The Worst Journeys Ever

LaunchingTheJamesCaird2To say that I have been excited about our up coming road trip is an understatement. I can’t wait to get out of Austin and get out on the open road. I can’t wait to start hiking and camping and seeing some nature. I’ve been mapping, plotting, making lists (of course) and watching anything and everything that could be motivational or inspirational. I know that a lot of people get awesome ideas and those ideas go on the back burner for a few years. Some folks even let the burner go cold. I keep myself inspired by watching movies or reading about people who have made adventure a lifestyle.

But I also know that not every trip is going to be perfect. When I was a kid my family tried several times to take a “Family Vacation”. To say that these ended up in disaster would be kind. These trips began disastrous and pretty much stayed that way until we returned home. The Grand Canyon Trip is the shining star in the galaxy of bad family vacations. Our luggage flew off of the roof of the station wagon. My mother got stung by a scorpion. My toe nails had to be pulled off. We lost most of our group due to illness within the first days of hiking. It didn’t really go the way my mom had hoped.

Even the best laid plans will encounter some difficulties. Since I have already made my list of the Best Travel Movies, I thought I should give some time to the journeys that didn’t go so well. Sometimes things just don’t work out but that doesn’t mean you have failed. So this list is a salute to the spirit of adventure, the old college try and just doing it. Here are the worst journeys, trips and adventures. Better luck next time!

  1. Lost in La Mancha (2002) – Poor Terry Gilliam. The man is a creative genius but no one wants to work with him anymore. He is his own worst enemy. And after the disaster of La Mancha people were more than hesitant to work with him. From day one the project was littered with hurdles. Things like fighter jets flying overhead, storms, no actors and no money. Terry Gilliam likes to film all the time so all he had at the end of the day was footage of his vast failure. From the ashes rise the phoenix. The film “Lost in La Mancha” shows the reality of filming a movie when nothing goes right. The film (Don Quixote) never did get made, but at least we have this. 
  2. The Donner Party (1886) – You all know the story. 80 or so settlers head to California with wagons full of dreams. Of course they never made it because the Sierra Nevada Mountains got the better of them and their silly dreams. Their journey ended in death and cannibalism. It kind of doesn’t get any worse than that. Period. And it was bad before folks had to eat cousin Sue. Their guide was a crazy person who lead them far off trail and into a desert. Also, a bunch of Indians attacked them and their animals. They never stood a chance. 
  3. 127 Hours (2010)220px-127_Hours_PosterOf all of the “I am such a fucking idiot – I deserve to amputate my own arm because don’t have enough common courtesy to leave a note” movies, this one is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. It was well done and yay James Franco yay, but none of it ever had to happen. All he had to do, the real dude, is leave a fucking note. Or call. I have no sympathy for folks like that. Or that man child who went to Alaska to commit suicide. Alone. And never phoned his family to say where he was. You can hate folks all you want, but don’t cause worry. That is just mean. Anyway, “Into the Wild” isn’t going on this list because he was an insensitive, selfish dude who didn’t have to die.
  4. The African Queen (1951) – Again, great movie about a horrible trip. This has been one of my favorite films since I was a little girl. Hepburn and Bogart have great chemistry and you care about what is happening. Directed by John Houston, you know the film is full of real shots of real animals in real jungles. They have to endure leeches, enemy fire, missiles, waves, mud… you name it. That little converted steam boat get them where they need to go, giving them just enough time to fall in love. 
  5. The Endurance Expedition (1914) – This shit is crazy. Ernest Shackleton sets off for Antarctica in 1914. Before long, his ship becomes trapped in packed ice. The crew is forced to journey across the ice to the only solid ground for miles: a lonely mass of rock called “Elephant Island”.So Shackleton did what he had to do. He organized an expedition to the island: 800 miles north, straight into horrific storm ravaged seas. For reals. Shackleton “reported waves bigger than any he’d seen in two decades of sailing“. It took fourteen days to reach their destination—and the journey wasn’t over yet. I think that’s all you need to be intrigued enough to watch this badass documentary. It is narrated by Liam Neeson for extra badassness. 

One thought on “The Worst Journeys Ever

  1. My family trip to the Grand Canyon (I was 16, IIRC) was one of the greatest trips of my life. My younger brothers would have been content with the mule ride halfway down that our parents were offering, but once I realized it was possible to walk to the bottom, I got determined. After a couple of hours of pleading and negotiating – even dragged a park ranger over and enlisted him in my cause – we got permission to hike down, camp the night and walk out the southern side the next day, where our parents were waiting for us. It was a big coming of age thing for me.
    p.s. African Queen is one of my favorites, too.

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