When I think of bad car trips, two jump immediately to mind. They’re automatic, and come pre-loaded. Then I have to dig a bit deeper. But I certainly have no problem coming up with a handful of road stories gone awry. Today I’d like to share them with you, and let you guys take it from there. Hopefully you have some tales to tell, as well? Good, let’s get started.
For about five years my parents lived in Charlotte, NC. I think they moved there to be closer to my brother and me, because they had absolutely no connection to the place. It was a surprising and slightly bizarre decision, after 50-some years of living in Dunbar, WV. But it worked for everyone.
Shortly after Toney and I started dating, we went to visit my folks in Charlotte. After a day or two, we were all going to jump in their car and continue on to Dunbar. I can’t remember why we were going there, but it was probably to see my grandmother. It feels like it was Christmastime.
Toney and I sat in the backseat, and both my mom and dad smoked one cigarette after another. I mean, it was relentless; they were going to town with it. They had their windows rolled down roughly 1.5 inches each, which was supposed to take care of it. However, that plan proved to be largely ineffective.
But, I’d grown up inside a cloud of cig smoke, and Toney had, as well. So, that wasn’t the worst of it. They also had their dog with them, a little terrier named Tojo for some reason. And he seemed intent on matching their smoke output with his own release of pungent weaponized ass vapor. That thing was farting Kleenex-style: as soon as one was out, another was instantly ready to go. And every time he’d let loose, my dad would shout, “Oh god, he just went off again!!”
I didn’t even know Toney all that well, as I recall. So, it was a mixture of being amused by the absurdity of it all, and mortification. Oh, it was quite the trip.
Around the same time, we went to visit Toney’s family on the west coast. And, through an unlikely series of events, ended up riding in her sister’s beat-to-shit Jetta, from Eugene, Oregon to Reno, Nevada… That car had no air conditioning, of course, and looked like it had sustained ten or twelve barrel-rolls down the side of a rock cliff.
Again, I was in the back seat, and it was one of the more uncomfortable days of my life. It was super-hot, all the windows were down so there was shit flying around inside the car the whole time, and she was blasting some horrible World Music garbage that made me consider flinging open one of the back doors, and just doing a tuck and roll.
Also, she refused to stop. All of us eventually had to pee, but were forced into testing the absolute outer-limits of the human bladder. I felt like a piss camel, developing a larger and larger hump with each mile driven. Eventually Toney flew off the handle, and we stopped at a Wendy’s. By that time it felt like my insides were on fire, and there was internal bruising that stayed with me for days. It was insanity! I still don’t understand. Is urination a sign of weakness?
My final story happened when I was 18 or 19. I was driving my parents’ big ol’ green station wagon, with wood paneling on the sides, from Lexington, Kentucky to Dunbar. It was me, my girlfriend Kelly, my brother Tim, and our little cousin Todd.
Again, I can’t clearly remember how this all came about. Todd was only five or six at the time. I wouldn’t have allowed my young kid to go on the road with some dipshit teenage Jeff Kay. I mean, seriously. But anyway.,,
At some point, when we were in the deepest recesses of nowhere, one of our front tires exploded. I mean, the shit just blew up and nearly disappeared. I was able to maintain, and came to a stop on the side of the highway.
My brother and I attempted to put on the spare, but ran into problems. I can’t recall the details, but we determined that that was no longer an option. Maybe the spare was flat too? I can’t remember. So, what to do? This was long before cell phones, and there was nothing around us except open fields and trees. Literally, no buildings or signs of civilization…
It felt like I was in charge, which I didn’t care for. This whole thing could easily come off the rails. We had a little kid with us. This was no good.
So, I asked my brother to stay with Todd, and Kelly and I started walking. We had no idea how far the next exit might be, but had few options. And about a mile into our little stroll, a car pulled over. “You folks stranded?” the driver shouted.
They looked like the man and woman from the American Gothic painting. That was certainly better than a middle aged man in a clown outfit, but I was still apprehensive. When they offered us a ride to the nearest gas station, though, I took them up on it. We climbed into the back seat of their car, taking the kind of risk I never take, and were off.
And they were strange. They barely spoke to us, which was odd, I thought. They just stared straight ahead, with no expressions. “They’ll never find our bodies,” I was thinking. And the look on Kelly’s face made me believe she was on the same page.
But they dropped us at a garage, as promised, and those guys took care of us. I don’t even think they charged us anything. Within a half-hour we were back on the road, and made it home safe ‘n’ sound. Rough day, though. It was one of the more stressful events of my early life. The presence of a first-grader ratcheted everything up a hundred notches or so.
Now I’m going to turn it over to you guys. Please use the comments to tell us about your worst car trips ever.
And I’ll see you again soon.
Have a great day, my friends!
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jim britton says
“pungent weaponized ass vapor”
Can Jeff write, or what? That’s golden!
Surly Shawn says
I don’t feel like typing it up right now, but do not go on road trips with people you barely know. They should be Good Friends or greater.
Life lessons 201.
