Friday, August 16, 2013

Relaxing, No Stress Vacations? NOT!

Jena with Jenevie 2008
by Jena Galifany

The family vacation is not something that I've taken many of. We took one when I was eleven or twelve years old. We drove four hours to Las Vegas and spent a day there. My sister and I spent all day in the pool. By that evening, I was so burned I couldn't wear anything except the bathing suit. OUCH! The next morning, I developed tonsillitis. Oh, joy.

We moved on, taking the next couple of days to roll through Reno and Carson City. Nothing spectacular to report there. We cruised through Lake Tahoe and ended up visiting friends in Sacramento. This was nice. They had a pool. My burn and tonsils had both mellowed. We went to a zoo. Now, I'm like totally terrified of snakes. I don't even like pictures of them. Guess where my dad made me go with my sister? You got it, the reptile house. Joy of joys. I was so thrilled to get home and prayed we'd never take another vacation. Fortunately, we camped instead.

Fast forward, I was now 50 years old and my youngest daughter is the only kid at home. She has never been to Disneyland. I decided it would make a nice Sweet Sixteen/First Family Vacation gift to her before she grew up and left home. I planned it all out in secret. We'd stay at the Disneyland Hotel for two nights and have access to Disneyland and California Adventure. This was going to be awesome.

I didn't want her to know where we were going, other than spending the night at her grandmother's home in Huntington Beach, a two and a half hour drive from home. That way we could see my in-laws and be within thirty minutes of Disneyland instead of driving the couple of hours to get there. I decided to tell her that we were going to Los Angeles to get her braces. The dentist had mentioned that she could use them to straighten one tooth that is a quarter of a turn around so I thought I'd use that idea to cover our true destination.

Jena, Steve, & Jenevie @Disneyland 2008
Mr. Mechanic Husband (no sarcasm here. He's the best mechanic in the valley) checked the car over the day before, and made sure everything was ready for the trip. Tune up, doughnut size spare tire, clean windows and all. The next day, we were ready to roll at 1pm. Moping all the way, Jen climbed into the back of the car and we were on our way. Being a nervous passenger, I drove. We made it ten miles and blew a tire. I pulled over on the side of the freeway and Steve jumped out to take care of the problem. He had the tire changed in no time but when he let the car down, the spare went flat. (really?)

An officer pulled up and called roadside assistance for us. We waited fifteen minutes for the man to come air up the spare. Husband apologized profusely for the flat spare. I knew he had checked it. I'd seen him do it. No problem. We could stop in the next town, about nineteen miles down the road.

A forty-five minute wait gave us two new tires and a one hundred twenty dollar expense I hadn't planned on. I decided to let Steve drive. I'd had my fun already. (not!) So back on the road. Twenty miles later, the car died. It just died. Now, this isn't usually a problem. It does it all the time. I simply have to drop it into neutral, hit the key, it fires up, pull it back into gear, and on we go. It's been doing this for years. It's such an intermittent problem, no one can find out what it is. It's why we got the car cheap. Only, this time, it decided not to start again. Luckily we were traveling down hill and were able to coast the last couple of miles to the off-ramp and into a Denney's parking lot. So far, it took us an hour and a half to travel forty miles.

We sat in the parking lot until the car cooled down. Steve looked it over and couldn't find any problem. After careful consideration, we decided not to go on into the heavy traffic on the 5 freeway. We decided to roll down the windows, turn off the air conditioner, and take the car back home. We'd rent a car and start over. After twenty minutes, Steve tried the key and she started up. Praying, we had no problems all the way back home.

We headed to the first car rental place we found. They wanted a credit card. I didn't have one. I'd paid them all off. They wanted a utility bill to prove where I lived. I get all my bills via email (going green has its drawbacks, I've found). They wanted a $300.00 money order. Hmm. Off to the house to dive into the shred bag for an old utility bill. Found one! Off to the bank for the money order. Back to the rental office. They decided since the utility bill was from three months previous, it wasn't good enough. I offered to pull up my account on their computer to show them, but they didn't want me to touch their computer. (sheesh)

Before I totally lost my cool, my husband pulled me gently out of their office and we headed for another rental company.

It was after 5:30pm by now, with all of the running around. I was afraid everything would be closed and we'd not get a car that evening. Our reservations at Disneyland were for the next morning. I didn't want to be driving instead of checking in. Jen still didn't know. She was sitting in the waiting area when we got to the counter at Car Rental Office #2. I made sure she was not in ear shot and prepared for battle. I had to have a car.

