Your Travel Disaster Stories

Tell your tales of bygone days and rank historical things here.

Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:03 pm

Inspired by demand from the other thread.

Have at it.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Nabonidus » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:09 pm

In terms of state capitals in which to have your Greyhound bus catch on fire, Montpelier's got to be pretty low on the list.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby heterodyne » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:21 pm

On the way home from Loyburn, somewhere around Lasalle/Peru we began to smell some burning rubber which was quickly followed by some loud sounds and our coach managing to get us over to the side. The tire had exploded. I unfortunately don't have any pictures, but essentially the tread of the wheel had completely separated from the rest of it. Not in good shape. We changed the tire, etc. and went on our way. A few miles down the road, the same thing began to happen. As we recognized the symptoms far earlier, we were able to make it to a Casey's gas station and get a call off to our district so that they could come and pick us up. At this point we were in beautiful Tonica, IL. Since at this point it was approx 7:30, we decided to get some dinner in what seems to be Tonica's only restaurant open at that time, whose name escapes me. (They had a surprisingly good patty melt.) It should be noted that Tonica at night is remarkably spook. We still have the first tire somewhere, so I will see if I can try to get a picture. Pretty magnificent.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby grapesmoker » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:32 pm

Gather 'round, children, and let Old Man Vinokurov tell you a story.

Back in the Dark Ages when the Earth was rapidly cooling and primitive life-forms were just beginning to appear in the seas, the quizbowl team of the University of California, Berkeley decided to send a team down to, I believe, TWAIN II, hosted by UCLA. Or maybe it was some other Southern California tournament. In any case, a trip to Los Angeles was required.

Now, in those days, as presently, the Berkeley club was quite large. And demand for playing quizbowl being what it was, we committed to fielding something like 3 or 4 teams at this tournament, which figure unfortunately was in excess of our transportation capacity. For such a large club, the Berkeley team had precious few drivers: Juliana Froggatt was one, Ross Ritterman was another, and there the list ended. Also none of us had money and few were over 25, so renting a car was also problematic. Casting about for a suitable vehicle to transport the other 7 people who couldn't fit into either Ross or Juliana's car, we came up with what at that time seemed like a brilliant idea: let's borrow Seth's parents' van.

Now, for those of you fortunate enough to be acquainted with Dr. Teitler, you'll know that he doesn't drive now and didn't then. Naturally, this meant that someone other than Seth would have to drive his parents' van. Why Seth's parents consented to this plan is, frankly, a total mystery to me; the only explanation I can come up with is that they are literally saints. But consent they did, and with their permission and blessings, the lot of us piled into this van and set off for Los Angeles. In an extra twist on this story, I had persuaded my girlfriend at the time to play a quizbowl tournament with me; this made a lot of sense for 19-year-old me and a lot less sense to 33-year old me, who knows better than to drag his significant other into such things.

I don't remember what happened at the tournament. Seth Teitler apparently led his team to a first place finish (shocking, I know) and my team finished 4th while I presumably negged a whole lot. The real excitement occurred on the way back. If you've ever driven the length of the 5 up or down California, you know that for the most part, it's a pretty flat, straight road with nothing too exciting happening. However, there are a few spots where the freeway is a bit of a winding road. Because the road is long, we would drive in shifts; I drove one shift from LA up through the northern hills, after which point I switched off with a second driver, a freshman (I think? could've been a sophomore) named Mike. After a long day (we were driving back on the Saturday of the tournament), plus driving, I was pretty tired, so my girlfriend and I moved to the back seat and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up when the van made a most unnatural jerk in a lateral direction, taking us onto a dirt shoulder on the left side of the freeway. I had no idea what was going on; the seatbelt fortunately restrained me, so I grabbed my girlfriend and fervently hoped we weren't going to all die at that moment. Then the van lurched back onto the road while braking sharply, then lurched back onto the dirt shoulder, and then lurched yet again back onto the road, at which point it pretty much smashed nose-first into the cab of a truck that had jack-knifed right in front of us.

There wasn't really any time to think. We surveyed the situation on the road, and quickly determined that we needed to get the fuck out of the way of oncoming vehicles posthaste, so we all jumped out of the car and scampered up the side of a hill on the right side of the freeway. And literally not a minute too soon, because just as the last of us was getting up this hill, some genius came roaring around the bend and slammed into the part of the truck cab that we didn't slam into.

