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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vacation fron hell, part 2

I've been trying to think of some snapshot moments form our vacation in lovely Door County, Wisconsin to share with you, but it's hard. Looking back, it seems like all the things I laughed/cried/drank over, were "Had to be there" situations.

Let' s see . . .

The Day of Taverns

The first full day there, (Tuesday) all the kids wanted to go to Pony Rides. They do that every year. In our car (my Mom's, see Vacation From Hell Part 1) there are Hubby and me in the front seat, my Mom, my son, and my 8-year-old niece in the back. Mom will sit back there the whole trip, as if it is Ted's and my job to chauffeur her around.

We got to the pony farm, and there was nobody there. Mom asked me about 67 times where the people were, if the place was still in business, etc. (She is NOT senile, just pretends to b helpless. Asking stupid questions is a way of getting attention. In my book, a question is stupid when you already know the answer and ask the damn thing again anyway.) We explained that the sign on the door said the hours were thus and so, and we didn't know where the owners were.

Plan B, my son needs to visit a dairy farm for a cub scout badge. There just happens to be a working dairy farm just down the road. It is free to tour the farm and watch the cows get milked. Very nifty. We have a brochure or an ad or something with a map to the farm, so off we go. Mom asks at least 3 dozen times in the 15 minute drive whether we are sure we know where we are going.

After seeing the cows get milked and letting the kids play in the playground, we go back to the pony farm. The owner is there, pounding in a sign at the edge of the road. We drive down the road to the barn and parking area to wait. here is a basic idea of the conversation:

Mom: Where is the guy?
Me: Didn't you see him? He was putting up the Pony Ride sign by the road.
Mom: He was?
Me: Yes. We commented on it when we saw him.
Mom: Well, where is he?
Me: Right behind us. He has to finish putting up the sign.
Mom: Maybe it's a "For Sale" sign. I don't see anyone around here.
Me: No, it said "Pony Rides." I saw it.
Mom: Well, what's taking him so long?

It turns out he has to take care of some family business, but he will be able to take us on a trail ride after 4:30. The kids take a vote where to go for lunch. All the kids want to go to PC Junction, a little restaurant where they bring your food on a train. When we get there, the place is closed. (They close on Monday and Tuesday, but we didn't know that.) What to do? After another discussion about whether the restaurant has gone out of business (similar to the one above) Ted suggests a historic tavern that used to be a stage coach stop. I'm all for it. Nobody else has any idea where to go, so by default we go on to the old stage-coach tavern.

This place is very kid-friendly (they even have kiddie meals with cookies.) There is a huge, bright bar area in the historic part of the building with two huge round bar-height tables where all the kids want to sit. Mike and Sue make hideous church-lady faces and shoo the kids out of the main bar into a tiny, windowless dining area with regular tables. Not half so cool. Ted, my resident historian, makes an effort to read the story of the tavern's history to the kids, who respond with all kinds of terrific questions. They are obviously having a ball, and learning something interesting, too. The tables are covered in white butcher paper, and we are equipped with crayons. Once the kids realize they can draw directly on the tables there is no end to the fun. So Hubby, Kiddo, and the oldest 2 of the 3 cousins are having a blast. Mom, Mike, and Sue are huddled on the other end of the table. Mike and Sue are having a strained conversation among themselves, and Mom is doing her signature impression of a turtle inside its shell. Oh, well. Hubby and I each sample a local beer. One beer each.

Once back in the car, Mom pipes up, "Are you sure Ted can drive? He's been (whispered voice) drinking."
Me: Um, yeah. He can handle one beer.
Mom: Are you sure?
Me: (gritting teeth) Yes. (I am thinking, "My kid is in this car. Do you really think I would let him drive if I thought it was unsafe?" But I don't say it.)

Back to the Pony Farm. Does this sound like a relaxing vacation to you? I am exhausted just thinking about it. Once we get there, it is decided that we will be broken up into 2 groups, due to the number of riders and lack of trail-reliable ponies. Sue and her oldest and youngest go out on the first run, Ted and I and Kiddo and the middle cousin Jack (short for jack-ass sometimes).

Here Jack sets up a pattern of behavior that will continue for the duration of the trip. Kiddo and his oldest cousin Barb have their hearts set on riding a white pony named Ghost. Jack decides he also wants to ride Ghost. Obviously, they cant all ride the same pony. Besides, it is obvious from listening to the conversation that Kiddo and Barb remember Ghost from previous years, and Jack has no clue which pony it is. He wants that pony only because the other two want it, also. Jack commences to pitch a fit, but quickly realizes the other pony is smaller, and decides he wants that one. I find the owner, who is grooming the horse I am going to ride, and go help him, leaving Ted to deal with Mom. (I'm evil.) Ted comes t help me, leaving Mom with the kids. We can hear Jack, many yards away, whining that he wants to ride NOW, and what is taking so long. I call the boys over to show them the bottom of the horse's feet and let them brush the horse. They like that, and the whining stops momentarily.

