Most of our traveling since we’ve been married has been all about visiting parents or grandparents. We’ve thrown occasional side trips into the mix, but with limited vacation time, and parents that live far away, that has been where our vacation time has gone. It was a big surprise to us when last Christmas my father suggested that we all go on a trip together- this was something we had never done in all the time we’d been married. With some debate, and discussion, we agreed to all pitch in to rent a large cabin in Bear Lake. The reservations were made, the deposit money was paid, all we had to do was wait for the big event!
Of course, things didn’t go exactly as planned. What would be a vacation without a few misadventures after all, right? We just had….a LOT of misadventures. It all started with the…
When we entered the beautiful cabin, one of the first things we noticed were the bees swarming all over the inside of the big picture windows looking over the incredibly blue lake. There were dozens of bees. They were in the bathroom upstairs as well, and all over the place outside. We very quickly made a call to the property managers, and they sent a guy over to check out our complaint, while we stayed AWAY from the insects. He quickly determined that these were honey bees. Honey bees are a protected insect now thanks to hives disappearing, and they were most especially important in Bear Lake which is known for it’s raspberries. Protected bees aren’t allowed to be killed. It took a few more phone calls to finally determine that if they were inside the house, then we could spray for them, but we would have to get a beekeeper to investigate further to see where they were coming from and if there would be anything else we could do about the bees outside. The rest of the night was spent telling the kids to put on shoes so they didn’t accidentally step on a dead or dying bee that had fallen to the carpet after being sprayed.
The next day the beekeeper arrived to investigate. He quickly determined that a new queen was trying to form a new hive in our cabin roof. While it was sometimes possible to remove the queen and relocate them to a newer, safer hive location, it would unfortunately involve removing sections of the roof to do this. That would also involve contacting the owner of the cabin, working out construction people, and ultimately wouldn’t be possible to manage while we were there. We would have to live with the bees. We made the best of things. We spent time outside on the deck in the morning while the bees weren’t active, and stayed inside in the evening. The bees that made it inside were more interested in the windows than in us, and nobody had gotten stung. Once they came inside, the spray on the window eventually killed them. We had bees scattering on the carpet, but again, we tried to ignore it.
On the last night, we had gotten pretty casual about the bees. They stayed in their corner, we stayed in ours, and we didn’t worry about it. During dinner our final night, my oldest daughter calmly announced, “A bee stung me.” We were surprised. She hadn’t said anything about it all day, “When did that happen?” We asked. “Right now,” she said stiffly, “It’s still in my foot, and still alive and thrashing around.” Her voice rose steadily higher with hysteria as she continued talking, “Please kill it!” We had to find something to kill the bee, and remove the stinger from her foot. Ice, medicated wipes, and searches for baking soda later, and my shuddering and sniffling teenager decided that maybe we were right when we said that she should be wearing shoes while there were bees still dying on the carpet.
The bees were just one problem. We also had to deal with….
It really shouldn’t have been a surprise. We were in a mountain cabin with sloped fields of wildflowers behind us. Of COURSE there were going to be mice. We found our first mouse looking for the pots and pans in the kitchen. It was half burned up in the drawer under the stove, and we had one of the men remove it. They threw it in the garbage can. The rest of the night people were complaining about the strange awful smell. They thought it was something wrong with the stove, but it turned out that it was just decayed mouse, and maybe the garbage should be moved OUTSIDE. Problem solved.
The next morning my cousin complained about the mouse still in the kitchen. They had slept in the loft, and had heard the thing scrambling around all night long. We quickly forgot about it because mice go to sleep during the day. Someone found a mouse trap, but it was broken, and nobody bothered messing with it to see if we could make it work. The next night, the mouse worked its way from the kitchen, down the vents and into the bedroom my girls were sleeping in. My youngest had the top bunk, and the vent was literally six inches in front of her face. The basement was freezing while the rest of the house was warm, so we had closed the vents down there. She woke up to hear the scratching in the vent right above her, and reached up to open the vent. A tiny furry nose poked out at her, and she freaked out. She woke up her older sister who was grumpy and non-responsive, so she came in to us. We calmed her down and told her to close the vent and ignore it. We weren’t sure what else to do.
