Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  From overseas trips to Greece and Brazil, to road trips across our wonderful USA, we’ve made the most of our time off of work.  However, as much as we love to travel, not every trip goes as smoothly as our Instagram stories project!  Although 2017 was a lot tamer than 2016 (Throwback to The Worst Travel Experiences of 2016), we still had some hiccups that we could have easily done without!


Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

~ Carmen

Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

Joe trying to rearrange our hotel and ferry reservations

Sometimes when traveling, the best, most researched plans have to be thrown out the window.  On our San Juan Island Road Trip,  we had to strategically plan our ferry itinerary to make the most of our time on each of the islands.  On the morning we were to leave Orcas Island, we arrived at the harbor only to find out that one of the major ferries had mechanical issues, and our next destination ferry had been canceled.

When you’re trying to get a car from one island to the next, you can’t just fly there instead.  The next island on our itinerary was Friday Harbor.  All the information we could get was, “Try again in a couple of hours.” Not call or check the website, but keep coming back.

So throughout the day we continued to drive back to the harbor every couple of hours. We had already checked out of our hotel, and we didn’t want to do any tours that would keep us too far from the harbor, so we sat around and waited.  We weren’t alone with being stranded, so all of the restaurants were jammed packed.  Park benches were all occupied with other frustrated travelers like us.  I have chronic migraines, which tend to raise their ugly heads (pun intended) when I’m most stressed or tired.  This event was a combination of stress and exhaustion.  My head ended up hurting so much that my migraine meds weren’t even putting a dent in the pain.

I just wanted to get off this island!

It was 7 p.m. when the last possible ferry had been scheduled to depart for Friday Harbor.  When we pulled up to the ferry booth, the attendant just shook his head and said that it would probably be at least a week before that ferry line was up and running again.  Why hadn’t we been told this any point during the day when we had previously checked with the ferry master?  We didn’t have lodging reserved for the night where we were in Orcas Island and had already paid for our hotel in Friday Harbor.  Right when we were about to drive away, the ferry master suggested we try and catch the ferry about to leave for our previous road trip starting point, Anacortes.  With a bunch of “Hold the ferry!  Hold the ferry!” we drove onto the ferry in the last available spot for cars.

Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

Last available spot on the ferry


We spent the ferry ride back to Anacortes, cancelling our lodging in Friday Harbor (We got a full refund!) and finding an available hotel in Anacortes.  We also had to change our ferry reservations so we could get to Victoria, BC and get back on track with our itinerary!  After a good night’s sleep and early morning ferry ride, we were on schedule again and my headache was gone!


~ Joe

I have 2- both involving my mountain bike riding obsession.

1- Joe versus the heat & humidity of Arkansas

I love mountain biking and even despite the events I am about to describe I would go on the adventure again (and again and again).  Besides, lightning doesn’t strike twice on the same mountain biker, right?  I now I can honestly say,  I am a better mountain biker as experience can be the best teacher.  Read trail details:  The Lake Ouachita Vista Mountain Bike Trail

Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

Right before my “I’m going to die all alone in this forest” experience


I had a planned this particular mountain bike adventure during this year’s Labor Day weekend.  The goal was to complete a one way 40 mile mountain bike excursion at the Lake Ouachita Vista Trails or LOViT near Hot Springs, Arkansas (post coming next week).  This trail is categorized as a challenging backcountry trail with little cell phone service and resources. I had trained earlier finishing 85 of 100 miles on a mountain bike challenge in Memphis covering 5 mountain bike trails and the interconnections and thought I would be ready to tackle 40 miles in hills of western Arkansas.  Of course, I didn’t consider that Memphis is flat, and this part of Arkansas is well, real mountain bike riding.

I had researched the trail and thought I would be well prepared for any mechanical mishap.  However, I’m not a fortune teller and couldn’t predict the mechanical issue that would arise (Surely, there’s an app for that!).  At the first couple legs of the trails I was  on pace to to cover the first 15 miles in my estimated time.  At mile 20, with the Arkansas heat and challenging elevation, I ran out of water missing earlier potable water points.  Soon after, I burned up my energy stores cramping at mile 20.  This Seattle-born boy was no match for September southern heat and humidity!

I was beyond exhausted!

I had pre-planned to meet my wife at the end of the trail at mile 40.  I surmised that I would probably not make the scheduled end point.  Flashes of dying from dehydration and muscle leg cramps began to dance in my head. With no cell signal from my carrier, I would need to find a water and borrow someone’s phone to communicate my change of plans.  I luckily ran into a couple at a trailhead who offered bottled water.

I then approached a family riding back to the next trailhead who happened to have some spotty cell phone service.  I made a call to my wife to meet me at the next trailhead, and that I was cutting it short.  Leaving a voicemail, I prayed the stranger’s number with AR area code would not be ignored as a robocall on my wife’s phone.  I followed the family with the phone to the next trailhead which was a long 10 miles, 8 of it uphill.

