Wednesday, January 6, 2010

honeymoon bliss


"Hi Katie, this is Kara Hogan, a producer on the Ellen Degeneres Show.  We liked your story.  Give me a call back as soon as you get this message."


Unfortunately, this message was received while we were visiting family up in Michigan .  And even more unfortunately, this was back before I had a cell phone that I actually used, so by the time I got the message and called back, it was too late.  Humph.

What warranted such a call?  Well a few weeks before, I had seen that Ellen was having a Worst Vacation Contest, and I was pretty sure I had a good one - especially since it was our honeymoon that was so terrible.  Are you ready for a good story?  Well, kick your shoes off, put your feet up, sit back and relax, because here comes a doozy.

Yes, it was our honeymoon.  Now keep in mind that we were married young - barely 21 years old and were both still in college, so of course - no money.  My cheap frugal husband had a friend whose family owned a cottage across the street from Lake Huron up in Tawas City, MI, which we could use for free.  Okay, I thought, so it's not on the lake, but it's close, so I'm sure it'll be fine.  Really, what can go wrong with FREE?

After the long drive up to northern Michigan, we finally arrived at our little cabin.  From the outside it looked a little old and worn, but that just attributed to its character (I told myself).  And we did already know that it wasn't on the lake, but we didn't realize the view of the lake was completely blocked by other houses.  But, oh well, not much we could do about that...  I was sure the little old cabin would be much nicer inside.  I mean, Chad's friend did realize this was for our honeymoon, right?

Of course, I had to pee right away, so the first thing I did when we entered the little cabin was head straight for the bathroom.  Seconds later, Chad heard me scream and then heard the toilet flush.  Not a good combination.  As he came running in, he saw me ashen face stammering about the ginormous mouse I saw floating in the toilet.  Of course, I thought it was a good idea to flush it, since I wasn't thinking clearly in my state of shock.  After a few flushes, it seemed like it was clear and wouldn't plug.  Phew.  Close call.

Then we made our way to the bedroom.  One step into the dark room told me that I didn't want to sleep in there.  It smelled as musty as my grandmother's closet full of mothballs.  I could barely breathe in that room, let alone sleep.  Luckily, we'd brought along our brand new air mattress, so we just decided to camp out on the living room floor.  Unluckily, our full-sized mattress only came with a very crappy hand pump, so Chad used up most of his energy pumping up the mattress all evening.  Finally we were able to cuddle up together and catch some zzzz's.

I woke up the next morning to the cheery, beautiful sunshine and made my way to the bathroom.  About halfway there I noticed that my feet were wet and were getting wetter with each step.  "Hmmm... that's strange... why is there water all... AAAAHHHHH!!!  CHAD, there is water ALL OVER the kitchen and bathroom floor!!!  What in the world?  How could this have happened?  Oh, wait, the mouse."  Yes, the mouse.  The one I decided to flush.  The consequence of my great idea was finally rearing it's ugly head.  We spent the next several hours mopping up nasty toilet water (and sewage) and then trying to disinfect the whole floor, which seemed unusually expansive for such a small cabin.

After cleaning up that nasty mess, we thought it best to take a shower.  I stepped into the tiny, spider-webby shower, all ready for a good cleaning and "BRRRR!  It's FREEZING!  Maybe if I let it run for awhile.  Okay, maybe a little longer.  Hmmm... you would think five minutes would be long enough...  CHAD, there is NO hot water!"  Yup that's right, absolutely none.  But we had to shower, especially after cleaning up sewage all morning, so we just toughened up and took ice cold showers.  I know, you're thinking how romantic, right?  Luckily, after a few showers like this, Chad found the hot water heater and figured out how to light the pilot light.  If only we could've found that sooner...

So, after our cold showers on the first day of our honeymoon, we thought we should head for the beach. Only, we didn't realize that during our cleaning and showering ventures, it had started to rain.  And rain it did.  All that evening and into the next few days.  Leaving us with a broken television and nowhere to go.  At least we had each other, although the thought of ice-cold showers kinda put the romance on hold.  My dear sweet new husband really wanted us to have fun though, so he got some marshmallows and simulated a fire for us so we could pretend to roast s'mores.  Believe it or not, chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers are a good combination, fire or no fire.  Isn't he adorable?

