Sunday, July 27, 2008 & guestbook comments

WOW - I'm peeved right now. A few posts ago I blogged about how we were getting our deposit back. On my other blog, I told about our experience with this owner. (here's a link)

Well, I just tried to leave a comment on Here's how it works.
1) Go to the page of your rental - here's ours:
2) Scroll down to where it say "view comments from previous guests"
3) Click on "add a comment to this guestbook".
4) Follow instructions.

And then guess what?????????? They email your own comment to you...and you can either delete it or click on a button that will forward to the owner for their approval. So, since I'm leaving a negative comment, I'm sure the owner will not approve it. Now, if it isn't approved, the negative will still show up - people just can't read it. That's the owner, not to potential renters! Wait, here's the best part: the owner can "terminate" the guestbook at any time...getting rid of comments and any negavie counts...and then "reset" the guestbook and start all over.

And since this owner has zero comments, I'm sure that my 1 negative will be gone in no time! - it's still there for now...check it out!

So, just be careful when looking at comments...especially if an owner has none! You now know how they can do this! And please, be extra careful if for some reason you would want to rent from this owner...feel free to leave a comment if you want her name - I'll gladly share!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Static Straps

Well, this is one item that no one ever seems to have heard of! Except my family! We've used them for years. Oh, what are they? A Static Strap is a long rubber strip that we hang from out rear bumper. It touches the ground and discharges any build up of static electricity.

Do they work? Yup, they do!

And I'll tell you the real reason my family uses them. It started when we were kids. We lived in Michigan and would often take the pop-up camper to Florida during winter break. Well, mom got car sick on long car trips. Dad had heard of these as being a way to avoid car sickness. I think that maybe the build up of static electricity leads to car sickness in some? Anyway...he bought some shortly before one of these camping trips. But, being that it was winter in Michigan, he told mom he was going to wait to put it on until we hit warmer weather.

Off we went...before we even got out of the state of Michigan, mom said to dad something along the lines of "if you didn't tell me you hadn't put those on, I would think you did. I don't feel sick." Which is when dad told her that he actually had put those on! She couldn't see them because of the camper. He just wanted to see how she reacted with no preconceived ideas. Ever since, they've always had them on the car.

I have one sister and a couple of nieces who tend to get car sick. So, I keep these on my car for those times we go somewhere. On the plus side, I don't get those nasty pokes from static electricity!

Want to know where to find them? We always get them at NAPA Auto's a link to the item:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

So...have you heard of yet? One of my sisters told me about it. It's a great website to do your research on before you take a trip. It's easy & free to register. Once to do so, can you select a city or cities that you are interested in and receive info about those. It's mostly lodging/airfare kind of info.

What I've done is start looking around for the next trip my sisters & I have planned. Last year, we were planning our sister trip to - there is a ton of information about popular destinations. Oh, and it cover the globe, not just the U.S.A.

One of the best features in my opinion is the forums. These are categorized by location. For our just-completed vacation in northern GA, I went to the Blue Ridge forums and asked for help regarding the problem with the rental owner deciding to keep our deposit. Check it out here:

I got some great answers! I really loved the post where someone gave me GA law...we actually included that in our letter to the owner...and we did get our deposit back!

Another great thing is that you can go and see reviews that "real" people have left. I still need to go post some reviews from our Savannah trip...for example, we were very dissatisfied with the Whistle Stop Cafe...and very happy with other restaurants. I love reading those...but remember to take all reviews with a grain of salt. I read a lot of reviews for "Lady and Sons" that were negative..but within those reviews were some great ideas. It helps to keep your expectations in check as well. I believe reading reviews does that.

Ok, that's all for today - Happy Vacationing!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008: Carter's Lake, GA - Deposit being refunded!

Yea!! I haven't even blogged at all about this year's deposit disaster here! I did a little on my other blog ( So, let me backtrack and give you a little history. This is the year that us 5 sisters and assorted husbands & kids all get together for 5-7 days. We had found a place through (vacation rentals by owner). It was quite expensive...but earlier in the year it looked like we were going to have a group of 18 or 19. Well...then several people had things come up where they were not able to join us. Another one was not able to get off of work. We were going to end up with 14 people. All of a sudden, we weren't really in need of a 6 BR 6Bath place. So, we looked around on VRBO and found a 5 bedroom in the same general area. Available. Cheaper. My main concern was that there were no comments on the site from customers. Emailed the owner who said she was willing to provide them. But, we were busy, running out of time and didn't follow through. Booked it and paid the deposit.

