A few weekends ago, Trever, Sarah, and I decided to take a little weekend trip up to the cabin. The vacation cabin in North Arkansas that my parents purchased in 2018 and completely renovated was a godsend during the first summer and fall of the pandemic but we haven’t been up there as much the past year or so. As I am sure everyone knows from past posts and pictures, the aforementioned abode is in the middle of the woods. Because of the location and the fact that it isn’t occupied, we always have to take measures against rodents. We made a trip up in early June to clean up the place, dust off the cobwebs, check the mousetraps (a necessary evil) and thought it was staycation ready.
The Friday in question, after Trever was done with work for the day, we made the hour and half drive north with Jack, Sarah’s diabetic cat, in tow. My mom was dog sitting but Jack’s schedule can be difficult with his insulin administration and since we were only going to the cabin, we decided not to board him at the vet. We got some food for the road and arrived in the late evening…and it was HOT. We had just added a second air conditioning unit but with the cabin being shut up for weeks it would take a while to cool down. As we were unloading and putting things away – including picking up mouse traps so Jack wouldn’t trip them – Trever noted that the peanut butter was gone from some traps but they weren’t sprung. That’s when Sarah spotted the first small little dark sprinkle on the edge of the sink. I put my expert mouse excrement assessment skills to the test and verified it was indeed a mouse poopy. This was disconcerting since we had just cleaned the week before.
Now I live with creatures who poop and pee in my floor on the regular. For some reason, the mouse droppings seem so much worse. Look up hantavirus; I’ll wait. (well then look up the actual incidences of hantavirus in the United States but my skewed mind does not do well separating fear from fact). I cleaned the area up, and then went to fill the ice trays on top of the microwave with some bottled water. I found more sprinkles in the trays and I decided that this weekend stay was going to be a big nope! It was clear there were squatters in our midst. I want to stop here and acknowledge that for the average person (I don’t want to say normal – typical maybe?) this would probably be a minor issue. They would clean up and go about their business as planned. But I felt myself spiraling into a “what if” vortex of wondering where they had run across, what germs they may have left behind, and feeling the need to clean and disinfect every surface. Not knowing what had and had not been “contaminated” – welcome to my mind folks, it’s real hard to live here sometimes – had me in a panic. If I had been more sensible, we could have spent an hour giving the cabin a once over and it would have been fine. But again, I was mentally checked out!
Another fun little personality trait I have is making plans, arriving at a destination, and then deciding I want to be somewhere else. This is not entirely my fault and is quite possibly genetic (cough Shirley Temple). For my senior trip, my parents took me by my request to Washington, D.C. Once we were there, I decided I would rather be in Colorado so we turned around and drove west. When the kids were small we were staying in the Smoky Mountains and left early, deciding to go to a beach (as an aside we left early because the rental company came in our cabin without permission and well….spiral). We drove to Myrtle Beach and then down to Savannah, Georgia before we gave up and headed home. So fleeing the scene is not an unprecedented travel style for me.
In any event, I did not want to be there with the mess – however small it was – and we decided maybe we should just regroup and take a little road trip. Why not? We had Jack with us, but some hotels accept pets, right? We had some credit card points for hotel nights and found one in Eureka Springs (a mere 2 hours away) so we went for it. Spontaneity and adventure put into motion by intrusive thoughts and anxiety! Trever and Sarah loaded the car back up because I was having a bit of a rodent related meltdown. Then we set off.
Jack was a surprisingly good traveler. In the past, he has had some potty accidents if he had to travel too long but we made it to the hotel without incident. When we arrived, we were very disappointed in the hotel’s exterior – it was owned by Wyndham but it was a Super 8 chain that had seen better days. But it was free and we would simply be spending the night. Because the doorways were exterior access, we didn’t bother mentioning Jack and just snuck him in under a blanket like the furry baby he is. The room was acceptable but worn. Thankfully it had a good A/C so we cranked it down and discussed what to do the next day before getting some sleep.
The next morning we packed up our things and found a nearby Best Western that both accepted pets and had good reviews. So I gave them a call to request an early check in and they thankfully had a room ready. When she asked if we just had one dog, I paused a tick too long and then said the wrong thing – that he was in fact, a cat. To which she replied that they didn’t accept cats. To which I replied…nothing. I had already made the reservation so I just sat in silence and she said she would have to speak to her manager. When she came back on the phone, she told me that they would make an exception since their website wasn’t clear on their pet policy. So off we went, escaping into the summer morning with our secret boy bundled in a blanket this time like so much dirty laundry!
The thing about Eureka Springs is that it is historical and quaint. You visit the town for the atmosphere, the music, the culture, the art, not the five star accommodations. The Best Western Inn of the Ozarks was a standard roadside hotel/motel. Upon check in, the clerk said if I was the customer who had called with the dog? And I, not being fluent in the language of hotelier clandestine activities, and/or just being daft, said “no he’s a cat, remember?” To which she replied with a knowing wink, “no, I believe he is a dog.” Okay, there was no knowing wink. More like an eye roll that indicated “you dumbass I’m trying to help you here”.
The room was clean and updated and had a “shared balcony” – which meant there was a back door that had access to a walkway that ran the length of the building. Again, it wasn’t the Ritz but we wanted some relaxation and downtime. The room was a touch warm but we turned down the air conditioning and Trever and I left out to find us some lunch – which in Eureka Springs is no easy feat. There are tons of restaurants, cafes, and bars but fast food is hard to come by. So it was Subway and McD’s for our mid-day meal. I then proceeded to attempt to read and relax, my core ambitions for the weekend. Jack enjoyed wandering around begging food off our lunches. After we ate and rested a bit, Trever was ready to go again. We hated to leave Jack in the hotel alone, especially since he was in disguise as a canine. Plus I was TIRED! So Sarah and Trever went off to some antique shops wile I stayed with Jack. We took a nap. All was well.
At the afternoon wore on, we noticed the room really was still quite warm and wasn’t cooling down much. But it was the beginning of this current heat wave we are still in and in an older hotel with older air conditioning units the A/C probably just could not keep up. As we discussed what to do and where to go for dinner, none of us could get particularly enthused about going back out in the heat; since records highs were again forecast for Sunday, we began to accept that this weekend would be a wash.
We decided just to get takeout and, as it was Father’s Day weekend, we let Trever pick dinner and he choose The Thai House (not my fave type of cuisine but I ordered some coconut shrimp and called it good). Again, Jack enjoyed the fact we had nowhere to hide from him while we ate and he harassed everyone for their dinner. The room wasn’t getting much cooler at all but we did not want the hassle to have someone come in and look at it and/or to have to move rooms. So we decided we would just deal with it for the night and leave the next day.
Trever and I went back out to get some ice cream and ride around town in the twilight and decided this was just one weekend that wasn’t meant to be. I suppose we will file it away in the misadventures category and hope our next trip is a bit more successful!
The only pictures I took were of Jack, one deer and a church! Enjoy.
Karri Temple Brackett
June 10, 2022