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Snakes on the Cape

This post has been delayed by almost a month. After our crazy vacation and subsequent return to work, I haven't had a chance to write about it. Really, though. This blog can't go without a post about what happened on vacation. I've never actually seen the movie Snakes on a Plane. I am aware, however, that Samuel L. Jackson's famous line is something about the motherf*cking snakes on the motherf*cking plane. Well, what none of us knew about our summer vacation is that we were going to be starring in the sequel, Snakes on the Cape. And yes, there were motherf*cking snakes on the motherf*cking Cape.

Every summer, my in-laws rent a house for two weeks. Not only do they rent a place big enough for our family of seven (& our dog), but we also have my sister- & brother-in-law and their dog, Ditto and her dog, and Nana (who just turned 90 last week). It's quite a crowd. This year, they rented a place we have rented twice previously. It has plenty of bedrooms for a group our size, is dog-friendly, and the property has its own beach. We figured we were heading down to Cape Cod for two weeks of fun, sun, and relaxation. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to be the case.

When my father- & mother-in-law arrived Saturday, the owner was there to let them know there was a slight problem. Apparently, some type of animal had died inside the wall of the kitchen. The kitchen smelled like death. It was horrendous. But the owners were nice enough to discount the rent somewhat and promised that an exterminator would be out Monday morning to try to address the problem. Okay, we figured we could eat takeout for two nights and tolerate the smell long enough to make coffee and get snacks. No big deal. Although, I did have to move the dog's food to another room because he couldn't even be dragged into the kitchen. Evidently, he had more sense than the rest of us about what we were dealing with.

Monday morning, I was up very early making a cup of coffee. PJ and my father-in-law had gone up to the city for work, and I was in the kitchen by myself. The lovely stench of death had dissipated somewhat, so I was just patiently waiting in the kitchen for my coffee to brew. The dog ran into the kitchen, grabbed something off the floor, then ran into the dining room and dropped it. I walked over to see what he had, and saw a tiny snake slithering on the dining room floor. It couldn't have been more than six inches long, but it was definitely a baby snake. Sadly, I didn't get a picture, but I looked it up later and found that it was a northern ringneck snake. (My favorite parts of the description are when they talk about releasing a "foul odor" and "biting savagely." Just what you want in a house with kids, dogs, and an almost 90 year old.) Seeing as I was the only one awake, I scooped it up with a piece of paper and threw it outside.
My little coffee companion
When the property manager and the exterminator showed up, I let them know that I had found a tiny snake in the middle of the kitchen. The property manager assured me that was just a fluke and totally unrelated to whatever had died in the walls. Um, okay. You're the expert, buddy. Whatever you say. They decided that there was an animal that had died in the wall but, since the smell was almost gone, they could just address the odor. If we really wanted, they could open up the wall and get whatever it was out. They kept trying to tell us it was probably a squirrel or something. After many conversations between my father-in-law and the owners, they decided to come back the next day and open the wall. This was the first time they mentioned that there might be a nest of snakes in there. The exterminator told us we should plan to be out of the house for a few hours because if there was a nest, the snakes would try to scatter when they opened the wall. "But don't worry, we'll have a high-powered vacuum there to suck them up." WTF?

The next morning, the property manager and exterminator showed up. We hastily shoved some food into the kids mouths and rushed them down to the beach. I went back inside to grab something and I could hear the high-powered vacuum running already. Oh hell no. Snakes don't particularly bother me, but I sure as hell don't want to be around when they start to scatter.

Later that morning, we were informed that the situation was all taken care of. They found a dead, three-foot long snake in the wall. Just one. The smell was so bad because it's the kind of snake that can release a scent (like a skunk). Regardless, the situation was under control. They got rid of the ONE dead snake and patched the wall. We were all set. Famous last words.

That same afternoon, my brother-in-law, Michael, was in the kitchen. It just so happens that, as a child, Michael was bitten by a venomous snake in the Philippines. You can imagine that he's got the best reason of any of us to really not be a fan of snakes. He was in the kitchen (at the opposite side from where the dead snake had been removed from the wall) and he closed the door to the porch. When he slammed the door, a foot-long snake fell from the ceiling and landed right on the floor in front of him. Are you kidding me? The problem is all taken care of, but now we've got snakes falling from the ceiling??

We decided no one should go back in the kitchen until we figured out what we were going to do. Nana heard this and was very upset. Her concern wasn't so much the snakes, but how she was going to get her vodka out of the freezer. She tried to send Michael back into the kitchen for it. I decided I could tolerate the snakes a little better than the poor guy who'd actually been bitten once, so I braved the snakes for Nana's vodka. Believe me, I was watching the ceiling the whole time. While I was in there, I went through the doorway to the porch and looked closely at the ceiling. I was trying to figure out where the snakes were coming from. While I was inspecting the ceiling, I noticed a space in the molding where there was a piece of snakeskin hanging down. Oh. My. God. There had to be a huge nest in the ceiling. And there's no way the exterminator didn't know that. Gross.

At this point, PJ and my father-in-law were on the way back. This was supposed to be the start of their vacation. None of us felt particularly comfortable sleeping in a house with nocturnal snakes, so the owners let us move into their main house on the property for the night. We spent that night and much of the next day trying to find a house on the cape we could move into that would house three dogs, seven kids, and eight adults. Pretty unlikely. Not for lack of trying, we were out of luck. We had to move all of our stuff back home on Wednesday night. 

We were finally able to move back into a new house the following Saturday for a week. It was a nice house that was near some beautiful beaches. It wasn't perfect because we had to drive to the beach everyday, but it sure as hell didn't have snakes falling out of the ceiling, so that was okay with us!

In addition to the snake infestation, we had kids with the plague (croup) that landed one of them in the emergency room. It was quite the time. I'm not sure what comes after the plague and snakes. I'll have to brush up on the Bible before our next vacation.

Here's to hoping next year's vacation is completely boring...

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Have you ever had a calamity on vacation? Feel free to share your crazy story in the comments below...

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