The Mattole River Resort

You might remember that before we started this crazy little road trip down memory lane I suggested you bring along a spare tire, a life vest and rat poison. 
Have you been wondering where rat poison* was going to come in? No? You didn’t read that part? You just skimmed. OK. Well, we’re going to need it today. I guess you will just be eaten alive by monster rats. Sorry not sorry. 
(Actually, I am sorry, because I love you all, and I wouldn’t want to lose anyone of you in such a terrifying way.)
So, as we have all learned, my mom was an ace at finding great motel deals. 
These budget hovels saved money so that we were able to afford the expensive treatment for scabies that we’d need when we got home.
One of the absolute best, or rather, most memorable trips we took was to the Mattole River Resort.
Straight out of the California Chainsaw Massacre, this “resort” is situated along the Mattole River in Nothern California.
For those of you not familiar with Northern California, it’s good to be aware that it’s absolutely filled to the brim with hippie hill people. 
I don’t want to offend any potential hippie readers I might have. I’m a huge supporter of the notion, “You do you, boo”. So, I’m not hating on hippies, per se.
I’m just accurately painting the scene, people. I’m just setting the stage.
So, after a long day of winding roads, weird little backroad towns, and uncomfortable back seat living, we finally made it to our “resort”.
(I have to mention that before we made it to the resort, we stopped at a convenience store. The whole drive there it got foggier and foggier every mile we drove. If that wasn’t creepy enough, my mom said there were two men sitting out in the front of the store who were straight out of Deliverance. She said we don’t remember this part of the trip, because they wouldn’t let us get out of the car!)
Mind you, when one hears “resort”, especially one who watched their Dirty Dancing VHS on repeat, they think rustic, but posh, nicely furnished and expertly appointed “glamping” cabins. 
We all should have known better, for it was my mom (and aunt-I can’t leave her contribution out of this) who booked the place using her discount travel bible.

Again, Grandma is not having any of our shit.
The Mattole River Resort was far from being a resort. 
I remember little snippets from our stay at the Mattole Cult Compound. I think that I blanked out some of the memories to save myself from developing multiple personalities. 
I recall that, as we were bringing our belongings in from the car, doubt set in. The cabins were filthy. Positively disgusting. 
The woman running the place had promised enough beds, because there was a hide-a-bed in the couch. 
When we pulled it out, one of the necessary legs was missing, and instead of a mint on the pillow, there were mouse turds. 
Mouse turds, ya’ll.
In the bed.
When my mom and grandma were looking for another set of sheets, a blanket, hell, even a tarp at this point, they opened a closet to find an unexpected surprise. 
They had no clue what it was, but it was behemoth and a nest of some sort. My mom said they just shut the door and didn’t open it again the rest of the stay. 
I don’t even remember sleeping at this place. As in, I don’t recall being in a bed, covered with a blanket, nothing. I probably slept standing up or in the car. I don’t know how I didn’t just straight run away from my family at this point. 
Apparently, we stayed two or three nights. The first night we arrived it was late, so it’s understandable why we stayed. I’m not quite sure why my mom and aunt subjected us to this horror-story-waiting-to-happen for more nights than were necessary. 
My mom said it was because there was nowhere else to stay for a bajillion miles in all directions. We’d booked our stay, driven hundreds of miles, and it was going to be fun, damnit. 
My mom said, as beautiful as the surrounding landscape was, the Mattole River Resort was, “…horrible in every way.”
Three people who didn’t quite mind the Mattole River Resort were my two cousins and brother.
The daughter of the owner (who, my mom swears, couldn’t have been more than ten years old) took them down to the river and introduced them to pot for the first time.
My brother and two cousins recall that trip being pretty groovy, man.
Every picture from this trip is blurry. Our minds were probably negatively affected by all of the mouse poop. Also, in looking at how young my brother was, I’m wondering if only my cousin was involved in the Mary Jane incident?

