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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Tales of true traumatic travels

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of traveling a good ten hours back and forth from Madison to Minneapolis. Although I got off these trips relatively scot-free, that has certainly not been the case for most of my travels. 

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to do a lot of traveling for this fine publication. I had an absolutely smashing time on all of these trips, but none of them went through without a wrinkle. Whenever I travel, in fact, I go prepared for nearly every sort of malady—cans of V8 in case I can only find deep-fried food for the whole trip, various sizes of band aids, roadside assistance cards, Tide To Go pens, you name it—and I still end up in some sort of straits I didn’t intend to end up in. 

From the beginning of my experiences with traveling (family road trips), I have come to expect something to go wrong. Our extended family uses the cute name of “Beggin family vacations” to describe the effect my nuclear family has on any tropical place we may visit—30 mph winds and 50 degree weather. I cannot tell you how many cashiers, hotel concierges and tour guides from Florida, California and Mexico have said, “This weather is just an anomaly, you’ll have to visit again…”

A chip off the ol’ block, I’ve brought that luck to my independent travel as well. My first trip for the Cardinal was to Bonnaroo in Machester, Tenn. On the way there, I witnessed about 40 feet of bloody carnage on the side of the road where some semi-truck had attacked a pack of deer, did my best Wilhelm scream and woke up my co-traveler at about 3:00 a.m. 

Of course, I had to create some sort of adventure for our way back, so I inadvertently befriended a marketer of downers. Oh, the people you meet at Bonnaroo. So, after an hour-long conversation and carrying Frisbees, key chains and stickers with the drug’s logo on it and some samples of a questionable “anti-energy drink” named “Slowtivate,” we hit the road. 

Then, after we slept in a gas station parking lot, my co-traveler decided to get an olive-steak sandwich from Subway for breakfast. Needless to say, we ended up at another gas station in rural Kentucky with him bent over the porcelain bowl, plagued with food poising. 

Me, having the attention span of a 6 year old on Christmas Eve, decided to explore the gas station grounds (fascinating, I know) and ended up locking the keys in the car. For my pal paying homage to the porcelain god, I think that’s about as close as it could have gotten to his worst nightmare. It was only through sheer luck and a cashier with a nearly incomprehensible southern drawl that we were able to pick the lock and get on the way. 

Of course, that was just one trip. My next trip, from Madison to Austin, Texas for SXSW last spring had it’s own share of wrinkles. With a serious cat allergy but no place to go, my friend and I had to crash at my aunt’s house in Lawrence, Kan., which was conveniently half way between Madison and Austin. 

I had forgotten that not only does she have a cat, she has two, and they absolutely rule the house. Within 10 minutes, my eyes were barely recognizable underneath the red, swollen flaps of skin that were my eyelids. I washed my hands so I could itch them, but when I went to dry my hands, all the towels were covered in cat hair, too. It’s a wonder I didn’t scare away the cats by my pure fury and likeness to a napalm victim. 

Anyway, these are just a couple tales of many. I am leaving for Paris in January, so who knows what sort of shenanigans I will get myself into in a foreign country… let’s just hope I make it back alive, with some good stories in my arsenal.

Got your own travel stories to share? Email Riley at with comments.

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