Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Helen's Vacation Gone Awry

I know. Roxanne Rustand was supposed to guest blog today. She'll come another day when she isn't tearing her hair out trying to get a book finished in eight, count em, eight weeks! So you're stuck with me, telling my tale of woe.

We went to Colorado for some downhill skiing a couple weeks ago.

I’d never been to the mountains, unless you count a one day diversion into Lake Tahoe so long ago it’s probably not worth mentioning. My husband, on the other hand, has skied in the past several times in both Washington and Colorado, and he’s wanted to take the family for years. My son’s an avid snowboarder and has been begging to go to Colorado. Apparently Minnesota doesn’t have a hill big enough for him. Go figure.

Anyway, that’s how I got roped into going. The family conspired against me.

I don’t know why I’ve been hesitant all these years. Normally, I jump at the chance for a vacation to a new destination. Doing something physical is right up my alley. But surprisingly, I could take the mountains or leave them. After going, I’m leaving them. As far behind as possible.

We got into Denver Wednesday night, an hour or two late, but these days that’s worth writing home about. We rented a van and headed toward Winter Park as a snowstorm blew around us. A mountain pass. In a storm. Dang. Added at least an extra hour onto the drive, not to mention scared the begeebees out of me.

I will admit, the townhouse was gorgeous. I’ve never stayed anywhere quite that nice. Hot tub, fireplace, heated ceramic tiles for the footsies. I would’ve liked it much better if it hadn’t been situated 9,000 miles above sea level. Can you say altitude sickness?

The next morning, we woke up and couldn’t see the ski runs from our mountain view townhome for all the snow blustering around. That first picture up there? That's what we should've seen when we woke up and couldn't.

But it’s my son’s first day in the mountains and we’ve only got three days to ski. Zero degrees outside, forty mile an hour winds, twenty below windchills, and I’m riding a little chair strung by some cable a thousand vertical feet in into the clouds. They’d even closed several chairlifts due to the windy conditions.

My face froze, but I did okay until we got back to the townhome. I got the chills. Climbed into bed under a heavy down comforter and it was a good twenty minutes before my body quit shaking. Nausea. Headache. Altitude sickness isn’t fun. I felt terrible for putting the heroine in my second book through it. Sorry Sydney!

The next day it was snowing even harder. I felt marginally better.

By the third day, our last, the storm had passed, and although it was still windy and cold for Colorado and I still didn’t feel 100%, the sun was shining. We had a beautiful day. Got onto the slopes shortly after the lifts opened and stayed out there until the last dog was hung. Their highest run, 12,000 feet, was open finally and it was amazing. It looks like another planet up there above the treeline and in the clouds, doesn’t it? Our last run down that day was the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but, unfortunately, the damage had already been done. I don’t think I can get myself to go back.

Then again, maybe it was worth it to see the smile on my son's face.

We probably all have stories of vacations from hell. Go ahead. Whine a little. Where else should I never go? What else should I plan never to do?

Save me. Please.


lois greiman said...

Two years after we were married, my husband and I packed up our horses and headed to Yellowstone Park, thinking we could save money and camp. But we didn't know anything about camping and were totally unprepared.

We rode all day, got lost in the mountain in an electrical storm with the lightning streaking past our horses' ears, then made camp (this is a euphemism) dropped our soup--our only sustenance--in the fire and tried to sleep. I wore every article of clothing I owned with a spare stocking cap on my feet.

Sometime during the night I believe I threatened Scott with death and cannibalism if he didn't find me a place with a roof. The man's no fool...I'll give him that. He found us a quiet little cabin with a correl for our horses and everything was hunky dory. And we learned a valuable lesson...I get a little testy when I'm hungry and cold.

So good job keeping me fed while we were in Winnipeg, Helen. :)

Diane in Syracuse said...

I'm sorry you had such a rough time! I love the mountains, but NOT downhill skiing.

It's cold enough in the snow without the wind rushing past your face. Cross country, or snow shoes, you're working hard enough to stay warm (and moving more slowly).

I've had hints of altitude sickness, but just headachy, and drinking water made it go away.

Definitely a good idea to stay within easy reach of hot water and hot chocolate. Try the mountains again in summer - Colorado is gorgeous then, though you have to be prepared for all POSSIBLE weather conditions.

terrio said...

A friend just turned me onto this blog and between reading yesterdays and todays, I've been laughing for a while.

My bad vacation advice would not be where not to go but who not to take along. Somehow, a few years ago, the women in my family decided we needed to all go on vacation without the men. Well, my sister and I don't have men so I think that part came from my mother and aunt. Anyhoo...

After last year, the third vacation together, I have pulled out of any further excursions. So I say do not, under any circumstances, take the moodiest, most miserable women with you on a vacation and expect to have a good time. Add the note that if these women are related to you, run for your life.

My next vacation, which I'm planning for June, is going to a B&B for several days all by my lonesome. Sounds wonderful...

Christie Ridgway said...

terrio, welcome! I don't have any sisters and have always envied those who do, but now you're making me think differently.

On the who you shouldn't vacation with...when we went to Hawaii two years ago my teenage son was only happy if he was cell phone connected to his girlfriend...not always possible when we were on the north shore of Kaui! More-than-ever moody teen...terrible traveling companion.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, you're right, Lois. There's nothing worse than worse than being cold when you're camping and trying to sleep. Except maybe being cold and wet and in the mountains camping! LOL

I did drink lots of water, Diane, but maybe not enough. Staying away from caffiene and alcohol is supposed to help too. Didn't do me alot of good.

