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My Trip to Judecca. Or, The Most Disgusting Vacation in History.

By falkenberg in Culture
Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I think perhaps my sins caught up with me on my last vacation. It very nearly was my last vacation, my very own home-grown Inferno. But horrible as it was, at least it was unique. It isn't every trip a man is threatened with prison for the crime of being poisoned.

I currently live in Austin. It's a nice enough place, but because of work and personal commitments I hadn't been more than 50 miles from Austin in years. I was getting pretty sick of seeing and doing the same things again and again, I had been without a girlfriend for months, my job had settled into a boring routine... I decided I needed something utterly different. I decided a cave was just the thing.

I had been kind of fascinated by caves for most of my life. When I was a child, visiting caves was a standard part of our summer vacations. We went to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the caves under Lookout Mountain, others that I don't remember clearly anymore. I decided to revisit Carlsbad Caverns. I remembered how cool I thought it was when I went there at age 12. It was close enough for two days' easy drive or one day of hard driving, and far enough that I would be completely out of familiar territory. It sounded perfect. I figured while I was out there I would also visit the mountains in New Mexico. I had always enjoyed the kind of stark beauty of the high pine forests. I needed to get out away from all the noise and the crowds and the air pollution. I decided I would tour the cave, hike some in the national parks, and generally spend enough time in the high lonesome to get the city burned out of my system.

My car was old enough that I would have been a bit nervous taking it on a trip as long as what I had planned. So I rented a car. I made sure it was less than a year old, thinking that would free me from worry about breakdowns. I took a big wad of cash with me, just in case. I've never really trusted card payment systems and I'm old enough to remember travelers' checks, and I figure it can't hurt to have the means to pay for things even when the phone lines are down. I also put a couple of gallons of water in the trunk, just in case the engine overheated.

I had spent years traveling on the congested highways in the Austin area, and I was tired of having to contend with traffic. So, I figured I would go out on the lesser roads, the state highways and the county roads, rather than the Interstate. I thought, that way not only would I avoid traffic, but I'd get a better feel of what the rest of the state of Texas really looks like. With hopes of being invigorated by new sights and the possibility of adventure, on a clear Saturday morning I entered my rented vehicle and set forth.

Because of nature, most of Texas west of Austin looks like an ash heap. Because of the oil industry, most of that area stinks like Satan's armpit. And because of man, the entire area is rich with the evidence of decay and failure. With the possible exception of the Gobi desert, no place else can you find so much nothing full of so much ugliness. Every small town I went through showed the unmistakable glaze of poverty and hopelessness. With one exception, everything was rusted through and worn out and on the verge of falling over.

San Angelo was surprisingly nice. The downtown part, although tiny, was clean and orderly. San Angelo was the ONLY Texas town on the entire trip where it looked like the local population had not surrendered to despair. It was the only place that showed any sign of people trying to keep things nice. Maybe it's because that was the only town in that part of the state where there is still some money.

The land between San Angelo and Fort Stockton is ugly. Ugly. Ugly. There is NOTHING there but rock, sand, thorns, gravel, dust, rust, rot, abandoned oil field equipment, and ancient buildings falling apart. If someone took snapshots of that country and airbrushed out the fences and thorn bushes, you'd swear you were looking at pictures from fucking Mars. The people who live out there look as sandblasted and hopeless as their skeletal cattle. There are mesas and hills you could climb to get a wide panoramic view but you shouldn't do it, because the view is of bleak, ugly emptiness.

The land between Fort Stockton and Pecos is horrible enough to drive strong men insane. There isn't even a mesa to interest the eye - it's as flat as stale beer and sunbaked like an alkali pizza. Suicide because of depression is probably considered death by natural causes out there. Fuck west Texas. Now that the oil is gone we should saw it off and give it back to Mexico, or give it back to its original owner, Satan.

I stopped for the night in the town of Pecos, Texas. Pecos is a dingleberry on the ass of Hell. It is unspeakably ugly. The entire place looks like a dry-rot ghost town, even the parts that are still inhabited. In Pecos I swear to God you can't tell where the pavement stops and the ground starts.

In the huge truck stop restaurant I entered, I noticed several men seated at a counter looking up, obviously watching a TV set. They were animatedly discussing whatever was showing - I thought it was probably a rodeo or NASCAR race or some similar redneck shitkicker sport. When I reached a spot where I could see the TV, it was showing a weather report. That faded into a traveler's advisory about high winds and possible flash flood areas. That gave way to a blurb about missing children. The entire time I was in that restaurant, the TV showed nothing but things like public service announcements and weather news and farm reports and locations of highway rest stops.

Can you imaging a place that is so lifeless the people there get excited over watching news about highway closures? It does exist. I saw it.

I decided to leave and drive around town to see if I could find some other place to eat. The cemetery in Pecos is in the center of town and it is huge - it takes up about half the town. Pecos must a damned unhealthy place to live. There was only one place, on the main drag, that looked like it wouldn't give me food poisoning. When I got there it was 9:04. It was closed. On Friday night, they close at 9 PM. They don't just close at 9, they run people out - one of the locals in the parking lot told me that customers have to actually leave their seats and be out the door by 9. I wound up eating a cardboard burger at a Sonic drive-in.