The first group is now back. Kiddo is assigned by the Pony Farm lady to ride Ghost. Jack thankfully does not protest. Strangely, once he is up on the little chestnut pony, he starts to scream bloody murder that he wants OFF the pony. He throws a full-body, screaming, hissy-tantrum, the way you think of a 2-year-old doing. If he could have pounded his fists on the floor or kicked anything, he would have. Come to think of it, he probably did. That poor horse. It works out that Jack's little brother Mike Jr. loved the ponies and wanted another go, so he got it. Unfortunately, Jack's behavior pattern--whining until he got something, then throwing a fit once he got it-- continues throughout the trip. At least one meal and one activity a day will be spoiled in this manner.

The kids now want to go swimming. Back to the resort. Mom has chosen (as she always does) a resort that is situated totally by itself, on the far side of the peninsula, at least 20 minutes drive from anything. The dining room closes st 8 pm, at which time the kids have just gotten into the pool (Piss poor planning, no?). I had figured on getting yogurt and snacks form the hotel bakery, but no. at 10 pm when the pool closes, everybody decides they want to go out for a hot meal. Everything closes early up there. I don't know why.

At 9:30, I suggest to Mom that she make a few phone calls and try to find a place that is open late. She will not do this. At 10 pm, nobody knows where to go or what to do. They are all hungry and want to eat. They will not lift a finger (literally) to help themselves. While my guys are showering, I grab a phone book and go to my mom's room. After about 2 dozen phone calls, I finally find the one place on the peninsula that serves hot food. Guess what--a tavern.

The drive to the tavern is dark, down a long wooded road. The directions are simple enough: Get on Route 57 and go 5 miles to Baily's Harbor. Mom had to ask at least a dozen times if we were lost, and if we were sure we knew where the place was. (Hey, I only know what they told me.) Then she launched into her Recital of Phobias. What if there are wolves in the woods? (fat chance) Bears? (ditto) Axe murderers? (How she fixed on this particular threat, I'll never know. But it comes up frequently.) Snakes? Do we have enough gas?

The good news is, while they do not have a separate dining area, they do serve hot, fresh food (no frozen pizza or microwave burgers) until 2 am, every day, all year, and they never close early. They don't mind kids. They have bean bags and Mega-touch. They even serve a veggie-burger. The bartender is cute and friendly. I am instantly in love with this place.

There are 3 or 4 regulars at the bar and a couple of girls shooting pool. A very G-rated bar scene. So here goes the same scenario as at lunch time. Kiddo and Mike Jr. are both sound asleep when we get there. Mike and Sue huddle at a low table, making church-lady faces and tsk-tsk-ing. Mom perches on a stool and does her turtle impression again. After we order (and I did a very nice impression of a waitress, which my family thinks I am), Ted plays beanbags with Barb and I teach Jack about the Mega-Touch while I am sucking down a rum & coke. The food was delicious. I tip the bartender $10 because she is cute and cheerful, and by some miracle, Mom also tips her $10. (Mom is a notoriously cheap tipper. She was probably afraid that one of the regs at the bar would beat her up if she didn't tip generously.)

Ted is tired of driving, so I offer to do it. Before we even get into the car, I hear:
Mom: Are you sure you can drive? You have been (stage whisper) drinking.
Me: Yes, I know my limit. (I work in a bar, remember? I drink almost every day. Knowing my limit is like knowing my height or weight or social security number. Just matter of fact for me.)
Mom: Are you sure? Maybe you should let Ted drive. (Poor Ted has had at least two beers, and has had enough of this trip.)
Me: I'm sure.
Mom: You have your child in this car
Me: (getting snarky, I'll admit) Really? I hadn't noticed.
Mom: There's no need to get nasty.
Me: I know my limit, and I'm not going to be unsafe with my kid in the car. What kind of monster do you think I am?
Mom: I just don't believe in drinking and driving, that's all.

And at this point I am about to loose it. Mom can drive perfectly well, but she refuses to drive at night because she doesn't want to. Not because of her vision or slowing reflexes or anything like that, she just does not want to.

Me: Well, then, perhaps YOU would like to drive?

We are now treated to another impression of a clam. One day down, 4 to go.


Heather said...

I'm so sorry. I've been there. Family vacations are the reason I need a vacation from my vacation after I get home. I always take a couple of days to recover after getting home. No laundry or anything, just lots of hot baths and quiet.

Meg_L said...

I don't think that's a vacation.

Anyway, I'm the guest editor of the July Country Fair. I emailed you (probably while you were gone.) about your late submission to the June edition. (Doc sent it to me.) I need to know what you want to do.


Rebel said...

Hi, I found you via the Denim Jumper. I'm ready to throttle your mother just from reading about your "vacation." You are a much stronger woman than I.

Ami said...

I just have one little teeny question.

Why do you go on vacations with your mother?

And I understand the toxic parent thing, since I have two, count 'em, TWO. We don't vacation with them. We don't go see them. We don't do holidaze with them. Not anymore at least... because we (finally) learned!!

I think it's better for you and for your boy to stay away from the insanity as much as possible, but I'm a stranger in Oregon. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm hyperventilating and downing xanax just reading this!! HOLY COW!1 (no wisconsin pun intended)

Used to live up that way. Yup everything is closed early. Sidewalks roll up, too, I think.

Is your tongue red from biting it?? You really must do a family vacation with just the three of you or one other companion for your child. Family ritual or not, it has to go!!

Hang in there, dear girl.