The Worst Trip Ever?

I was asked that question just the other day. You’re not going to believe this, but I have no recollection of any trip I’ve ever taken that I would consider a failure.  If I’m traveling, I’m enjoying myself. It’s just that simple.

To be sure, however, there have been parts or segments of trips that have been difficult or unpleasant or disappointing.

On one occasion, I was on the Sunset Limited, traveling across the country from Los Angeles to Orlando, Florida.

My plan was to rent a car in Orlando and drive back across the state to Captiva Island in the Gulf of Mexico, off the city of Fort Myers. I was heading to Captiva for a visit with my mother and father who were retired and living there at the time.

Unfortunately, for reasons I no longer remember, as the train was slowing for its stop in New Orleans, we were informed by a conductor that there was a problem with the track somewhere up ahead of us and we would be bussed to Orlando, a distance of some 650 miles.

As much as I enjoy train travel, going any distance by bus is at the opposite end of that particular spectrum. I calculated that, allowing for pit stops and for a meal, I was looking at a 12-hour bus ride followed by a 4 or 5-hour drive in a rental car from Orlando to Captiva. 

Almost in a panic, I blurted out that I couldn’t stand the thought of a 12-hour bus ride and I thought I’d leave the train in New Orleans, rent a car and drive directly from there to Captiva.

The conductor looked at me and shook his head sadly. “Son,” he said, “We’re celebrating Mardi Gras in N’Awlins! The Good Lord Sweet Jesus Christ Himself couldn’t get a rental car in this town tonight!”

I was unaware that it was Mardi Gras and of course the conductor was right. Having no real choice, I was transferred to an Amtrak bus and completed my trans-continental journey to Orlando with a stop for breakfast at a diner where I joined my fellow passengers in ordering grits with our sausage and eggs. When in Rome, right?