The southeast corner of New Mexico is every bit as dry, scorched, ugly, and depressing as west Texas. If anything, it stinks even worse. But I did arrive at my destination. My first day in Carlsbad, I did not go immediately to the caves. I decided to check out the scenery. The eastern part of Carlsbad, near the Pecos River, looks kind of OK. Sort of old-time middle America meets the Anasazi. The western part looks like your standard road town strip-mall hell, except drier and dustier than usual.

I decided to check out some of the local attractions other than the caves. In doing so I found the New Mexico highway department has a really stupid and annoying way of marking distances. When the sign reads, "Destination X, soandso miles," apparently it does NOT mean soandso miles until you arrive at Destination X. It means soandso miles until you reach an intersection where you have to turn onto another road in order to get closer to Destination X.

I was looking for a place the tourist bureau advertisements called Sitting Bull Falls. The pictures made it look like some kind of pocket rain forest up in the canyons. I turned off the highway where a sign read, "Sitting Bull Falls 22 miles." I came to another sign that pointed down a different road, and it read, "Sitting Bull Falls 11 Miles." I turned onto that road. After 15 or 20 minutes I came to another sign that pointed down another road, and this one read, "Sitting Bull Falls 10 Miles." I knew damn good and well I couldn't have driven all that time and gone only one mile, so I reset my trip odometer. Sure enough, when the odometer read 9.8 miles, I came to another sign that pointed down another road, and it read, "Sitting Bull Falls 8 Miles." So I had driven almost an hour and covered 43 miles, and I still could not be sure how much farther it was. I gave up and went back to Carlsbad.

I still had a lot of day to kill, so I decided to go to a park at a man-made lake north of Carlsbad. I'd seen it on the map and I figured I'd take a swim. There is nothing in that so-called park. Nothing. There's about a dozen concrete picnic tables. No trees, no shade, no plants but cactus and scraggly-ass thorn bushes. The "beach" is brick-red pea gravel. The water is the color of weak coffee and blood-warm and it smelled bad. I had driven about 40 miles and paid a $5 entry fee to find a lake that looked and smelled like a runoff pit in a steel mill slag heap.

Suspecting that I was going to regret leaving Austin, I returned to the motel and spend the rest of the day floating in the tiny swimming pool and watching television. So far, my attempt to escape tedium had resulted in my finding nothing but ugliness and depression. Hoping that tomorrow would be another day, I nodded off to a dream about my car breaking down in the middle of the Joshua Tree National Forest.

The next morning came clear and cool and I was up early. The air was clean and the dust had settled during the night so it was only a minor nuisance. The morning felt hopeful, and I loaded my stuff back in the car (no way am I going to trust a motel room lock or the cleaning staff with my possibles). I found a Shoney's open for breakfast, and it was very pleasant. It had been years since I had eaten a morning meal more substantial than a bagel and coffee. That was why I had left Austin - so I could find a situation where I could relax and take my time like that. I was considerably heartened when I finished and got back on the road.

I dallied on may way, stopping often to get out and look around. Flat and bleak and desolate, but at least it was different. At White City, I turned onto the road that led into the park. The road to Carlsbad Caverns wound uphill for miles on the sides of a steep-walled canyon. The road more or less followed the course of a dry creek, and the area was thickly covered with armed and dangerous vegetation, with impressive rock formations. It was actually beautiful in a grim sort of way. I turned around and went back and forth a couple of times, to see the canyon from different angles. There were a couple of hairpin turns and one section of very steep slope. On the way up, I pulled off into an overlook area and stood on the low rock wall at the edge. The view was magnificent - I could see for miles down the canyon, out onto the flat desert hundreds of feet below that stretched to the horizon. It was the first time in decades I had been in a place with air clear enough to see so far, and I felt great.

The parking lot at the visitor center was pretty well full - there were several tour groups there, including one from Germany. I overheard a couple talking about living in a town where I had been stationed in Germany when I was in the Army, decades ago. I invited them into the coffee shop and bought us some stuff while I asked them what Germany is like now. The inside of the building also had several exhibits about types of rock and how the caves were formed and the bats that lived there, and I killed a good bit of time checking them out. I even got real touristy and spent a good bit of time in the souvenir shop, buying some posters and a calendar that featured some of the cave's more impressive formations.

By this time it was almost noon. I decided to take the unguided trip down the natural entrance to the cave, rather than take the elevator down. That's the most strenuous trip because it's the longest, but it's also one that lets you see the greatest part of the cave that tourists are allowed into. And it's the way we had gone when I and my family had visited the cave so many years before. So I bought my ticket, and followed the trail across the gully that separates the visitor center from the natural entrance.

At the natural entrance to the cave, there is a stone-seat amphitheater where people sit to watch the bats take flight at dusk. To enter the cave I went down the stairs beside the seats. They led to a step trail that was a series of hairpin-turn switchbacks that wound back and forth down the face of a steep slope. It was kind of like going down a fire escape only not quite straight down.

I started out fine, just trucking along downward. The farther I went, the more the rock on the other side of the entrance slowly stretched overhead. I got almost all the way down into the part of the carve they call the twilight zone - a region where it isn't full dark but the natural light coming in isn't enough. All the time there was the sense of that cave roof looming over me on the other side of a huge gap. And that's when I started to lose it.

I'm acrophobic - scared of heights. I have the genuine article where your knees start to buckle and you get vertigo and you start to waver like a top that's running down. But I hadn't had an attack in years. Hell, on the way up when I stopped at the overlook point on the road, I had stood on the edge of a drop of hundreds of feet while I admired the view, and had no problem. You might expect someone to feel claustrophobia or fear of the dark in a cave, but fear of heights?

