that brother #3 has redistributed most of the freezer food to neighbors and cousins.
  • Discover power company is estimating FRIDAY NIGHT before power is restored in her area. FIVE DAYS AFTER IT WENT OUT.
  • Curse power company.
  • Frantically keep working to make up for time lost and new projects requested while away.
  • Discover front tire almost flat. Fill it and drive an hour each way to pick up mother and bring her here.
  • See power crews working near her house as we pull away.
  • Sigh.


  • Lament no sign of power at mother’s yet. (Power crews must have been a cruel hoax.)
  • Raalize next much-anticipated getaway (aka vacation to North Carolina mountains) is only 2-1/2 weeks away.
  • Wonder if it’s even worth it.

No vacation goes unpunished.
              ~ Karl Hakkarainen


  1. Vince said,

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Loved your post, very funny…being from that area, I can’t help but wondering which rental house looked better in pictures than in person….

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Hi Vince. Well, the house is in Vowinckel (if you want to give me your e-mail address I’ll give you the link — don’t want to post it here). It was obviously quite a nice house in its day, but suffers from neglect. It needs some basic maintenance, a little updating, and a lot of TLC. Many of the “features” touted on the Web site weren’t usable (e.g., big fancy gas stainless grill in the screened picnic area was filthy and downright dangerous with clogged burners; screened picnic area itself was dirty and disgusting; pool table only had one cue that wasn’t broken, air hockey table made a lot of noise but generated no air; electronic dartboard had no darts; bathroom had no vent fan, so had a lot of mildew and peeling paint and a tiny, cheap replacement toilet that wasn’t properly bolted down). Anyway, despite the issues, the house really only needs some time and attention to be quite nice, especially because it takes a lot of use/abuse as a rental. We noted several names/numbers of some of the River Road rentals and will probably check those out next time — pride of ownership is evident there.

  3. mel said,

    Friday, September 19, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I am still chuckling. But shaking my head, too. Sorry your time away was less than relaxing. I guess that happens, but what a bummer. I had the same reaction last time T and I had a date night, let alone a little getaway: Is this even worth the trouble?

    Better times in NC to come, I hope. And I hope your mom’s power is back now. Glad she has a team of dedicated checker-inners (her kiddos!)

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Friday, September 19, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Thanks Mel…it takes a village! Mom’s power came on early yesterday morning so I delivered her safe and sound yesterday afternoon. Had to throw away 3 bags of assorted condiments and dressings and such that didn’t make it into anyone else’s fridge. What a waste. Fortunately, my brother was able to save a lot of freezer items. Kind of scary how dependent we are on electricity!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: