vacation

The Path to a Broken Promise

 

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I know that I left readers hanging with a “Name these insects” post last month, but I must address a timely topic.

Approximately 8 1/2 months ago, I issued this decree: if Trump wins the presidency, we’ll make Ireland our new home.

That was back in February, when the kids and I were enjoying an Irish road trip, and the chance to stay sounded dreamy. (Sidenote: I did not consult Martin before making my grand announcement.) At the time, six Republican nominees vied for the top spot, though Trump’s outlandish comments and quotes dominated the news cycle. Despite his treasure trove of whacky soundbites, Trump was generally regarded as the big joke. Not a “real” candidate.

Which is why I made a bet I couldn’t lose. For certain, Trump’s political success had a short shelf life. And if by some miracle he bested his Republican brethren, so what?  What were the odds that he’d actually win?

It was impossible.

I didn’t worry a whit, even as the party’s nominees fizzled in the primaries and Trump stood atop the rubble. I didn’t fret during the summer or even yesterday morning, as the kids parsed the hypothetical move overseas — which barn cats would go or stay, which horses would make the move, and would we buy or rent a house. I remained confident about my sure-fire gamble.

Until last night.

As I watched the results roll in, I mulled over the fact that I’d bought the media hype and blindly assumed that Trump’s presidential success was impossible. In truth, it was implausible and improbable. But never impossible.

I decided that a salve for the kids would come in cash reparations. And I figured that $200 was the fair-market price for a broken promise of this magnitude. Sure, I’d be out $600, but it was worth it to buy back their trust.

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This morning I awoke the kids and prepared to grovel. But first, I turned on the TV and let them soak in the results. They were astonished and dismayed. In an agonized chorus they shouted, “Noooooo!” in response to the news.

Actually, they appeared to be in physical pain over Trump, and I hadn’t even mentioned my plans to reneg on my promise.

Hadley was dismayed to discover her hopes for a female president dashed, but she was easy to placate on the Irish front.

She accepted my apology. However, she declined a cash settlement.

“I don’t want money,” she said.

“You don’t? Well, what do you want?” I asked.

“I want a sleepover, with one of my friends.”

Manageable, certainly economical. “Done,” I said.

Brynn wasn’t nearly as conciliatory. In fact, she was outraged over both the outcome of the election, and my bait-and-switch tactics. “You promised! You CAN’T break your promise!” she yelled, slapping the coffee table for emphasis. “You said we are moving! So we are moving! We. Are. Moving. To. IRELAND!!”

“I know I said that, but we’re not. And I’m sorry. But what about money? I’ll give you two hundred dollars, instead. Two hundred dollars.”

“I don’t want money! You said we’d move to Ireland if Trump becomes president!”

“Brynn, we are not moving,” I said firmly. “It’s not happening, okay? What about a vacation? Another trip to Ireland this winter? How about that?” Cayden nodded with approval, while Brynn glowered.

“Fine,” she muttered with disgust. “We can go to Ireland on vacation,” she said, pausing before adding, “…as long as that vacation lasts for four years!!”

I sighed and tabled the topic so they could ready for school. But the issue remains unresolved.

And while my money is probably safe, my word is devalued, especially in Brynn’s eyes. It will take time to repair my tarnished reputation.

I think that I can bolster my back-pedaling, by pointing out that there’s really no escape from Trump. His footprints are everywhere — even on Irish soil.

He owns a golf club and hotel resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. There too, Trump plans to build a wall — a 20-meter wide barrier — to combat coastline erosion.

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Aquatic Life

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Last week we returned from a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard… where our internet connection was blissfully spotty. That’s why I never bothered to post the answer to the Name Another Insect entry.

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But my neighbor Liz was first to chime in correctly. This lithe, little insect pictured is an adult mayfly. I can’t speak with certainty to the species, but Lee Miller suggested Hexagenia limbata, and based on a web search, that’s a pretty good guess.

Mayflies may spend a year or more in an aquatic immature stage, but just a single day in adulthood. I suspect that our mudroom visitor was a male — females tend to die closer to their water source/mating ground. Either way, it’s likely that this one lived a lifetime in a day.