But there it was. I think what set me off was the awareness of the overhang. Looking up and across the void at the overhang made me start to feel wobbly. It was the looking up that did it. And the farther I went, the worse it got.

It was too late to go back. There were lots of people coming down behind me. If I tried going up against the flow it would be dangerous for everyone. The trail was narrow, nowhere more than 3 feet wide. AND, there was no !@#$ guard rail. I shit you not - a steep trail winding down the outside of a slope at about a 60 degree angle, and for the first hundred feet or so down, the only thing between hikers and the void was bricks that stuck up about 2 inches, just enough to stub a toe on and make you stumble.

I was afraid of the drop beside the trail and I was afraid to stop. I worried that if I stopped I might not be able to force myself to start again. What would happen if I freaked out and couldn't make myself move? Would the park rangers have to drag me out somehow? That formed a lovely picture in my head - me on a stretcher or in a fireman's carry on a narrow, winding, steep trail in almost total darkness. And I weigh almost 200 pounds. They would have to completely stop traffic on the trail. If someone had to try to evacuate me, most likely the only result would be we would die together. Christ, I had to keep moving.

I stayed as close to the uphill edge of the trail as I could. I pulled down the bill of my baseball cap and fixed my eyes on the trail right in front of my feet so I couldn't see anything but the pavement of the trail surface. And I kept forcing myself to move my feet, a little at a time. Shaking, sweating bullets, I proceeded down. I figured my only chance was to reach the bottom. There, I could reach the elevator that went back up to the visitor center. The only way back was through the bowels of the Earth - all the way down and then squeeze out at the very bottom. I kept moving.

A considerable distance down into the cave, there was finally a handrail on the outside edge of the trail. Actually, it would be more accurate to call it a grim parody of a handrail. It was a single piece of ½-inch pipe, supported by stanchions of the same material at 6-foot intervals. I kept going. I had to. Honor demanded that I not put other people at risk by stopping the flow of traffic (it may sound stupid but thinking it at the time helped me keep moving).

There were a few places where the park service had carved out the side of the trail and made some seats where I could have rested for a minute. I bypassed them, still afraid that if I stopped I would be unable to make myself start again. It was hellish, but I was making it.

I was wrong. Hell was just about to start. About halfway down, my guts started acting up.

At first I thought I was just so frightened I was literally feeling it in my guts. But it kept getting worse. It got more painful, spasms that came harder and more frequently. I started to feel that awful internal sliding like things are moving south and you can't stop them. There was a weird taste in my mouth. My sweating was even worse, and it smelled different.

Recognition suddenly hit me. It had been about six hours since I had eaten breakfast. The timing was right. I had finally recognized the symptoms. I had experienced this before, and I knew what to expect. I could expect to die soon.

Ever heard of staphylococcal enterotoxin? It's a type of food poisoning, an organic poison produced by the breakdown of certain staph germs. Cooking does nothing to it; the heat kills the germs but does not neutralize the toxin. Cooking actually just makes the toxin form quicker by speeding up the breakdown of the germ cells. A lot of the time it comes from a staph infection on some food handler who hasn't washed his hands properly. Some asshole at Shoney's had poisoned me because he was too lazy or stupid to put his hands under a faucet.

Its effects come on usually between 4 to 8 hours after eating, and it is devastating. It starts with weakness, greasy sweating, that awful puke precursor taste in the mouth, and, probably worst of all when on a trail in a cave beside a pit, dizziness. Next comes fever spikes alternating with chills. All while the stomach is churning. You start having terrible cramping pains and finally you erupt at both ends.

A bout of this stuff lasts several hours, maybe even a day in a severe case, and it leaves you totally drained. I mean totally. The body is trying desperately to purge itself, and it keeps going long after your stomach and your intestines are completely empty, and that hurts. In a bad case you wind up seriously dehydrated, and that can screw up your electrolyte balance to the point that the effort of standing up can cause your blood pressure to drop so low, you pass out and fall like a puppet with its strings cut.

I felt like I was burning up, and sweating bullets. And then suddenly I had that explosive feeling; I clamped my cheeks together as tightly as I could, but it was no use. I will spare you the gory details. The people behind me came to a dead stop, and some of them tried to push back uphill away from me. People farther up the trail, who weren't yet close enough to know what had happened, kept coming down, and a log jam started to build up on the trail.

I turned and pressed myself as close to the rock as I could, to clear the trail. I tried desperately to tell them how sorry I was, to explain what had happened, but suddenly my stomach clenched so hard it felt like a mule had kicked me, and it happened again - just at the upper end this time.

When I regained some measure of control I tried to keep moving down, so people wouldn't jam up on the trail. But I kept having to stop because I was exploding at both ends. I was afraid to stand at the rail - there were places where the trail was a switchback and that would have meant hitting people farther down on the trail, and I was still afraid of falling over. I tried to keep moving, and I kept getting weaker. I finally found a place where the rock on the upper side of the trail slanted enough that I could lie against it so people had room to get past me. I lay there groaning and shuddering, while people skittered past as best they could.

