Vacation Woes

Posted by erin matthews on

Ah, vacation. Sometimes it doesn't go as planned. We're not talking Gilligan's Island level problems here, but some rather unfortunate things happened during our recent North Carolina trip.

Background: Mr. Panda and I are planners. We scout out restaurants, hikes, etc. before we even leave home in an effort to maximize our time. We plan what cities we want to go to and then we plan all the fun things we'll do in said cities. Also, we expect to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Here are a few of the things that went awry. 

1. Weather

I hate being hot. I absolutely hate it. If I break a sweat, my day is ruined. Mr. Panda isn't a fan of the heat either, but he's more tolerant of it than I am. A few days into our trip the weather grew "unseasonably" hot for May. We're talking temperatures in the high eighties with the real feel being in the mid to high nineties. Ugh. We ended up spending a lot of time indoors when we really wanted to be hiking. And when we did go outside, the sun was really intense. Did I mention that I'm not a fan of the sun? I prefer filtered sunlight or an overcast sky because I always feel like the sun is burning me alive! On one walk I actually carried around an umbrella to escape the sun's rays. I can see why parasols used to be popular. 

After the heat broke, we had thunderstorms almost daily. This also ruined a lot of our plans. There was one day where we braved the weather and drove to DuPont State Forest. We got stranded in a picnic shelter when the sky opened up and poured for fifteen minutes. We finally caught a break and started for the car. Within minutes it started pouring again and we had to sprint to the parking lot! Both of us looked like drowned rats. And then we were stuck in soaked clothes. Ick.

Over the course of a week, the storms created some pretty terrifying mountain drives. On our way back from Brevard we almost had to pull over due to some torrential rain. It was really scary!

Even on our way home (passing through 6 states ) to Michigan it rained in 5 states!

sunny rainy umbrella panda

2. We got "lost" 

We squeezed in a hike in the middle of a busy day (one of the hot days) and planned to only spend 2 hours in the woods. Then we had to get back on the road to get to our other hiking areas. The trail was a loop, but the entire trail was a little over 5 miles, so we were planning on taking the shortcut which cut across the loop. There weren't any maps, but we found the shortcut without incident. We reached an intersection and it was pure chaos with some crazy dogs and several groups of people blocking the signs. We turned left and started walking. As the mileage racked up we started second guessing our choice of paths. I had blindly followed Mr. Panda without checking the signage and he had rushed through the intersection to get out of the way of the crazy people and dogs. We had to figure something out because if we caught the loop in the wrong spot it would be a 5 mile mistake! Mr. Panda went ahead to see if the parking lot was just around the bend and came back after walking a quarter mile. We debated what to do. We were very hot and already over our 2 hour goal. So we backtracked to the intersection. It made me feel a little better (only a little) when I saw that the signage was actually pretty vague anyway. We walked a little ways down a different trail because the sign looked like it was possibly pointing to the parking lot. By then we were skittish and very uncertain so we went back to the intersection a THIRD time and figured we had been going the correct way from the very beginning. If only the shortcut trail had dead-ended into the main trail! We wouldn't have thought we were lost. Needless to say, we were hot and grumpy. We ended up way over time and we walked lots and lots of unnecessary steps.

3. Yellow jackets

Mr. Panda and I love honeybees and bumblebees. Yellow jackets are another story. The first morning at our VRBO, we ate breakfast on the front porch and a yellow jacket decided to start building a nest right by the front door. We cut breakfast short and ran inside, resigning ourselves to never go near the front door thereafter. We found ourselves checking the nest progress multiple times a day and actually developed a liking for our striped frenemy. 

One night we found a dead yellow jacket on the living room rug. It hadn't been there when we arrived.

Another day we heard a buzzing sound coming from the laundry room. A yellow jacket was buzzing against the window! Mr. Panda and I decided to kill it. We closed the two doors that fed into the room and donned hoodies. We drew the drawstrings tight and left only little bits of our faces exposed. I carried the fly swatter (luckily our landlady was prepared) and paper towel. Mr. Panda moved the curtain and asked for the swatter. Like a surgical nurse, I slapped it into his hand and then ran away. The yellow jacket wouldn't stay flat on the glass! It wasn't "swattable" in the slightest. Mr. Panda called me back over so I could give him the paper towel, but the smushing angle didn't work either. We took a minute to observe the yellow jacket. He seemed low energy and rather non-threatening. So, we named him Jeb and decided to keep him.

Jeb disappeared at some point and we never found his body. As for our frenemy by the front door, our landlady sprayed him on our last day. We actually felt bad for having told her.

yellow jacket panda silly girl

4. Bad luck with restaurants 

Mr. Panda and I also had some restaurant fails. Joey's Pancake House was a place Mr. Panda was really looking forward to revisiting. When we attempted to go, we found out it had closed down. We checked online and discovered new owners were going to re-open the restaurant, but the grand opening was literally 9 days after our vacation ended.  

I can finally say I've been to a Waffle House. Fail. Just fail.

On our previous trips to North Carolina we've always eaten at Windy Corner Market on the way down. This time we decided to eat there on the way back home. All through our vacation I was looking forward to eating my Tofu Po'Boy. It made the 10 hour drive seem a little less daunting. When we arrived at Windy Corner Market, it was packed to the rafters. We were concerned that we wouldn't find a table and eating outside was out of the question because it was pouring. An employee told us she'd be able to find us a table, so we got in line. When it was finally our turn at the counter, we were told that the food wouldn't be ready for 40 - 60 minutes. We had to leave without eating because we couldn't add that much time to our drive. All in all, it seemed like a fitting end to the vacation. 

This was certainly the most problem laden vacation I've ever been on. At least it was epic and will never be forgotten. 🤪

Have you had any great vacation woes? 


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