Note: This is a collection of horror stories, but shouldn’t discount the fun that actually was had on each of these trips.
In honor of my upcoming trip to see Hilde, who has up and moved herself to California, I thought it only appropriate to count down my least favorite traveling moments. So I might remember that, no matter how crowded an airport or how rude the TSA agent is, some day it will be funny. From vehicle breakdowns to “creams” that can’t be taken on planes, here are some of the worst days of my existence.
5. Estes Park Breakdown
Sometime between 10 and 13 – the awkward years that just blur together – my family and I went to Colorado. And on the day we were to travel to Estes Park, which is accessible through about 500 mountains, our van broke down. At the top of the mountain, in road construction, during a thunderstorm. We sat for hours doing hair wraps (all the rage at the time) until a tow truck could bring us a new battery. Or, because I think this is wrong with every car: a new CV joint boot cover.
The construction workers also told us the last family that broke down up there had “gone on a walk,” gotten struck by lightning, and died. Because on a mountain, there is nowhere else for it to go. And because that’s definitely what you tell 12 year olds who are stuck in vans.
On the up side, my hair had never been more white-girl fabulous.
4. Parade of Red Pants
In high school, a few dance team members and myself went to New York City to dance for the Macy’s Day Parade. Not only did we perform in front of the store, however, we got to walk in the parade. All 600 of us. Which meant we ALL had to get on the subway at the same time. And I have never seen anything more crowded, especially with people wearing the same damn red pants.
But like all worst stories, the best worst part is the vomiting. In between trains, my future roommate hurled over the railings and onto the rats below. Like a true New Yorker. Meanwhile, the rest of us tried to keep our orthopedic “dance” shoes white in a dirt-infested environment. If the homeless hadn’t been so friendly, I might’ve picked the puking.
3. The Traveling Marathon
When traveling back to the U.S. from overseas, you’d think you’d have a good idea what to expect. At least in length of time; you’ve already done it once, how can be be that different? But in reality, flying home somehow takes much longer. The wind is against you – in both terms of the meaning, U.S. customs actually gives a crap as to what you’re bringing in their borders, and two hours is not enough time to get back through security. Then 27 hours of travel and one illegally smuggled apple later, all you want is some Mexican food. Except there is a 15 minute wait and, while sleep and American food deprived, you cry at the hostess stand and opt for a burger instead. Because European beef does not taste like American beef. Not even a little bit.
2. Stratton, Colorado
Another awful vehicle break down in Stratton, Colorado. You’ve never heard of it because there’s nothing there.
En route to Vegas (yes, driving, I don’t want to talk about it) our Mark III, sick with a bum fuel pump, stopped working. On a holiday weekend. Which actually only left us stranded for the better part of the day. Time which I took as an opportunity to people watch the locals and fight the town restaurant’s no-beer-before-5 p.m. rule
1. This Day of Fails
In case you’re wondering what will happen if you take a jar of free, unopened peanut butter on a plane (in a carry on), it’s this: the TSA agent will manhandle your underwear in public, ask if it’s your peanut butter, confiscate it, and then ask you to put your bag back in order. Because of privacy.
Like the best of us, traveling (or general lack of sleep) makes me testy, so good luck to all my nearby flight companions. Especially my sister.