Somehow the park rangers had finally gotten word of this, and managed to reach the scene. They set up safety ropes and helped people get through the choke point, gagging themselves. It wasn't just disgusting, it was downright dangerous because the trail was now slippery. People were cursing and children were crying. They were scared of me as much as revolted - for all they knew I had Ebola or anthrax or God knows what. And they were furious. Hell, who wouldn't be? Who wants to come all the way from Germany to see a natural wonder, only to be trapped on the edge of a precipice in the dark behind an apparent madman who is spewing filth? Because of me, there are probably a bunch of people around the world who will never again be able to think about going into a cave without having a fit.

So there I was, hundreds of feet below ground, alone amid a crowd of terrified, sickened, and enraged vacationers, on a 3-foot-wide trail that slanted steeply down into the bowels of the earth, with nothing between me and a drop into absolute blackness except a single handrail so flimsy that any OSHA inspector who saw it would probably shoot the man who built it. About every 20 minutes I was having a fire-hydrant outburst at one end or the other. When the rangers had finally cleared the trail enough to get me moving again, I left a trail behind me like some kind of hellish garden slug.

By the grace of God I finally made it to the bottom, shaking and so weak I could barely stand. By that time I had thrown up everything but my immortal soul, and my stomach was working on that. The park rangers guided me without touching me toward the elevator, while everyone else got as far away as they could. I had walked all the way down into the depths of one of Nature's great wonders, a thing of breathtaking beauty, and I had seen not one damn foot of it. But at that time I didn't care. I still wasn't sure if I was going to survive. If I passed out I could still fall hard enough to break my skull. I moved like an octogenarian with rickets toward the elevator.

On the trip up - nobody in the car but me and one ranger - nobody said a word. The ranger looked at me with a mixture of disgust and what I think was hatred. Can't blame her, really, considering I stunk worse than a hundred portajohns on a hot day. But I was conscious enough to think her all-too obvious dislike was odd in one way. I figured someone would have at least some pity on another person who was sick, and I got absolutely nothing from her but disdain and revulsion. Not once did I see or hear even the slightest sign of any kind of compassion.

My suspicion was confirmed when we reached the top. The elevator was met by the visitor center manager and a couple of the beefiest rangers he could find. From the comments they made to each other, I realized they thought I was messed up because of a drug overdose. So I wasn't a victim of disease to them, I was a filthy criminal scumbag who had dishonored their park with my disgusting addiction. They were talking about calling the police and having me arrested.

Great, I thought. I'm going to jail in New Mexico, where I'll probably get buggered by drunk Navajos who are pissed off because white men stole their rocks. And this place is Federal land so I'll get tried in a Federal court, and that's all hard time. I'll wind up in Leavenworth with mother stabbers and father rapers and people who eat their victims. I tried to talk but my vocal cords were raw from puking and I was still weak as a kitten. I couldn't make myself understood, and I finally broke down in despair. I started to cry like a little girl.

The manager stepped back and looked like he wanted to spit on me. He said, "I don't want this God damn junkie freak stinking up my building any more. Drag his sorry ass outside and throw him in the cactus."

With their hands wrapped in paper towels from the bathroom, the park rangers half-helped, half-dragged me outside, complaining every step of the way. They tried to decide where to put me, and then I had a flash of inspiration. I would ask them to take me to my rented car, so I could lie in the back while I recovered. I would be out of sight so I wouldn't alarm other visitors, and the ground was so hot I'd get burned if they put me anywhere else.

Somehow I managed to croak out the words, and they finally agreed. They took me to my car and let me crawl onto the back seat, where I lay moaning in genuine misery. They took the key from me, and left the doors open so the car wouldn't turn into an upholstered Dutch oven. Then they retreated toward the visitor center, muttering about waiting for the police and speculating idly if I would die. They didn't sound concerned either way.

It had worked.

My condition had actually helped; they could not believe that anyone so ill could still have enough presence of mind to work a deception. Once they were out of sight I closed up the car and slid - almost literally - into the drivers' seat, and retrieved the spare key from it's hiding place under the mat. I was lucky; I was in a space with no one parked in front of me, and a slight downhill slope from the parking slot into the traffic lane. To leave the lot, drivers had to make a right turn into the exit lane, which was downhill from the rest of the lot, below the top of the ridge and out of sight from the door of the visitor center. I turned the key just far enough to unlock the steering wheel, then put the car in neutral and let it roll. With no engine noise to betray me, I guided the car down the curve into the exit lane.

With the engine off I had no power steering and almost no brakes. It took every ounce of strength in my vibrating arms to turn the wheel sharply enough to make the curve. I had to practically stand on the brake pedal - if the car picked up enough speed in the curve it could go off the side of the ridge and strike out for the desert floor hundreds of feet below. But I made it through the turn, and when I was out of sight of the visitor building I started the engine. I drove slowly and sedately until I was past the entrance to the park complex, and then I stomped it and took off.

On that careen down the canyon I did not take my life in my hands - I took my life between my teeth because I needed both hands on the wheel. I left skid marks from braking and acceleration and turning all three. There were a few times I'm sure the rear end of the car must have hung out over the void at the edge of the road. Later I found ocotillo branches in the front grill. How I survived that motorized slalom I'm not sure, but I made it back to the main highway.

Between the park and Carlsbad, I yanked the car onto a dirt road leading out into the desert, and drove until a dip in the ground hid me from the highway. There I stripped naked and threw my contaminated clothes on a cactus. With the emergency water from the trunk I managed to wash off. I also cleaned the car seats - good thing it was a cheap rental so the seats were vinyl. Even after multiple scrubbings with soap from my travel kit I still stunk somewhat, but at least I no longer smelled like the god of septic tanks. I doused myself with Old Spice and hoped the omnipresent dust of New Mexico would have sandblasted the noses of anyone I encountered.

