For about 4 years now, Tery’s family has rented a house on Cape Cod for a couple of weeks. We’ve been forced to look on enviously at pictures on Facebook of all the funtimes being had.
This year, her brother offered to fly us out with his frequent flyer miles as a big surprise. Tickets were bought immediately, leaving us months to keep the secret every time the event was mentioned.
As the trip drew closer, Tery was beside herself with excitement; as was I, mainly because I don’t get many days off a year.
We set off July 3, the day before Independence Day. What could go wrong? It turns out, everything imaginable, and nothing even involving holiday travelers.
To save money, Jason had booked us a journey of not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE legs. Plenty of chances for disaster. When I travel alone I can barely stand the stress of making a connecting flight, yet we were supposed to fly to Detroit, then to Providence airport; THEN a bus from the airport to a bus station, then a bus to Hyannis, THEN Jason would bring us to the house. Far, far too many legs for my liking.
We didn’t have to wait long for trouble. As soon as we checked in, we noticed our flight to Detroit was delayed 2 hours (we eventually learned they had to ship a broken part in from out of state). In the scheme of monkey wrenches, this was a doozy. Not a problem to reschedule a connection, except everything depended on making that bus, and Delta’s machinery troubles were not Peter Pan’s problem.
We could squeeze it if we were chosen for standby, but we didn’t like leaving that up to chance. Enter the brilliant usefulness that is the smartphone. Within minutes, I booked a rental car that could be dropped at the teeny, Kennedy-inspired Hyannis airport (we didn’t make standby, we totally missed our bus, so I literally saved the day here). $200 for 12 hours, but I was assured I would be reimbursed.
We waited for 2 hours at the gate–not all bad, I scored a pair of shades a previous traveler had abandoned. Then 30 minutes before we boarded, they announced they were handing out $25 vouchers for our inconvenience to be used on the concourse, which a) would have been nice to do an hour and a half ago, and b) was practically an empty gesture given how few vendors actually accepted them. No food places, so Tery spent hers on souvenirs for nephews and I bought some eau de toilette in preparation for the stinkitude this day of travel would surely result in.
The connection was uneventful, unless you count the desperate race-walking death march we made across the entire terminal in futile hopes of making standby. Then we got on an old-timey plane from the days when they weren’t kidding around about carry-on sizes: Literally only one per seat fit up there, if you planned carefully.
Tery had to check hers, only to have it nearly get left on the runway by the handlers in Providence.
(This plane was so small and old-timey, there was but one flight attendant, Monica. Seriously. When the captain came over the PA system, he said, “Monica, prepare for takeoff.” Monica was awesome. We loved Monica. Except the overhead right in front of our seat had this going on:
which Monica ignored on her preliminary walk-through. The straps were literally thwapping the passenger’s head, and we were fascinated to see if they would be left like that for the whole flight (air travel is pretty boring, yo); but no. Monica was a professional and she rectified the situation on her second pass.)
Lastly, Delta serves these cute, ridiculously tiny pretzels:
Getting the rental car was equally simple, unless you count the not-so-desperate-but-exhausted death march we made across another terminal. Why do these airports hate us so?
Then it was smooth sailing, until we hit the Cape, which everyone on the eastern seaboard (and a few from the western) was driving to. At least the car had AC.
The big reveal went off without a hitch, after a few minutes stumbling around in the wooded New England pitch dark trying to figure out which house was theirs.
Tery was happy to be with her family again, but it wasn’t all wine and roses. First, there were bugs. Many, many bugs. Every day in the bathroom I counted at least five distinct species, not even including the dead ones. No one got Lyme disease surprisingly, a distinct possibility since it originated in this region.
But the insects were nothing compared to the humidity. Oh, the humidity! Colorado at its worst hits maybe 30%. New England is more like 80. I spent the first 27 years of my life there, and either it’s gotten worse or I used to be made of sterner stuff. Absolutely brutal. My hair instantly frizzed up and refused to go down until back in Denver airport. By day two I had a zit breakout the likes of which I haven’t seen since high school. By day three I could barely keep my eyes open all day — it was like a clammy sticky blanket you could never take off. THIS is why I am loathe to move back from Denver. I am useless all summer in the east, and I refuse to live somewhere that requires constant air conditioning to get through the day.
I blame the humidity for the first big drama (not counting the endless meltdowns of the nephews which, speaking as a blissfully childless adult, got old very, very quickly). We had thrown Tery a surprise 50th, and were going around the table telling her why we loved her. I was going to incorporate the fact of our 21st anniversary with something appropriately soppy, when at that moment my slightly inebriated brother-in-law, who had been hugging me at near-constant intervals all week, sauntered up mid speech and slung his heavy, sweaty arm over my shoulders yet again.
