Family Vacation 2011 – Part 1 (The Air Conditioning Incident)

Doha at night

The mere thought of driving more than 2 hours makes me cringe. I’d much prefer to fly to my destinations. But with a family of five, flying can be cost prohibitive.  Consequently, we have become a road-trip family. We’ve driven from Houston to Key West, Orlando, Albuquerque, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Colorado Springs, and various locations in Texas.

This year we decided to use our vacation time to visit my in-laws in Kansas City, MO . However, our trip didn’t start off well.

The week before our vacation, I had to take an unplanned trip to Doha, Qatar (14 hours there and 16 hours back). After spending 5 days there, I had to fly back to the U.S. and go to San Diego to attend BlogHer. By the time I got home, I was completely worn-out physically and emotionally. Let me back up and explain my emotional distress.

Mocha Dad and Mocha Momma (no relation) at Blogher

While in San Diego, I got a call from my wife, KayEm, around midnight (which was 2AM CST). I knew that no good news could be delivered at that hour.

“The ceiling is leaking water,” she said frantically.

“Get a bucket,” I said. “I can’t do anything from here.”

I returned home to discover that a line in my air-conditioner was plugged causing water to back up and leak into the ceiling. The sheetrock and insulation was badly damaged and there are concerns that mold is present. Of course we couldn’t get a repair person to our house on Sunday so we had to wait until the next day (the day we were supposed to leave for our vacation).

The repair person showed up early Monday morning. He reviewed the situation and realized that he needed a part that he didn’t have.

“I’ll have to go by the shop and get it,” he said. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” I said. “I need it fixed today.”

“I can be here at 9am and I’ll finish in about an hour,” he said.

He arrived around 11am, finished in an hour, and handed me a hefty bill. As we prepared to leave, KayEm noticed that it was warm upstairs. We checked thermostat and realized that the A/C wasn’t working. Great!

My lovely water-logged ceiling

I called the repair guy and explained the situation. He tried to talk me through a few fixes over the phone, but they didn’t work. I asked him to come back to our house to see what was wrong. The earliest he could be there was 3pm. I reluctantly agreed and started thinking about how we could spend our vacation at home.

The repair guy finally fixed the A/C around 5pm. I asked KayEm if she still wanted to drive 12 hours to Kansas City and she said yes. We loaded our luggage and kids in the minivan and hit the road. We ran into rush hour traffic and crawled down the highway for at least 40 miles. When the traffic broke, KayEm decided that she only had the stamina to make it to Dallas so we booked a hotel and spent the night.

I settled into bed and pulled the covers over my head because the air-conditioning was too cold. How ironic.

Stay Strong,

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Question: What was your worst vacation experience?

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at


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