The first thing our teenager did when she woke up was to go to her younger sister, and say, “Rule number one, NEVER wake me up!” We called her on it. Her sister had been scared, and as the big sister she could show some compassion and actually HELP her instead of being a snot about it. We got a few defensive, “But she woke me up!” responses before she fell into a sullen silence for awhile. We didn’t know for sure what to do about the mice. I looked for mouse traps at the store, but didn’t find any. We had one night left, everything would be fine.
By our last night, the mouse was used to us. We hadn’t done anything to frighten it, so clearly we weren’t a threat. We saw the mouse run across the living room while we were watching a movie. We chased it, and it vanished under the dishwasher. It made an appearance again while my husband was up working on his laptop. He chased it again, trying to frighten it. When I got up at 3:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom, I was surprised to see two mice scamper down the hallway and under the girls’ bedroom door. Of course, I should have guessed. We had mice, not mouse. I hadn’t been back to bed for long before our youngest came into the room. The mouse in the vent above her head was freaking out and making some scary noises. Another mouse had run through my oldest child’s hair. After her nasty comments earlier, she was afraid to say anything about it, but she had turned the light on and was jumping at every shadow thinking that there was another mouse. Everyone ended up joining us in the queen-sized bed, all freaked out about the mice. It was a tight fit. We calmed them down, and asked them what they thought they should do. There was a brief pause, then our youngest said, “Can we sleep with you?” We decided that this would be a bad idea, and they decided that they would probably be fine back in their own rooms for the rest of the night. As they left, we heard scrambling in the walls, and my husband slammed his hand against the wall to scare the mouse in there. It got quiet.
We didn’t see any more mice, and we mostly survived the experience, but we still had to deal with…
As I mentioned before, our cabin was located up the mountain from the lake. To get there, we had to follow a dirt road with a few hairpin-style turns. The road was narrow, and there were a lot of other cabins around us, which meant there were quite a few cars to watch out for on the tight turns. It was slow going, and the first few times we drove it, it was a little scary. After my cousin and her family left to continue their vacation with another side of their family, the ladies decided we would all go down and check out the handful of gift shops in Garden City. We piled into my car, and headed into town. I noticed the car had trouble on a steep upward slope before we started the first hairpin turn. I thought that it was simply because I had so many extra passengers, however, and didn’t think anything of it. I was driving slow on the dirt roads, so I didn’t notice anything else.
We pulled into the parking lot at the first gift shop, and everyone got out of the car. As I was locking up the doors, I noticed the awful smell of burning rubber. As I circled around behind the car, I saw SMOKE come up from the rear wheel of the car. I called everyone back to the car to see if they could smell it too. Sure enough, something was hot and burning and it was coming from MY car. We got on the cell phones to call the husbands, and my Dad was the only one who answered. He quickly got into the truck and came down to check things out. His assessment was the same as ours. The hub cap was even hot to the touch. It had to be the brakes. Just wonderful. It turns out there is only one mechanic in Bear Lake, and that was in Lake Town, ten miles away. We contacted them, and arranged for a tow. We watched as the truck came to take the car to the shop. About five minutes after I saw my car disappear down the road, a stray thought occurred to me: I didn’t release the parking brake when I started down the mountain.
I spent the rest of the trip feeling completely stupid. Turns out, yes, indeed, the burning smell was coming from the parking brake. The mechanic tested things, and there was no permanent damage done. It only cost us $150 for the tow. I beat myself up over it for awhile until my husband laughingly said that hey, at least we had a good story about it. If I worked it into a few shows, I could pay off the cost of the tow. Besides, what was a trip without a few mishaps, right?
Maybe the next time someone suggests a big family trip, we’ll stay home.