At this point I could pedal no more, so I dismounted and walked and walked.  My cell phone family rode ahead, and I was soon left behind. They managed to return back to check up on me and mentioned that it was only 1 more mile uphill and the rest was downhill.  I was pretty much spent with my legs cramping each agonizing step. My fun meter was pegged at 0 at this point.  I tried increasing my motivation by recalling Bear Grylls: Mission Survive episodes.  Once I was able to go downhill, I just coasted down to reach the end to the trailhead.

When I finally reached the trailhead parking area, the sight of our car made my spirits soar!  I was so happy to see my wife got the message.  I was also thankful for my new found friends who accompanied me back to civilization encouraging me to finish the 30 of 40 miles of trail.


2- Joe versus the Lone Star Tick

My other “worst” experience occurred at earlier ride in the summer.  However, I didn’t know it was going to be a bad experience until a couple of months ago…

It  all started on  an uneventful ride at Iron Mountain, Arkansas near Lake DeGray (read Iron Mountain Trail for trail information).  After the ride I found a tick on my stomach. Yes, I always wear loads of repellent, but it must have been a super determined tick!

I thought nothing of it once it was removed. There were no telltale symptoms of lyme disease or rocky mountain spotted fever.  A couple of months later, I hit a sale on sirloin steaks (I promise this random fact will make sense in a minute).  The wifey and I enjoyed a couple of big slabs of meat several days in a row.  Then the morning after my last steak, I woke up to my lips being huge!  My lips are already Filipino-big.  Now, they looked like I had injected enough collagen for all the Kardashian women and maybe a few of the men!  Carmen later told me I sounded like, “Doe may eeps ook egg?” In other words, Do my lips look big?

What could I have ingested that gave me this allergic reaction?

The only thing I had consumed the night before was beef and beer.  SAY IT’S NOT THE BEEF OR BEER!  Luckily the beer was not the culprit.  Unfortunately however, the allergist reported that I was infected by the Lone Star tick which can bring about an allergy to any red meat.   So I was susceptible to anaphylactic shock eating beef, pork, or lamb.  I have an epipen with me at all times now.

What really bums me out is that I really enjoy BBQ, bacon, burgers, and gyros.  Didn’t this tick realize that I live in Memphis, Tennessee, the pork barbecue capital of the world?  (Yes, there’s a post about that, too!  Read The Ultimate Memphis Barbecue Guide)  The doctor has told me that my allergy could dissipate in a couple of years.  Carmen and I will have to put our review of Memphis best hamburgers on hold for a little while, that is, unless Carmen is able eat a whole lot of burgers by herself!

Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

Another meal of chicken for me, award-winning hamburger for Carmen


Despite these not so pleasant experiences,  I will continue to mountain bike, but now have additional tales of woe and have learned to “beef” up my safety precautions!


Least Loved Posts of 2017

We liked them, but folks liked our other posts better.  Now these posts are depressed and have low self esteem.  Can you show them a little love by clicking on their links?

#5- Tired of the cold, rainy weather?  Warm yourself up by reading Everything About Rio’s Beaches!

From what to wear, beach etiquette, and summary of all the gorgeous beaches, this post deserves some more attention.     Now, don’t you feel warmer already?

Everything About Rio's Beaches

Watching the waves and surfers at Prainha Beach


#4- Why wouldn’t anyone want to know 3 Reasons to Cross the Big River Crossing?

Just the other day, a friend asked us, “Why would anyone want to cross the Big River Crossing?”  We eagerly replied, “Well, dear friend, there are 3 reasons!”  Want to know the reasons to walk or cycle across the Mississippi River on this bridge?  Read to find out!

3 Reasons to Cross the Big River Crossing

Riding across the Big River Crossing


#3-  Who’s up for Santorini Hike from Fira to Oia?

We wrote this post mainly because when we were researching Santorini (before our trip), we saw references to this scenic route, but found few actually step by step guidelines.  So if you want to see Santorini without the sunset crowds, take this hike.  Or just click on the link and pretend you’re going!

Worst Travel Experiences of 2017

One of the most scenic hikes in the Greek islands–Fira to Oia


#2- Who won’t want to know How to Spend 14 Days in Greece ?

This was a culmination blog posts that showed how to see Athens plus 4 other Greek islands in one 2-week trip.  We know that everyone must love Greece as much as we do because there’s beautiful beaches, delicious food & drink, and more history than could ever be packed into one area!

How to Spend 14 Days in Greece

At the top of the Acropolis!


#1- Check out What to See & Do in Victoria, British Columbia.

Although, this post isn’t that old (published in November), it has some December sisters that have whizzed by it.   Sniff, sniff.  Victoria just can’t be in last place… Let’s show Canada how much we love her!

What to See & Do in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The iconic Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia


So have you had any “travel worsts” this year?  Please share by commenting below!  

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~ Carmen & Joe

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