Four hours. Squished into the back of my dad's truck with his smelly hockey gear and a tub of blacktop, I stared out the window, hopeful that we would soon reach our destination. I'd realized I get carsick if I read and run out of batteries for my walkman, so I was stuck listening to my parents argue about the directions and a Michael McDonald CD.
Originally, we had planned to spend our Thanksgiving at our usual spot - St. Maartin, where my grandparents have a timeshare. Each Thanksgiving, they invite my dad's entire side of the family to the island. My parents, younger brother and I spend every day relaxing on the beach, listening to the gentle waves lap the sand. I valued this getaway because while I was sweating in 80-degree heat, my friends were suffering in winter coats and freezing rain. This year, however, was different. Due to a hurricane that basically vacuumed up the tiny island, plans were cancelled and we headed to Kutcher's family-owned and operated resort.
Since I didn't know much about this Upstate New York getaway, I had no expectations of what the place would be. I was upset to spend Thanksgiving in New York State instead of a beautiful beachfront condo, but what could I do? We followed signs that read "Kutcher's - a once-in-a-lifetime experience five miles ahead" and "Next stop to paradise - Kutcher's coming up on the right!" Little did I know how ironic these phrases would turn out to be.
We arrived at five o'clock and Kutcher's seemed neither special nor unusual. After checking in, we drove to what would be our hotel room for the next few days. The staff had set us up in a cabin-type room complete with a dead cockroach and heat that felt more like air conditioning. After looking at the family's awestruck faces, my mom tried to salvage the situation, saying, "Now, we shouldn't judge yet, I'm sure the rest of the resort will be beautiful." And with that, we decided to take a tour.
What we found was dreadful. A half-frozen, algae-filled green swamp that resembled a manmade lake was the main attraction of the walking trail. The main building was trapped in the 1960s, complete with wall-to-wall coral wallpaper and matching carpet. A boutique, perfect for women in their late 70s, and a mini-mart open Monday through Thursday, 10-12, and Saturday ("Open all day") from 2-5 p.m. Finally, we found the most interesting part of the resort that would serve as our only hope for survival for the next few days: a small ice-skating rink, with half-melted ice and vacationers crammed onto every inch of its surface. Rentals were only $20 on top of the $10 fee to even step on the ice. This resort was an almost exact replica of the one in "Dirty Dancing" except that it had not been renovated since 1962.
My family and I freaked out. What were we going to do here to save our sanity? We decided to take a trip to the only sign of human life for miles -
Wal-Mart. There we purchased some food and a board game called "Blurt" where two teams battle it out to scream the word a definition describes. These words include easy topics, such as ball and toothbrush, and more advanced - axe, lung and toenail.
Thanksgiving dinner also proved interesting. Since the resort was kosher, we could not eat meat and milk at the same meal; I became irrationally upset when told I could not have ice cream with my apple pie. My family and I were also the youngest at the resort. Sadly, after dinner was over at 5:30, the only fun thing left to do was play Bingo for prizes including a make-over from Estelle and a bath towel.
Overall, Kutcher's was an experience my family will never forget. It brought us closer, realizing that we had to stick together to make it out alive. Since we hardly ever sit down as a family in today's rushed and eccentric life, it is important to us to be able to spend time away from it all, together and in a relaxing place, no matter where it is.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.