Finally, after a few days of cold rain, it let up for our last day in Tawas.  The next day we would be heading north to Mackinaw which would HAVE to be much better than this.  So for our first sunny day, we went to the beach, although it was still pretty chilly and VERY windy.  Did you know that I have hard contacts?  Did you also know that wind and sandy beaches and contacts don't mix?  I kept getting sand in my eyes, so I thought I should take my contacts out.  Trying very hard to shield the wind I got the right one out, but in the process of getting the left one out, the wind picked up and blew it away.  Now, if you know anything about hard contacts, you know that they are not disposable and are expensive, so you typically don't have extra lying around.  So Chad and I searched and searched the beach for my missing contact.  Yes, I'm sure we looked ridiculous, scouring the sandy beach for a teensy-tiny little contact that was obviously hopelessly lost forever.  The worst part is that it was the contact for my worst eye.  I can see nothing but big fuzzy blobs without that contact.  After giving up the search, we called every eye clinic around and none of them carried my prescription for that type of contact.  So we called my mom and she overnighted them to us.  Only, she would have to send them to the Mackinaw post office since we had no idea where we'd be staying the next night.

A great day spent at the beach.... "humph" again.

Back at the cabin... at about 4:00 in the morning I was awakened to scratching sounds.  "Chad, what is that?  Do you hear that?"  Chad woke up and confirmed my fear - it was the sound of mice running around in the walls.  Now I definitely couldn't go back to sleep and we were going to be leaving later in the morning anyways, so we decided to just get up, even though it was an ungodly hour.  However, we did get to see a beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron before heading out, so that brought a smile to our tired faces.

Now, just so you're aware... I get carsick very easily and with a long drive to Mackinaw on curvy roads without being able to see barely anything, I was one sick little lady.  And being the new wife and all, I really didn't want my groom to see me vomit on our honeymoon, so I tried so hard to keep from puking. I actually did manage to hold it in, but I felt terrible and kept that queasy feeling with me most of the day.  Which of course, would be great for the boat-ride to the island later.

Finally we made it to Mackinaw City and were looking forward to going to the Island.  But before we could go anywhere, we had to wait around at the post office for the mail to come in so I could get my contact and see.  We waited and waited and waited. Finally after hours of waiting, my contact arrived and we were able to head out to the Island.  This was the best part of our honeymoon, thanks to Chad's Aunt Mary who had given us gift certificates to various things on the island.  We obviously couldn't afford to do much on our own, so those certificates were a godsend.  Thanks, Aunt Mary!  :)

We spent that night back in Mackinaw City and headed down to Lake Ann Camp near Traverse City the next day (which is where Chad and I first met).  We had a good day seeing old friends and had packed our tent so we could camp out that night.  Although I didn't realize that the only campground around was a "rustic" one.  That meant no bathrooms.  Just a filthy port-a-potty.  Again, very romantic.  But oh well, I thought, this just fits the theme of our honeymoon after all, right?  Creepy toilets, no showers and sleeping on the ground.  At least I can say, when we finally arrived back at our tiny little apartment the next day, I was sooooo happy to finally be home!

So that's it, folks.  The Worst Honeymoon Ever.  Although it did give us plenty of time to get to know each other and how we function during trials.  And it always gives us something to laugh about when we need to cheer each other up.  So I guess it wasn't all that bad.  At least it was spent with the one I love the most.

We always said that since our honeymoon was so bad, we'd go somewhere really nice for our 10-year anniversary, like Paris or an exotic island.  Well, this summer will be 10 years and we're not as rich as we thought we'd be by now... ;)  And sitters for 3 children aren't always so easy to come by (since grandparents either work or live too far away)...  But since we've only ever gone somewhere alone together for three nights total (1 night to Chi-town before kids, when we were living only 3 hours from there, and 1 night on two different occasions to the Amanas since kids), we think it's time for a little getaway.  Although now it's looking like maybe a long weekend to somewhere we can drive to.  But preferably not in Iowa.

