No doubt you’ve heard honeymoon horror stories. You’ve probably heard about newlyweds on a cruise who encounter a hurricane. Or maybe about honeymooners who get robbed at gunpoint. Terrible to be sure. But let me tell you my story and how my new bride and I survived a honeymoon filled with unfortunate events.
After the long wedding day and a busy reception that same evening, my wife and I were physically and emotionally exhausted. We were beginning to wish that we had taken the offer from my father-in-law to elope instead of having such large wedding festivities. Then we discovered that the car we had carefully hidden in a neighbor’s garage had been discovered and elaborately decorated with Saran Wrap, newspapers, tin cans, and all kinds of interesting accessories attached to the body of our car. It took awhile to get it all cleaned up so we could drive it, but my wife insisted on leaving the tin cans attached to the back bumper. By 11pm my bride and I finally manage to hustle away for our first night together at a hotel.
As part of a wedding gift and partly to ease planning overload, we let my wife’s sister choose the hotel. Unfortunately, our instructions didn’t match the place we expected and we drove to the wrong hotel. When we finally found the actual location, they wouldn’t honor the 50% off coupon we had which was actually for the hotel we went to the first time. This was the first of a series of unfortunate events, but we rolled with the punch so to speak. With the reservations clearly waiting and the time nearing midnight we really wanted to get into a room. There was a certain yearning that had taken over that wasn’t going to wait any longer. Granted, it wasn’t the most romantic location sitting on a main highway near the international airport, and we certainly had a good laugh when we discovered that the “bridal suite” had 3 televisions and 4 telephones! The hotel owners must have thought newlyweds might need something to do.
Well, not that night! Even though it had been difficult at times, we had purposely waited until after we were married to have sex. We were both nervous and self-conscious, as all chaste newlyweds should be. But the excitement of joining together quickly overcame the nervousness and we enjoyed making love.
I’ll admit I caused the next somewhat unfortunate event myself because I can’t resist airplanes. The next day my new wife and I spent six hours watching an air show. Fortunately, my wife was warned well in advance and she took it well, even when we also took all four of my younger brothers with us. When we finally got to our apartment from shepherding my siblings on that hot September day, and suffering from less than 4 hours of sleep the previous night, we were completely exhausted. So much for romance that night.
But wait… Now the series of unfortunate events really get worse. Two days later we left Salt Lake City to go on our official honeymoon to beautiful Yellowstone Park. Both my wife and I love being outdoors. And as an avid photographer, I couldn’t wait to see this natural wonder. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that much. Even though this was early September, an early snowstorm closed off the north half of the park.
Arriving late Monday night, the lodge where my mother had arranged for our first night’s stay, informed us that our reservation had been scheduled for the previous night and the advance payment was non-refundable. And they were fully booked. We shared a dinner and managed to get into a cancelled room near midnight, but we still had to pay for the room. Once again feeling quite tired, we paid for the room out of the cash we had been given by my grandfather to buy a bed, and quickly fell asleep.
The next day after a breakfast of Kellogg’s Corn Pops, we set off to explore and find a place to camp. We wanted a quiet camping spot so we passed up several campgrounds that were full of noisy people. Finally, after sunset we pulled into a secluded place and began setting up camp. We had pulled a tent trailer and had supplies and equipment to cook our food. Unfortunately, the Coleman stove we had brought along wouldn’t light so we built a fire and did our best to cook shish kabobs over an open fire. It was too dark and too cold to cook them all the way so we ate them warmed but mostly still raw.
Temperatures dropped rapidly and it didn’t take long for us to take refuge in our sleeping bags that we had zipped together so we could sleep together. We made love that night but the night was so cold that we couldn’t sleep naked like we wanted to. We pulled additional blankets over us and clung to each other tightly in hopes that we could stay warm. When we woke up the next morning we found a layer of frost had formed on top of our sleeping bags… inside our trailer!
Driven by hunger, I got a fire going in the firepot since the stove still wouldn’t work and promptly caught the attention of a park ranger who gave us a stiff warning for being camped illegally in a spot for picnics only and starting a fire unlawfully. When we told him of our predicament, which included the fact that all of the food left outside of the cooler froze like a rock, he took pity on us and tried to get our stove to work, but failed. We ate cold cereal again.
