Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What To Do When Bad Things Happen When Your On Vacation

This is a continuation of a travel series of a road trip I took to Las Vegas in May with my husband.  To start at the beginning read THIS POST.   The rest of the posts are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE in chronological order.

Even with the best laid plans and intentions, bad things can happen when on vacation.  My husband and I have taken so many road trips in the past few years and have never had any real problems until this vacation.  We were both really worried about this trip for it was not only going to be the farthest distance we've ever traveled, but we were also literally crossing a desert with a small Chevrolet Malibu with close to 100,000 miles on it.  Since my biggest fear was the car breaking down in the middle of the desert with no town or services for hours away (and no cell service), we took our car into the dealership to be checked over and have service done.  Then to be double safe, we took the car in for a second time to have the brakes redone and new tires put on.  We thought we were good to go and we were ready to drive hours into the middle of nowhere with full confidence.

View from Rest Stop

Now, the reason my husband and I love to travel (other than to explore and see new places) is to spend quality time together.  We always feel every vacation brings us closer together...until this one.  This drive was so STRESSFUL.  If you read THIS POST about our drive to Las Vegas you would remember where I discussed how this drive was the most beautiful, yet terrifying drive I have ever taken in my life.    All the pictures in this post are scenes of this drive...they will give you some idea of the amazing scenery, and also the dangers.

Because of the steep inclines and winding roads, I was a nervous wreck for about two and half days.  I felt my husband was driving way too fast (even though he was going under the speed limit, which was 80 MPH by the way), and I didn't like how he was using the cruise.  I cringed every time the engine revved up to climb a hill.  I kept telling him to slow down, don't use the cruise, take it easy on the curve, watch it!...... needless to say I was driving him nuts which resulted in a lot of bickering all the way there.  So much for our romantic getaway.

I was so disappointed.  We were both so stressed out before this vacation we really needed a break.  We were both looking so forward to being alone together, and now, we were at odds.  I felt farther away from my husband than I did before we left, and more stressed out than ever.

Rest Area

 But, we finally made it to Vegas, parked the car, and knew we could relax for three days until it came time to make our way back through the desert again and head in the direction of home.

We woke up around 5:00 a.m. anxious and eager to leave Vegas and see Zion National Park.  We checked out of our hotel, loaded up the car, got in, and my husband very nervously put the key in the ignition and it started!  Yay!  It still work!  And then, it stopped.  "Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic"' I said to myself.  He started it again.  It stalled again.  He started it again.  We were parked in the very top of a tall parking structure, he managed to get it going again and somehow coaxed the car downhill out of the garage.  He said "Everything should be fine, sometimes when you start a car up again after driving it hard for three days it's just stalled up".  Well, that makes no sense.  I was panicking.  I knew what we had to drive through.  I knew there was nothing, absolutely nothing, for hours and hours and hours.  How are we going to drive through a desert with a car that keeps stalling?

"I just need to get the car out of the city and onto the highway where I can give it some gas and hopefully clear the engine.".  O.K.  that makes sense.  Start praying.  "Lord, please help this car make it to the highway, please help this car make it to the highway.".  Then the dashboard lights up like the 4th of July "Check Engine, Check Engine, Check Engine!".  "We can not drive this car through a desert!"  I scream to my husband.  I then get out my trusty IPhone (Thank God for modern technology by the way.  I don't know how people ever traveled before without Smart Phones), and googled Chevrolet Dealership.  I found the nearest Chevy Dealership on my phone and had google maps lead the way.  Thank goodness the car made it to the dealership and we did not need to be towed.

The dealership was open but the mechanics had not yet arrived.  However, the nice young man at the desk said they should be able to look at our car right away.  We then walked about a mile to a Burger King to have some breakfast.  Although, I was so sick to my stomach with worry I could hardly eat.  Then we walked back and waited, and waited, and waited, and tried very hard not to worry.  My husband said "I don't think were going to be able to go to Zion National Park.  We won't have any time".  I was devastated.  Zion National Park was suppose to be the highlight of this trip.  I've seen so many pictures and read that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I didn't know if we would ever be this far west again, I struggled so hard not to burst into tears.  I started to have a pity party. How could this happen?  We had the entire car checked over not once, but twice.  We were so diligent, so careful, so cautious.

Finally, we received some good news.  The car needed a new part (a sensor) that would only cost a few hundred dollars and if everything went well on a test run, we should be ready to go in a few hours.  That was a relief.  I was worried we'd have to ditch the car and find a new ride home.  Or we wouldn't make it to our next hotel and lose the money we paid for the reservation.