I abandoned the car in the parking lot of the local airport - later I would call the rental agency office in Carlsbad and tell them where it was. I left $100 in the glove box for the gas refill charge and more cleaning. I bought a ticket on the first flight out, paying cash. I thought that not using a payment card would leave less of a trail. I figured if the park rangers had put out a warning for the cops to look for me, paying cash would make it harder for them to find me. I don't know if that made sense or if the sickness had my head screwed up. All I know for sure is that no police came for me later. Maybe the park rangers decided I had been punished enough and gave up.

The local puddlejumper airline took me to El Paso. Everyone on the plane was obviously put off by my odor, and only one actually spoke to me. Cautiously, he said, "If you don't mind my asking you, mister, where you headed?"

"I'm going to a trade show to check out new lines of novelties for my sex toy store."

That failed to dissuade him sufficiently; after a few minutes of regarding me distastefully, he finally worked up enough nerve to return to the conversation:

"Well, I figure that sort of thing's each man's own business. But I am kinda wondering about things because... well, no offense meant, but... I was wondering if you're alright, because there's kind of an odd sorta smell..."

"I'm fine. On my way out of the house my neighbor's Great Dane knocked me down and peed on me and I didn't have time to change."

That finally convinced him to leave me alone.

In El Paso I got a Southwest Airlines flight back to Austin. I can't describe how relieved I was to be back. I was safe from the Park Service, back where I belonged. I was back in civilization, where the water didn't smell like slag and the road signs made sense and there were green things and I wasn't in danger of falling to the center of the Earth. I dealt with the nastygrams from the rental agency and I haven't left Travis County since then.

If you ever go to Carlsbad, I very strongly recommend you take your own food.


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Display: Sort:
My Trip to Judecca. Or, The Most Disgusting Vacation in History. | 64 comments (51 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Please submit to Arthur Frommer. (none / 1) (#1)
by More Ron on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 06:58:07 PM EST

Ik geef u een recept voor zetpillen.

I went to Carlsbad. (3.00 / 6) (#2)
by creative dissonance on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 07:50:39 PM EST

I had a great time.

Cool (none / 1) (#15)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:13:27 PM EST

I enjoyed the hell out of the place when I went there as a kid. I really wish I could have devoted more attention to it on this last trip. I have a lot of beautiful pictures I bought in the gift shop, of the things I couldn't see because I was afraid to raise my head. They are absolutely fantastic.

Like I said, the drive up to the place is beautiful, in a stark, minimalist way. It reminded me of some of Picasso's work. And the air is so clear and the light is so primal...Hell, the view from the top of that ridge was worth the stress. I was concerned about the length of this thing so I omitted the part  where I spent a while watching a thunderstorm to the east across the desert, before I went into the visitor center. The contrasts of colors and light levels was incredible. HUGE bolts of lightning that looked like they could have lit up an entire county. Way cool.

[ Parent ]

i once thought k5 should have a travel section (1.62 / 16) (#3)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 08:25:28 PM EST

thank you for curing me of that idea

after about the third paragraph of hearing you bitch and whine and complain, i figured out what that section would be like

the only thing i got out of your verbal diarrhea above is that you like to complain alot

anything related to your travels is so firmly buried beneath that stink as to be innaccessible to the reader

why are you such whiny fuck and why do you think we want to hear you whine?

we'd love to hear about your trip!



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

seems to me like he's got good cause to whine (3.00 / 2) (#5)
by trane on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 08:28:00 PM EST

the rangers should have given him some medical attention, or taken him to get medical attention.

He should sue.

[ Parent ]

probably true (1.00 / 4) (#8)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 09:54:11 PM EST


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
And what caliber (2.20 / 5) (#12)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 10:51:48 PM EST

was the gun I held to your head to force you to read this?

[ Parent ]
no gun (1.33 / 3) (#18)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:40:26 PM EST

the same nonexistent gun that doesn't force you to read my opinions of your whiny writing ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Sue for what? (none / 0) (#11)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 10:50:21 PM EST

For them not having attended medical school? Nah, it was a pretty messed up stressful situation for them. They had worries about other peoples' safety. And besides, like I wrote, nobody ever came back on me about it, so I figure they did realize it was illness and not OD. I was the one caused them a problem, I'm not bitching. If it hadn't been for them I probably would be a scrap of leather at the bottom of a pit now.

[ Parent ]
they should have tried to treat you with common (2.75 / 4) (#36)
by trane on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 07:54:35 PM EST

human decency and respect. They are public servants. If your account is in fact accurate, I find their behavior reprehensible.

[ Parent ]
Agreeing with trane... (3.00 / 3) (#54)
by TheNoxx on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 01:39:33 AM EST

If I was in your situation, in that kind of hell, and some do-nothing park ranger had the gall to mutter anything defamatory about my situation, I would've probably been disposed towards chewing them to death from the ankle to the scalp. I've been in similar situations with hiking up mountains and whatnot, where one can fortunately run off to a well-disclosed spot of foliage to be sick before stumbling in sweat and stench back down to one's car. Oddly enough, not only do I hate heights, but I'm fairly claustrophobic as well, so while I'd probaly not end up in a cave in the first place... a smart-mouthed government tour-guide in addition to being victim to a fucking plague in the dark depths of the Earth would not fucking stand. I'm not saying lawsuit, I'm saying lodging a complaint wouldn't be amiss... something along the lines of: "Oh, by the way, I was suffering possibly fatal food-poisoning from one of your local 'establishments', and your employees treated me like a virulent corpse. By the way, how many 'junkies' do you get frequenting your establishment in the middle of fucking nowhere?"