The place was quite nice. Just a few issues that were worth contacting the owner about (the satellite TV didn't work in 2 of the bedrooms...and the air conditioning could not keep the house cool during the day). The other issues were not worth calling about (food left in the house from previous tenants, a full trash can on the desk, empty beer bottles outside on the mountainside, a chip in a bathtub faucet, a bear foot on a wooden toilet paper holder comes off).

We packed up on our last day...checked the list of what we needed to do (turn the thermostats back, make sure there is no food, only 2 bags of trash left, all linens left in laundry room,etc). Did it all! Went home happy.

Deposit was supposed to be returned within 7 days. On day 9, my sister sent an email inquiring as to the status of the deposit...and was told it was being kept! We supposedly were disrespectful of her house and nature...Er, not true at all! Anyway, to make a long story short...we sent a letter back, certified mail, stating that she was not entitled to our deposit. The things she stated were that way when we arrived. She took the word of her cleaning lady (yes, the same one who did not previously report the damaged toilet paper holder or the chip in the faucet, who did not pick up the beer cans left by the previous tenants, who did not take care of the food that was left, and did not empty the trash can on the deck) and claimed we did all this!

She is sending back our deposit. But now, she claims that we inquired about about the return of our deposit the day after we left! Really??? We left on June 21. June 28 was 7 days. We inquired on July 2...

So...if anyone is thinking of renting in the Blue Ridge area of northern GA, let me know...and I'll let you know the name of the person we rented from.

Happy Vacationing to all!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

2002: Luray, VA

This was an ok vacation. We actually ended up renting 2 "farmhouses" on a peacock farm. They were just a lawn apart but we couldn't find 1 house big enough for all of us in the area. We had a good time and did quite a bit on this vacation, including a day trip to Washington DC. That was a great time. Let me think...what can I remember?

~ we drove to the end of the subway line and then took the subway into DC. Spent the day there. Had wonderful weather, considering it was either late July or early August! Took a trolly tour - I recommend those. You can get on and off where you want until you get to the end of the line. A great way to get around a town you aren't familiar with.

~ we did a "mystery" time play that included all of the kids. We each got to dress up as various characters - I was the Queen of Hearts. Here are a few pics:

~ Played Bunco - one of our favorite games!

~ Had some great meals.

Well, that's all I can remember now...I'll be adding more as I remember or my sisters remember.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2000: Beech Mountain, NC

Hey, look - we finally found a place that isn't in Tennessee! Beech Mountain was nice. This was the first year that dad didn't come along. I don't think he enjoyed himself too much. I think we were too busy most years making sure that all the kids were kept busy going interesting places. We didn't have much "down" time to spend with him.

Let's see...I have to go look later at some of the family newsletters I sent out to remember what we did. I do remember that this was one of the nicest houses we rented. (Much better than the place we at a later time - we now call it the waterfall house!) It had a pool table in the basement. Lots of porches and chairs. Good view. Plenty of seating room for relaxing. Good sized kitchen for cooking. Good closet/dresser space. Clean. The drive was fine. It still was a bit away from things but not too bad.

I do remember one of the places we ended up at a lot was Fred's Trading Post...yup, just a little general store in town - but it had basic groceries and more. It also had mini golf nearby.

That's all I can remember now - I'll post more later!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

1998: Pigeon Forge, TN

Oh, I thought I had written more on my personal website about the trip this year...but there's nothing there but a title! I'll be back to fill this in some.

I do remember that this house was way up a mountain...and that the last bit of road actually had a very steep incline...and we didn't enjoy that. Now, the house we stayed in was not actually the house we originally rented..but the owners pulled a switch on us in the last few weeks. We wanted the other house because it had a nice large dining table - and we really need that with nearly 20 people trying to eat at once! And the worse part about this switch? We passed the original house on the way to the house we were was just before that very steep incline! And, we could look in and see the nice large table...on the way to our small table.

Oh, well...we still enjoyed ourselves!

More later.