As best as I understand the events of those 90 seconds, reconstructed later from police reports, here's what happened. Somewhere along that twisty part of I5, a highway patrol officer had pulled over to look at a car stopped by the side of the road. For reasons unknown, possibly because there was no space on the right shoulder, or maybe because there was no shoulder, or whatever, the officer's car either ended up partially or fully in an actual lane of travel. The two cars (police and other) were stopped around a bend in the freeway such that they were not visible until you actually rounded said bend. A semi traveling in the right-hand lane rounded the bend, saw the cop either standing or parked in the actual lane of travel, and lurched left to avoid hitting him, just as we were passing the semi on the left. In order to avoid having the semi murder all of us, Mike took the in-the-moment-sensible action to avoid the truck by lurching left as well, taking us off the highway and onto the dirt shoulder. Once on the shoulder, it seems as though he lost control of the vehicle. At the same time, the truck driver apparently realized that he might have just almost killed a vanful of people, so he lurched right, clipping the police officer that he was initially trying to avoid. Having realized that he might now have killed a police officer, he then lurched left again, apparently hard enough to jack-knife the entire truck, just as we were coming back onto the freeway, veering wildly because dirt at 70 miles per hour is hard to drive on. The jack-knifed truck blocked our path forward, and the van faceplanted directly into it. To add to the excitement, the guy who also hit the cab a minute or so later turned out to have been intoxicated.

Amazingly, miraculously, we all survived without serious injuries. Even the police officer clipped by the semi survived, albeit with a broken leg, as we were later told. It was probably something like midnight or thereabouts, as we all huddled on this hillside abutting the freeway and waited for the highway patrol to come and sort everything out. The CHP eventually transported us to a hotel in nearby Tracy (that's a town in California, close to Gilroy of garlic festival fame), which was kind enough to let us hang out in the lobby and try to figure out how to get back. In an era before the wide availability of cell phones, actually getting hold of someone was quite difficult, especially in the asshole of central California where cell phone coverage was quite spotty. Through some arcane magic, we were finally able to get in touch with the aforementioned Ross Ritterman, who had driven well ahead of us and had already arrived in Berkeley (which for scale reference is about 150 miles from Tracy). Ross was kind enough to return to Tracy and pick up me and my girlfriend and then take us back to Berkeley; I believe he came with Matt Levine, another old-timey Berkeley quizbowler who incidentally may have literally been one of the best trash players of all time. We arrived at the co-op where we were living around 7 in the morning and passed out.

Needless to say, Seth's parents' van was completely totaled. I have no idea what actually happened to it, but I assume it was towed for scrap from the accident because no amount of vehicular sorcery could render it drivable. I believe another car picked up the rest of the stragglers; maybe Juliana made the return trip as well, although my memory is fuzzy on that point. Somehow, Seth's parents did not subsequently ban me from their house forever because, again, they are saints. Mike played one more tournament and then left the team, presumably traumatized by this experience; my girlfriend halfheartedly played another two tournaments, mostly to humor me, but everyone else actually stuck around with the team. Seth Teitler went on to win multiple national tournaments as a member of both the Berkeley and the University of Chicago quizbowl teams. My girlfriend amazingly did not break up with me after I had involved her in a trip that came within a hair's breadth of killing us both; we graduated, moved across the country together, and then broke up for entirely different reasons. Juliana Froggatt now lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

And that's the story of how I almost died en route home from a quizbowl tournament.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:51 pm

At some MLK while I was in college, the University of Chicago decided to save money by staying in Ypsilanti, Michigan instead of in Ann Arbor. MLK, as the name suggests, was a tournament hosted by the University of Michigan every MLK Day weekend. MLK weekend is in January, and Michigan is notoriously cold at that time of year.

We soon learned why this hotel was cheap: there was no working heat in the room. We went to the front desk to complain, but they told us that the only other available rooms also had no working heat. So we had to sleep three to a bed, using only the bedding and each other for warmth.

