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    Jul '20

    Your Most Epic Travel Calamity | Contest 8

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    in Of Interest

    We have winners!

    Had there been even the slightest doubt in our minds that sometimes things do go wrong on a trip, especially an off-the-beaten-track expedition trip, your replies to last issue’s challenge would have dispelled them. We asked you to describe Your Most Epic Travel Calamity (some of us, by the way, hoping all the while that we wouldn’t hear about any that we were personally responsible for). You sent us blurbs that are definitely-epic and funny-in-retrospect.

    The lesson we can learn from our winners, it seems, is that it takes a village to deal with an outing where everything goes wrong. Thus our winning entry has three authors—Phyllis Pepper, Anne Kahle, and, acting as scribe, Bea Heise—who shared an adventure that must have spawned many a story over many a drink in many a bar. Bea’s tag line is:

    “The best laid plan: a simple birding excursion culminating in a delicious BBQ dinner. Comfy minivan, paved roads…pretty simple! But we missed dinner — you’d believe these perfectly logical reasons…wouldn’t you? Totally lost drivers who didn’t speak English, armed guards, detours, a bicycle race, a speeding ticket, a flat tire, dead two-way radios, a near-miss head-on collision, and every traveler’s bucket list destinations: an abandoned airport and a cement factory!”


    Only one thing really went wrong for David Hoar, our runner-up in the contest…but it went wrong repeatedly, and in the worst possible place: the middle of the Serengeti.

    “Departing Arusha in a Safari equipped Toyota 4X4 to cross the Serengeti turned out to be memorable in many ways. Annie, as our driver had named the vehicle, had already clocked over 450,000 km of hard driving. Five breakdowns from a simple flat to broken steering had handicapped the trip by the time we abandoned it about 2 hours short of the border crossing into Kenya. We were thankful that the driver was capable and had a network of contacts reachable by phone.”

    And if these short blurbs whet your appetite for more of the story, as they did ours, then stay tuned—we have reached out to our winners, and plan to bring you full-length versions next time around.

    Your Most Epic Travel Calamity

    So, experienced expedition travelers, has everything always gone smoothly and according to plan on all your trips? We didn’t think so. Travel is challenging, and the farther off the beaten track you venture, the more likely you are to end up stranded in an airport, broken down on a remote road, or bereft of luggage in some outlandish foreign port.

    But something else we all know: these misadventures make the best stories. And now, we want to hear them. Send us a brief summary of Your Most Epic Travel Calamity, in 75 words or less. The deadline will be Monday, August 3, and your entry won’t be visible until then. Our panel of judges, each one a master of disaster him- or herself, will choose the blurb that elicits the deepest sympathetic groans and/or the loudest now-it’s-funny laughter.

    Then we will reach out to the winner(s) and ask them to give us the whole story of their grand catastrophe. Because, after all, who wants to hear about a trip that went perfectly?

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