Yesterday was our final day in beautiful Nag’s Head, North Carolina. All day Saturday, as I basked in the sun and ate a mermaid’s share of seafood, you could hear me whimpering, “I don’t wanna go home.” This phrase was accompanied by my saddest of pouty faces. Apparently, my occasional grumblings angered the vacation gods, because our Sunday was thick with woe, and this ever-so-long account proves it. Sit back; grab a beverage or a snack, and read my wretched tale. I find reading it with a pirate’s voice during some parts greatly enhances the story.
Our troubles started with a wind shift. Sometime, after midnight the winds began a SSW journey causing the smoke from an ongoing forest fire in Pain’s Bay to drift our way. At first it was tolerable, but sometime around 3:00 a.m. the entire third floor of the house, where hubby and I were sleeping, became hazy with the acrid smell. Never one to let anything disturb our slumber, the spouse and I drowsily descended the stairs to the second level where we crashed in the unoccupied children’s room. I had just settled into a top bunk, (for the first time since 4H camp 30 years ago), and was about to begin my second journey to Slumber land when I was jolted awake by an ear-splitting composition. “Who would be listening to Cradle of Filth at 4:00 a.m.?” I asked my sleeping husband. He snored in response. He was out cold, leaving me forced to investigate the unwelcomed cacophony alone. The small window in our room yielded only murky darkness and no partying college students, so I moved into the open hallway. The music sounded like it was coming from the first floor game room. The doors to our kids’ rooms were closed and the space beneath them was dark. Knowing that they all like their sleep WAY too much to be up at four in the morning listening to music, a creepy feeling swept over me as I slowly descended the stairs to the first level. Any sane person sleuthing down the steps might expect to catch rogue teenagers, who had jumped our fence and jimmied the door, playing pool or foosball and drinking the last of our beer, but in my smoke induced, sleep deprived brain, I fully expected to be faced with the ghosts of pirates or worse. “I’m coming down there!” I yelled with a shaky voice. “Leave while you can. I’ve got a gun,” I added. I quickly reminded myself that ghosts would not fear my imaginary gun. “I’ve got holy water, and I know spells, too,” I said hoping that a line from Harry Potter would be enough to ward away the evil that awaited me. I descended the last step that placed me in the dark game room. There, in the corner I met my foe. A monster was hissing, roaring and glaring at me with its large, green, glowing eye! Alright, it wasn’t exactly a monster, it was the stereo, and its green, lighted display proved it was on. Only slightly relieved, I pulled the plug, not wanting to fumble for the off button, but the music DIDN’T STOP! In a dark, dark basement, an unplugged stereo that refuses to silence its music can mean only one thing; GHOSTS!! This is when I full-on lost it and screamed bloody murder. Actually, I screamed “Help!” which is not always the best thing to scream in a houseful of sleeping people. Terrified, my groggy family rushed to my aid. My oldest daughter found the off button. My youngest showed me where the battery back-up was, and my eldest’s boyfriend said he must have accidentally turned on the alarm feature when he was figuring out how to turn on the stereo early Saturday evening.
After a hearty laugh at my foolishness and a few reassuring hugs, I ascended the stairs for my third attempt at sleep, but the sandman would not find me. The smoke was intolerable and we decided to abandon our home by the sea a few hours early. Covering our mouths and noses we carried the rest of our belongings to our car and drove caravan style to the realtor’s office to drop off the keys. This is when the vacation gods decided to get one last lick in. As we pulled out of the realtor’s parking lot, my youngest daughter’s boyfriend somehow managed to rear end my oldest daughter’s car. Thankfully, the hit wasn’t hard enough for her airbag to deploy, but it was hard enough for my daughter’s neck to feel jerked out of whack. A quick (and, yes, I really do mean quick—props to Outer Banks Hospital’s emergency department) trip to the emergency room revealed a slightly sprained neck, but no serious damage. After many rest stops, some complaining and a wrong turn or two, we arrived home around 8:00 last night no worse for the wear.
Today when I look back on our “wretched” Sunday, I have to smile, because despite the smoke, the “spirits,” the fender bender and the lack of sleep, it really wasn’t the worst possible day that a family could share together. Perhaps the vacation gods were gently reminding me to not spend the last day of a nearly perfect vacation complaining!