Monday, August 13, 2012

Always Better in the Retelling

By Evelyn David

Every summer, when my boys were little, we'd head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for a week of sun and fun. Back then, Rehoboth was a little less honky-tonk, a little more family friendly than neighboring Ocean City, Maryland. But to get to this little isle of paradise meant traveling down the New Jersey turnpike (designed by the devil himself when the traffic is heavy) and then take Route 13, which at the time was a two-lane road. In other words, travel on a slow-moving parking lot with three kids under ten who have been stuck in the car for hours and it is no one's finest hour. That particular summer, the final two hours stretched to four, and when we arrived at our rental, we were underwhelmed to be sure. We expected Tara; we got slightly better than a worn-out trailer.

It had three tiny bedrooms, but oddly enough, the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath were on one side of the house with two small bedrooms on the other. Running down in between was a screened porch. In answer to why I didn't know this before plunking down a week's rental – the Internet wasn't what it is today and there were no virtual tours. The backyard, which I envisioned as a place for outdoor games post-beach, had been planted with succulents so it was the equivalent of trying to play catch on a field of cacti.

The house was hot, humid, and had a strong mildew odor. But it was two blocks to the beach, so hubby gamely unpacked the car, and we headed off for all that fun in the sun. The late afternoon sky was a little dark, but nothing too ominous, but I should have picked up the hint that all was not well in paradise when the lifeguards blew their whistles and signaled by touching their calves, that no one was to go further out into the ocean than about two feet. Still, the two older boys raced into the water and the little guy, then not quite two, ran to catch up. Hubby sprinted after him just in time to see him knocked down by a wave breaking on the shore. He scooped him up, carried him up to our blankets, and the kid promptly threw up all over us.

We headed back to the house. Using the outdoor shower to remove the ton of sand we had collected in our 15 minutes on the beach, involved walking over the succulents, to a chorus of screams, and rinsing off in ice cold water, accompanied by more screams. Dinner was the usual affair of complaints about the food and I was more than happy when we'd put all three of the kids to bed. I couldn't take much more of this fun. And then the skies opened up.

By opened up, I mean the end of the world, apocalypse kind of storm. Thunder, lightning, hail, driving rain, tornado-like winds – all traveling down that screened-in porch. Within seconds, all three boys were flying into our bedroom and hurling themselves into our bed.

So I did what any logical mother would do. I calmly announced to my husband that I wanted to go home. I'd had it with vacation.

And my husband did what any logical man would do. He calmly announced that he had just driven seven hours in a car filled with mini-terrorists, had paid a small fortune for this place in paradise, and there was no way on earth that he was getting back in the car the next day to repeat the adventure in reverse.

It was not our finest moment.

So we settled down to sleep, all five of us in the bed.

And the next morning dawned early and bright. Hubby and kids headed out the door for the fantastic fresh donuts available scarcely a block away. Later we strolled down to the beach and built sand castles, jumping the mini-waves at the shore's edge as the water was still rough. We had a beach picnic (the crunch in the peanut butter was from sand), flew kites, walked the boardwalk, played arcade games.

And we built a treasure trove of family memories, including the one about the indoor hurricane the first night in Rehoboth.

Vacations are rarely hassle-free. I often felt like I was the social director on a rocky cruise ship trying to make sure we didn't run aground. But when I look back on those days of disasters and triumphs, when I hear my grown kids howl at the recounting of those family vacations, I wouldn't trade one second. Well, maybe the vomiting, but that always elicits such laughs in the retelling, so maybe not even that.

Share your favorite vacation disaster – and memory.

Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake KindleTrade Paperback  (exclusive to Amazon for 90 days)
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. Summer of 1994, Carnival Cruise Lines, E. coli in the ship's water supply. Everything you've heard about that cruise line is true. That was my final cruise.

  2. Suzanne, how awful. Those memories don't get better with the retelling. So very sorry.

    Thanks for stopping by The Stiletto Gang.

    Evelyn David

  3. There's always something that goes wrong on a vacation, I think the E.coli would be the worst. Next week I'll write about tent camping across the U.S. and back again with 2 teens and 1 pre-teen.

  4. Sounds like quite an adventure, Marilyn. Looking forward to hearing about it.

    Evelyn David

  5. So funny, Evelyn.

    My biggest vacation horror was the time my late first husband and I took the two junior high kids and the brand-new baby to the Ozarks. It was our only family vacation in that 18+-year marriage and a disaster. It rained the whole time. In spite of my pleas (I'm claustrophobic), they insisted we go into the huge caves.

    Finally, my husband had always wanted to tour this zoo safari park. We were in a little Fiat. We paid and drove in to find that the animals weren't behind fences by the road, but wandering across and around it. A small herd of water buffalo larger than our car surrounded us and almost toppled the car over. Then they fled because a pride of the biggest lions I've ever seen came out and around us, and we were stuck because the earlier rains had turned the dirt road to mud. The older kids were having hysterics. I was cuddling the baby to my breast and praying. My husband was cussing. The big male lion started nudging and rubbing against the little car, shaking it more each time. Suddenly, the tires get traction (the lion must have shaken us loose), and the car shot out from under him. They weren't happy to lose us and shadowed us all the way through the park until we passed back out into the other end of the parking lot. We ran into the gift shop/ticket office for much-needed restrooms and so I could scream at someone for sending us out there to our possible deaths.

    A different employee was shutting things down. Turns out no one was supposed to be allowed in at times like that when the road's muddy. The guy who did it had quit. He took our entrance money for himself. They didn't know we were out there and would have left us locked in all night with the animals if we hadn't made it out when we did.

  6. Linda -- promise that story will end up in one of your books! It is amazing.

    These family vacations do build memories, for sure

    Evelyn David

  7. Yes, Evelyn, it probably will. It was one of the absolutely scariest times in my life. The kids laugh about it now, and I try to when they do, but not on the inside. They never knew how close we came to ending our family right there.