****

EDIT: nowhere near Jerry's story, but I now recall that when I was in high school I was involved in an automobile accident en route to a quizbowl tournament. We were in a big Cadillac Escalade, and while we were making a left turn at an intersection, the SUV spun out of control and began spinning in the street. I remember everything happening in extreme slow motion. The car spun from the middle of the road onto the sidewalk, and thankfully was stopped when it struck a sign, because otherwise we would have hit a man who was walking on the sidewalk. None of us came even close to being injured, and we ended up going undefeated at the tournament.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Rococo A Go Go » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:46 pm

"Is this hell or Indianapolis with no way to get around?"--The Bottle Rockets, "Indianapolis"

When I first started college I did not have a car, but fortunately Brian Riddle did, and he drove WKU's team to every tournament we attended during our first two seasons of existence. At the beginning of our junior year, Brian bought a truck and I purchased his old car (a 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue) for both personal and quizbowl use. I expected the car to hold up well, but before 2011 ACF Fall I had a flat tire, although I scrambled to fix it in time for the trip to Alabama. Things went further down hill for the trip to our next quizbowl tournament, which was 2012 SCT. What follows is the 2nd* most infamous travel disaster story in the history of WKU Quizbowl.

The drive to Illinois State was fine, and the WKU team for that tournament was myself, a guy named Joey who had never been to a quizbowl tournament before, and a guy named Aaron who had never even been to a quizbowl practice before. We finished 2nd, enjoyed the tournament, and decided to drive home through Indianapolis and Louisville (Aaron was from Louisville and wanted to be dropped off at his parents' house) instead of through the boring stretches of central and southern Illinois. I stopped for gas in Indianapolis, which was unusually busy due to the fact that it was hosting the Super Bowl the next day, and during some fluid checks realized that my coolant was a bit low. This had been a recurring problem for the past month and so I knew that I could buy some antifreeze and avoid more serious problems. Except this time when I reentered I-65 my temperature gauge began to rise and rise and rise and rise and eventually it was near the top and my car started making noises that I wasn't used to. I pulled off at another exit and Joey theorized that I simply needed to add more coolant to fix the problem; he offered to drive my car for the next stretch of the trip as well.

Letting Joey drive my car was probably a poor idea, with bad omens appearing when he pulled out of the gas station parking lot and proceeded to drive the wrong way up the highway until getting on the interstate. Once on the interstate things went better for a while, until Joey decided to increase the car's speed to 100 MPH and it promptly overheated again. I told him to get off at the next exit and find a gas station while I thought about what to do. Joey did not find a gas station, but managed to pull off into a factory parking lot (not before driving through the grass for some reason) and parking my car. I decided to add as much coolant as possible and take one more stab of driving towards Kentucky, and while I was doing this, the Brown County, IN Sheriff decided to pay us a visit based on a call that suspicious people were loitering in front of a factory. My teammates consented to letting them search my car, and so I waited for 20 minutes while they decided if we checked out and were not in fact fugitives coming to wreak havoc on a random small town in Indiana. Eventually they told us they would let us go, but not before the Sheriff repeatedly told me how to get to every motel in his county and enthusiastically encouraged me to stay "in one of our county's wonderful hotels." I managed to get the car to an exit with gas stations, businesses, and civilization, and we decided to call AAA and just have them tow us to Aaron's house in Louisville. My parents had my car towed to a mechanic while Aaron and Joey went back to WKU's campus in their own ways. Aaron (not to be confused with two separate Aarons who have played for WKU since) never played a tournament again, while Joey played for another year.

But the story isn't entirely over! The same car lasted without much fuss through occasional trips (and extensive personal use) until very recently...in fact, the last time I drove it was to STIMPY on April 4. Alas, on the way back from STIMPY the engine finally stopped working altogether and we were left helpless on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. The crew who arrived to tow my car were quite comical, with one guy alternating between insulting us (his customers), his subordinate who was actually driving the truck, and other people who were calling him asking for a tow. At one point during this exchange, we joked with the driver about the possibility of my car bouncing off the back of the tow truck with the other guy inside, leaving him helpless as it rolled backwards into oncoming traffic. Apparently they could only take 1-2 people on the trip back to Bowling Green, so Alex and I waited in a Mexican restaurant in Cave City, KY for my uncle to pick us up and drive us back to BG. At least this time we were all able to go home and sleep in our own beds, although I'm too afraid to drive the car I've bought since to anything quizbowl related for fears it will break down too.

