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Detours and Disasters

Mishpacha Contributors

Whether it’s a car bursting into flames, a snake making his presence known, or a luxurious hotel that wasn’t, some vacations are a real trip

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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A Grand Disaster

Ariella Schiller


It should’ve been great. It could’ve been really great. Only, it wasn’t.

The summer of 2013 found me struggling with severe morning sickness while balancing shanah rishonah responsibilities, working American hours in Israel, and attending college three days a week. In other words? I was a wreck.

When my in-laws offered to fly us in for “an adventure” over summer bein hazmanim, I was all for it. A day at the Grand Canyon, horseback riding through the desert (for those who were not expecting), and then flying off to Los Angeles for Shabbos to stay with my sister and get a little relaxation.

The constant nausea was abating, the college semester was winding down, and we were ready for some fun. My husband and I packed our suitcases, rented out our apartment, and took off for the adventure of a lifetime. What could possibly go wrong?

We arrived in New York a day before our flight to Phoenix, Arizona. From there we’d take a tiny little airplane to Flagstaff, home to the wondrous Canyon. The planes all took off as scheduled. Only thing was… we weren’t on them. We were still at the gate, trying to explain to the nice lady that just because it was 16 minutes to takeoff, that wasn’t a reason not to let us through. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)


Country Mouse Country Snake

Brachi Zeiwald


“Country mice ain’t scared of no snakes,” my father declared. He pointed at the ripple in the grass. I jumped back. The ripple moved closer toward us. And closer. And closer.

And then, just as I was about to scream, he bent down and scooped up the long black snake in his two hands.

“Hello,” he crooned.

The snake looked at him. I took ten steps back.

“It’s a black racer,” my father said. “It’s not poisonous.”

He looked at the snake and bit his lip. “You know, this would be a great gift for the community petting zoo.”

He turned to look for some kind of container that would hold the snake while we took it home. The snake took its chance. It wrapped itself around my father’s arm, a black rope coiling over his skin, like a tefillin strap, but thicker and stronger. And tighter.

My father yanked at it, but the snake only tightened its grip.

And then, slowly, it began to move. Without relinquishing its grip, it began to slither up my father’s arm and toward his neck.

A thousand thoughts pulsed through my mind.

An ambulance.

Fire engine.


Snake catcher — yes, that’s what we needed. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)

On Fire 

N. Weiner


Our cars were always secondhand. My father worked as a CPA and one of his clients, Bobby, was a used-car salesman. They used a barter system: cars in exchange for accounting services. Bobby had what he called a “taillight guarantee” — he took responsibility for the car until he could no longer see the tail-light as you drove out of his garage. Some cars lasted a while and not very long at all....

We weren’t far from our destination when the car began to overheat. Engine trouble, it seemed. Not a shock — the car had been threatening trouble for a while. Smoke poured out from under the hood, an indication that the engine was overheating, so my father pulled over at the side of the road to give it a break and decide what to do next. We were AAA members, but this was the ’90s and we didn’t have a cell phone. Luckily, a passing driver noticed us and pulled up next to us to offer his services. He called AAA on his car phone before continuing on his way. At least we knew help was on the way. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)


Roughin’ It

Elana Rothberg


We were all ready to rough it.

That summer of ’99, we embarked on a different sort of vacation than we’d ever experienced. A typical Five Towns family, our general idea of leisure involved strolling on pristine sand in Puerto Rico or lounging by sparkling pools in Miami.

At times we got more daring, like the week we spent at a beautiful, historic hotel in New Hampshire; there was that one day of hiking and picnicking on mountain trails lined with striking foliage.

So yes, we children were spoiled, and we definitely enjoyed our five-star accommodations — and I suppose my parents felt it was time for something different. No doubt their good friend (a lawyer, mind you) convincingly described her own family’s experience at a particular venue as so wonderful, so family friendly, such “authentic” fun, we just had to go.

That’s how my family ended up at a ranch.

Before we even climbed out of the car, we all noticed it. The smell. Okay. It was a ranch, after all. We supposed that was par for the course. We’d make sure to keep the windows of our suite closed.

Little did we know that the idea of an air-conditioned suite was laughable. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)


Revelation Non-Elation

Chaia Frishman


My idea of a thrill involves someone pulling the wool over my eyes, and then screaming, “Surprise!”

Unfortunately, most times it doesn’t work.

My husband’s marriage proposal, my bridal shower, and my 25th birthday party were all non-surprises. Oh, they were planned to be moments when I’d gasp and clap my hands over my mouth, but the beans were spilled prematurely. Even when an early reveal was avoided, I’m quite the conspiracy theorist and read into any “out -of- the- ordinary action” happening around big event dates.

I wished someone could surprise me. But just because they can’t supply me with that buzz, it didn’t mean I couldn’t surprise my nearest and dearest.

So when the idea of planning an unscheduled and unexpected trip for my family popped in my head, I was determined to see it to the end. Zipped lips and a poker face, here we come.

There are normally nine or ten days between school and camp that our family traditionally utilizes to regroup: haircuts, visits to less local relatives, and wardrobe restocking. That was my window of time.

Now… where to go? Where to go? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 597)


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