Or, why the first big trip shouldn’t be with the in-laws for the holidays.
Winchester was the *ahem* garden spot where I spent one of my first “vacations” after getting sick. Back then I was a novice at traveling with pain, my mistakes were epic and legion, and…dude, it was Winchester, Idaho in winter with my in-laws. The most perfect planning ever probably wouldn’t have saved this trip.
But really, it wasn’t a total disaster. It was a learning experience. Yeah, that’s it. Let the lessons begin:
Lesson #1: Make your own travel plans and set your own travel dates. Or entrust these tasks only to someone who understands the requirements your condition imposes and has the skills to plan a trip that will work for you.
My ex-father-in-law, whom I’ll call Ted because that is his name, planned this trip. He set the dates, picked the location, and booked the lodgings.
And so we flew on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday end of the holiday weekend–the two worst days of the year to fly in the United States. Ted found the Winchester Lake Lodge. The owner, Mr Helpful, had just opened the place. Mr. Helpful had blathered excitedly at Ted that by the time we arrived to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people, he’d have a stove and oven installed in the suite, a hot tub on the property for all to use, and all sorts of other amenities.
Winchester sits an hour outside of the burgeoning metropolis of Lewiston, Idaho. Which lies about two hours’ drive away from Spokane, Washington–the nearest city with an airport big enough to take a commercial jet.
After a grueling day of travel that began at 6am, we pulled off the near-deserted rural highway well after dark, into the metropolis of Winchester–population 312 and falling. The town’s tax base wasn’t big enough to pay for street lights, which helped me to locate the, uh, Lodge. Tiny cluster of cabins. Whatever. I didn’t care so long as my room had a bed, some kind of heater, and a source of hot water. I’d been on the road for 14 hours and was fighting valiantly to keep from falling over or throwing up, or both.
After about two and a half seconds of dealing with the owner-operator of the Lodge, I figured out why he and Ted had become such instant buddies. They were two of a kind–talkative, annoying, and full of big plans without any notion of follow-through. Mr. Helpful informed me that had not actually assigned any of our party to specific cabins. What??? He insisted on dragging us through every cabin on the property (only 3 of them, mercifully), then tried to tell us that we couldn’t pick one until Ted (The Man of the Family(tm)) arrived.
I snapped, both figuratively and literally. The edges of my voice could have etched glass as I told Mr. Helpful that I’d be taking the room with the bathtub right now, and could he please hand me the key immediately so that my husband could unload the car while I ran myself a hot bath. With a long and fruitless glance at my ex, who shrugged and walked away, Mr. Helpful turned over the key.
Later it turned out that I had in fact chosen the wrong room–the one that was supposed to be Ted’s.
No, I didn’t offer to move.