As for me, I’m fairly certain my weird neurosis about germs, vermin, and motels with anything less than a four star rating is directly related to our typical Smith** Family stay at the Mattole River Resort. 
I hope my Family Vacations From Hell series has been enjoyable and at least mildly amusing. I hope my stories bring back funny and warm memories from your own past. 
Because I’m a satire writer, everything I write has some sass and asshole to it. These posts were no different. 
It’s important for me to point out, however, that as much as these true accounts sound horrifyingly hilarious, they are some of my most beloved memories.
Had my parents been like every other Dick and June, my memories wouldn’t be nearly as wonderfully ridiculous. 
This series is dedicated to my parents, because thanks to their annoyingly thrifty ways, my brother and I were afforded a childhood filled with amazing trips and experiences. Not only did we go somewhere exciting (or slightly terrifying) every spring break, we spent every summer at our family’s lake cabin, AKA Heaven on Earth. On top of that, they sent us both to Washington, D.C. on a school trip our 8th grade year, and it was my parents who funded the most rewarding experience to date-my trip to the U.K. and Ireland. 
Mom and Dad, you do you, boo. You’re perfectly imperfect just the way you are, sleazebag motels and all. Love you both. 
*Apparently, the cabin was only infested with mice and not rats. That makes it so much better.
**Not our real family name.

34 thoughts on “The Mattole River Resort”

  1. I am also a germaphobe, and I would have repressed anything involving mouse poop so hard. I don’t mind actual mice, but their poop? NO DEAL. We camped a lot with our tent trailer when we were younger and we were able to see so much of Canada, I think those kinds of vacations are being lost. People are so focused on providing the BIG MEMORIES (aka Disney) to their kids but they forget that the relaxed and spontaneous memories are just as important!!

    1. I take my kiddo on at least one road trip a year. smiles. Some kids are still getting drove about the country to see the world’s largest duck decoy. (Size of a semi truck. True Story. Kiddo loved it)

    2. NO DEAL is freaking right! I agree 100%. Nowadays, I think parents feel so pressured to keep up with the Joneses and they feel obligated to constantly provide entertainment to their kids in big ways. The small, weird trips are what I’m most fond of recalling. We also took a trip to Vegas and did the theme park and all of the kid games, but that was just “meh” compared to our nature outings.

  2. If you had been in the back of OUR station wagon in the 70s (technically impossible, but work with me), you’d have been fighting over who gets to ingest the rat poison first. Two psychologists, one a emotionally stunted covert narcissist, the other a guilt-mongering codependent, and their children, the first-born paranoid schizophrenic and the last born over-achiever (that would be moi) all bumbling through a weekend of camping and disappointment on the Wisconsin bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Every. Fucking. Fall.
    I’m surprised I only have three disorders and not eleven.
    When we switched to a cabin on a lake I bumbled my way through my first romance at 13 with another cute kid who was held hostage there by well-meaning but emotionally dysfunctional parents. I made the mistake of contacting him years later to say Hi. Don’t ever do that, just let the memories ride. Lost Land Lake Resort forever, Mike.

  3. I’m thoroughly enjoying these posts about your family trips. They do make me recall ones from my past. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait for the next one.

  4. Brilliant. I love that despite everything these holidays gave you lovely childhood memories. Sometimes the disaster holidays are the best holidays.

  5. Brilliant. Reminds me of some of our trips with the parents round Europe in a Hillman Imp in the 1970’s!

    1. I had to Google “Hillman Imp” and I’m so glad I did!! OMG that car! I love it! I can only imagine what traveling around Europe in one of those would have been like πŸ˜‚πŸ˜

  6. The thing is, you seem like a super-healthy lady. Maybe all this exposure to bacteria and dirt when you were little was what gave you a good constitution? So by taking you to a stink hole they were actually doing you a solid. (ehem or a soiled!?)
    My mum told be horror stories on when her mum booked a cheap cottage in Ireland that was infested with mice. She said the worse moment was finding a mouse dead, inside the milk… after they had finished drinking milky tea. Nooooo!!

    1. HAHAHA! Maybe they did do me a solid (soiled πŸ˜‚)!! I like how you spin things in a positive way, friend πŸ‘β˜ΊοΈ.
      OMG!!! Noooooooo! You would have had to commit me!! I’m SO SCARED of actual live (or dead πŸ™ˆ) mice!!!!!

  7. Rats or no rats; scary fog or not; vampire-slumbers or not- you are SO so lucky! And also- you’re grandma is (was? If so- may she RIP but still) a fucking badass. I can tell. Lmao! Always a good read πŸ˜„

Leave a Reply