"We have reservations for Disneyland and need a car. I don't have a credit card and I don't have a current utility bill. What can we do about this?" I was firm. I wasn't going to take no for an answer. I needed to give Jen a nice vacation and so far it wasn't working out so well.

The tall gentleman behind the counter smiled at me and said, "No problem." It took the wind right out of my sails. He continued, "Let's see what we can do. And if I can't get you a car, I'll drive you down when I get off work at 6." WOW! I like this guy! He tried to run every VISA debit card  I had but none were accepted because they were not "credit" cards. I was losing hope. He was positive. "Do you know anyone that would lend you a card since it's only to get it, not to pay for it? You can pay with the debit but I need a credit card to let you have a car."

"My mother, but she's twenty miles away."

He handed me the phone. "What's the number?"

"She couldn't get here before you close."

"What's the number?"

We got my mother on the phone. I explained the problem to her. She agreed that she wouldn't be able to get there before closing. It was already 5:45. I relayed the information to Mr. Gentleman. He held out his hand for the phone. He spoke to my mother for a moment, pleasantries and such. He shocked me by asking for my mother's permission to use her card. He assured her no charges would go on it. I don't know what Mom said but he started writing. He filled out the information, told my mother what a wonderful person she was, and gave me back to phone. My mother said, "Sign my name," and she hung up.

I stared at the man as he turned the papers to me and handed me a pen. He smiled. I smiled, signed and gave him back his pen. "We didn't do this," he said. "Now, let's get you on the road." He lead us out to a nice economical, clean, wonderful car. Again, WOW! We shook his hand and thanked him over and over. (Sidenote: I've rented all needed cars from this man for the past five years, with my own credit card I might add.)  We dashed back to the house to drop off my car, switch the luggage and were back on the road by 6:30pm. We arrived at my in-law's home a little after 9pm. It took us eight hours to make a two and a half hour trip. Gratefully, my mother-in-law had prepared a nice meal for us.

Jena with Jenevie California Adventure 2008
Jen was still grousing the next day when we got into the car to go to the "dentist". She was sulking in the back seat right up until we stopped in front of the Disneyland Hotel. Her eyes popped and she got a Minnie Mouse voice for a few moments, squealing her excitement. We spent the first day exploring Disneyland. She and her dad rode the rides and I found near-by shade to sit and read. I have MS and can't ride the rides but they love rides and I love reading, so it all works out. Steve developed a migraine halfway through the day but he rode all of the rides with her anyway... except Small World. He didn't think he could handle that one with a migraine.

Day two, we explored California Adventure. Day three, we shopped Downtown Disney and then drove to Huntington Beach for dinner and swimming with my in-laws. After the terrible beginning, our first family
vacation turned out to be a batch of wonderful memories. We went again the next year, but Jen keeps asking when she's getting those "braces" again.

Sidenote: Steve hates to go to the dentist so Jen suggested that I tell him he's going to Disneyland!

I hope all of your vacation adventures are filled with wonderful memories, relaxation and no stress.

For your reading pleasure, please hop on the bus and travel with ShadowsForge, the 80s British rock band as they travel the U.S. and the U.K. finding love and adventure in the series by Jena Galifany available at Whiskey Creek Press.  Three Times a Hero, Trials on Tour, and Retaking America are currently available for $2.99 each.



Margo Hoornstra said...

My goodness! Way to stay with it, guys. Well worth it all I'm thinking.

Alicia Dean said...

Oh wow, it sounds like the makings of a comedy road trip movie, except it wouldn't be very funny if it actually happened to you. I'm so glad it turned out to be a wonderful vacation.

Barbara Edwards said...

No one would believe it if you made this a novel. Totally funny.

Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, Jena, what an adventure! Yep, sounds like a Chevy Chase movie.

JenaGalifany said...

I saw it as funny...about a week later. LOL It turned out great and I'm so glad we had a good time. Jen is 21 now so we probably won't have too many more of these road trips together. We went again the next year but stopped to see Mr. Gentleman first. We always rent a car to go out of town now.


JenaGalifany said...

Did anyone ever see the movie "The Out-of-Towners"? Jack Lemon and Sandy something. I don't recall her name. Great movie.


Diane Burton said...

What a fabulous story. LOL Good memories.