Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Vacation Nightmare

Posted June 24, 2008

It started out like the Vacation from Hades. It ended quite heavenly.

With that headline I’d like for you to comment on your most dramatic vacation when something unexpected happened and forced you to alter your plans.

I read a book title the other day that intrigued me. It was Divine Chaos. Maybe that’s what I experienced last week.

Here’s the scenario. We’re driving to our mountain cabin near Roaring Gap. I’m on my cell phone with a nice home construction expert Donny McCall of Sparta talking about some repairs I’d like to make to our place. Donny agrees to stop by, take a look and give me an estimate. We arrive. The weather is perfect. We’re all ready for a wonderful and relaxing week.

I walk to the back side of the house and notice puddles of water on the patio. I rush inside and my worst fears are realized. Two inches of water fill the downstairs level. I run into the utility room and see the culprit. A pipe fitting has snapped. Water coming up from our well is gushing out on the floor. I push back a yellow lever and the water flow stops. I turn off the water pump.

A gush of thoughts is running through my head. The smell indicates the water break is still pretty fresh. There’s no hint of mildew or a musty smell. My son Will jumps into action and begins taking furniture out. It’s great to have a tall and strapping young man in the family who doesn’t have to be told what to do. My wife Cindy gets on the phone to report the problem to our insurance company and then finds a special team out of Wilkesboro that can come that evening to stabilize the situation and remove the carpet and padding the next day. Will and I work quickly to get the heavy bedroom furniture out.

Donny McCall calls to say he can stop by tomorrow to give me an estimate on those home repairs. I ask him if he knows a plumber who can make an emergency call. He does and he calls him immediately. An hour later Kelly Bartley arrives and quickly fixes the plumbing problem so we can use the house. Meanwhile, a top notch water damage restoration team headed by the Johnson brothers Dennis and Gary arrives and begins the task of drying our downstairs area with a battery of dryers and dehumidifers.

It’s late but there’s a nice pizza place in Sparta and I think they’re still open. I make the drive, order up a couple of large pizzas and return home. We’re starving and the food tastes great. We relive the moments of the day and one word keeps coming back: gratitude. I am grateful for a great family and kind and caring people like Donny McCall, Kelly Bartley and Dennis and Gary Johnson. I am also grateful that we caught the problem before it destroyed our house.

We were able to open the windows and relax. A beautiful orange moon rose over Tar Heel Ridge. Stars popped out all over the clear cool sky. We sat out on our deck and gave thanks and just soaked up the beauty of the heavens. Life can be quiet, sweet and simple in the mountains away from the internet and cable spite of the flood.


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  • cagerat42 Jun 25, 2008

    Fancy Gap is about 20 mins.north of Mt.Airy.Yes Barney did mention Fancy Gap.He and Andy were looking moonshiners.

  • KevInApex Jun 25, 2008


    I couldn't fit my bad vacation experience in the 1000 character limit so I blogged about it instead.

  • jdlewis76 Jun 25, 2008

    Barney once mentioned Fancy Gap when he and Andy were looking for moonshiners. It's actually in Virginia. Did you get your pizza at the Pizzeria?

  • bleslie Jun 25, 2008

    I am not familiar with Fancy Gap. Roaring Gap is located on Highway 21 about 30 minutes north of Elkin and 12 miles or so from Sparta.

  • cagerat42 Jun 25, 2008

    Can't remember ever having a bad vacation expierence.I will
    agree that the North Carolina Mts.are the best place to take
    a vacation.I don't really care for the beach.Bill how far is
    Roaring Gap from Fancy Gap.My parents have retired and built
    a log cabin there.That is where my boys and I will be spending
    July 4th week.My wife for some reason would rather go to Chigago
    for a wedding.Don't understand that.Hopefully the mountain skies will be clear for viewing some good firework displays.

  • ajstarrrn Jun 25, 2008

    The trip that comes to my mind is last year when we went to a cabin in Boone over Easter break. My husband woke up with a stomach virus that morning, so I decided to go ahead and take the kids myself (ages 3&6). The trip was uneventful and we found the office and the cabin easily. I will be kind and sa that the cabin didn't look exactly like it did on the website. There was a bat in the fireplace, spiders all over the place, and I couldn't get the heater turned cell phone had no signal...I had to drive back to the office to ask the man to help me with the heater..It was freezing cold outside (not quite the forecast we remember getting on the weather channel website!) and there was snow/ice all over the place from a recent snow (the kids did love that part)..we finally did get warm and my husband made it up late that night. The whole week was very cold/foggy/misty, but we enjoyed seeing some of the sights, and, as always, we really enjoyed each other on our week of vacation!

  • Celt Jun 24, 2008

    My advisor in grad school went on vacation in California--just before the biggest flood in decades hit Chicago. His basement was flooded to the ceiling. That would have been bad enough--but his entire library was in the basement! He came home a week later to find thousands of books underwater.

  • Drifter Jun 24, 2008

    What good came out of this trip? Well the ranger, realizing that we probably didn't do anything wrong (as other people around us said they didn't hear anything), told us of a place that we could go camping that would 'make as much noise as we wanted' and 'stay up as late without issue' in Nantahala National Forest. We've been camping there, next to a stream and a waterfall, ever since.

  • Drifter Jun 24, 2008

    Well one of the rules of my campouts is absolutely no alcohol. They start to threaten us with jailtime if they find "any alcohol or drugs on any of the people with our group." They obviously, got nothing out of us. They started digging through every single trashcan in the whole camping area. No alcohol. They search all of our vehicles. No alcohol.

    So they switch tactics and try to accuse us of stealing our camping spot and the firewood. Lo and behold, they see that we did actually pay for enough campsites for all the people in our group. And we even paid more for wood than they wanted.

    Then they find out about the door. Finally they have something to blame on us. And we admitted that the door fell apart. They fined all of the guys (five total) that went to the bathroom that night $100 each. They also decided to ban all of us from going to the Great Smokeys. They didn't say if that was a lifetime ban (Oops, I've broken that one several times) or just for that summer season.

  • Drifter Jun 24, 2008

    So morning rolls around. Some lady yells at us, even though we're all asleep in our tents at this point. She made comments about how we "kept them up all night" and she was trying to wake us up as an attempt to ruin our morning. One of the guys with us said "You're welcome!" and that's when she clucked her way to the ranger station and decided to get them involved.

    Rangers come out. They make us all get up. They tell us to pack up and leave immediately. So we start doing that since we didn't want to cause a stink. Then another ranger comes out, and they separate us (after we've packed and we're ready to go). They accuse us of exhibiting "fraternity like behavior". They ask for our IDs and such.

    Did I mention this was my 21st birthday? Yeah. So naturally the little lightbulb dings "They're getting drunk to celebrate her birthday". That's when the drug and alcohol questions start getting asked.





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Bill Leslie