*The most infamous WKU travel disaster involved a teammate having a car crash on an icy bridge in central Kentucky on the way to 2014 SCT. I was not in the car and cannot tell the whole story. I will point out that I stopped to help, and those of us riding in my car were milling around with the other half of the team when a State Trooper happened upon the scene; his first response was to inexplicably ask if all 9 WKU players had been riding in the wrecked car. It took us quite a while to explain that this was not the case, but it also took him an inordinate amount of time to process the IDs of everybody who had been in the car that did crash. This accident caused us to drop our D2 team and caused our D1 team to forfeit 3 games and miss out on any chance of winning the tournament, but I would guess it did actually bring the WKU team closer together. When I pointed out to our youngest players that we would have to choose between fielding a D1 and a D2 team, they immediately told me to drop the D2 team because "D1 was more important." This was a refreshing attitude compared to the many Southern teams of the last decade who could never be bothered to move beyond D2 SCT. We ended up qualifying for ICT anyway, and I would guess that February and March 2014 were the two most exciting, intense, and generally fun months of practice that I've had during my quizbowl career.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby fett0001 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:29 pm

I was on my way to Martinsville High School to meet the bus to go to VHSL Regionals in 2004.

At the time, I lived about 25 miles from school. It was late February, and to get to Martinsville, my parents would have to drive along US 58 through here.

As we crested this hill, my dad touched the brakes, and the rear of our blazer skidded to the right. He turned and said, "We're gonna have to be real lucky." I found out later that the air temperature had dropped and the dew had frozen on the pavement. At the bottom of the hill, there is a laundromat and car wash, pictured here. Because of our momentum, we were unable to straighten out, and thus hit this island moving sideways at around 60mph. I remember bracing myself against the door and the roof, but its a blur. The blazer rolled and ended up on its side facing back the way we came. The two darker green patches of grass you can see on the right are the divots we left when it landed the first time.

I was able to climb out of the car, and pulled my dad from the wreckage. It totaled the car, broke 2 of his ribs, and the paramedics sliced his scalp while checking his head for glass. I only jammed a finger, and with foolish youth, insisted that my mother take me to Marion to compete. We ended up third, nearly qualifying for states, but I don't remember much else from the trip.

It gradually sank in how lucky my dad and I were to walk away from that crash, but that's my worst QB travel issue.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:37 pm

So, my turn!

Mine centers on ICT 2014. That year, I think I averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night before a quizbowl tournament (this didn't start happening until Billy Busse told me that's how much he averaged a night at Penn Bowl that year, I believe). So, I staffed ICT on 4 hours of sleep. I let my teammates head out in our other car and waited for our buzzer system and watched the DI final. On my way back to Kirksville from Chicago, I started coming close to nodding off and falling asleep a little bit after Chicago. Once I got to Hannibal (just across the river from Illinois), I decided to pull over and take a 15-minute nap. I made it back to Kirksville without any issues after that, but I also almost could have killed myself driving home from a quizbowl tournament. That seems to be a theme in this thread.....
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Aaron Manby (ironmaster) » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:37 pm

It was more of a travel disturbance than a disaster, but this is one piece of quizbowl history that everyone should read.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Aaron's Rod » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:58 pm

I staffed a tournament at Kaneland High School on January 3rd of this year, the day before I went back to Lawrence for winter term (which I found out I was doing at like 9 PM the night previous after Greg Peterson sufficiently bothered Alec Kreuger on my behalf--Greg's attendance was apparently contingent upon mine). I had to leave the North Shore at some terrible time when it was still dark, I think it was at like 7 AM. I drove for about an hour and a half.

It was a Saturday in the middle of nowhere, and there was was nobody on the road. At all. To someone who had been regularly taking I-94 during rush hour to UChicago for a whole summer, this was the opposite experience. It was also snowing pretty much their entire time, and there was a lot of ice on I-88. At some point, I was attempting to change lanes and did so very slowly. Because people don't drive in the middle of the road, that part was especially icy, and I hit ice. I spun out probably over 360˚ across like two empty lanes. Into a grassy ditch. Thank God there was no guard rail (how often do people say that?) or my car would have been doomed. I sat there for only a couple of seconds, thinking a lot of expletives and how my parents (whose car I was driving) were going to kill me if the car was totaled. But I was in such shock that I just drove out of the ditch. I was able to, so I did. I definitely did not have a game plan if I wasn't able to drive the car out of the ditch.

