A Vacation To Remember (Day 1)

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My family and I were very excited about our recent family vacation trip to Nashville, Indiana in Brown County. We were one 4YO, one 6YO and one geriatric poodle lighter the last time we’d been on a family vacation. For that trip we stayed at Songbird Cottage – a trip my 10YO and 12YO still talk about, so needless to say, the idea of another family cabin was quite appealing to everyone.

After reviewing size, pricing, amenities and optimally one where we could bring our dog, we settled on Moonstraka managed by Hills O’ Brown Real Estate. We made our lists, determined what few groceries to take, packed our many bags, double-checked the carsickness kit (a barf bowl, a box of Queasy Pops, a spray bottle of Fabreeze, etc.), borrowed a luggage carrier and we were off! We made it all the way to Nashville with no carsickness and so our hopes for a trouble-free vacation were very high!

Unfortunately, that was all about to change.

First stop, the local IGA (the only grocery store in Nashville) to pick up food for the simple, stress-free meals we’d planned.


My wife dashed in to shop the list. 35 minutes later she came out with several shopping bags containing very little of what we’d “planned”. Turns out the local IGA is much smaller on the inside than it looks. Most of the items we could simply grab at any three grocery stores within five minutes of our house they didn’t have. My wife, using one of her brilliant gifts, quickly improvised three days and nights worth of meal based on what we had, what the IGA had and what would still leave us lots of relaxing time NOT cooking even if we were now another $64 lighter. Plan “A” to improvised Plan “B”. Problem solved!

(NOTE: How do people in Nashville afford to buy groceries when the ONLY store where people can shop overcharges for EVERTHING??? Come on! $1.13 for a can of tuna?!? $5.49 for a 2c bag of shredded cheese?!?)

Next stop, Moonstraka!


First up the steps, my 6YO proceeded to sit down on a deck chair with a large puddle in the seat. At the same moment, my 4YO had a similar wetting on the deck, only not from a deck chair.

casper While we quickly unpacked the van my 12YO took our dog, Casper, for a walk before wrapping him to keep him from marking the furniture. Once wrapped, however, he proceeded to poop on the floor. Another minor inconvenience, but all was still well.

I went to run a bath for the two youngest while my wife prepared some dinner magic. It only took a few minutes for me to learn there was no hot water. I found the water heater in the basement and confirmed . . . it was cold. The pilot was out and I had nothing to light it with. I went upstairs to inform my wife whereupon she informed me the “fully equipped kitchen” lacked a few essential pieces of equipment . . . such as a usable skillet. (Actually, there were two; both were deeply scratched and even a bit rusty, neither of which we felt good about eating from.)

By now it was 8:00pm and the natives were getting restless (and hungry). While I dialed the after-hours emergency paging service to get the water heater running, my wife began to formulate Plan “C” since a portion of the afore mentioned $64 in groceries was now unusable.

Plan “C” was simple, convert the skillet recipe into an oven recipe. Almost anything could be made into a casserole! The only problem was we couldn’t open the door! The programmable oven apparently thought it was in self-clean mode so the latch wouldn’t release to open the door. After fifteen minutes of trying in vain to release it we saw our options for the remaining $64 in food dwindling.

Plan “D” break out the cold cuts!

While my wife prepared sub sandwiches I gave the 4YO and 6YO a quick (rather cold) sponge bath from the bathroom sink, all the while waiting for a call back from maintenance. The paging service said to expect a return call in 20 minutes. After 30 minutes I called the number for the property manager whose son said she wasn’t home but that he would pass along the message. Fifteen minutes later the phone rang and a very friendly man named John said he’d be right out to help.

Finally, some good news! Although, I’m still not sure if he called me back from my initial call or from my follow up call.

Twenty minutes later he arrived and set to work on the furnace while we finished a very late dinner. I told him about the oven and he couldn’t open it either. I suggested we trip the breaker to try and reset the program, but John couldn’t locate the breaker box. Eventually, he was able to coax the oven from self-clean mode, without the need for a total blackout, and the door opened with the helpful suggestion that we not lock it again and apologizing for the “5” strangely displayed on the LCD. We were perfectly content to overlook this minor detail in exchange for being able to cook over the next few days.

Rather than detailing the rest of the surprises we had that first night I’ll just provide a quick rundown:

Here’s a picture of the billiard table. The ball tray is torn off so the billiard balls would come shooting out onto the floor (and our toes!)


Here’s a picture of the hot tub (different than the site photo).
Six pairs of swim suits and no place to soak. 🙁


These, ahem . . . lovely ladies, greeted us in the downstairs bedroom we’d selected for the 10YO and 12YO, but were promptly taken down for the week. (Ack!)



Despite all these amenity failures, we kept reminding ourselves (and each other) we didn’t chose to get away to be pampered, but to reconnect as a family and spend time enjoying each other in an intentional way. From that perspective, we could laugh at the imponderables of vacationing and look forward to what the next few days would bring.

I’ll be posting more on those soon!

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