Thursday, November 3, 2011

Upstate New York at the Renaissance Faire and environs

TripAdvisor suggested writing a review of an offbeat or quirky US vacation rental, so I thought before I made such a review, I would tell you about my offbeat, quirky, perhaps slightly bizarre experience from the summer of 2009.

I had made plans with my friends from Tampa, FL Steve and Vanessa to attend two weekends of the Sterling Renaissance Faire in upstate New York. In between, we would spend the week exploring whatever there might be to do in the vicinity.

The previous summer, we had attended one weekend, and Steve had found us a couple cabins in Sunset RV Park, outside Oswego, and just a short ride to the Sterling Fairegrounds. We loved that so much that we decided to do it again in August of 2009, but in more elaborate fashion.

Once again, Steve booked us cabins at Sunset RV Park. But this time, I got a bigger cabin (although it had no bathroom), and Steve and Vanessa stayed in a cabin with two bedrooms and a kitchenette. And they rented a third large cabin like theirs, to be used by other Tampa friends Chris and Ken for most of the time, and by another Tampa friend Sarah for the second weekend.

Now, let me say first of all that we all had a great time, at the renaissance faire and during the week (did a road trip to Niagara Falls, etc.). The weather was great, Lake Ontario is right across the street from the RV Park, Steve and Ken went fishing and caught salmon that we grilled a couple nights that was amazing, and we all got along for the most part.

And secondly, I should add that I consider myself pretty flexible when it comes to adapting to unusual situations. I am often comfortable in offbeat situations. I have waited in line overnight for Grateful Dead tickets, in the process sleeping on the concrete sidewalk on just a thin blanket. I have gone canoeing in the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey at the peak of the summer, with air so close you felt the universe was ready to fold in on itself any second. I have been hiking in the Catskills in the middle of winter, where if something bad were to happen, they would not find me until the spring thaw six months later. I am willing to go along with any number of crazy or improbable schemes, if only to be able to say that I did it and that it was fun.

So here I am in my cabin with no bathroom for I guess it was 10 nights. No big deal: across the way, about 50 feet from the back door of my cabin, was the building with the communal toilet and shower rooms. Well, I don't know if it was that I was drinking a lot of beer the whole time we were there, or that I was drinking lots of water to make sure the beer was not leaving me dehydrated; but either way, I was getting up at least once a night to scamper across the grass in my bare feet to the toilet and do my thing. It started getting comical, because more than once I woke up having to go and didn't really know where I was, and I barely made it out the door and across the grass before my bladder burst.

I know, tmi. But that wasn't the bizarre thing, really. Of course, out in the woodsy parts, in the summer, with a Great Lake across the street from us, we were bound to have lots of bugs. I was careful to keep my cabin screen door and window screens intact so nothing got in that would make it impossible for me to sleep. But early in the week, I found I had a nasty bug bite on my calf. Ken said he had also gotten bit, so I didn't think anything of it. Then, fairly late in the week, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bunch of bites on my feet and ankles. Luckily, the cabin had a sink in it, so I blasted my feet with icecold water for a couple minutes, and that took the edge off the itching.

Unfortunately, the bites started multiplying, and the itching started to get out of control. I figured it had to be fleas. I Googled fleas on my Blackberry, and everything I read completely matched what I was going through. I thought I should inform the owners, and see if they could move me to another cabin. Well, the owner I spoke to (they're a couple and this was the guy) was basically in denial. He said there had been no pets in that cabin in a long time, so there was nothing to bring in fleas. I said you don't need an animal to bring them in, and this is definitely fleas. He said there were no empty cabins for me to stay in, and he would check it out after I left. I should've demanded that he refund part of my money or something for my discomfort, but I just figured I would make the best of the situation.

The flea dirt I found was at the base of the bed I slept in, so I slept sideways so that no part of me would be within biting distance. And what do you know? It helped. The last couple days, the bites I had started to heal, and no new ones appeared.

So, in the final analysis, I would say that, if you can help it, avoid the Sunset RV Park. The first time we stayed there, Vanessa and Steve's cabin got sprayed by a skunk, and then there was my flea problem. The place sells out that time of the year, so they don't seem to care if people have problems. And if you want to stay in the vicinity, you don't have a lot of other options, and the options there are sell out like a year in advance. Soooo, maybe the best advice is to not visit Oswego, NY. Or something. I leave it up to you to decide. As for me, I am happy attending Renaissance Faires in other places where flea-bitten RV parks don't figure in the equation.

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