For over eight years The Chad and I have been deprived of a REAL vacation. You know the kind where you request paid time off with your employer with that hard earned vacation time that generally get’s paid out on your check. The kind where you actually leave home and relax. Yes, this is the vacation we have been seeking. While we took a small “vacation” to San Diego a few years ago where we treated the kids to a full day at the beach and Legoland, the vacation could be classified more so as a trip. We managed to squeeze in a “mini-vacation” for the kids while The Chad was working in the Southern California area at the time.
This year we vowed to actually take the kids on an adventure vacation in the states. Visiting the beach was definitely on the list and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary. We also wanted to avoid theme parks and canned vacations s at ALL costs. So my Google search began to find unique places to stay and keep within our earthy, love of the outdoors, family style vacation without going too granola. I had found it too, and wish I could recall how I came upon the idea of sleeping in a tee pee. Yes, I said tee pee. As in Native American, triangular, authentic, tee pee. A KOA located in the midst of an agricultural mecca (Ojai) between Santa Barbara and Santa Paula had these fantastic six to eight man tee pee’s to sleep in. “BINGO!” I told myself. Now pitching to The Chad was another task, I knew the kids would buy in, but would The Chad.
My master powers of persuasion were of superior quality in selling this family vacation, out-of-state and pseudo camping. Now we would gain the popular vote of the kids to see if they really wanted to trudge through crowds of cattle at the theme parks, or go camping in a tee pee. Thankfully my kids shared in my granola spirit to enjoy the great outdoors and spend time as a family sans modern technology and instantly gratifying, cartoon infested parks. Now to plan the drive as the camp area was at least an eight hour drive from home and not a journey either of us wanted to take in one shot. So we mapped the half way point which landed us in Palm Springs. Then we had to decide on our stay since it was literally just a midway for us during the vacation and did not have to be anything spectacular. But when I say it did not have to be spectacular it also did not have to mean it lacked ANY and ALL redeeming qualities.
I booked our stay at the Days Inn through Hotels.com and considering our past visits with the Days Inn we “assumed” these accomodations would be as convenient and agreeable. Oh how wrong I was! I booked a Deluxe with each stay and the deluxe afforded me the second story, which I specifically requested NOT to be booked. Small children and lugging bags is not deluxe if YOU are the concierge. The room lacked ANY form of caffeine for the early risers. A lot of good the microwave and fridge does me when I need caffeine for my morning beast. The sheets were…clean…if you could call them that. A mascara smear stained on the sheets in the fashion that the previous user received a good ol’ snogging doggy style, presumably. If you wanted to clean up and take a shower, I hope you are at least knee high to a grasshopper, because resting on your knees would afford you the chance to wet and rinse your hair and body, and if you got lucky a scalding, high heat rinse would complete your washing experience as to remove any form of germs on your body followed by an ice showering to close and tighten those aging pores. Finally the “heating and cooling” system, which was similar to a window AC unit a fraternity brother installed. We had to shim the venting with an empty bottle of shampoo in order to circulate any air in the room. Needless to say I was anxious to go camping than I was to be in this shady ass excuse for hotel accommodations. But look at that happy Photoshop family picture and the site boasts the boutique hotel? HOGWASH!!
On the road again and we were KOA bound to roast marshmallows and camp out in a tee pee. We could not be more excited.
We arrived at a reasonable time in the afternoon to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the cool of the shade in this little gem outside of Santa Paula and Ojai. Our tee pee was the largest on the property and we plotted out where everything would go, such as our camp stove, sleeping arrangements and we immediately began prepping dinner with cooking filet mignon over the open fire. I ran up to the check in area and wrangled some firewood for the evening in addition to what we scrounged around the camp area. Too busy dealing with the twins who were eager to inspect the public restrooms, which did not exist at the check in, I completely spaced reminding the camp head that we needed our heater for our tee pee which was provided as part of our package. Instead, I became distracted and attempting to distract S & S while waiting for the camp head by shopping the little general store area. Of which I found a cork screw for my bottle of chardonnay. Yes, I digressed, but sought relief in the impending alcohol indulgence. I also bought the firewood, wrangled gnomes, and immediately forgot the propane heater. BANNER!
By this time I had returned to our tee pee and was greeted by the hubs and half throwing the little people out of the car so they could scurry to the bathroom for the urgency to pee that didn’t exist, because they promptly returned to playing. Grrrr. His greeting was, “Forgot the heater huh? Isn’t that the reason you went up to the check in office?” Wanting to cry and kick his ass all at once for 1 – planning this God forsaken trip by myself with little input, 2 – doing ALL the packing for the trip within an hours time before loading humans into the car to depart, and 3 – for not making sure that the gnome sized humans stayed with him so I could focus on getting the goddamned heater. Sighs. After we went around about the cluster fuck situation I just had to deal with, he finally headed up to get the heater, and then returned empty handed. Great. I am sure this will be my fault. At this point I have pretty much said “fuck it” to the remainder of this trip, nothing else could be redeeming, and it pretty much wasn’t.
Freezing our asses off that night ,shortly after the front loaders and earth movers kicked off for the night, which was right around the ripe hour of 7pm we agreed we would not stay another night. The plan to camp in a tee pee was great in theory, but the cascade of events was not worth our trip continuing to take a shit.
The next morning we packed and headed off toVentura, where we stayed in the lovely Marriott Hotel. Which clearly was made for anorexic, petite people because they don’t believe in queen size beds. I won’t bore you further with these details, but the price was stupid for the discomfort, the only redeeming quality, COFFEE. IN. ROOM. Joy and rapture folks, joy.and.rapture. The day we arrived we spent basking in the sun on the beach. Which is exactly what we wanted to do, and did, and loved. The kids loved it. They even rode a zip line which is the other reason we chose the camp site we did, for the kids adventure activities. Which were nil and no longer offered during the “week.” LAME. Of course we did not find this out until the evening before checking out where the groundskeeper (who shared in our disdain for the construction on site at our campground) that the kids activities were only on the weekends. But the website said the activities are “always going on.” Details Karie…don’t get stuck on the details.
Our final day we trekked back to Palm Springs and the hell of the Days Inn, where check in is supposedly at 2pm…negative Goose. The check in is at 3pm and we were luck to get a room when we did, since housekeeping was still making rounds. But the next morning they were sure prompt to clean our room at 9am, I mean we didn’t even work up a morning deuce after breakfast before they were dressing the “linens” on the bed. Not to mention the “free continental breakfast” meant waiting in line at the diner on site to obtain coffee and a danish. Classy.
At last the trip came to an end and I could not have been more freaking grateful to be going HOME! That is when you know the vacation is over, when you are ready to be home, go home, and go back to work. Granted, I am excited our family was able to spend some quality time together, I just wish the trip hadn’t felt so royally fucked over. What did I learn for this vacation? Quit doing the cool shit. Talk to your friends. Get outside feedback. Just today I was told about Jalama Beach outside Santa Barbara, where you camp on the beach. We are there for the next trip. Just beach, just family. But overall the kids had fun, and that was ultimately what mattered is that they had a blast. Seeing the muster of peacocks in our campground, roasting marshmallows, playing on the beach and riding the zip line on the beach. Their enjoyment made the hellish event all worth it!