Whale Of A Time
Wildlife sightseeing became a distracted-driving disaster on one couple’s scenic road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. “It was enchanting. Before leaving Southern Oregon, we spotted a pod of gray whales—our first breach of the trip,” recalls Christopher Grant of Brooklyn, N.Y. They were so excited, in fact, that they jumped out of the car to get a better view. The only problem? “The car wasn’t in park, so it kept moving,” Grant says. Fortunately, his girlfriend chased down the runaway vehicle, and was able to jump in and hit the brakes. Grant’s revelation: “Luckily, she’s a fast runner!”
Mind If We Crash?
How do you turn a 1967 van into a portable swimming pool? Drive it from one tailgate party to another nonstop for 16 weeks, like Austin-based football fan Rhett Grametbauer did—until his luck with good weather ran out: “Halfway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, we came face-to-face with the kind of thunderstorm that stranded Gilligan on an island for three years,” Grametbauer says. Drops of water were coming through vents above his head. Then the floor began to take on water. What’s more, Hail Mary (his nickname for the van) had bald tires and no windshield wipers. Then the hotel where they pulled over had no available rooms. “One friend took the backseat, one the middle seat, and I slept across the front seat,” he says. “I always tell people we stayed at the hotel, we just did not stay inside the hotel.”
That Not-New Car Smell
Most rentals hook you up with GPS navigation and intelligent parking assistance. But smell-checks? Not so much. Amy Dorsey of Arlington, Va., and three college friends learned that the hard way after exploring a beach in New Zealand. “One of my friends discovered the beach was strewn with cool-looking (dead) tiny jellyfish and started collecting them in a sandwich bag to mail them to her best friend as a joke. We pointed out this probably wasn’t doable, but she insisted, and we forgot about [the bag until] a few days later—a hot day when we left the car parked in a lot while we went exploring in another city.” Finding the culprit of the horrendous smell that wafted out of the car when they returned took much digging around in bags and sniffing: It was the forgotten and rotting jellyfish tucked into a backpack. Maybe there’s a market for an in-dash stink alert?
Going on your own trip soon? Check out the 11 road trip essentials you’ll need.
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By Robin Hilmantel