Any ideas?  Suggestions for a fun, cheap, drive-to-able vacation?  Please let me know!

Or maybe if you all petition Ellen for a re-look into our worst vacation story, she'll give us a vacation for FREE... Oh wait... free is what got us into that little mess in the first place...  ;)


Amy@My Front Porch said...

WOW that is a doozy of a story! And what a bummer that you missed Ellen...because I've seen her show and pretty sure she gives away awesome prizes -- you'd be headed to a tropical paradise for sure!

Anonymous said...

wow, you are much braver than I!! I love your perseverance because I don't know if I could have made it out of such a scenario!! you both deserve a huge 10 year anniversary trip to an elegant place. So sorry I can't throw some money your way... and I am not even going to give you an idea of how to celebrate. Oh by the way what did the guy that ponied up that FREE cabin say about your ordeal? Thanks for sharing!! Lori Howe

The Sneaky Mommy said...

Oh Katie, I cannot believe I have known you for this long and have not heard this hilarious and awful honeymoon story! I'm feeling all super squeamish with all those mice! UG!
*Cody and I took a long weekend to Minneapolis and with the help of former locals RJ & Abby and recently traveled Jenn & Andy had a blast and covered tons of the Cities! There really is a lot more than the Mall of America and IKEA! We also got a super cheap hotel ($75) and a free gas card ($25) from the hotel by contacting different city chambers up there. You should do it!

Amy Kramer said...

I agree with "The Sneaky Mommy". Come up to the Twin Cities... I happen to know of a really good FREE babysitter, too! ;)

peter marie said...

You should totally try to get this story to Ellen again...she'd send you somewhere great!

And yes, there is SO much more to the cities other than the mall....SO much fun and way cool stuff-you should go! I could give you some good tips...and then head over to Stillwater....and then back down through Southeastern MN. Really, I'm a big fan of any place in MN.
Seattle is pretty cool too!:)

Elizabeth said...

I think Ellen should do a show on just your honeymoon - you could like act it out (well, you'd better not act out all of it....that would be awkward). SOMEDAY you'll have the vacation of your dreams. Right?

Emily said...

Oh my! What a terrible trip, and on your HONEYMOON?!? You definitely deserve a prize.

I'm not sure where you are, so I don't have any fun ideas for great trips within driving distance, but I vote for spending your money on some uber-nice five-star resort and letting them pamper away the memory of all those mice!

(If you can get farther away, we stayed at a resort in Malta once and it was FABULOUS...)

Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

Vacation spot ideas:
Really close: Waterpark at Amana Colonies
Kinda close: Kansas City or Omaha (just had a blast there this past summer)
Not as close: Chicago (my favorite city), Branson

Katie@The Baby Factory said...

Oh, Katie.....I can only imagine how horrible Chad felt. That is downright horrible.
Chicago. Jesse and I have been 2 times, and never doubled up stuff to do--it's a great time!

Me In Life said...

What a honeymoon! And a testament to your marriage you made it through!
I don't know where you are either, but we will be celebrating our ten year this summer and totally understand the sitter situation. Especially if you have to have one over night. We are planning a small (maybe 3 nights) getaway to a place close to us. In the Ozark Mountains, cabins (mice free I hope!), and a few attractions. Rest from our busy lives will be great!

une autre mère said...

Liz - I totally agree that Ellen should do a show JUST on our honeymoon. I'm sure she'd get loads of ratings that day. But I want you to act out my part instead. You did such a good job with Mary!

Lori - We never told the cabin owners of our horrible stay. We didn't want them to feel bad and thought they must not mind living with the mice.

Emily - Malta would be awesome! Just try and tell my "frugal" husband that... ;)

Me In Life - Thanks for commenting! And early congrats to you on your 10th too! The Ozarks are actually on our lists of possibilities. Maybe we'll run into you there! :)

And to the rest of you - thanks for the ideas... we're getting some great ones from y'all!