Steve in WV says
The worst road trip I can remember was coming home from my cousin’s graduation, in Manteo (sp?) North Carolina, on the outer banks. At the time, traffic getting on and off that damn peninsula was an exercise in patience of the highest order. Only one two lane bridge and as I recall, it was a tiny two lane road all the way to Newport News.
At some point, someone decided we should stop at Langley Air Force Base to tour some museum. I don’t recall. By the time we made it to Norfolk, we had already invested a good 4 hours in it and still had 6 or 7 to go (without the stop at Langley). I believe we finally crossed the Kanawha at 8 PM, a full 14 hours after we started.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
Driving southbound from NYC to Florida back in July of 1987 during a heatwave in a 1972 Impala without AC was a pretty daggum uncomfortable trip. Being tailed for about 15 miles by a sheriff deputy in a rural South Georgia county was downright unnerving. We did not get pulled, so at least I did not get to experience a county lock-up during this trip.
My worst road trip would have been when I was 17. My older sister had gotten married recently and her hubby joined the Army. After basic training they were stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. For some reason, my parents thought it would be a good idea if us younger kids went down for a visit. So I got put in charge of my little sister and brother, Dad gave me a couple of hundred dollars, a map and told me to watch my speed and off we went. An 8 hour drive. I was scared shitless the entire time, I was worried the car might break or if I got off to get gas I was worried I’d get turned around and get lost. Meanwhile my siblings didn’t stop pestering me to stop for this that and whatever. Nothing bad happened but it wasn’t much fun.
Two weeks after Easter, 1994. My ex-husband’s grandmother had unexpectedly died in Scranton, PA. We loaded up the Astro with all 4 kids, the youngest 7 months old, and left Lexington,KY headed to MD then on to PA. About 4 hours into the trip the van just dies. We had only had the thing 6 weeks and it was brand new. Fortunately we had made it to the brand new Days Inn in Sutton, WVa. On the down side it was Sunday afternoon, and nothing was open. We got the car towed to a small gas station in Gasaway and we settled in with all the kids in a hotel room. There was no restaurant, so we had to walk to the closest McDonald’s for dinner. The next morning Kev heads to the garage and I am trying to entertain the kids, all the while keeping everyone apprised of the car situation. At 4:30 the garage tells us they have no idea what was wrong, the insurance company would only rent us a subcompact, and Kevin was rapidly losing his mind. We get to the garage, and they quite literally have the van torn apart. We get our funeral clothes, and take off in the garage owners 1980 Delta 88. We drop the older 3 kids with my mom at 8 pm in MD then continue on to Scranton.
There is more to the story…we made it to the funeral with 5 minutes to spare… ended up stuck in MD all week…and finally got our car back on Friday. It was a nightmare at the time, but it is funny as hell now.
my posts aren’t posting!
This is only a figment of my imagination. =-)
I keep getting an error and to look at search when I type anything longer than 2 paragraphs.
I’ll keep it short – NY to Montreal. My friend Diane and I took a vacation. She was driving as we crossed the border. I looked up from a small snooze and see a van coming up to us, honking, flashing the lights and some dude waving out the window. I was about to roll my window down to wave when I noticed he was busy jerkin’ the gherkin. What a lovely welcome from our neighbors up north. We laughed and raised our pinkies (universal sign for little dick) and he roared off flipping us the bird.
We are no where near as puritan as you folks south of the (49th//) border. Probably got a bit of an eye opener to some of the sites when you got to Montreal as well.
The Qweezy Mark says
Is the Pussy Corps still there?
I can’t think of any bad road trips. The only time they where a bit uncomfortable if it was a longer trip in my grand fathers 1976 Nova as it had vinyl seats. Black vinyl seats. In the days before window tinting was a common thing. Hot stick to your skin black vinyl… oh the agony. That experienced probably engrained into me never to own anything with vinyl or leather seats. Cloth thank you very much.
I think I was about 9 or 10 y.o…. My dad and I set out in my mother’s big-ass 4-door maroon Lincoln Continental for our annual trek to Avalon, NJ. My mother had already flown ahead to Philly to help my sister with her new baby….not to be confused the the old baby, (I know yinz were thinkin it!)…..then meeting us at the shore.
It was hotter than new love the day we left. Seven hours into a long hot trip while on the Atlantic City Expressway, the car’s air conditioner shit the bed. It instantly was suffocating in that boat. Tried to roll the windows down. Nothing. I climbed into the back seat and tried those windows. Nothing. The electrical system shit the bed too. I thought my dad was gonna drive that car over a cliff. He pulled over to the guard rail as close as he could. After monkeying with it, he somehow got the windows down but had to take that shit bucket in for service at the shore.
In 2011, I carpooled with complete strangers via a Meetup group from the midstate to Philly for a political march and presidential candidate rally. I was really excited until I reached the driver’s house (at the appointed time) and saw her clunker car. The driver spent a good hour or more cleaning out some of the junk in it, and I began to get a little nervous that we wouldn’t make it to the events on time. Already late, we departed the driver’s house and then spent another hour picking up a Whitman’s Sampler of assorted weirdos: A senior lady who wouldn’t stop talking about herself and her politics, some guy who had some health impairments, and some creepy dude. I was allotted about five square inches of butt space on the seat due to the car being packed with junk and the escapees from the Island of Misfit Toys.