So there you go, bug brainiacs!

Before I return to farm fodder — yes, endless alliteration — here are a few more pictures of aquatic activity from our summer outpost. (Maisie was our ever-present canine lifeguard.)

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Clueless on Vacation

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Last week, with two kids shipped off to sleep-away camp in West Virginia, I realized that we could slip away for a few days… if only we pawned off the remaining kid.

Martin and I did just that, and Wednesday, we hit the road for four days and nights. Our first stop: a resort in southern Virginia, a dozen miles shy of the North Carolina line.

We drove for hours down I-81, then plunged into the remote farmland and wilderness of Carroll and Patrick Counties. Our cell phone signal quickly evaporated and GPS struggled to emit directions. Near our destination, we stopped at a country store which offered local fare: homegrown produce, pickled eggs, salted pork, and Confederate emblazoned lawn ornaments.

We were torn between the Confederate flying pig and the racist rooster. Decisions, decisions.

 

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From there, it was just 5 miles to the resort. Or rather, the resort’s security gate — a sturdy, locked gate manned by a guard. A gate keeping out…who? The locals?

No need for a gate. It was another 7 winding miles to the main lodge. The resort, called Primland, sits atop 12,000 pristine acres. Its challenging and picturesque golf course attracts avid fans of the sport. But we were there for the hiking, the view, and the peace and quiet.

And it was peaceful, Alarmingly so. Rarely did we spot more than a few guests at a time, and all the while, the resort staff circled, magically appearing before we asked. They were so attentive, practically sensing what we needed. I soon wondered if this gated and immaculately maintained property was inhabited by zombies — while we and the reclusive guests were the only humans trapped inside. (Lately, I’ve been binging on episodes of the show, “Wayward Pines,” which fueled these thoughts.)

But enough about the creepy quiet and the friendly, overly attentive staff.

The place was fabulous.

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Here’s our room — located not in the lodge, but in one of the many cottages:

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A room with a view:

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After two days of hiking, eating and relaxing, we loaded up the car on Friday and made our way back up I-81. Next stop, the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. When we left Primland, the staff mentioned “some flooding” at Greenbrier, but that was it. In a cellular silent area, no flash-flood warnings chimed from our phones, and the radio station focused on the recent death of bluegrass legend, Ralph Stanley.

Only when we neared White Sulphur Springs, was the devastation apparent. We spotted fences flattened or uprooted, then mountain slides, and homes surrounded by murky, watery moats. In several places, the road was nibbled away and as we drew closer, we encountered big bites from the asphalt, with rushing water filling the gaps. I skirted around a “road closed” sign and navigated the flooded route  —  which was really quite stupid. But we were oblivious to the extent of the damage.

What was we found was a town of 2,400 torn apart by flooding. Most of the water had receded but the restaurants and shops were clogged with mud and mountainside run-off. Houses were splintered and unmoored from their foundations, and cars hung from trees. The town was darkened without power and telephone poles were sheared off and dangling from their lines. People walked along the road, dazed and in shock.

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When we arrived at the Greenbrier, the security guard chirped, “Checking in?” as if nothing was amiss. But he admitted that the flooding was bad: the area received 9 1/2 inches of rain, sometimes falling at a rate of 2 inches an hour. We pulled up to the dark, hallowed shell of the resort and confirmed that we weren’t checking in. The receptionist was relieved; they were staying open for a night for those unable to travel, but the hotel rooms had no power, the restaurants provided no food, and the casino and golf course were water-logged. We pressed on to Lexington, Virginia and stayed a night there before arriving home.

Here’s the Greenbrier golf course a day before we arrived:

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On that Friday afternoon when we arrived in White Sulphur Springs and took it all in, we were hit with a feeling of alarm. Hadley and Cayden’s camp was just 60 miles away. With cell phone service restored, Martin quickly called the camp. All was well, the staff told us. They received lots of rain, but dodged the storm’s epicenter. And the sun was back out. The kids were unaware of the damage and destruction just one county away.

Blissfully unaware. As kids at camp should be.

 

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