We were back on the road again before noon.  Yay!  Now we can go have some fun.  Everything was going smoothly until we hit Arizona, then we hit the second worst traffic jam of our lives.  But let me back up a bit.  Normally when we travel, I always use my Smart Phone.  Why?  Because it not only gets us to where we need to go, but it warns us if there are accidents or heavy traffic and we can find an alternate route.  My husband hates "The Lady" on the phone, so he insisted that I not turn our GPS on.  I knew that he knew where to go without "The Lady", so I obliged this time.  Plus, we were out west, in a desolate area....there wouldn't be any traffic jams.  Boy was I wrong!  They were repaving the highway and instead of doing just a small section at a time Arizona thinks it's A.O.K. to reduce traffic to only one lane for miles and miles with no where to get off!  We were literally stuck in traffic for hours, and a lot of the time we weren't even moving at all and could turn the engine off.  We saw so many cars making illegal U-turns to get off the highway and motorcycles were driving in-between vehicles just to get through.  It was ridiculous.  Sorry Arizona, but the Wisconsin highway department would never be so stupid to create such a mess.  They would only have paved a smaller section of the road at a time and/or provide an alternate route.  The worst part of this whole story was that there was a frontage road running right along side the freeway.  Traffic could have so easily been diverted onto this road to reduce congestion.  OR if I had my Smart Phone turned on, I would have seen the traffic jam and we would have been on the frontage road instead of stuck for hours in this mess.

When we finally got through the construction zone and traffic lightened up, we were exhausted, tired, and stressed.  We saw a Culver's advertisement and we were surprised to see our hometown restaurant this far west, so we decided to stop and have a bite to eat.  We parked our car at the restaurant and as we got out an elderly lady saw our license plate and said "You must feel like your at home now that your at Culvers".  We laughed and said "Yes."  She was so nice and we engaged in some friendly conversation with her for a bit.  We went in, ordered, then I looked at my phone and saw there was a text from my son.  It said "Mom, you finally have good reason to make fun of Uncle...." and a picture.  I looked at the picture and it was a scene from the comedic war movie Tropic Thunder with a caption underneath of how we should honor our veterans this Memorial Day.  I burst out laughing so hard I started to cry.  I showed my husband the picture and he said "Oh, no.  He didn't!" and he burst out laughing.  And before we knew it, we were both laughing so hard we could barely breathe and all the stress and worries of the day melted away.  You see, my husband's uncle posted this picture on Face Book thinking it was a picture of real war veterans, when it was actually a picture of Jack Black and Ben Stiller dressed up in Army uniforms.  Get the humor now?

By now, it was so late in the day that all we could do was drive to our next hotel and call it a day.  On our way there we passed Zion National Park which was covered in horrific grey clouds and my husband said "Maybe it's a good thing we didn't make it there, because we would be right at the top of that mountain right about now, in the middle of that storm".  I agreed, but it didn't make me feel that much better.

We got to our hotel in Cedar City, Utah around the supper hour and tried to find something to do but everything was closed.  I felt like walking around a bit, so we even tried to find some nearby trails but nothing was appealing to us.  I didn't feel hungry after a big Culver's lunch, so we skipped dinner and decided to work out in the hotel fitness center instead.  After that, we just went back to our room and had a quiet, relaxing evening and started making plans for the next day.

Runaway Truck Ramp Sign

(I've talked a lot about the steep inclines on the highway to Vegas and how they have runaway truck ramps in case a truck loses control.  Here is what they look like:  they are basically sandy side roads that take the truck up an incline to bring it to a stop.)

Runaway Truck Ramp

(And here are a few scenes taken inside the car as we were driving.)

(I still find it hard to believe that most of this road had an 80MPH speed limit considering how desolate it is and all the inclines, declines, and curves.  There were speed reduction signs on some of the curves, but not all.  They must think there's not a lot of traffic on this road, so your safe.)

I remember when we went back to our hotel room after working out sitting down on the chair and saying "This is the worst vacation we have ever taken".  My husband tried to console me, but I was so, so, so disappointed.  We lost an entire day of our vacation because of car trouble and a traffic jam.  We have been bickering ever since we left.  A bum in Vegas embarrassed me.  The Grand Canyon wasn't the experience we had hoped for.  Was anything going to go right?   My husband said to me, "I'm sure when you get home and start looking through all the pictures your going to see everything we did and think you had a great vacation.  And were only halfway through our vacation.  We can go to Arches National Park tomorrow and Vail or Aspen the next day.  Don't give up on it just yet"  And he was right.  The second half of our vacation really was the best...but you'll hear more about that in the weeks to come.

So why did I share this with you?  For one, to let you know my life isn't always picture perfect and also to give you some tips of What to Do When Bad Things Happen When Your On Vacation.  Here's what I learned from this experience.

1.  If you have a Smart Phone, use it, whether you need to or not.  If you don't need GPS, at least always be looking ahead on the map to see what traffic is like so you have time to plan an alternative route if needed.