[ Parent ]
A travel section *would* be a good idea (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by dissonant on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 08:38:15 PM EST

But I agree with you about this whining travesty of a vacation story.

[ Parent ]
Dissonant, ignore the reply above (none / 0) (#16)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:15:17 PM EST

I thought I was replying to the post by "circletimessquare" but it wound up down here instead.

[ Parent ]
You're welcome (2.00 / 3) (#14)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:06:26 PM EST

Ah, I've touched someone's life in a positive way. Oh joy, oh bliss.

[ Parent ]
+3FP (2.57 / 7) (#20)
by Hana Yori Dango on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 01:05:08 AM EST

cts complaining about verbal diahrea :)

[ Parent ]
sunlight shines from my asshole (2.00 / 5) (#22)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 01:16:23 AM EST

silver pieces drop from my mouth

so i don't really understand your comment


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#30)
by MyOtherAccountIsAnEmbitteredJew on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 08:07:38 AM EST

there's this Samurai..

he's writing bad travel stories and submitting them....but that's ok cos we can't do anything, because lots of kurons write reams of meandering shit every year..

[ Parent ]

Shut up. (2.00 / 3) (#46)
by Genderqueer Deathsquad on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 09:34:08 AM EST

My deepest fear is that I'm Michael Crawford and too crazy to realize it. -- Genderqueer Deathsquad
[ Parent ]
Teh irony gave me staphylococcal enterotoxin (3.00 / 6) (#53)
by white light on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 01:12:53 AM EST

why are you such whiny fuck and why do you think we want to hear you whine?

..do you really want to help foster this type of laziness?
[ Parent ]
why are cts' comments (3.00 / 9) (#58)
by khaustic on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 02:35:06 PM EST

always formatted

like the liner notes of

a bad pop cd?

perhaps he thinks it makes him seem rebellious

by ignoring syntactical structure

sticking it to "the man"

whom he psychologically identifies as his

10th grade english teacher

mr simons

he once called cts' short story,

entitled "finnegan's cake,"

trite and uninspired parody

poor cts thought he was the next joyce

[ Parent ]

You Sir... (2.91 / 23) (#6)
by dissonant on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 08:30:55 PM EST

...are a horrible traveller.  Instead of just criticising, here's a few suggestions:

  • Eat where either the truckers or the locals eat.  Rural chain restaurants in general have poor sanitation.  If you're going out to the backside of beyond, pack some dried foods (jerky, trailmix, canned fruit), vitamins, and either plenty of water or some purification tablets.  A hiker's stove also opens up alot of possiblities.
  • If you're having trouble, TALK to people.  Jeebus, you nearly killed yourself and risked the lives of anyone else that might have been on that road because you couldn't ask the fucking rangers for a medic, or at least mutter the words "food poisoning"?  What the hell!?
  • Don't hold any expectations.  You saw an empty, depressing, desperate wasteland.  I was out in west Texas and southern NM last July.  On a motorcycle.  In the triple digit heat.  And it was gorgeous.  I found the people warm and hospitable, maybe because I wasn't looking down my nose at them and would engage them in conversation about their "boring" weather and road conditions (which is actually important and useful information in your daily life in places like that), share a meal with them, and generally treat them like fellow human beings instead of some desperate, souless, desicated husks.  I was even offered a room to stay in one night.  How can you have an adventure and somehow avoid engaging with the people around you?
  • Stop and look at your map.  See a sign for a place you want to visit but not sure how far it is?  Yeah, maps are good for figuring things like that out.  If you're really lazy and have money to waste, or you go off road alot, GPS is an ok alternative.  It also helps if you know that mileage markers on signs like that are more the rule than the exception in this country.

i am from sask canada, and find west texas and (none / 1) (#10)
by dakini on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 10:40:51 PM EST

new mexico, the most beautiful and friendly places i have been to..i just love it there...

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
[ Parent ]
Oh, yeah (1.61 / 13) (#13)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:05:04 PM EST

a. I guarantee you truckers eat where they can get a good price and easy parking - food quality is WAY down the list with them. What they want is lots and hot; they'd figure you was a faggot if you tried talking to them about eating anything that wasn't fried in lard. Right, I should plan on having to cook bacon in my motel room when I go to a town of thousands of people. Yeah, that makes sense.
b. Ever try to talk when you're puking or you're having a brownout? I did try to explain it; vocal cords were screwed up with stomach acids and I coming close to blacking out sometimes. Ever had staph ent? It is unbelievably bad - it's hard to muster enough energy to moan, much less be inteligible.
c. Compared that area to the Colorado River basin around Austin? You'd call it desolate too. It's beautiful only if your idea of beauty is brown grit. And would you mind pointing out to me the part in my narrative where I said I treated other people badly or refused to have anything to do with them? I don't remember writing that - amazing how you were able to read so much that wasn't there. Try reading what's written, instead of just haring off on your own personal system of half-baked psychoanalysis.
d. And that means that the system of marking signs like that makes sense? Don't think so, boychick.

