When vacation isn’t all you ever wanted.
Now that I’ve planted an earworm, let’s discuss getaways.
Sure. The plan is to have fun and enjoy, and mostly, things go as planned. Who cares that it rains? You may never get to hike into the Grand Canyon again. Is it blistering hot? No problem. You’re on a Caribbean Island with the turquoise water steps away, a Mai Tai within reach, and my newest release in hand.
We interrupt this blog for a shameless plug.
Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.
If chilly weather is your thing, you can snowshoe in Iceland and sleep in an igloo hotel. The drinks are always perfectly chilled, and so is the sushi.
But sometimes, a vacation just s*cks, like the one I took last September.
My husband and I arrived on Cape Cod with high hopes. We had our two pups, and the plan was to swim, relax, explore, and enjoy. What could go wrong? Everything, for starters.
What was that smell? I like things clean. Nothing cuckoo, but germ-free, especially if the soil isn’t mine. Knowing this about myself, I arrive at every rental and hotel with supplies, but the lingering scent was more potent than my cleaners. We had to hit the grocery store for perishables, so picking up bleach and extra items was no big deal. Cleaning relaxes me and makes me feel at home, and the second pass seemed to do the trick.
Everyone knows the first thing you do on the Cape is hit the beach. Our first full day would be spent sunning and swimming. How was I to know that astronomical high tides were forecast? You could argue, “Meteorology is a science” (Ya, right!), but I don’t listen to or watch the news, and all the ads on the weather stations make it seem like my computer is on dial-up.
So we showed up and saw people sitting in a line directly in front of the dune grass, the only space the water wasn’t reaching - yet. Though the visual was striking, the incredible waves meant no swimming within the power flooding the shore.
We can adapt. Isn’t it just nice to walk on the beach? Bask in the ions, sunshine, and fresh air? Sure. Except when the tide is that high, it periodically sweeps past you and gathers everything within reach. You’re left jigging around floating plastic toys, rolled-up and soaked beach towels, and sharp-cornered chairs. Yes, it’s fun to watch the owners of said items scramble for their goods, but it does get scary once the tide reaches a certain level, say sub-knee.
We decided to go back the next day because it’s vacation, and when will you see epic tides again? We got more than we bargained for when a seal passed by slowly, twenty feet offshore. At first, we were amazed and exclaimed, “A seal!” as we pointed it out to other visitors. We walked along the beach to keep it in sight and soon realized it was unwell. It had an unfortunate sidekick—a great white shark. The dorsal fin would appear above the waves, and we caught on that it was taking bites out of the seal as they swam. We witnessed a seal in its last moments, and a shark kill too close for comfort. I’m not sure if the crashing tide or the final demise of the seal made the shark seek deeper water, but it wasn’t long before the shark dragged the seal out seventy feet and ate his fill. We suspect the shark was a card-carrying Clean Your Plate Club member based on the time involved.
As an animal lover, I was done in. Everything needs to eat, and I respect that. But watching an animal being eaten that way was harrowing. So we wrapped it up and decided that the beach wasn’t the place for us. We’d stick to the marshes and lake behind our rental and take hikes in the woods which our renter recommended. We love the woods and walk there all the time. Our course was set for the next day, and we went out for a nice meal of... not seafood.
The next day came, gray and dreary. We leashed up the pups and walked a mile to the trailhead. Okay. It was a wooded path, but we had the right attitude. This was September, mind you, so the trees were changing color, and so were the climbers clinging to their trunks. We’d never seen so much poison ivy! Veer off the path too much, and you’d be itching until New Year. There was nowhere to go, nothing much to do, and worse, the smell previously mentioned had returned. It wasn’t on something, but clearly in something. Our guess was within the walls roamed critters with whiskers, plagues, and such horrors.
We sat at a booth in a restaurant to plan our next move. My husband offered, “We’ll do whatever you want.” His kindness broke me, and I burst out crying. “I want to go home” was my most ardent desire.
So, we returned to the rental, threw away everything we considered unsalvageable, packed up in less than thirty minutes, and got off the Cape. Once home, we sanitized everything that returned with us, set things to rights, and gave the dogs and ourselves a thorough scrub down.
I slept the decadent sleep only found in one’s own bed and woke the next day with Covid like you read about. I was so sick I could barely move. It felt like something was living inside my head, trying to force its way through my eye sockets with fists made of iron. The pressure was intolerable, and I slept with patio furniture cushions under my mattress for the next month.
Cape Cod can't compare
I couldn’t stay awake more than eight hours a day and moved, thought, and behaved like a zombie. I craved orange juice and apples, even when I lost my sense of taste, and I spent most of my time staring into space. It was awful, but not compared to our time on the Cape. Still, I can’t say the inhospitableness of the experience wasn’t a gift. If we had remained one more night, a few extra hours, I would have woken up in a nightmare with the addition of the novel virus. Instead, I listened to Cape Cod’s relentless message of “Get out!” and recovered in what I now consider a most luxurious place, my modest and unassuming home.
This vacation wasn’t all we ever wanted. In fact, it was nothing we ever wanted. However, because it was so brutal, I ended up with all I needed to get well and heal, physically and mentally.
But I’m still never vacationing on Cape Cod.