We did enjoy the day sightseeing and I took a lot of pictures of nature’s wonders. That night, not wanting to repeat the previous night’s experiences of cold and being kept awake by bugling elk, we decided to go back to the lodge and pay for another night’s stay. The lodge was full but fortunately a cabin came available and it proved to be a wonderful night complete with a creaky old bed that rocked a lot that night.
With our funds running low we ate lightly, again eating cold Corn Pops for breakfast for the 3rd day in row. After breakfast we decided to cut short our stay in Yellowstone and head for another resort area further south for a hotel stay that had been given to us as a wedding gift.
By afternoon, my wife took over the driving while I read a book out loud. We were heading into Hoback Canyon having just passed Hoback Junction where we saw a single Chevron gas station and a few other buildings. As the canyon entrance loomed before us my wife passed a large RV. As she moved back into our lane I glanced up just in time to see a 2×4 in the road with something shiny poking out of it. We hit it squarely and immediately wondered if the car was ok. It seemed to be fine and we continued to drive into the canyon.
After driving several curves into the canyon, the car began to vibrate badly. I told my wife to pull off the road at the next available opening. Fortunately, the Good Lord blessed us with a small opening near a river that wound back and forth through the canyon. I jumped out and found that the front right tire was completely destroyed and to my chagrin, the back right tire was also slowly going flat! I unhitched the tent trailer and unloaded the trunk. Our car actually had a full size spare tire tucked away in the trunk. But as I pulled it out and dropped it on the ground, we found that the spare tire also had no air. My wife started to cry, certain that I was going to hate her for life because she had ruined two brand new expensive tires. But as I looked at one exploded tire and another going flat, and my flat spare tire laying on the ground, I just started laughing. Somehow, I knew this was going to make a great story someday.
I consoled my wife promising that I would love her forever. Problems like this were testing points and we would work together to figure out a solution. Knowing that we needed to walk for help, we studied the map counting how many times we thought we had crossed the river. We decided it would be shorter to walk forward than to walk back to Hoback Junction. I estimated it would take 45 minutes to get to the next town which looked on the map to be the same size as Hoback Junction. One hour and 45 minutes later we arrived at the dot on the map, which turned out to be an historical site with no services. Dumbfounded by yet another unfortunate twist in our honeymoon saga, we found a ranch house and asked the lady there if we could borrow her phone. After swearing we weren’t criminals, the matron reluctantly let my wife in the house to call the service station back at Hoback Junction.
We decided that I would run back to the car to meet the tow-truck while my wife would wait at the ranch house until I returned with the car. But in a rare break, the farmer pulled up in his truck at that moment and offered to take us both back to our car. We arrived at the same time as the tow-truck.
The tow-truck man didn’t have the right tires with him so he filled up the spare and put it on the front, then filled up the rear tire and told us to drive back to his service station and he would follow us. We left the tent trailer where it was and raced back to Hoback Junction as fast as we could go. Like pouring lemon juice on a cut, we spotted an emergency telephone standing less than five minutes behind where we had been. At this point it was hard to know whether we should laugh or cry!
We made it back to Hoback Junction but had to call my mom collect to put the cost of the new tire on her credit card since the service station would not accept out of state checks and we didn’t have enough cash left to pay for it. Four hours later and with a new tire we pressed on but had to stop around midnight to stay at another hotel. Once again, we fell into bed exhausted but with prayers of gratitude for the blessings we had received (it could have been much worse!).
Once more we had Corn Pops for breakfast, then resumed our journey. Arriving at the small resort hotel at Flaming Gorge, we found it mostly closed, and the manager had no record of a reservation for us. Par for the course! Coasting down from the mountain top because we were out of gas, we both decided enough was enough and struck for home after filling the gas tank one last time. We munched on the last of our snacks but didn’t stop until we got home.
That evening we cruised into our hometown with 1/8 of a tank of gas and less than $5.00 to our married name. It took us months before we finally slept on a real bed because all the money given to us to buy a bed had paid for unexpected expenses on our honeymoon adventures. We didn’t mind. We rolled out comforters and quilts like Japanese futons and slept on the floor just fine.
Looking back on it after 22 years of marriage, our honeymoon adventures have indeed made for a great story. It took years before my wife would eat Corn Pops again but to this day Kellogg’s Corn Pops make us smile with the memories of our honeymoon adventures. Even so, I have often wondered what would have happened if we had gone to the Grand Canyon instead
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