I met Dylan Minarik that day and read some open packet to him and Greg over a free pizza lunch and Sour Punch Straws. It was overall a good day.

And I'm a terrible driver, so I didn't tell my parents. When I brought the car back to their house they asked why there was grass on the back of the car. "Oh, I don't know, I was driving though a lot of farmland, it was windy out..."
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby merv1618 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:00 pm

Back in 2012, while driving up to the St. Louis Open I spilled a Big Gulp full of lemonade all over myself in the car and had to walk through WUSTL's sprinkler system to minimize discomfort.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Muriel Axon » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:25 pm

I've never had any travel problems except during quiz bowl trips. On the way back from my first tournament ever - 2010 Collegiate Novice - one of Nolan Esser's tires blew out, leaving us stranded in mid-Michigan. This is pretty tame as far as quiz bowl travel disasters go, but in retrospect, it was one reason why I didn't play any more tournaments that year. (When I tried to go to ACF Regionals that year, Chris Heffner, Jimmy Dunn, and I turned back due to a freak blizzard while our team's other car foolishly plowed on. They all lived.)

I didn't go to ACF Regionals my sophomore year, but Joe, Connor, Chris, and Mark Bogner all had plans to go - I think it was in Chicago. Joe and Mark, being responsible, sane people, left East Lansing the previous day, stayed in a hotel, and had no problems. Chris and Connor had some hare-brained plan to go to a Flogging Molly concert in the night before, then drive until early morning to get to Chicago. Unfortunately, Connor's parents' car (I think) broke down in Benton Harbor, Michigan at something like 3 AM in the morning. In case you're wondering, Benton Harbor is not the kind of place where you want to have car trouble in the middle of the night - >40% of it's population is below the poverty line, and it has very high crime. I believe Joe awoke the next morning to a text like "Car broke down in Benton Harbor. Good luck."
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby alexdz » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:49 pm

Once, I got pulled over for speeding in rural north-central Missouri on my way to Kirksville for ACF Fall, which I was staffing, and we were subsequently nearly late for the tournament. I'm the kind of person who hates getting pulled over just with my own personal shame, but luckily my three teammates were fairly merciful in their ridicule. :)

But my worst travel disaster during my quizbowl career was also one of my first college tournaments. Charlie Dees had the bright idea for the Mizzou team to travel all the way to Stanford to play the 2009 Cardinal Classic tournament. Having never been to California at that point, and being a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman, I though that sounded like fun and we packed our bags and left on a cold February morning. I believe it was me, Charlie, and our two teammates Larkin and Karen. The flight out wasn't bad, from Kansas City to Denver to San Francisco. And, man, Palo Alto was beautiful! We did alright at the tournament (or at least Charlie did) and then as we arrived back at SFO on Sunday on our way back to Columbia, we found out that due to either rain or dense fog, our flight was being canceled. They offered us a couple of solutions, including later flights the next day, but I remember Charlie being particularly upset about it all and the rest of us more calm but getting frustrated more with Charlie's reaction as it was difficult to come to consensus. We ended up deciding to take an alternative flight that evening, which flew from SFO to San Diego to Denver to Kansas City and added something like another 2 hours to our already-delayed trip. If this had been the only issue, I wouldn't be posting that this was a travel disaster. But you see, in all the confusion about what we were going to do, our luggage had ended up getting mixed up in the shuffle of tickets. Mine and one other person's bags made it onto the San Diego flight, but the other two did not. When we arrived in KC and the bags were nowhere to be found (bear in mind this is like midnight and we still have over 2 hours drive back to Columbia and classes at 8 the next morning on top of being super frustrated), we nearly just gave up. College students, you see, like having their laptops and schoolwork to go to school on Mondays. Finally the airline said that they would work on finding the bags and call us. Luckily they were found pretty quickly and they were nice enough to send them on Tuesday morning's MO-X shuttle (an airport transportation service that goes between Columbia and the two major airports in KC and STL).

If I recall correctly, Larkin and Karen never showed up to another tournament again. And I can't say I blame them...
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby grapesmoker » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:26 am

The Last 20 Stanley Cup Winners wrote:It was more of a travel disturbance than a disaster, but this is one piece of quizbowl history that everyone should read.