Terrio, you brought up an excellent point. Who you go on vaca with, I'd venture to say, is MOST important. Extended family can be hit and miss. And teenagers? Ha! Don't get me started, Christie!

Keri Ford said...

Vacation hell experience right here. I was in Sicily (you know, the little island Italy is 'kicking') and I got the stomach virus, stomach flu, something. Anyway, you get the idea that holding food down wasn't in my bodies mind. Oh, but that isn't the best part.

You see, my dad is military, and a 'perk' is your family can fly on miliarty planes. the UN'perk' of the matter is, there's no guarentee when you'll catch a plane. As in, they add seats to the large cargo planes...when there's room for seats to add. Anyway. I can't hold food (or liquids) down, I'm stuck in a foreign country, in a freaking military airport. Then we hop a ride to Germany, where, thank you, the whatever I had finally passed. Took me about 3 days, I think.

Keri Ford said...

hehee, oops. I should not that I only have one body that 'bodies' above should have been body's.

Betina Krahn said...

Welcome Terrio and my sympathies Keri on the stomach thing in a foreign country! I've traveled with all kinds of family. . . and my vote for the worst companions is teenage boys! Even when you're doing something THEY chose, they can find something to kvetch about. Also husbands with a yen to see "everything." After about three days of museums, I'd blow off King Tut for a day by the pool!

On the other hand, I did days and days in the UK and never got tired of seeing stuff. I just wish they didn't drive on the wrong side of the danged road! ;)

terrio said...

Thanks for the warm welcome. I'll have to take your word on the teenager situation. Mine is only 7 and she's still pretty good.

On said trip though, there was a spoiled 3 year old little boy (the exception to the no males rule) and that may have been the deciding factor on never doing this again. *g*

Helen Brenna said...

I give, Keri, stomach flu anywhere sucks. Very likely beats my altitude sickness.

Teenaged boy vs teenaged girls. Hmm. I'll come back to that in a few years.

Anything spoiled is not fun on a trip, 3 years old or not!

JoAnna said...

Hello everyone! This is also my first time on this blog and I have already added it to my favorites.

Sorry to hear about the bad experience in the mountains. I went there about 3 years ago in May and it was gorgeous! I would live there if I could.
I didn't experience any sickness thought so that might have colored my judgment.

I would try the mountains again in May-October like diane in Syracuse mentioned, they are so beautiful.

Susan Kay Law said...

Oh, I wanna go! Sorry. Doesn't scare me off a bit. I'd move to the mountains in a heartbeat if it wasn't so hard to get anyplace ELSE from them.

We're pretty lucky, trip wise. Though the mice in our hotel room in China did wake me up. (Just stuffed the hole and went back to sleep.) Got bad weather on a Bahamas cruise one time and couldn't get into any port, which wasn't fun - we'd promised son #2 swimming with dolphins, something which he has moaned about missing for the past thirteen years.

Actually - you all know I'm not a big fan of flying - my worst travel airplane is a tiny little plane going from Charlotte to Charleston in a thunderstorm. I'm convinced we shouldn't have been flying in that weather.

Every time the plane took a roller-coaster lift and dip, my helpful kids went: ooooh, that was fun! Can we do it again?


Helen Brenna said...

Welcome Joanna! Very fun to have first timers. We'll be gentle. LOL

You guys are gonna have to talk the son and dh into a summer trip to the mountains. Although I'm thinking they'll have a hard time boarding and skiing! Mountain biking - yeah, that's the ticket.

Susie, I took a small plane from Roanoke in bad weather. The plane took a dip and I felt my hair hit the ceiling of the plane. My stomach never did come down out of my throat!

Mice in your hotel room. I get creepy crawlings just thinking of it.

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- I soo sympathize. My first altitude sickness was RWA-Denver. I'd been to the Colorado mountains a number of times. Never had a problem. Had no clue what it was until I was really far gone. I was trying to "work" the conference, you know. Finally had to go to bed and stay there so I might be well enough to get on a plane. Then it hit me in the Georgia mountains. And again in the Dakotas (Mount Rushmore).

So, I call the doctor every time I'm going anywhere with any altitude. A little medication makes all the difference for me now.

Helen Brenna said...

What type of medication, Deb. Just in case I get roped into this again next year!

Kaitlin said...

I live in Oregon, so I'm used to mountains. It's heat I can't handle.

My tail of woe in 3 minutes (go home then...he-he)

Went camping with some friends when I was 15. Before we left I was on a push scooter and didn't realize the street we were riding around on was much steeper than expected.

Ended up doing a header over the top of the handlebars and skidding for about 10 feet. Ended up spraining both my thumbs, had a road rash that went from the top of my head to the bottom of my foot and was in killer pain.

I couldn't go home, so stayed and went on the trip. We got to the campground around 10 at night and I slept in the back of the truck. Next morning I woke up around 4 and had to pee so bad I thought I was going to die. Nowhere to pee, so I held it for 4, count 'em 4 hours, before finally we moved to a new spot that had somewhere to pee.

Killer pain, grumpy campers, and nowhere to pee. If that's not a camp story from hell I don't know what is. :)