Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Vacation That Almost Wasn't

The days leading up to vacation were stressful. In fact, the minutes leading up to vacation were stressful. I am a bit OCD when I have stuff to do (not with cleaning the house or anything – just when I have to prepare for something) – I tend to run through the list of things to do in my head over and over and over until I can’t concentrate on anything – including said list. It’s like this every vacation, every Christmas, before every party. I work myself into a complete stressed out frenzy until either a) the event happens, or b) my head explodes. The only cure for this is actually getting everything done, so I usually have all my vacation shopping done at least a week in advanced, and have suitcases sitting out, packed with anything we don’t need a few days ahead of time.

But this year, that didn’t happen. I was busy with work and the kids were busy with their activities – so I didn’t have any free time to get these things done. And mr b works for himself, so he had about one million billion loose ends to tie up before we left, so he had no time to help, either (and let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be much help anyway). This meant that the last few days before we left Saturday morning were insane. I found myself using any free moments to try and get things done. I was running to hellmart & sporting goods stores late at night, doing laundry in between , dragging suitcases out while I cooked dinner. All this made me stressed and crazy. But finally, Friday came and I thought I’d have everything done by early evening, so we could leave at the planned 4:00 am.


Nope – instead, mr b worked late, I had to run the kids around, and I ended up packing until 1:30 when I finally had to collapse on the couch for a a teeny bit of sleep. 4:00 quickly turned into 5:00, because after I slept until 3:30, we still had to load up the van. And then 5:00 became 5:30, then 6:00, then 6:30, then 7:00. It was a tense morning, because I HATE being late. It doesn’t matter is the planned time is set by someone else or by me – if I plan on leaving or arriving somewhere at a certain time, any deviation (that isn’t early) makes me crazy. But finally, at 7:00, both vehicles were packed and ready (we had to take two because my car is suckishly small – too small for just our family and luggage, much less our family, The Boy’s friend, the beast dog, our luggage, bikes, outdoor gear, and other various random crap. And the minute we pulled out of the driveway, I started to calm down.

It wasn’t a long drive (less than seven hours – I know that is long to some, but I happen to like road trips) – but with stops to eat, gas up, pee, sightsee at the New River Gorge, and let the beast dog get out and burn off some of that puppy energy, it ended up being about 8 hours. Still not a bad drive, but being cooped up in the car with three kids, no lumbar support, and a raging case of “driver’s knee” (my previously injured from skiing/gymnastics/diving right knee doesn’t do so well when it’s pretty much in the same position for that long and hurts terribly), I was good and ready to get there.

Needless to say, we were all pretty happy when we pulled onto the road where our cabin was located. In fact, we were downright giddy at the prospect of claiming our rooms, unpacking our stuff and jumping in the river out back on our tubes.

But that all went to shit when we pulled up to the cabin and saw four cars parked in the driveway.

We knocked on the door and the people told us they were renting from Friday to Friday (our reservation was from Saturday to Saturday). My first thought was that we were the victims of the growing vacation scam industry. But I called the real estate after hours line and got a call back pretty quickly. The woman told me it was impossible to have a double booking because of their computer system (and we all know that computers are infallible, right?). She asked us to meet her at the office about 15 minutes away, so we could figure things out.

So off we went, much less giddy and with stress levels rising and headed to the office. On the way there, I got a call from the realty office owner and she said the words that nearly gave me a heart attack on the spot:

“Your reservation is for next week.”



Yes – we had been sent a confirmation email and after checking it once we got home, it did say that the reservation was for the 15th. And somehow we never noticed (because we already KNEW when our reservation was). But regardless of what the papers said, I know what I booked. And I booked the 8th. In fact, after I booked, I checked the website to make sure our dates were blocked off on the calendar – and they were. The realtor told us that the people in the cabin had made their reservation the week after we did, so that week should not have shown up as booked when I checked. But it did.

Of course, we had no proof of anything, so we were up shit creek. I sat in the parking lot of the office feeling absolutely sick. In fact, I was sick. I puked right there in their lot (and nearly passed out), agonizing over what we were going to do. We couldn’t just turn around and go home only to come back again the following week. But what were we going to do?

Luckily, the realtor was extremely nice and found us another place. Unluckily, we had to pay for it. On top of the already paid-for original reservation. Because she was the owner, she was able to help us out with a large discount and she promised to try and rent out our original cabin for the following week so we could get our money back. We were relieved, not to mention thanking our lucky stars that we just so happened to have a little extra money to take care of it – there are times that we wouldn’t have.

Once we got it all settled, we headed to our new place, which turned out to be much bigger and in a far better location for our needs. We ended up having one of the best vacations ever, and our magic realtor managed to rent the first place to someone else, so it all worked out in the end.

But I am still bothered by what happened. I am not saying that I couldn’t have made a mistake – I certainly could have. A couple of things bother me, though. 1) the booking showing up on the website, even though the people who had it that week supposedly booked the week after us. Also – the week after we booked – the original employee who was helping us suddenly became scarce. I got things taken care of by other agents, but she personally didn’t return my calls or emails. It was irritation, but like I said – things got done anyway, so I didn’t worry too much about it. And the clincher – the employee who seemed to disappear around the same time that the other folks booked “our” cabin? She was related to those folks. So, yeah.

Regardless, we all had a great time and the owner was so sweet and helpful that I would actually rent the second place again. Only if I do, I’ll be sure to talk to the owner directly and go over every single document with a fine tooth comb. Oh – and I’ll get my packing done ahead of time, too.

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tehamy said...

Ugh! What a pain. I'm glad that you were able to still have a good vacation despite the rocky start. And yeah, I would be all kinds of suspicious of the employee who originally helped you.

Mrs. Chili said...

Oh, wow. That's totally a "good news/bad news" story. I'm glad it worked out, but sorry about the way it all had to go down.

Amy said...

I was all panicky/nervous-tummyish just reading that. Something definitely sounds fishy but I'm so happy it worked out for you in the end.

meno said...

Gads, what a mess. You need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

bluzdude said...

I'm always a restless wreck the night before a trip... driving or flying. Obviously, I pack the night before, checking things off on the list I've compiled during the prior week.

And even when everything is "ready," I still feel nervous, pace around a lot and generally act like a pain in the ass until it's time to hit the road. Or if I'm flying, until my ass is on the plane and the wheels go up.

Jennifer said...

I always do the same thing, check the calendar the reservation site to make sure it changed to booked. Way too many coincidences...

Glad that you had somewhere to stay and had a good time in spite of the rough start..

Bethtastic said...

YAY for happy endings! (Because, that would have sucked otherwise.)