[ Parent ]

Oh, yeah (3.00 / 15) (#25)
by dissonant on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 03:00:01 AM EST

a. I know a few truckers.  I grew up in a town that was dependent on the trucktransport industry, and that's simply not true (other than the parking).  The hiking stove is for use when you're in the middle of nowhere.

b. Yeah, and that's rough.  Touché.  Still, if you'd stuck around a bit, while you might've been locked up for a few hours, you would've gotten some medical treatment instead of nearly killing yourself and possibly others.  You're very lucky you didn't die and should probably have gone to a hospital.  BTW, if you'd been eating local instead of at chains, a bad Shoney's would've been a non-issue.  Why go out of town and eat the same crap you have back home?

c. Austin is nice too, and I never said the desert wasn't desolate, but that's part of what makes it so beautiful.  As for people, in vitually every instance they are mentioned (other than the German tourists) you refer to them in a negatively, from shit kicking rednecks excited about the weather and road conditions, to referring to the places they live as unspeakably ugly ghost towns ("dingleberry on the ass of hell," I believe was the way you described one area) and that "...because of man, the entire area is rich with the evidence of decay and failure.".  From reading this, is it unfair to infer that your view of the people living there is that they are failures?  Based on this article, you come across as someone who either has an extremely negative view of humanity, or is utterly and smugly convinced of their own superiority.  Either way, it'll keep you from having to meaningfully interact with those smelly barbarians who don't have the good sense to live in such an intelligent, successful, and civilized manner as yourself, right?

d. Yes, they do make sense.  If they gave the total distance to the destination rather than the distance to the next turn, for one, you'd end up blowing right past the turn (if you even knew you needed to turn); for two, if the total distance is given on the road, a rational person would assume that stay on that road for, say, 200 miles would get you to the destination.  Whoops.

As for the faggot and boychick comments, two things: 1. I'm not a faggot, I'm bi.  Sorry if you have a hard time reconciling that with your sophisticated, superior, Austin based world view.  2.  I've never heard the term "boychick", but assuming you're trying to impugn my ever-so-important, big, bad, macho masculinity, let me ask you this: which one of us had a car with air conditioning, motel rooms (other than the night in the spare room, I camped out there), and most, if not all, of the conveniences of the modern world while travelling through this desolate area, but still managed to have a bad time, paint everything in a negative light, and whine like a bitch?

[ Parent ]

I'd just like to apologize for the typos in... (none / 1) (#26)
by dissonant on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 03:21:45 AM EST

...the parent.  It's late.  That will be all.

[ Parent ]
afaik, "boychick" (none / 1) (#45)
by livus on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 08:12:27 AM EST

is just some endearment Jews from E Euope call each other in movies? Something like kiddo.

Also, your other points are all sane but seriously dude that road sign thing makes no fuckin sense. Sounds like you have to be raised within that system to appreciate it, to me.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

LOL when i was in El Paso, i was going to (2.00 / 2) (#9)
by dakini on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 10:14:43 PM EST

go to Carlsbad...i am still planning on going there sometime in the future when i take another vacation..altho i dont like heights or underground..good story though, i find it well done..

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
Give it a try (1.00 / 3) (#17)
by falkenberg on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 11:20:18 PM EST

It didn't work out for me this last time - sometimes I really think I was being punished by having to do a lowgrade enactment of Dante's Inferno - but I know the place really is beautiful down there. If you aren't claustrophobic or acrophobic, it would be worth the trip. Just don't eat at Shoney's.

Go around the start of June, when the agave is in bloom.

[ Parent ]

NULLO TROLL and (1.20 / 5) (#23)
by lamppter on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 01:53:35 AM EST

not a good one at that either.

move to vote and -1 to dump it

Naive Bayes Classification and K5 Dupes

LOL Americans (none / 1) (#24)
by Cambria on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 02:55:00 AM EST

Change the title as someone else said.

Nice story tho, I actually read this one to the end.

Sounds awfully like... (2.71 / 7) (#28)
by BJH on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 05:19:39 AM EST

...you went out of your way to have a bad time and thus ensured you did.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

This was excellent (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by nidhogge242 on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 08:39:03 AM EST

I laughed so hard I cried.

Btw, what's up with your nic? The only time I've seen that before is a small town in Sweden called Falkenberg.

Yeah IF ONLY IT WERE ACCURATE... (none / 0) (#32)
by lamppter on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 09:24:49 AM EST

But the story has so many inaccuracies it is hard to list them all without reproducing the story.

Naive Bayes Classification and K5 Dupes
[ Parent ]
You are 17 years old and get beat up often. nt. (none / 1) (#64)
by Comrade Wonderful on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:53:51 PM EST

[ Parent ]
There's probably some hundred places called (none / 0) (#59)
by anothertom on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 10:31:13 AM EST

like this between Norway and northern Italy.
"Falkenberg" is a very common name for towns, larger hills, castles or mountains in the nordic idiom.
In german -and beause none of the two words Falke and Berg is of latin origin, probably also in most of the scandinavian languages- it means about "mount falcon".
Not even the hint about the military base in Germany is too helpful, however, there is an actual training site named "Falkenberg" (home of the infamous "Stalingrad Memorial" NATO winter manoevres , one of the coldest places in the country), but I know of at least two more Falkrnbergs in the Grafenwoehr (biggest training site in Europe) area and one in the Fulda area, without peeking at a map.