I wrote that tossup on "bags."

Also, I had no idea Brendan McKendy was the Karl-Ove Knausgard of quizbowl, except funny. Write more, dude!
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Robert Williams Avenger » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:35 am

My teammates and I were late to PADAWAN because, after making up for the time we lost due to me sleeping in like a dumbass, we got stuck behind a bridge over the Chicago River that was raised for a good 15 minutes for some Marathon celebration.

You'd think I learned my lesson, but instead I managed to oversleep AGAIN before George Oppen. Thankfully I managed to only miss half of a round due to going 80+ MPH all the way down I-57 to UIUC. I then got stuck in Champaign-Urbana that night in part due to my desire to play impossible speedchecks and had to get a hotel for the night while the road cleared.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:23 am

Once upon a time, when the Dark Ages were still upon Yale, there lived a man named Danila (blessed be his name). He was a man of many talents, with a particular gift for incorrectly answering questions about Welsh myth. He was no slouch when it came to the game, serving as a functional second or third on many a team. But, mind you, his talents were not restricted to the buzzer. No, not at all: Danila was a fine leader as well. Why else would he have been named president of Y. Student Academic Competitions in his senior year? (Sure, this "John Lawrence" fellow was also president of the club in the same year, but what did he ever do for anyone?)

When it came down to it, though, it was not as a player or a leader, but as a driver that Danila (PBUH) truly distinguished himself. As we all know, quizbowl is not an activity awash with people who 1.) can drive; and 2.) have vehicles that are drivable, and this is especially the case in New England, what with all these urbanites and their fancy-schmancy "public transportation". And thus, Danila, hailing from the wretched wastes of Soviet Russia the great car-dependent state of Texas, became an invaluable asset to the club. While I don't know what exactly the vehicle situation was like was prior to my arrival at Yale, I do know that during the one year Danila and I overlapped, our slate of eventually-to-be drivers was:
  • me, but I had only gotten my license the summer before college, making me Zipcar-ineligible for that year
  • Matt Jackson, who did not even have a license at the time
  • Sam Spaulding, who was ineligible to rent Zipcars until age 21 because of reasons
  • Denise, who was probably a perfectly competent driver (though I don't know, does Puerto Rico even have roads?), except that the one time she did drive that year, she somehow managed to rent a clown car into which we had to stuff five full-grown human beings, one of whom was the namesake me
  • Berenson, a Great Man who drove us to one tournament at the beginning of the year and then drifted away from quizbowl in favor of greater pursuits (including, but not limited to: being "Brothgar"; inventing the ill-fated Botticelli derivative "Fibonacci"; and conceiving of the marvelous notion that is "the recruiting poster for a fraternity consisting entirely of fratboy versions of John Lawrence, which features those very Johns Lawrence en masse")
  • and Danila
That is, Danila was our only reliable driver.

Er, "reliable" driver. Don't get me wrong - had Danila not been a part of the club, Yale probably would have only been able to go to tournaments that year at great expense (bus/train + hotels). Given the decidedly non-Chicagoan state of the club's coffers at the time, that would have been catastrophic. Nonetheless, Danila has had some... mishaps in his time as a driver for the club.

Unfortunately, I am a terrible storyteller, and I don't think I would be able to do these stories justice. So this is where I hope that John, Matt, and/or Grace/JacobW/Basil can take over and chime in with their tales of Danila.

(That last sentence deserves a bit of elaboration. Why would Grace, Jacob Wasserman, and Basil, students from 2012-16(?), have any Danila stories, given that Danila left Yale in 2011? Well, for reasons that are likely beyond the ken of man, Danila emerged from his slumber in southwestern Connecticut and decided to drive a carload of people [namely, the entire D2 team, including Grace, JacobW, and Basil] from Yale to MIT for the 2013 SCT. The events surrounding this trip constitute the greatest quizbowl travel story I'd ever heard [until reading Jerry's story upthread, which gives this one a good run for its money].)
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:34 am

Haha look at this guy and his incomplete posts FZ pls
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:41 am

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Haha look at this guy and his incomplete posts FZ pls

I'm leaving this here to punish you for that 8000 word post that teases a bunch of stories but tells none of them.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Kouign Amann » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:47 am

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Excelsior (smack) wrote:Haha look at this guy and his incomplete posts FZ pls

I'm leaving this here to punish you for that 8000 word post that teases a bunch of stories but tells none of them.