1996: Also in Gatlinburg, TN

Our second reunion was also in Gatlinburg, TN. The condo we had rented two years previously was not available so we had to find another place. We ended up in a small house very close to the main street of Gatlinburg. The good thing about this house is that it was within walking distance to town: no driving up and down several miles of winding twisting hairpin turns anytime we wanted to go anywhere. The bad thing about this house is that is was very small. It was actually two units combined by a double-locking door. It had only four bedrooms, one of which our dad had by himself. This left three bedrooms for the four sisters, one husband. The last sister and her husband had the second unit where the bed was not in a separate room. Plus, the kids ended up on couches, etc.
I especially remember the small kitchen. I believe we had the kids sit at the kitchen table while the adults sat in the family room to eat. If you needed to open the oven door, you couldn't walk past it - no room! We definitely we crowed in this place!
In spite of the small place, we still had a great time! As always, it's fun to see family you don't get to see very often. The food was great and we one again did the "each family cooks one day". That's almost the best part of the vacation. Trying to find something new to make. We have started a "Nederhoed Vacation Cookbook" that we now add the new recipes to each year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

1994: Our First Reunion in Gatlinburg, TN

The first year we got together, we stayed in Gatlinburg, Tn. We loved it! We had this wonderful condo we rented with four bedrooms (most of them with two double beds) and five baths. We had so much closet space the ladies were all jealous. We only wished we had that much closet space at home.
Because the condo was so large, we were all able to stay together. This was our goal when searching for a place to stay. In order to keep costs down, we wanted to be able to cook instead of eating out. After all, we didn't get to see each other very often so we wanted to break bread together.
Speaking of kitchen duties, we decided that each family would take one day and cook breakfast and dinner. That meant for our five day vacation, we only had to cook one day! Sounded like vacation to us!
We did manage to see a few of the sights in Gatlinburg. We took in a arts & crafts fair at the convention center. Some of us went to
Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. We visited Ober Gatlinburg. The kids enjoyed this. I rode the ski lift with one of my daughters. We did the Ripley's Moving Theatre. We drove through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We rode the go-karts and played miniature golf. And we did some shopping. The days just flew. My Dad saw a black bear near the trash cans. When he told us about it, one of my brother-in-laws grabbed his video camera and followed it out to the woods! But, he made it home safely. When we watch that video, we enjoy how the camera was shaking and how out of breath he was tracking that black bear.
Before we knew it, it was time to head home. But, the good news was we knew we were doing this again in two years. And, we had decided to return to the Gatlinburg area since there was so much to do that we hadn't done yet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How it all started....

Our parents immigrated to the United States many years ago. They left almost all of their families behind. This meant, that while growing up as children, we never had family reunions. There simply wasn't enough family in this country to have them. Actually, a family reunion was gathering around the dinner table. Almost. We did have an Uncle and Aunt in the Chicago area. And dad had a cousin not too far away. But, that was about it for family.
The years went by. All my sisters and my brother had grown up. We were starting families of our own. But, we were split between two states: Michigan, where we all grew up and Florida, where mom and dad had retired and moved to. Then in 1994 our mom passed away. All of a sudden, we weren't sure if would still see each other as often with mom gone. So, we decided it was time to start a family reunion.
We get together every other year for a family reunion. We decide on a place to stay. One of the things our destination must have are condos for rent large enough to accommodate about 20 people.
I will tell you the cities we have visited, the places where we stayed, the attractions we have seen, what we liked and disliked and whatever else I can think of that would be interesting.
If we can help you find a new location for your very own reunion, wonderful! If you have a suggestion for us, please leave a comment. Feel free to let me know where you have been and how your family enjoyed it.

Here's a list of the places we've been so far with the larger family group:
1994: Gatlinberg, TN
1996: Gatlinberg, TN
1998: Pigeon Forge, TN
2000: Beech Mountain, NC
2002: Luray, VI
2004: Murphy, NC
2006: skipped this year...instead my sisters and my brother went to FL for Dad's 80th birthday
2008: Jasper, GA

Monday, July 7, 2008

Introducing sisters on vacation

Sisters ... You get it.
Five of us... You get it.
Voluntarily taking vacations together every year... Do you still get it?

And we look forward to it!

We've been doing this since 1994. On even numbered years, we include the husbands and our kids. On those odd numbered years, its just us girls.

Stay tuned. My next post will take us back to how this all got started in 1994.