It started just fine.
We took stupid car pictures. And my father checked out the rental car, like thoroughly (which is so quintessentially my Dad).
Jon was a rockstar,
Jill looked out the window,
We stopped at the Berea Rest Area/Kentucky Art Center place (which is neat).
Took photos inside of the bathroom,
Then onto Jellico, Tennessee where we stopped at the world's worst state welcome center and saw this priceless motel sign,
And then we had a Chick-Fil-A picnic,
And from there on out, things went terribly, awfully, very badly down hill.
We rolled into Asheville sometime around 11:30 pm. And when I say Asheville, I mean we got to the signs that said Asheville, but really had no idea which exit to take to find the road with all of the hotels on it. So fast forward another hour of trying exit after exit and direction after direction from gas station attendants who don't know where they live. We need a GPS.
Upon finding the proper street we began trying hotel after hotel to find one that A) Had a vacancy, B) Took pets, and C) wasn't going to charge more than $100-$130 for a night. Less than that if my father had his way. He's cheap.
At some point in our evening, after driving up and down this road for at least an hour, stopping at lights that were green, pulling in and out of parking lots my mother noted to my dad that it appeared a police car was following us.
"I'm not doing anything wrong," he said. "Let him pull me over."
Famous last words.
So Dad wasn't concerned. And he decided to pull onto a road that led to a wildlife thing in the middle of the woods, because...and I quote, maybe they got a lodge up here.
While I'm almost certain we passed a drug deal going on up that hill the cop was right there waiting on US when we returned to the bottom of it. And he followed us into the parking lot of Walmart. When we pulled into a parking spot and stopped he began flashing his special blue lights.
We were busted.
Turns out the rental car had expired tags, this coupled with Dad's more than erratic driving caused the cop to pull us over to assess the situation I suppose. No ticket. No nothing. But damn if it didn't both make us laugh AND sort of suck the air out of the trip.
Mom drove after this.
We ended up stopping at a grocery store called Ingles, which is open 24 hours to use the restroom and regroup. Unable to find a hotel with a vacancy that wasn't a total roach motel we somehow ended up sleeping for a few hours in the parking lot of Walmart.
And let me just tell you...WE WEREN'T THE ONLY ONES. It's like its own little campground/RV park/ lodge area.
I hated it.
Come morning, after several hours of me almost suffocating in the hot car (I'm no good at sleeping in warm weather apparently), we found a nice hotel to check into. The only catch? It wouldn't be ready until after 1pm. No big deal. My Dad offered to go ahead and pay for the stay with a $100 bill he had in his pocket, "no worries," the girl told him. "I'll put you down for it, pay when you return."
So while we'd all slept in the car, and we were all still in yesterday's clothes we decided to take the ride over to Lake Lure, the filming site of Dirty Dancing.
Getting to Lake Lure involved a curvy, winding mountain trek that is probably not for the faint at heart. Nor those prone to Altitude Sickness.
My Mom is prone to Altitude Sickness.
We pulled over numerous times up the mountain so she could get air. But we soldiered on, figuring she'd eventually get over it.
Lake Lure was pretty neat. I wish I'd gotten more pictures and felt more like exploring. But it was hot, I felt gross in the clothes I was wearing, so there are a million excuses. This was one of my single decent photos of the lake.
As I said, Dirty Dancing was filmed there, the red roofed building in the distance is the lodge used, you can see some of the beach there in the movie as well. There are tours to take that show you more. For obvious reasons we didn't take any.
It was on the way down the mountain, while my mother was puking on the side of the road that my Dad thought to check his pockets to make sure that 100 dollar bill was still there.
Cargo pants. Pocket, after pocket, after pocket. No money. Every crevice of the car. No money. The ground? No money.
My Dad completely lost a hundred dollars and my mother was on the verge of dying...or at least it seemed that way.
We all told him it was okay and that in the grand scheme of things that 100 hundred dollar bill was no big deal. Perhaps someone who needed more than we did found it.
But still. It does burn to just lose a hundred dollars and have nothing fun to show for it. Let's be for real here...no tacky souvenir, no night not spent in the parking lot of freakin' Walmart, no 5 course meal. Just a lost large bill of money.
At this point we struggled to make it down the mountain we'd just come up. Between Mom's puking and holding on to the seat for dear life at every curve, my Dad's meltdown over his lost money and mine and Jonathan's horrible decision to fore go breakfast that morning...we were a mess.
I'd started wishing I was home. If you read this blog you know that traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do...EVER. But for the first time in my life I was over it. Over this trip. Over the clothes I was wearing. Over being in that stupid car. Over all of it.
In the meantime we drove through Asheville...semi lost...yet again, because my father has an innate inability to listen to my directions...*cough* *cough*. Jon and I had him stop at a DQ where we shared a chicken strip basket between the two of us and the dogs.
Mom threw up some more.
Dad checked his wallet for the millionth time.
His plan was now to head to the hotel we'd been promised a room at to check in, regroup...sleep and then see if tomorrow improved.
I'll be honest...I was against the idea. He said he didn't think he could possibly drive the rental car home, Mom was incapacitated and I wasn't 25.
I think you know where this is going.
I told him I figured it was a perfectly acceptable moment to invoke the clause that must be in the rental contract: when the parents are out of commission...the 23 year old can drive the car. At this point, he didn't think that was such a great idea.
So we went to the hotel. Walked into the lobby. Waited in line while a woman requested an extra towel for the pool. Waited again while another person needed something else. And then it happened.
The very minute my Dad opened his mouth to announce we were there to check in...the power when out for the entire street.
No doubt because we, with the worst luck ever, had walked in the door. And we were told they probably couldn't process our reservation until power was restored.
That was it. I'd had enough.
Which is how we invoked the imaginary rule that said this 23 year old could drive the rental car. And how I drove 5 1/2 hours home from Asheville, North Carolina on 2 hours of sleep, a puking Mom in the front seat and the sleeping brother/father/dogs in the back.
And how, as God is my witness, I'll never not meticulously plan another vacation so long as I live. As it turns out...my anal retentiveness when it comes to vacations is kind of a good thing sometimes.
However, it was...if nothing else, an experience. For that I'm grateful...I guess.