I just got back from the worst vacation ever.
First, I had to cancel my vacation, because there was a thing at work to beat all things. It could not be helped. After 17 consecutive summers, I was going to miss the Michigan vacation with my sisters. My work is pretty portable, I can do it wherever I have wireless and a cell signal, but upper Michigan is not one of those places.
I decided that a weekend would be better than nothing. I love my annual vacation with my sisters and our kids, and I didn’t WANT to go without. SO, I decided to drive six hours Friday night, in order to spend one day with my family in Michigan, and then drive home six hours on Sunday.
I took off from MN on a mission, singing “Eye of the Tiger”. Had my water and my car snacks. I was exhausted from the thing at work but I kept myself going knowing I would at least get to enjoy one sunset on the sandy beaches of Lake Superior. Spend one weekend with my sisters and nieces and nephews.
I stopped in Ashland, WI for a sunset picture, and again at the rest area when I crossed into Michigan. Only one hour to go! Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It” came on the only radio station and I sang along with enthusiasm. The lake was calling me!
I arrived about 11pm. My family was engaged in a rousing game of Skip-Bo at the dining room table of the cottage we’ve rented the last several years.
“Want us to deal you in?” they asked.
“That’s ok, I’ll just watch,” I said. I was suddenly very tired. It had been a long work day, and a long drive, and I was happy to be there but suddenly SO TIRED and weary.
My 17yo niece Chloe won the game, and everyone had a snack before bed. My sisters and I stayed up talking a while, like four sisters sharing a room will, and I fell into a peaceful sleep, excited for Saturday, my one day to do it all.
It was two am when I woke up with severe stomach cramps. After my fourth trip to the bathroom my sister Megan, with whom I was sharing a bed, woke up.
“My tummy doesn’t feel so good,” I said.
By the time it started getting light I had been vomiting for hours. Megan woke up early to make egg bake for everyone and then set out for a bike ride. My sister Natasha was lounging in a recliner reading a book. The kids were still sleeping. It used to be the kids would get up at the crack of dawn, like little kids do, but now the youngest is eight and they all sleep until eleven.
I looked longingly at the coffee I figured I better not drink and crawled onto the couch under a scratchy wool blanket.
When the kids all woke up I moved back to the bed upstairs. My sister Megan went into town and fetched me some Imodium and Bunny gave me one of her prescription anti-nausea pills. I stopped vomiting, but still was in the bathroom every ten minutes or so. I thought about making a bed on the bathroom floor, but it seemed like too much work and I was so sick I didn’t have it in me. I crawled back into bed.
“We’re going to the beach,” my family said.
“I can’t do it,” I said.
They all left and the house was quiet. I spent my time sleeping and shivering. In the afternoon I got up, thinking I might be better.
I went outside and sat on the porch. I looked at the flowers and wished I could see the lake. I stood up, felt like I was going to pass out, and went right back to bed.
“You’re still sick?” Bunny asked, waking me up, when they all returned from the lake.
I sat up and assessed the situation.
“I think I might be ready to try some toast,” I said.
By then I hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours, and it was hard to say if I was woozy from being sick or from not eating.
Bunny disappeared and came back with a yogurt, a packet of pretzels and a piece of string cheese.
“I’ve been informed we do not have any regular bread,” she said, setting the yogurt down, “only dollar buns and hamburger buns.”
She opened the yogurt and I took a spoonful. It was the best yogurt I ever had.
Feeling inspired by my ability to eat yogurt I got out of bed and went downstairs.
“We’re having chicken and corn on the cob,” my sister manning the grill told me.
My stomach roiled at the thought.
“We’re going into town for fireworks at the lake,” they all said, “if you’re feeling well enough.”
Yes. Fireworks at the lake. I could do that! They have a bathroom there and sitting in a lawn chair was something I could do. But first, I had to shower and get dressed, since I was still in my pajamas and looking a total wreck. I went back inside and up the stairs, stopping for a rest part way when I felt dizzy.
I stood in front of my suitcase, looking at it. My head hurt. My legs were weak. I gave up and crawled back into bed.
I could hear dinner downstairs. I drifted in and out of sleep.
“Sis, still not feeling good?” Megan woke me asking.
“You woke her up?!?!” my other sister Neala said.
“I can’t do it Megan,” I said, “I tried. I’m sorry.”
My family left again. The house was getting dark when I woke up the next time. I got out of bed and let my grand dog Phoebe out. We shared a piece of egg bake. Phoebe was happy when a few bites in I gave up and set my plate down for her to finish.
I sat down on the front porch again and watched everyone’s snapchats of the sunset on the lake, the fireworks, the campfire on the beach. I was determined to at least take a shower.
I stood at the side of the tub, trying to figure out how to work the shower, before giving up and dunking my head under the faucet. I crawled into the tub and washed what was important. I put on a clean pair of pajamas. I combed my hair but did not have the energy for blow drying, so I took another Imodium and crawled into Bunny’s bed with Phoebe, who snuggled up to me as I fell asleep again.
“I threw up at the beach,” Bunny said to wake me up, “so now I have whatever you have.”
I’d been hoping it was food poisoning, from a sketchy gas station Subway I’d stopped at on my way, and not something everyone else could catch.
I got out of Bunny’s bed so she could get in, and crawled back into my own.
I woke up here and there as my sisters were getting ready for bed, but mostly I slept.
“Are you sure you want to sleep with me?” I asked Megan.
My sister Neala is famous for having the worst gas in the world at night, but truthfully three sisters COULD fit in the king sized bed Neala and Natasha were sharing.
“No thanks,” she said, “I’ll take my chances.”
I woke up at seven thirty Sunday morning. Going home day.
I ate another yogurt, the only thing that seemed to sit ok in my stomach. I got dressed in actual clothes and even drank a cup of coffee.
We stopped to take a family picture at the Porcupine Mountains sign, the mountains I hadn’t been able to see or enjoy at all. I smiled for the picture. Years from now no one will remember by that picture how I didn’t get to do a single thing that year.
I snapped a picture of the lake, the first one I’d taken. I lingered a moment longer than the rest of the family.
“Trying to enjoy your time at the lake?” Neala asked.
I nodded. Got back in my car. Took another Imodium- probably shouldn’t have had that cup of coffee.
We always stop at a place called “Little Girl Point” on our way home from Michigan. It’s a place my Gram loved to go, so we made it part of our trip, too. It’s a good place to look for agates.
I made it down the steep walk to the lake, took my shoes off and stuck my feet in. Sat down at the edge and made an effort to look at the rocks. In the end I went back and laid on my sheet with my sweatshirt over my head until everyone else was ready to go up for lunch.
I was SO HUNGRY that I had a sandwich, and some cucumbers and some cottage cheese.
Then I had some regrets.
I made at least five trips to the bathroom before we left the park. I lost the caravan when I stopped in Ashland to use the bathroom. I caught up with them again at the park in Brule.
We parted ways at Brule, each of us heading different directions. Nobody wanted to hug me goodbye and I couldn’t blame them.
The rest of the drive was torturous. Exhausted and weary, I pulled into the driveway at eight pm.
“How was vacation?” J asked.
I burst into tears.
“Basically I drove six hours to lay in bed and be sick and then drove six hours home,” I said, “I’m going to bed.”
I slept a solid twelve hours. I woke up this morning feeling better. I sent the family a group Snapchat message.
“OK I’M READY FOR VACATION!” I said.
Then I cried a little more, because woe is me, it’ll be another year before I have another chance.
Worst vacation ever.