The Downside of Vacation...
...is you have to come home.
But there's more to it than that.
We set up high expectations for our vacations (not unlike family holidays) which are almost impossible to meet. We expect things to be picture perfect and they rarely are. The weather is bad. A meal is bad. The wait is too long. Travel is uncomfortable. You name it. We SHOULD prepare ourselves for it, but most times we don't. We set an unrealistic bar and then when it comes crashing down it devastates us.
For this past long weekend vacation that my family took to my happy place in the Poconos (Skytop, which you'll know if you've read any of my previous posts on vacations).
I have to say that despite some weather related challenges, this was one of our best family vacations and times. There was a lot of laughter and that's what we really needed. We enjoyed our meals in the Windsor dining room and shared some outrageous things that we saw and heard during the day. (To the woman on her phone in the 3rd floor hallway walking by our room...you really SHOULDN'T be talking quite so loudly about your sex life. And I'd like whoever it was on our floor who partook of some medicinal herb to know that the old Skytop motto of "high in the Pocono Mountains" was not to be taken literally and has since been changed to "it's in our nature.")
Skytop has always been a special place for me. It's not for everyone, but for those who connect with it, there's a tie that is hard to break. It was almost broken for me back in 2017 when we went up for our son's birthday. It was supposed to be a great celebration and unfortunately it wasn't. My food allergies were not taken care of and I ended up getting sick. But worse, I ended up feeling that my "happy place" was ruined. Maybe this seems silly to some, but my feelings for Skytop run deep in a way that I cannot fully describe. I devastated and ready to cut ties.
Why didn't I? I knew who the general manager of the resort was and I asked to speak to him. At this point we didn't really know each other well, but he took my messages seriously and on our last day of the trip, he sat down with me in his office and let me speak. I didn't just speak...I cried. (How embarrassing!) I gave him all the details on what went wrong and he took the situation seriously and made things as right as he could. He clearly took responsibility and treated me with great respect and dignity. (Despite the ugly crying) Furthermore, he kept in contact with me to let me know his plans to make sure the situation never happened again. Because he took personal responsibility and acted with care and authority, I did not cut ties and I gained a new friend. Every time we return, he takes time to speak with me. He knows I am passionate about every bit of the resort and listens to my thoughts and suggestions. (Although I know he can't act on some of them.) To me, this is invaluable. I am not just a guest at the resort; it feels like I am part of an extended family.
Most of the staff at Skytop are amazing and there are people I seek out year after year, not because I am in need of their services, but because I want to say hello and if they have time, talk for a minute or two. It is this relationship that makes even the rainy overcast days good ones.
During our past trip we did have plenty of rain. Too much! The scope of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Henri made the hike that I wanted to take an impossibility. But instead of being grumpy and letting the weather ruin everything, I pulled out my umbrella (and if I hadn't had on in my car, I'm sure they would have had spares for guest) and walked. Maybe not where I wanted (the trout stream trail was closed as the water overran the bridge at the entrance),
but I still took the time to explore new places. (Which I always try to do...even after all these years there are plenty of trails I haven't yet explored.) I walked down Route 390 to check out Skytop Meadows (townhouses) in lieu of hiking a trail. It gave me a chance to see homes in the area that I had just quickly driven by in the past. My son and I also took advantage of the indoor pool. I never seem to find the time to go (because there is so much I always want to do); with the rain I was able to enjoy. As a matter of fact, I think my son spent more time in the pool area during this trip than he has in all our previous trips. Another example of a silver lining to the cloudy skies that lingered.
When the skies finally did clear, most of the hiking paths were wet. In the past, I might have let this stop me, but not this time. Wet shoes can dry and I always bring more shoes than I need (plus an extra pair of sneakers in my car). So Monday afternoon I slogged through wet ground with about a dozen others (including our enthusiastic guide Alex) on the moderate Upper Falls trail. Wet shoes were worth the price of seeing the usual docile river turn into raging falls. And when I found out the hike that I passed up on Sunday due to rain was also offered on Tuesday morning, I postponed our drive home for a couple of hours and took part in the challenging (my legs are still feeling it) hike up the stable trail to the gazebo and vista which are part of the West Rim trail (another trail that I need to check out). It was hard, sweaty work (one of the most challenging trails/hikes and I would never to it alone or without an experienced guide), but worth every second for the view at the top of the mountain.
Returning after the hike (which my son also joined me on while my husband stayed back at the lodge and checked out and then relaxed), I was sorry that we had to leave. The downside of any vacation is that it has to end. But we left the property with smiles, in good spirits and hopes to return in the fall. Laughter continued as we headed home and I promised my son that we would make a stop at Mary Anne's Dairy Barn, which we have passed many times, but never stopped for a snack. (Usually because we leave the resort before they open.) However, just as we to the turn where route 447 goes left and route 191 goes right, we saw that the road was closed. We ended up having to take a detour. (Although there were no real signs as to how to do this...thank goodness we have Waze or we really would have been in a mess!) A detour that probably took us 15 miles out of our way before getting onto Route 80 (right at a traffic jam). The laughter sort of faded after that. It didn't help that it was blazing hot when we got home and we discovered yet another "little" problem as some flying insect (Wasp? Hornet?) has decided to nest IN a brick hole by our back corner of the house. That's a tale for another day.
Yes, the downside is that you have to come home. However, the upside is that even when you have a downside, you have memories (and hopefully lots of photos.) Good memories if you keep your expectations realistic and don't let the inevitable challenges/issues/problems that will arise get your down. Remember, an imperfect vacation is better than a “perfect” work day. (Is there such a thing? Let me know!)