[ Parent ]
by lamppter on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 12:12:56 AM EST

It is posted here.

Naive Bayes Classification and K5 Dupes
LOL (1.20 / 5) (#40)
by regeya on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 12:29:20 AM EST


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

how much of this is fiction ? (none / 1) (#41)
by asad on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 04:06:17 AM EST

"I found a Shoney's open for breakfast, and it was very pleasant. It had been years since I had eaten a morning meal more substantial than a bagel and coffee. That was why I had left Austin - so I could find a situation where I could relax and take my time like that. I was considerably heartened when I finished and got back on the road."

Ok don't you have weekends ?  You mean for years you haven't had one day when you could have a great breakfast ?

I just can't believe the rangers wouldn't help you out or call for an ambulance even if you were ODing.  As for west Texas yeah it sucks, I helped a friend move from San Jose to Austin the part of Texas we drove through was one of the most boring places I have ever been to.  

We actually spent the night in El-Paso and I told our checkin guy that I wanted to head to Mexico for a bit they looked at me as if I was nuts, apparently El-Paso is a bit different from TJ which is the Mexico I was used to.  You head over to Mexico after 10 there and you might not come back.

In college I gave myself staphylococcal enterotoxin poisening by cooking a piece of chicken that had been out all day long.  I withing a few hours I was in bed sweating and the rooms wouldn't stop moving.  It took me 2 days to get back to normal but I didn't have the explosions on both end that you did, I guess I was lucky in that.

all of it is fiction /nt (none / 0) (#42)
by lamppter on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 06:25:59 AM EST

Naive Bayes Classification and K5 Dupes
[ Parent ]
damn, that sitting bull must have had a sore ass (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by crazy canuck on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 07:04:58 AM EST

after falling so many times

Nice (none / 0) (#44)
by livus on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 07:27:19 AM EST

some good turns of phrase and has a sort of rabid energy about it.  

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

I would never travel to Isreal. Too many Jews ther (1.05 / 20) (#49)
by Prolapsed Anus on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 11:06:20 AM EST

Strange course of action (2.75 / 4) (#50)
by anno1602 on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 11:50:17 AM EST

I stopped reading when, instead of asking for medical help, you asked the rangers to put you into your car. Why would you do that while fully realising how dangerous your condition is?
"Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit." - Murphy
agree (none / 0) (#55)
by asad on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 03:58:21 AM EST

resubmit under fiction.

[ Parent ]
Summary: City person afraid of rural America (2.76 / 17) (#52)
by glor on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 05:04:36 PM EST

Also: it's rural America's fault.

Voted up as a monument to the arrogance of the 21st century's ignorati.

Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.

+1 section. (none / 0) (#56)
by creature on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 07:13:45 AM EST

You're an idiot, but a sufficiently entertaining one.

If it dies, fix your typos: "I dallied on may way" (should by "my") and I'd reword "I entered my rented vehicle". I don't like the way it scans.

Attitude is Everything... (2.75 / 4) (#57)
by kjs3 on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:47:36 AM EST

You must be a load of fun at parties...

Austin's not too bad, though (none / 0) (#60)
by czar chasm on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 06:33:53 PM EST

It just matters where you go.  Like when I lived up in north Austin, a trip down to south Congress and south Lamar seemed like a breach into the unknown.  Now, if I need to get away and just think going Cap. of Texas to Research and back (I live off 35 and Ben White so it's more or less a loop) is rather cathartic.  In fact, when 183 gets renamed to Ed Bluestein, the area to me has a completely different feel than all of Austin; it feels more like a depressed dying small town for some reason.

In other words, yes we get tired of our cities, but with some exploration we can find newer exciting things.

And if not, the Lost Pines park is just 30 minutes east of Austin.

The comments are whiny, not the article! (none / 1) (#61)
by offaxis on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 11:18:16 PM EST

It's always surprising how quickly any concern for fellow humans can vanish in the face of stereotype based hatred. Earlier this year an elderly aboriginal lady - a respected university lecturer and opera singer - was left for hours drowning unconcious in her own vomit at a crowded bus stop. (Woud provide links but the news is old and the local papers don't seem to archive.)

Wow (2.50 / 2) (#62)
by mrcsparker on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:58:59 AM EST

Typical miserable Austin hippie asshole.  waah waah.  

Next time, you should stay in a hotel room and watch cable.  The outside world is a bit too much for you.

I also have been all over Texas, and I have found beauty in the strangest places.  From old rusted towns to the peculiar people - nothing that you would seem to care learning about.

My pants! (none / 0) (#63)
by twygallypuff on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:57:09 AM EST

You made me laugh so hard I almost pissed myself.  Being from TX myself I now think I understand why I am attracted to desolate wastelands so much. Your description of the post-apocalyptic landscape out in Satan's shithole had me longing for home! I can't believe that so many people took offense at or just totally missed your humor. They're probably a bunch of depressed, poor, shitkicking rednecks from west TX but then that doesn't explain how they can read at all...
If the great unwashed masses were intelligent we wouldn't consider geniuses to be special. The fact is 90% of the people you meet in life aren't that damn bright, and yes, I realize that I am unfortunately one of the 90% :( If I weren't then I would be doing something important to advance mankinds understanding of Life, The Universe and Everything rather than posting comments on a website...

My Trip to Judecca. Or, The Most Disgusting Vacation in History. | 64 comments (51 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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