Tuesday, August 16, 2011

With 10 You Get Bedrolls, And Veggie Burgers

By Sheilah Zimpel

From the VRBO website: “Relax and enjoy your vacation at this great getaway in the mountains, located 15 minutes to the heart of Brevard, and Hendersonville, 10 minutes to Asheville Airport, 20 minutes to Asheville, 10 minutes to the entrance of Pisgah National Forest, you can't go wrong.
From the upper level of the cottage, the view from a large deck is breath taking. Overlooking a 5 acre private fishing pond, with a view of the beautiful mountains of Pisgah National Forest in the background. Take a stroll across the pond in the paddle boat. Wet a hook and reel in your catch. The pond is stocked with bass & bream trout & catfish. (Catch and release, please)
From the lower level, relax on a long covered deck overlooking a small stocked pond with koy & bream. A comfortable sitting area for dining outside, porch swing & chairs are provided for your comfort.
This cottage is located 10 minutes from Pisgah National Forest where you have to see and enjoy Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, the Blue Ridge Parkway and many more attractions. Spend your day horseback riding, hiking, floating the river, picnicing and more. Visit the Biltmore House in Asheville, the Brevard Music Center,the Flat Rock Playhouse in Hendersonville and much much more.”

It sounds so idyllic, doesn’t it? Add 8 to 10 adults, 3 kids, and enough pullout couches to cover every square foot of the place. Add a four-lane highway a stone’s throw away. Throw in a pond off the back deck that’s unfishable and a porch ceiling fan that sounds like a Chinook taking to the sky. Cook at 95 F for 4 nights and 5 days.
Instant *extended* family vacation. Feeds 10-20, or 2 vegetarians.
Saw some mountains while I was there, but not from our “cabin nestled at the edge of the Pisgah.” No, we had to drive in, which had easy access from the end of our diveway onto the much-travelled highway that went into the heart of Brevard. Became intimately familiar with the O.P. Taylor toy store.

Dave said Dylan and I wouldn’t last a day. But he underestimated his son’s desire to be with cousins, family, which we don’t get much of. We put him to shame by lasting all week, sleeping on a pullout-couch together. Ever sleep with a kid? Then you know. The first night we tried a fat blowup bed on top of the pullout, but somehow, I dunno -- too many monkeys jumping on the bed? -- it punctured, leaving Dylan nestled like a rock on a fluffy cloud, slowly deflating.

Dylan caught the first fish, dubbed miracle ones, for the broken rod & reel he used and the lack of bait. He counts fishing among the best parts of the vacation, and I was impressed with the kids’ ability to wait patiently for a bite. Only one kid fell in. His next favorite was the paddleboat, and watching the blue heron and geese and ducks and goslings take flight, land, and feed. An ace cornhole player, who happened to be a fast-pitch softball pitcher in high school, aptly dubbed Cornho Queen...you know, that game we called BEAN BAG TOSS in kindergarten in the '60s.

Big breakfasts, dinner made for you, playing Apples to Apples late (and seeing how closely your thoughts align with your brother, which was scary), Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, and a nearby coffeehouse.
All in all, I’d say it was the typical family vacation—too many bodies, not enough space, too hot, too far, too long, too much—just like real families, only more so. Too many Moms, but not the one we missed. No privacy, no peace and quiet, dietary restrictions, late nights and early wakings, vegetarian nieces and too much meat. One threat of drowning and some fish you had to throw back, a pond you couldn’t swim in. Only one bite by a 4-year-old to an 8-year-old's back.

Did you know you can get nightmares from watching the Waltons? Dylan did—and that’s the perfect metaphor for this summer’s *family* vacation: too damn many people living on top of each other in the country can be a harrowing experience, but it’s family, so we're grateful for it anyway.

Shut up, John Boy.


  1. Ah, family, can't live with 'em, can't vacation without 'em! Good night, Mary Ellen...

  2. I read this to Mike's Mom and Dad while we were all together at the beach. They loved it! You hit the mark, bought the farm and survived! I sooo understand the pull out couch situation, and my back should recover shortly!


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