Gas for trip to family beach vacation: $200
Groceries for family beach vacation: $150
Internet access for family beach vacation: $25 per week per computer
Realizing that you have rented one of 3 houses in the state of Florida that do not offer free Wi-Fi with the rental property....
And that is how the week started...
If you have forgotten (or somehow are unaware) of how my family consumes broadband like it's a steak the Friday after Lent, simply scroll back in the posts to last Thanksgiving. We have very nearly lost the art of conversation (although those not in my family would say that we can converse just fine, often too frequently and too loudly) and now simply Facebook each other...while sitting 2 feet away. I have been known to text my husband to bring me another glass of wine when he got up to go to the bathroom. My aunt has been known to Facebook her daughter-in-law while they sat on the same couch...er...actually loveseat. So, obviously we have a bit of an internet addiction. After we had unpacked and began to scout a place for dinner on the first night, Mom turned to me and said "use that Urban Spoon app on your i-pod to find us something" (because otherwise it was going to be Carraba's and I only have one steadfast rule on vacation...I will not eat somewhere that is also less than 10 miles from my house). So, I did the fancy-shake-to-find-us-something-with-succulent-crab-and-shrimp-dripping-in-butter-thing, but instead I got "internet connection not found." Uh. What?? Surely not. So, I searched the settings. I got 5 different possible Wi-Fi connections...all of them password-protected. My head began to spin as I slowly grasped the meaning of it all...we had rented a house with no Wi-Fi...for seven days.
My mom, aunt, cousin and I were so intent on finding the perfect house for our family beach vacation that we started our search in July. Yes, we spent every evening of our vacation searching for our next vacation house. We quickly recognized two things: a) finding a house with the right bedroom configuration (2 kings...so the sisters didn't have to mud wrestle for the lone king bed although that could have been entertaining...and at least 2, and preferably 3 queen beds and a set of bunks) was going to be tricky and b) while a picture may be worth 1000 words, sometimes they are not the most accurate 1000 words for what that house really looks like in the light of day. So, every night we searched. We sat with our laptops (and our free Wi-Fi) and searched every house on every rental agency's website, comparing, contrasting, and confusing. We tossed around cottage names like Serenity Path and Sandy Shores. My aunt suggested Anchors Away. a charming little house with a patriotic bedroom that screamed "If you love your country, you will pay $3500/week for me." But in the end, after weeks (and yes, I mean weeks...I know sometimes I can be a little melodramatic, but I do mean weeks) of searching for The One, we decided on Banana Cabana. It was close to the beach, was decorated in bright, cheery, stereotypical beach colors and had the right beds for the queens and their princesses. No one thought to check for free Wi-Fi. No one. We all sat in the kitchen Sunday morning and looked at each other, over our toast and coffee and laptops with error messages and wondered how it could be. How had we missed such a necessity? It was like renting a house and forgetting to ask if it came with a front door.
I'm proud of Neal. He was not the first to break down and purchase the week's subscription to Wi-Fi. He wasn't even the second. But he was the third...and I followed right behind him. Yes, we as a couple are incapable of sharing a computer...even for a week. I knew that we were at a crossroads: we could pay the $50 and have a relaxing, enjoyable week at the beach or we could pay $25 and Neal could sleep on the bottom bunk. It was the best $25 I've ever spent.
It did open my eyes to one fact: we are an internet society with routines that revolve around (or even defined by) being online. Neal likes to drink his coffee and read the NY Times every morning. About the same time, I like to drink my coffee and read blogs. Mom wants to check her email and Aunt B is looking at the weather to determine her golfing schedule. We were able to do all of that...and it only cost us $75.00. But I'm pretty sure our next family beach vacation house will have free Wi-Fi...even if my cousin has to share a bunk with my husband and my mom and I are splitting a pull-out couch.