2.  Understand your travel partner.  Even though we've been married for almost thirty years my husband learned something new about me on this trip.  He learned that I really stress out about driving conditions and it doesn't help me to calm down at all by trying to get me to stop talking.  And I learned, that even though I feel the car is out of my control, it's in his control, and I have to trust him that he doing his very best job.

3.  Stay Calm when something goes wrong.  Don't Panic.  Maybe your day isn't going to go as planned...just be flexible and open to a new experience.  So we didn't make it to Zion National Park, but we did go to Arches National Park...which was an amazing experience...and that was not in the original itinerary.

4.  And now for the hardest one of them all....TRY NOT to take out your frustrations on your travel partner.  Even though we bickered all the way to Vegas about my husband's driving, neither one of us took our frustrations out on each other over the broken car or the traffic jam.  We both stayed calm and cool.  AND, believe it or not there was no bickering at all on the way back from Vegas.  My husband drove a little slower and did not use the cruise, which kept me calmer and more relaxed.  A win-win for everyone!

We've been very lucky in the past to take amazing, perfect vacations, and this was the first one that was not so perfect.  But, my husband was right, when I got home and started going through pictures I thought  "Wow!  We really did and saw a lot in those 10 days!  What an amazing adventure we had!"

Have a Great Day!  Amy

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  1. Wow! What a trip! All the photos are gorgeous & I'm sure you'll look back at them for many years and the good memories will overshadow the not-so-good parts of the trip.

    I've taken several vacations where things went quite wrong. I used to be really bothered by that and let it pretty much ruin several vacations. But lately, I truly try to see the good and "go with the flow." Life isn't perfect and neither are (most) vacations...

    Andrea’s Wellness Notes

  2. Good advice. The didn't zone change bother you? I find traveling in other time zones throws my sleep off, so I'm tired at different hours, which, if I were stressed, would only make it worse.

    1. Thank you. The time zone changes didn't seem to bother me at the time, but now that I think about it my husband and I seemed to be exhausted the entire vacation, so maybe it did.

  3. Wow, that does sound stressful! I'm glad you made it home safely, but I would have been so stressed and worried too. I'm glad you shared--it's nice to hear about highlights but also comforting to know that sometimes the bad stuff happens, but you get through it.

  4. Car troubles are always something I worry about when traveling. Glad you didn't have to wait too long to get it repaired. But I can totally understand your frustration, especially when you ended up in a traffic jam after that! Glad you got to see Arches National Park, I am sure that was amazing. Maybe you could plan another Las Vegas trip by plane, and you could rent a car there to drive to the Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. That might be the only way for me to ever seeing those sights...hubby and I usually argue when we travel by car, I am the worst backseat driver and he usually gets road rage (not a good combination LOL - so I am always happy when my brother travels with us and he can do the driving, he is so much calmer on the road than my husband.)

    Can't wait to see your Arches photos!

    1. Thanks Ellie, it's good to know I'm not the only one. I wish we could travel by plane, but my husband prefers to travel by car. I don't think we will be taking anymore vacations that are thus far away for awhile. We need to get a better more suitable for mountain driving. The Chevrolet Malibu is not!

  5. I really enjoyed this post, Amy. I think blogs are most interesting when when the writer shares of herself. Like what actually happened instead of sugar coating everything to look "picture perfect". You described a beautiful picture of what marriage is - ups and downs- good times and some not so good times, but you ultimately were there for each other. And you had a mostly wonderful vacation. The photos here are breathtaking.

    1. Awww, thanks. There is always a question for me as to what I should share on my blog. I never want to give anyone the idea that I have this perfect life...cause I don't, but I also don't want to embarrass my husband or anyone else by sharing anything to personal or something that makes them look bad.

  6. Oh my gosh...what a stressful journey! We've traveled those roads, and I feel your stress, my friend! Glad things worked out okay with you and your favorite travel buddy! We're taking a trip to the east coast next week, so send up some good travel thoughts! Hugs...

    1. Thanks Patti, it's good to know I'm not alone. Enjoy the east coast...I love it there!

  7. All good tips to try and enjoy the ride. I lived in AZ for 10 years and the construction areas were always just a horrible mess. Glad you arrived home safely.

    1. Thank you. I never expected Arizona to have such a construction mess. There were so many things they did wrong that if they were done right would have avoided a lot of problems. Like not giving drivers enough time to merge, or not providing notice of an alternate route.

  8. Wow! I really appreciate that you put so many beautiful pictures interspersed throughout your dreadful story! lol I too get a little stressed when things go wrong with the car. But living with Mr. Menace, I have tried really hard to be a more "go with the flow" kind of gal. I have also learned that the journey is the major part of the trip and to enjoy it also. It has been hard for me to get to this point and truthfully I still can get upset when things don't go my way.
    Any way, it made for an interesting read, especially with the fabulous pictures. I have been to Vegas twice but we flew both times.
    Looking forward to hearing more!
    :) gwingal


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