Monday, August 25, 2008

Exit Strategy

Oh, we were so close to having a perfect family vacation in Colorado....Our room on the road was great, my Priceline find in Colorado Springs was flawless, and, as we drove north to Estes Park, I felt confident the rest of the trip would be a breeze.

But just two hours before check in at our paradise by the river in downtown Estes, the owner, Mavis, called with news, “My water heater overflowed and there are two dehumidifiers in the house. I just wanted to let you know before you got here.”

Good thing she called first because, had she not, I would have walked in and assumed the government scientists from "E.T." had taken over...there were two big, whirring machines blocking the kitchen and bathroom and hoses strung nearly all over the house, including the kitchen sink and tub. Mavis assured me that everything would be fine, in fact the last family to stay there had a great time. Although, they were Hurricane Katrina survivors. Not kidding.

So I settled into bed the first night there. Well, first I removed the remote control from between the sheets where Mavis had, undoubtedly, left it after washing and changing the bedding. Then I got up and shut off all the flood cleanup equipment. Then I settled in. As best as I could without touching anything.

For the next two days the six of us tried to ignore the large industrial blowers. But that inner voice Oprah always talks about told me something was wrong.

As always, Oprah was right.

On the third morning we were greeted by Mavis’s clean-up crew who, I had hoped, was there to remove the equipment while Dave took Luke fly fishing and I took the girls horseback riding (a whole other story I plan to title “Raw Hide”).

When I hobbled back in after an hour on the horse, I found the workers hadn’t removed the fans after all. But they HAD removed the entire kitchen floor and replaced parts of it with biohazard plastic and tape to keep the mold spores they’d found from becoming airborne. Seriously.

So I did what any other concerned suburban mom would do, I headed up and moved us out. Hee-yah!

Dave returned from fishing with Luke to find our bags packed and reservations already paid for at a cabin across the street. Surprisingly, he was not at all surprised.

When I asked him why he was taking the sudden move so well, he reminded me of the very first hotel experience we ever shared in Colorado, after just seven months of marriage:

We were broke and trying to attend a friend’s wedding in Denver as cheaply as possible. We checked into a dive hotel about an hour before the wedding, smelly from a day of travel, when Dave realized he had forgotten his dress shirt and left for the nearest mall, which was supposedly out the parking lot and south about one mile. After he left, I headed to the shower. But when I pulled back the shower curtain, I found the tub was covered in mildew, the drain surrounded by hair, and, I swear, a dead cockroach was being carried away by a colony of red ants.

Obviously that wasn’t going to work for me for reasons previously mentioned. So I packed all our stuff, donned Dave’s beat-up camo-green jacket and a hat, grabbed the fancy wedding gift, and checked out.

I waited on the hotel steps like a vagabond about 5 minutes before growing self-conscious. So I loaded up, walked out of the parking lot, and turned south, thinking surely I could hit the mall, or at least flag down Dave before he got back to the hotel. Mind you, this was a few years before cell phones hit the free world.

After what seemed like two miles dressed like a homeless person, carrying a duffle bag, a backpack, a garment bag, and a wedding gift, I waved down a police officer for help. As I explained my situation, Officer silently put my belongings in his trunk and told me to get in the car, specifically the back seat. I urged him to swing back around so I could find my husband and get to the wedding on time. He muttered something in his CB about a woman (poor thing was wandering the streets of suburban Denver), and did a quick U-turn. Within seconds I spotted poor, uninformed Dave and squealed with delight to Officer. He flipped on the lights and siren and did another U-turn in hot pursuit of my husband.

I saw Dave look back with panic as Officer motioned for him to pull over, then shake his head after spying me in his rearview mirror.

We all pulled over, and I pulled the car door handle ready to leap into my husband’s arms, but the door was locked. Officer got out instead and removed our things from the trunk while I sat in the back seat of the police car and listened.

“Sir, I found your wife walking southbound on this street. She claims she was looking for you?” Officer was puzzled. Dave was not.

“That sounds like something she would do,” he said.

Officer unlocked my door and let me out. Dave opened his door and let me in, and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend at a Marriott in Cherry Creek.

Yes, we made it to the wedding on time. No, there was no charge at the first hotel.

And, yes, Mavis has offered us a refund.


la_vie_en_shoes said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm so glad both of those stories turned out well and I can laugh hysterically about them now.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...I have tears in my eyes. I never heard this story. Thank goodness our 3-day stories are now just a blur in our thoughts. You would of been able to write up some good ones.