The Very Awful, Disastrous Vacation of 2017: Part One

I have been hit with the annual travel bug.


It happens every year. Just for a few days, I want to remember what it is like to live in a climate that gets above 50 degrees F, feel some semblance of warmth on my face, and not have to put on Arctic gear to go outside.

That’s not gonna happen.

The next best thing, then, is to start planning our next trip. Trip planning is a team effort in the Long household. My husband is the king of finding hidden gems to visit and quiet, unique places to stay. As for me…it’s time for some serious Excel spreadsheet action, baby.

As you may know from previous posts, I love planning. Figuring out details, creating a stream-lined, flawless family experience…that’s my jam. All those tiny cells filled with important details give me peace of mind…or feed the control freak in me. Take your pick.

This year, however, the hubs and I are unusually ambivalent about planning our trip. Trips have always been a part of our life together. Visiting family in Nebraska, camping in Wyoming, yurting in Iowa…it’s what we do. So why the hesitance this year? It recently dawned on me – we’re still traumatized from THE VERY AWFUL, DISASTROUS VACATION OF 2017. Yes, you should only shout it at people in all caps – it was that bad.

Oh, did I ever create a beautiful spreadsheet for that trip. Each day was meticulously planned…how many miles we would travel, what sights we would see, what we would do for each meal, where we would stay that night, and overall how much we would spend for the day. It was a sight to behold.

It was a bright and sunshiny day, unusually warm for October, but around these parts we don’t complain about things like that. We were poised to embark on the trip of a lifetime – Colorado Springs, CO. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, take in the sights at Focus on the Family, soak in God’s creation all around us, and most of all, enjoy quality time as a family. The bags were packed, the car was loaded, my parents’ Little Guy trailer was firmly affixed to the vehicle – we were ready to rock.

And then my youngest daughter said she had a stomach ache. No worries – I threw a trusty plastic bag-lined ice cream pail in the car, just in case.

“Just in case” turned out to be an hour down the road.

My husband and I sat there, wondering what to do. How long would the bug last? Do we need to go home? This wasn’t on the spreadsheet. I had not scheduled us stopping to take in this particular sight. In the end, the spreadsheet said we would be spending the night in Minnesota, so to Minnesota we went.

After several unscheduled vomit-filled stops, we pulled into our campground in the early evening. It was everything we could have hoped for – beautiful, quiet location, not too busy, lovely new bathrooms…and mosquitoes. It was like something straight out of the Bible – a cloud of mosquitoes descended upon our camp, leaving us running for our tiny trailer. Our tiny trailer with very little ventilation. And a vomiting kid. And it wasn’t supposed to get much cooler than 80 degrees that night.

It was a long, long night.

Morning sprung bright and dewy, and after sprinting through the cloud of mosquitoes to the lovely bathrooms, we were off. Next stop – an actual oasis of a campground in rural Nebraska. A quiet forest of trees amongst the endless rolling hills of nothingness that is my husband’s home state. Today would be our day.

And then the weather warnings starting popping up on my phone – our sweet oasis was about to get slammed with severe thunderstorms and significant flooding. This, too, was not on my spreadsheet. Thus, we did what any self-respecting almost-40-year-old person does…

We called mommy.


A consultation with Google Maps showed that if we took a detour and traveled an extra hour, we could spend the night at the sweet, dry, safety of my in-laws’ farm. My in-laws were graciously willing to host us at the drop of a hat, and so, with a sigh of relief, we began the trek toward their farm. All we needed was a quick stop for gas and dinner. Crisis averted…all would be well.

And then, as the skies opened up and let loose a torrential rainstorm, the dreaded “low tire” light came on in our vehicle.

Check back next week for Part Two of this debacle!



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