I couldn’t help it. I snapped, and right there in front of the whole family (who were listening to my speech so I was center stage) said, “I love you too, but it’s SO HOT. PLEASE stop hugging me.” I have a dear ex-boyfriend who can attest to how much I hate being touched in summertime. I never got to finish my anniversary speech.
He immediately backed off and quietly retreated to the porch to sulk. Everyone insisted he wasn’t sulking until he went to bed soon after, when they said, “wow, guess he’s upset.” Yeah well, so was I. This was the second time a drunk relative had crashed a special moment between me and Tery, the first being the cousin at Tery’s sister’s wedding who decided to make our “married” couples dance a threesome.
The funny thing is this tantrum came hard on the heels of him bragging about how he deals with his sons’ fits by ignoring them. Well, I had no problem following his fatherly advice. By morning he was over it and didn’t touch me again until we left.
The rest of the trip was okay, if not always enjoyable. I say this because we went not once but twice to the beach. I hate the beach. No escape from the sun or the sand (still picking it out of my e-reader), or the demon wind, which spent the entire day tangling my hair and trying to wrest away the umbrella that was my only sanctuary. But I endured it for the children, and for Tery. And the second time for my sister and little niece, who had driven all the way from Boston to see me for a few precious hours. Worth it.
The vacation ruining gods weren’t finished having fun with me yet. On the day of the party, I was playing with my phone and decided to install an update. Something went awry and I got stuck in a boot loop (never getting past opening screen). Great time to break your phone…2000 miles from home without access to your own computer, now unable to so much as make a call or even play Candy Crush Saga.
Being in the middle of family time, I couldn’t do a thing about it all day. The following morning I fixed the loop and rolled back the update. The phone worked mostly, except for the camera (again, in the middle of vacation) and network signal (but the east coast has historically been a black hole of coverage, so no way of telling if it was the phone or the location).
Long story slightly shorter, I didn’t get it sorted until returning home (and I don’t mind telling you it was a rather complicated process involving flashing firmware and doing things to my phone I never before dared, and I’m a little chuffed about pulling it off with no mistakes) — and three days without my phone felt like three days without my right arm. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Then, time to leave. We hit all the traffic leaving the Cape that we did arriving, but made it to the airport in plenty of time. In Providence, they announced that someone had left a pack of cigarettes with one left at the ticket counter, and please come claim it. “OMG! HOLD THE PLANE! THAT’S MY CIGARETTE!”
When we got back to Denver airport, we discovered this new, Kubrickian addition to the elevator bank:
I think it’s disturbing, and we’re the home of The Mustang, quite possibly the most terrifying public art in America:
We boarded the shuttle back to airport parking, and the driver was frantically enthusiastic about her job…kind of like she had brushed her teeth with cocaine. But at least she was happy.
To sum up, New England hot and very, very moist. And every single person I saw everywhere on the journey using a phone was looking at Facebook, and this is no exaggeration. Also this was the perfect length vacation (given the oppressive heat); not so long that I forgot all my computer passwords. Hopefully the next vacation will be people visiting us here. Also, I highly recommend a trip to a highly humid area, followed by returning to your normal low humid area. It was like 92 the day after we got back, and felt like maybe 80 because, no humidity. Offering this advice to my friends who don’t have the option to travel to New England probably isn’t as helpful as I imagine, though.
(Three highlights though: first, we were loading everyone into two cars. One of the twins had jumped ship to join us, and we watched as the baby fooled around in the driver’s seat waiting for dad. I said, “Look, your brother is driving the van. Good thing you’re with us, because he’s going to drive everyone over a cliff!” He answered by laughing uproariously, then stopping suddenly and saying, “Wait, that’s not funny.”
On the same trip we passed this group:
Not shown is the side of the sign depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache. For reals. So I had to explain to a 6-year-old why Hitler did what he did, including how he got the Jews into the gas chambers (“He told them they were showers, and they said, ‘oh, great, cuz I could use a shower. I’ve been working for days.’ But don’t you try to use that as an excuse to not take a bath”). However, what none of us could explain was why these people think our president is a Hitler equivalent. Thanks, Tea Party.
Finally, at the beach David spent a long time digging a big hole in the sand, only to have Jason his husband fall into it. David cried out non-ironically “Jason ruined my hole!” Had I been drinking, I would have done a spit-take. Yes, I’m 12 in my head.)