Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 9 Family Vacation

When we last visited the Hammonds, Jenny was growing bored with being a housewife. She complained about the long hours Lonnie worked in his popular restaurant and she was increasingly insecure about aging. Being 15 years older than her former playboy husband only exacerbated the problem. Their oldest daughter, Loni Faye, had become a teenager and Lonnie had promised her should could soon work at the restaurant with him.

It began to seem to Lonnie that the best idea would be to install Jenny as his restaurant hostess and Loni Faye as a waitress. Then at least Jenny would be with him during his long hours and he could groom Loni Faye part-time, teaching her gradually what he knew about the culinary field, food service, and running a business. By the time she went to college she might know if she was interested in any or all of those careers. Le Magnifique! was open all weekend and closed on Mondays. Lonnie did not want Loni Faye's schoolwork to suffer nor her burgeoning social life with her young friends, so he preferred she not work after school and only every other weekend. It would be enough for now, at least until maybe summer, which was a year away. And they'd need her to supervise Liara after school anyway with Jenny working afternoons and evenings. So the first weekend came and while Loni Faye learned to wait tables, Liara went upstairs to play in the small living unit upstairs.

Things went well, in general, although Jenny couldn't help but notice that there were always more female patrons who flocked to the restaurant than male. Lonnie had not lost his natural charm and appeal, it seemed.

The rest of spring went by and when summer came Loni Faye wanted to work longer hours--making her own money was fun--so Lonnie took her off weekends and gave her regular workday hours, but only 4 days a week.

In the fall Lonnie announced he would close the restaurant for a few days and they would take a well-deserved vacation in Three Lakes, up in the mountains. The family had never even been on holiday since Lonnie opened the restaurant. He told them he'd already rented a large cabin. Liara worried about her kitten,

"But what about Tangerina? Will she go with us? And if not, who will feed and play with her? 

"Not to worry, little one," Lonnie told her, "I've already engaged a house-sitter who was recommended especially for people whose pets remain behind and need care. It's actually better for Tangerina than boarding her with the vet, she'll stay in familiar surroundings. Cats don't like to travel or leave home very much, you know."

This placated Liara and she began to get really excited about going to the mountains. Meanwhile, Loni Faye was none too happy, as she talked on the phone to her friend, Simone Wilson.

"Yeah, it's a cabin I guess. Probably some shack out in the middle of the deep woods, I'm sure there will be nothing to do! After all, I'm practically grown up and taking a vacation with my family is kind of babyish. And now I have to postpone my date with Robby, too. But there's nothing I can do; I'll be stuck with my baby sister, my parents and 20 billion trees!"

Simone was not very sympathetic,

"Yeah, hate it for ya, Loni girl. If only I could go on a vacation--even if with my family, even in the wilderness. My parents are always so absorbed with their produce market and now with the new baby, I'll never get them 'away from the farm'. Just be glad you're getting out of ole' Unpleasantview for a change."

"I guess I should be grateful," Loni Faye admitted glumly, "But I'm sure just because I can't be there in town all kinds of exciting things will happen. Just be sure to tell me what I missed when I get back, Simone."

"Yep. Let's see...exciting things that could happen in this town, hmm, that would be like, um...nothing. Unless you want to count Bubba and Junior Krebbs doing their Saturday night try at cow-tipping," then Simone laughed, "Well, have a good time up there with Bambi, Bigfoot and marauding bears. Rarrrrr!"

That left Loni Faye having nightmares about a man-eating bear crashing through the flimsy front door of their rental shack.

Lonnie decided he didn't want to oversell the trip,

"It's really only a mini-vacation," he told the family the night before they left, just a long weekend. But if it goes well I'm hoping to take one or two more trips over the next year, maybe at the beach, or even somewhere farther afield."

Jenny and the girls were pleased and amazed when they arrived; the "cabin" was immense, more like a lodge. The first day they enjoyed games on the back porch and that evening they sat around the campfire roasting marshmallows.

Loni Faye had already let slip from her memory her complaints from the day before. She'd forgotten how much fun she'd always had with her sister before she became a teenager and was enjoying her now. Surprisingly, the same could be said for her parents who, so far, had not embarrassed her in any way. Of course there were three more days to go.

The cabin boasted a large kitchen and the first morning Lonnie played chef and made bacon and eggs for the family while they discussed their plans for the day. They'd picked up brochures of the local interests and activities available and their first adventure would be at the Lumber Mill.