The car interior was coated in half an inch of stinky dog hair mixed with dirt and god-knows-what, and it was humid as heck inside. During the drive, I saw ants crawling around the floor, and I think my soul attempted to depart my body at that point.
It was pouring rain and 47 degrees outside, and the car had no working heater! The windows fogged up, and the torrential rain made visibility almost zero. The driver was doing 80+ mph in horrific conditions on the Schuyl-KILL Expressway, and the car skid repeatedly as we hit pools of water on the road. I debated whether I should ask the driver to slow down, but the freezing cold slowed my brain processes and all I could do was just brace for impact!
Luckily, I made it there and back again intact. The events themselves were remarkable for unbearably cold conditions and other reasons. Needless to say, that was the first and last time that I have ever carpooled with strangers.
Now I’m really curious as to which candidate y’all were supporting.
Well, obviously a Democrat.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
I blame Obama
Wisey in Ttown says
Skippy in WV says
I worked for a floral wholesaler and would have to drive from one hub to another with shipment. I drive one of the Sprinter vans. I was about 15 mins into a 2 hr trip, and I felt “the rumbling”. I hoped and prayed it was gas, and tried to let a bit of pressure off via the pressure release valve. It wasn’t. I clenched up once I realised this, then as soon as safely possible, I pulled onto the shoulder, ran around popped the side doors, and dropped trou (and deuce) in the side of the highway. While I’m in the process I see flashing blue lights. A WV Trooper peeks HER head around the open door and sees what I’m doin. She gets a real embarassed look on her face, walks away, then comes back. When she came back she hands me a roll of TP and says to me “if ya work on the road, ya gotta be prepared”. (I had napkins to use, that was so much better though. Lol) She continued to sit there, the entire evacuation process, with her lights on, making people give me ample room to shit on the side of I-64. Good times.
ANother quick story – NY to Florida. My mother in law’s husband passed away and she was threatening to throw out a lot of valuable stuff Beloved has stored in her house. Left NY Thursday, arrived in FL Friday. Went to some faux funeral at some “Church of the Sacred Grapefruit” on Saturday and we were back in NY Sunday. I had a bad case of pancake ass from that haul which I did 80% of the driving since Beloved had eye surgery. I walked around like one of Jerry’s kids for about 10 days after,
Last one – Circa 1972. My dad took me and 2 of my sisters to the city for a cruise on the Circle Line – basically a dilapidated boat that cruised around Manhattan up and down the Hudson River. Driving home, the car shit the bed on the Cross Bronx Expressway. We walked for what felt like miles and ended up at a White Castle. The only thing white in that place was our four faces. The brutha’s were definitely checking out the crackers. We had to wait outside on the curb for my grandfather to pick us up. He didn’t even put the car in park. We floored out of that parking lot screeching on 2 wheels. Not a nice ‘hood. My mother was frantic when we finally got home.
Wisey in Ttown says
Can we dance with your dates?
Phil Jett says
June of 1981 I graduated from school in Orlando at noon. I loaded up my 1971 Nova with all my belongings, a six pack of Mountain Dew and a family sized bag of Taco flavored Doritos and drove to Ohio State to pick up a buddy and his girlfriend and then straight on to Ohiopyle, Pa. for a rafting trip the next morning. Just under 18 hours to complete the trip with stops only for gas, pissing and friend retrieval. I owned that car for 6 years and never had a single breakdown or repair.
Root 66 says
Rather than focus on one trip in particular, I will focus on one vehicle–our 1989 Ford Aerostar. Every trip in that rolling wagon of death was a total throw of the dice!
We were once stranded in the little town of Hillsboro (Hellsboro,) Ohio on a Sunday afternoon as we attempted to get to a family reunion. The van just decided to shut down (found out much later that the fuel pump was on the fritz.) Fortunately, some family members got suspicious of our absence and went on a manhunt to find us. Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees that day? Yeah, that was an absolute ball!
A few years later–same van, we are traveling to my sister’s near Cincinnati for Christmas. The heater/defroster decides to go belly-up. So with two kids and one infant, we try to keep them from freezing to death since it was well below zero that day. Good times…
Brooming that worthless hunk-o-junk was the happiest day of my life!
I can’t think of any bad road trips, but I am getting ready to travel from St. Louis, MO to Boston, MA with my husband and in-laws. My in-laws are cool, but I’ve never been in a car with them that long before. Hell, I don’t know that I’ve spent that kind of time in a car with my husband, or my own parents. Also, I think everyone is under the impression that it will only take roughly 15 hours to get there, and I call BS on that. We shall see.
The Qweezy Mark says
Nope. A pretty full day of driving got me from Columbia, MO to just outside of Cleveland a few years back. About 10 hrs. with a couple of rest stops. Knock off 2 hrs. because St. Louis is further East. You can expect the same or maybe 30 minutes less to Boston from there whether you take I-90 in NY or I-80 to I-84 in PA into New England. My educated guess is 18-19. Just enough extra time for a ridiculous argument and much discomfort to germinate.