I just made our final payment on a rental for our late, late summer vacation to North Carolina.
While I feel good about where we’re going, I have learned the hard way that what you see online is not always what you get.
Four years ago, we took the kids to Colorado for a week of good, clean mountain air. But two hours before check-in at our paradise by the river in Estes Park, the owner, Mavis, called with news.
“My water heater overflowed, and there are two dehumidifiers in the house,” she chirped with the same tone normally used for telling someone a stranger had just anonymously paid for his meal.
That pleasant demeanor lured us naively to her front door, where we walked into the scene from “E.T.” where government scientists take over Drew Barrymore’s home. There were two big, whirring machines blocking the kitchen and bathroom and hoses strung all over the house. Mavis assured me that everything would be fine; in fact, the last family to stay there had had a great time.
Granted, and I am not making this up, that family had also survived Hurricane Katrina.
Exhausted from a long journey and knowing there wouldn’t be a place within 20 miles able to take in a family of six for a week with no reservation, we decided to stay, trusting Mavis when she told us the machines would be gone in the morning.
We settled into bed (first I removed the remote control from between the sheets where Mavis had, undoubtedly, left it after washing and changing the bedding) the best we could without touching anything.
For the next two days, the six of us tried to ignore the large industrial blowers and accompanying hoses. But that inner voice Oprah always talks about was telling me something was wrong.
As always, Oprah was right.
On the third morning, we were greeted by Mavis’ clean-up crew who, I had hoped, was there to remove the equipment while my husband took Luke fly fishing and I took the girls horseback riding (a whole different story I titled “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 it with biohazard plastic to keep the mold spores they’d found from becoming airborne.
At this point I did what any other concerned suburban mom would do — I headed up and moved us out.
My husband returned from fishing with Luke to find our bags packed, reservations made and paid (not by a stranger) at a cabin across the street and a refund from Mavis already in the mail.
He was not at all surprised by the move, just the fact that I let three days go by before we made it.
No plans to evacuate halfway through this time, though. As usual, we Jayhawks can handle whatever North Carolina brings; I just hope North Carolina can handle us.