I've texted Jacob about the urgency of this situation—hopefully he'll fill everyone in shortly. This is truly a tale not to be missed.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:14 am

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Excelsior (smack) wrote:Haha look at this guy and his incomplete posts FZ pls

I'm leaving this here to punish you for that 8000 word post that teases a bunch of stories but tells none of them.

A fair punishment. (I will be happy to tell the stories if none of the other Yalefolk want to, but I guarantee they will be terrible and mangled coming from me.)

Oh, but here is a non-Danila travel disaster I do remember well.

As you will recall, ICT 2012 was held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, as NAQT tournaments often are. That year, Yale only sent a single team to the tournament, consisting of me, Matt, John, and Kevin Koai. Because of a reason, I decided to fly into Chicago on the Friday morning, and the other three planned to fly in together on the Friday evening. As chance would have it, we all booked flights on Spirit Airlines (because it was some 10-20 dollars cheaper than the alternative - this is case #1 of a penny-wise-pound-foolish mentality). At the time, I didn't know that Spirit was effectively a cardboard box with wings, and I suspect that Matt and co. did not fully realize the utter abominability of Spirit either. My morning flight went smoothly, though the seats were remarkably uncomfortable and it was only by chance that I remembered to print my boarding pass at home (thus avoiding being dicked out of a gorillion dollars).

So I spent the day in Chicago doing Chicago things (as a person in Chicago is wont to do), until, at around 5 pm, I receive a call from Matt Jackson. I pick up the phone against my better judgment, and am informed that their flight has apparently altogether ceased to be, or perhaps never was to begin with. There were no more flights from their airport (LaGuardia?) to Chicago that night. Well, crud. Was I going to have to play ICT solo? (answer: _no_)

Thankfully, I received word sometime not too long after that John Lawrence's father (he of the Elgin Marbles) had somehow shanghaied American Airlines into providing the three of them with a first-thing-Saturday-morning flight to O'Hare. Relieved, I resumed doing Chicago things until some downright unholy hour of the night (2 or 3 am, I think?), at which point I moseyed back to the hotel to crash for the night. The concierge was quick to check me in and give me a key to my room. So I go up to my room, and find it to be utterly _trashed_. Garbage everywhere, messy sheets, an unwashed bathroom, and all. As I surveyed the damage, one thing caught my eye. I shit you not: it was a Spirit boarding pass. (I got switched to a different room after that.)

The next morning, all four of us show up at ICT on time in various states of unsleep and play the tournament out. I can't help but wonder if we would have performed better and perhaps avoided being dibbled if not for Spirit. All said and done, though, we had a pretty good finish at the tournament; I was pretty happy, in any case.

Now for the return journey. You might think that we, apparently being idiots, booked Spirit for the return journey. Nope. Penny-wise-pound-foolish strikes again: we booked _Amtrak_ tickets all the fucking way back to New York Penn Station because they were some ten-ish dollars cheaper than the cheapest plane tickets (probably Spirit). To get on the train, we of course have to somehow get from Rosemont to Union Station. I propose taking the blue line. Matt Jackson vetos my suggestion, apparently under advice from Susan Ferrari. So I decide to call some cab companies (remember: this is in the days before Uber was a big deal), and, much to my chagrin, they all tell me that Rosemont is out of their service area. What kind of cab won't pick up at its city's airport!? (answer: _Chicago_ cabs [accept _assholes_])

Eventually, we find a cab that is willing to drive us downtown, and we get there with some time to spare before our train is due to leave. We decide to grab something to eat; seeing that there is a Beggars Pizza just down the street from the station, we decide to eat there. John, for all his culinary excellence, did not (and, I imagine, still does not) appreciate the delicacy that is the Chicago-style pizza. I, being a born-and-raised Midwesterner, took umbrage at this and decided to purchase two deep-dish pizzas to take back to New Haven. I don't fully understand what I was thinking at the time; perhaps my hope was that prolonged proximity to Chicago-style pizza would make John see the error of his ways. This is an example of a penny-foolish-pound-foolish mentality.

