The Vacation Choices http://vacationchoices.com/ salesman sat down in front of our table, took a pen out of his pocket and started to sketch out the remarkable, life-changing savings we’d experience if only we would hurry up and be the first couple in the room to sign up for a $9,999 membership with an annual service fee of $390. For that, we would get incredibly cheap rates on air fare, hotels, and everything else associated with luxury travel. We could to to Vegas and stay in the best suite for $50 a night, look at the Eiffel Tower out our window for mere francs, stay in a house on stilts in the shallows of the ocean and watch the fishies through the glass floor at night (how could it be glass…it was something you could see through). This last one almost put me over the edge. There is absolutely nothing that I love more than water and vista and then to add FISHIES!!!
“Sorry, we’re not buying,” my husband told the guy after he’d finished his remarkable analytical drawing of how much money we would save. I wondered how many times that day he’d drawn the same thing. Did it work? It’s a powerful sales tool. My dad used to use that technique when he sat down with poor folks in Detroit to sell them a new Muntz TV with a genuINE silverized picture tube, whatever that was. He told me later, only a little embarrassed, that all picture tubes then were silverized but that it sounded good and made people want to pay the extra money. Ok, Dad.
After the salesman got the message that we really weren’t buying, he told us that, in order to get our ‘free’ tickets, we had to stay another hour. It seemed like our punishment for not falling for the sales pitch. Fuck you, I immediately thought, and then I reconsidered. Golly, if we’re really going to get two free tickets to Hawaii and three nights in a hotel for coming to this sales presentation, we can figure out how to sit here for an hour. So my husband and I started to yak. This is our best thing. We never have moments of silence.
So what we started talking about was how all these places that the Vacation Choices looked great but what we really liked to do is to be where nobody else is. Which is how we ended up almost going up Dead Couple’s Pass.
We were driving back to Wisconsin from California in November. We drove through Yosemite, through the Nevada desert and then north to Yellowstone, aiming for the entrance that was still open after the early (November 15) winter closings. We took that open road through Yellowstone. It was dusk, getting darker by the minute. The road was clear but we were happy to end up in a small town just outside the park limits. Big question was – do we press on to Cody, Wyoming, or stay put?
“Let’s just press on,” my husband said. He always had six more hours of driving in him no matter how far we’d gone. But when we reached the road out of town to Cody, the sign said ROAD CLOSED. We stopped in a gas station. “So what’s the deal with the road closed?” we asked. “Ah, it’s nothing. We’re all still using the road. It’s just the officials getting extra cautious. The road’s fine. Go ahead.”
It was snowing.
My husband and I have a thing. Neither of us wants to look scared, especially him. Basically, we were contemplating taking a road that was a pass through the mountains at 11,000 feet, in the pitch dark, in the snow. I took him off the hook this time by telling him that we’d end up like the people we’d read about who had gotten stuck in the Rockies and ended up eating their shoes. Besides we had BowWow in the car, our faux brave Bischon, who had spent the trip perched on the console between us making us the perfect Travels with Charley dreamboat. The prospect of getting stuck in the snow with our little circus dog was too awful to contemplate so I told him it was freaking me out and we needed to stay in town.
So we went back into the little town where they had all told us not be afraid of the stupid, over-cautious ROAD CLOSED sign and we went to the only motel there was. Bates.
They opened the kitchen for us and while we waited for dinner (fried chicken – that’s what there was for dinner, don’t get fussy), a cat walked around our table, making it clear who was on whose turf. We ate and went to bed in a room with the plywood feel that I know so well from life in the U.P. Thin walls, thin doors, and, in this case, plenty to see outside including a buffalo in the yard. At 4 in the morning, BowWow pranced and barked (as Bischons are prone to doing), alerting us to the man ‘out back’ who was what? shoveling snow? Who knows.
We could NOT wait to leave in the morning. We packed up, went briefly to inspect the road to Cody, saw that it was really snow-covered, turned the car around, went back through Yellowstone, leaving Dead Couple’s Pass for another couple of fools, and we happened on the most extraordinary occasion of a beautiful pack of wolves just across the river from the road walking about in the white. We would not have seen them had we not turned back.
The accident of that, not knowing what happens next, only having our car and each other, a credit card, and a sense of humor – that’s my vacation choice.
Oh, by the way, the free airline tickets? Hmmmm. $100 plus $75 for each person plus……you get the idea. Don’t do it, folks!