Throwback: Do you want to go on a VACATION?

By Ann Kier

May 1996 Cover; This cover of UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY was underwritten by the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair. This is a picture of the Mystic Rock Golf Course at Nemacolin Woodlands, site of the 1996 CF Golf Classic and was taken by Fred Vuich

Throwback with TODAY

Do you really want to go on VACATION by Ann Kier

May 1996; page 18 & 19

Have you ever been on a vacation you thought would never end? Sounds kind of funny, doesn't it? A vacation is supposed to be relaxing and refreshing - a chance to be in a beautiful place free from worry. You have never been on one of my vacations. My husband Greg and I have become phobic about even packing for a weekend getaway because of the misfortunes encountered on our trips. It never fails. We no sooner arrive at our destination and something goes wrong - that is if we even make it there to begin with.

Take our honeymoon. After a blissful wedding and a quick reception, we were prepared to enjoy my parents' wedding gift to us, a trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas! We could not wait. We were packed and off - or so we thought. Our first destination was a layover in JFK airport - one hour, no big shakes. That hour turned into two, then three, then four. Six and a half hours, two cocktails, some french fries and a pack of gum later, we were permitted to board. The plane was broken. It would have been nice if someone had informed us.

After a bumpy plane ride, we arrived in the Bahamas. I was feeling pretty queasy and was ready to get to the hotel. We first had to pass through customs. Greg went through like a seasoned traveler, looking very dapper. I, however, encountered some resistance. The customs officer picked up my bag and began to feel it as though he was looking for something. He proceeded to ask me what my purpose was for traveling to the Bahamas. I said very casually that i was on my honeymoon. Then he asked me if I was carrying any concealed weapons! What! I started to laugh and looked at my husband as if he was joking. The customs officer would not let me through until i answer the questions. I, of course, said no, but was given an inquisitive look by the officer as I passed through. I have since been told that I am a prime target traveler. Because I was dressed nicely and rather innocent looking, I was the type of person on whom smugglers like to plant their contraband.

We did make it through customs finally and boarded a bus for the hotel. This bus looked like something out of the James Bond movie "Love and Let Die." I was waiting for something monumental to happen. I had lived in Thailand as a child and still had never ridden a bus like this. It was missing the shock absorbers. We were tossed around the bus like rag dolls. I was ready to scream, "I want my mommy!" There was an air of discontent on the bus.

We made it to the hotel, but not without one more obstacle. It seems there were so many irate people on our trip that the tour guide was instructed to pacify us before we checked in. We were escorted to the Bahamas restaurant in our hotel where we were served pretty drinks with umbrellas and cocktail peanuts. Just as I was ready to lift my drink to my mouth, a very large cockroach crawled within millimeters of my hand. I am not faint of heart when it comes to insects, but after the ordeal we had been through I was ready to get sick right then and there.

I had enough. I asked what the tour guide was going to do to correct the entire day we had lost sitting in the airport, riding on the bus and lounging in a roach-infested restaurant. He told us we would receive plane tickets that valued the dollar amount of the day we missed.

Fortunately all was not lost on this trip. After a lot of shopping and sunning we made the best of it.

While writing this story, I encountered an Upper St. Clair resident who has experienced much of the same travel misfortune. She wishes to remain anonymous, but after a brief discussion with her I found that we had common ground when it comes to short trips and vacations. Her story is a humorous one. This was their first vacation since they were married. They decided it would just be the two of them, no children this time. They had never been to the Caribbean Islands and decided since it was such as awful winter, it was time to go somewhere warm. This was too good to be true - a romantic time to be alone. She spent time buying some cruise wear, detailing the kids' schedule for her parents, arranging car pools, making out lists of phone numbers. You name it, it was done. Everything was in place.

The big day arrived, and at 5 p.m. they are on their way after only two hours of sleep as a result of trying to remember everything. They were ready for Sun City. They boarded the place with burning eyes and tired bodies. The excitement was overwhelming. The pilot had no sooner taken off and they were ready to land.

With renewed energy they arrived at the hotel. The room was not exactly what they expected. The brochure pictures were probable taken twenty years ago, but that was okay, they handled it. They looked out the window at the beach. That is where they would spend most of their time. Suddenly, a plane flying close enough to recognize what the flight attendants were serving roared by. The runway was not shown in the brochure, but they decided to pretend they were in the Chanel commercial with the low flying plane.

The sun wasn't shining. It drizzled as soon as they got there. The weather was supposed to be rainy all week. They didn't care.

It was time to change and to unpack. Our anonymous resident said her husband turned to her and said, "Where are my clothes?"

No one told her that she was in charge of his clothes in addition to the 3,000 other items she was to take care of. The clothes thing would not have been a problem but her husband is a large man who wears hard-to-find sizes. They had no idea how they were going to find him clothing.

The island, which is half Dutch and half French, posed a language problem, but they overcame it. After renting a car and combing the island , they found a shop owned by an attractive French woman who told her husband that she "specializes in big men." You could take that any way you want, but he went back to the hotel with several pairs of slacks and several shirts. They made the best of a bad situation.

Lessons can be learned from vacations:

Do not have high expectations. Whatever can go wrong will.

The next time I go away, I will be gritting my teeth and wiping sweat from my brow, and saying a prayer that i can make it through another vacation in once piece. Bon Voyage!

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