Little Liara checked out the cutaway section from a huge tree that detailed what had happened in history over the years the tree was alive, while her parents and Loni Faye tried their hands at axe-throwing. Loni Faye had always been good at archery in her Phys. Ed. classes and was gratified that her aim remained true with an axe as well. 

They were having a wonderful time and planned on trying the log-rolling next but then it started to rain. There was really nowhere to take cover there except in the washrooms so they left. But as their taxi approached the Smooth Rock Spa, the rain let up and Lonnie asked the driver to let them out there at the spa.

Jenny and Lonnie headed immediately to the two therapeutic massage huts to get acupressure done and learn how to do it themselves. While Loni Faye and Liara relaxed in one of the natural mineral springs. Afterwards Liara tried her hand at fishing the tiny pond while Loni Faye checked out the sauna.

The next morning Lonnie woke up early and put his arms around the still sleeping Jenny. A respite from the restaurant's long hours and a change of scenery had definitely boosted their love life. The girls were getting along amazingly well, too. So now he made up his mind--definitely--to take the family on a longer vacation to the beach. There were some really nice upscale hotels there but it might be fun to rent a house again. It would depend on what they had to offer in the way of amenities and convenience.

There was a nice pond at the rental cabin and so they tried a little night fishing that evening. It was fall and the nights could often get quite cold up in the mountains, but they'd been blessed, at least after the first day, with lovely weather and very mild temperatures for the time of year so far. After the fishing Jenny fixed everyone a late night dessert of banana splits.

"I think we should try the Lumber Mill again today," Lonnie said at their breakfast of Fruit Loops cereal the next morning, "We didn't get a chance to try our luck at log-rolling, what you do say?"

"Fine by me," Jenny agreed.

"Yippy!" Liara laughed.

"And can we try some of the local food for supper tonight, Dad?" Loni Faye asked, "I love what you and Mom have been cooking here for us, but I'd like to try some hotcakes or chicken pot pie."

Lonnie smiled, "Sure, you should try new foods all the time, especially if you work in the culinary field, honey. But even if you don't, you should be ready to try new experiences whenever you can--as long as they're legal!"

The family spent quite some time on the logs, laughing and teasing each other when one or the other lost balance and plopped into the water. Actually was a pretty good workout climbing out of the water to get back on the log each time.

When they got dressed again again they did a little fishing at the big pond there at the Lumber Mill.

When evening fell they did, indeed, order supper at the shack there. Jenny and the girls ordered the hotcakes with the locally made maple syrup, but Lonnie ordered the grilled catfish and then proceeded to disgust them all when he pour syrup all over the grilled fish.

"Euww, Dad! That's so gross!" Loni Faye exclaimed in horror and glanced around, embarrassed to see what other tourists might have been nearby to notice this offensive behavior. No young people her age, at least, and thank goodness. Ever since she was born Loni Faye had adored and admired her dad, but the teen years were hard on the parent/child relationship as a rule. Lonnie was no longer perfect in her eyes since she'd become a teenager.

"Yuck, Daddy, that's sicko!" snickered Liara, wrinkling her nose, but actually was delighted with what she assumed was her father's sense of humor.

"Alonzo Hammond!" Jenny said in a scandalized voice, "What in the world?"

"What? This syrup is home grown and I wanted to try it, as for the fish--sweet and savory--works for me. Haven't you ever eaten maple-glazed salmon?" Lonnie shrugged. He was serious.

All three females looked at each other for a few seconds. Hmm, he had a point.

"Can we all have just a bite?" Jenny ventured.

He nodded and passed it over to watch them each grab a forkful. They made sure there was syrup on it. Then Jenny took another bite. By the time they all grabbed 2 or 3 bites there wasn't much left for a hungry man so Lonnie ordered a second plate. Then had to share that one, too...

The evening was winding to a close as they talked a local into showing them how to do the slap dance that was so popular in the mountains. They were leaving late that night and Loni Faye was surprised to realize how she almost hated to go. The rental house had felt like a home. The good thing was, her dad was now saying they would take another vacation in a few months. This time she would be happy to take a vacation with her sister and parents. She couldn't wait to see Robby Blackford again, though, once she got home. He couldn't even call her when they were in the mountains, no reception on cell phones there for the most part. She hoped he'd ask her for another date since she'd had to cancel their last one for this vacation, but she had no idea. Men were frequently hard to figure.