Anyway, we eventually get on the train, and, since this is the United States of 'Murica, the train starts chugging along at probably 10 miles per hour or something, because my god why don't we have high-speed rail yet? The rest of the journey is largely uneventful, except insofar as 1.) "the rest of the journey" lasted approximately 20 hours to Penn Station, plus a further three getting back to New Haven; and 2.) I am now burdened with two deep-dish pizzas that I have already realized I do not want to eat.

The moral of this story: if you are going to purchase a pizza for a long journey, make sure to buy a St. Louis-style pizza, so that in case you find yourself on a 20-hour train ride, you can bludgeon yourself to death with it and save yourself the misery. Chicago-style pizzas are unsuitable as bludgeons. Perhaps this is why John does not like them.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby The Herb » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:48 am

As requested: The Danila Experience, as told to everyone's second-favorite Jha.

Basil Smitham:
oh man
and getting home from the tournament
was one of the craziest experiences of my life
Ketan Jha:
oh god
what happened
One of my friends hitchhiked to croatia so I have high expectations here bruv
Basil Smitham:
alright
so
one of the guys who drove us up
is a former Yale qber
named Danila
his incompetence is the stuff of legends
Ketan Jha:
HAHAHA
I like this already
Basil Smitham:
he once punched ice
to try to get his car unstuck
but the parking brake was on
so
after our 1 question loss to harvard
in the finals
well
Jacob/Anthony originally had tickets
to go home on the megabus
but we were in the finals
so we needed extra time
and we gave the tickets to the C team
and after the finals
we went into Cambridge to rustle up some grub
and then we went to get ice cream
our timing was actually pretty good
because as soon as we were done
Danila returned from Boston
where he had been eating dinner with a friend
and grabbed us
we had to proceed quickly because he was parked quite illegally
on the sidewalk
so things begin
Anthony's in the front with Danila
(the two of them are talking in the language of their ancestors...)
I'm in the back with Grace/Jacob
we're driving along
cruising back from boston
Danila is smiling cheekily, as Danila does
Ketan Jha:
(btw tim was at harvard today as well..)
Basil Smitham:
when, all of a sudden, the car stops
danila pulls over to the side
and
of course
it's out of gas
Ketan Jha:
HAHAHAHA
Basil Smitham:
so it's 9:40 or so
and we're just like
godamn it
we're already getting home late as is
and Danila said
"oops, I was going to get gas on the way in to boston this morning, but Kevin Koai told me I'd be fine"
so, content in blaming kevin for our problems
we sat there as it snowed
in the car
somehow almost all of our phones were either dead or missing
Ketan Jha:
i'm loling pretty hard already
Basil Smitham:
but we just managed to call up someone
maybe triple A
and we sat there
and sat there
and then at about 11 someone came with a can of gas
Grace and Anthony got out and started laughing their asses off
as Danila searched in vain for the funnel-y thing that helps get the gas in the tank
so the guy filled 'er up
I think it only cost 20 dollars?
and we rolled on
Ketan Jha:
dear lord
that is
fantastic
Basil Smitham:
so, we get to the nearest gas station
Ketan Jha:
so you got home like
ooh go on
Basil Smitham:
of course
jacob with his tiny bladder
has to go peepee
and in the gas station bathroom
he hears danila talking
probably on his phone but possibly to himself
so then
we pile in
we've learned from our mistakes
Jacob tells Grace to put her seatbelt on
she laughs
until, as we're leaving
THWACKKK
Danila drives straight into a curb
and our front right tire dies
so it's snowing
and we all get out
Jacob and Anthony walk back to the gas station
to try to see if they do service
Danila changes the tire
we don't feel that obligated to help
of course, the spare is tiny
the shittiest spare tire you've ever seen
it's 55 miles to hartford
probably too far to drive in a snowstorm on a spare
or so Danila figures
so we go into the gas station/food court
and just sit there
bemoaning our fate
thinking
"HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO MEEEE"
(dark night of the soul...)
danila searches on his computer with his blackened hands
from changing the tire
we're not sure if we want to try to stumble onto Amtrak
but it's too far
Danila even looks at flights
and we're miles away from anything on the massachusetts turnpike
so we only have one option
go back to boston and exchange the rental car for a new one
so
at 1 in the morning
we get there
and Danila tries to exchange the car
but his name isn't in the database
so he has to put the people from the other car rental company
on the phone with the people from this company
and they somehow work out a deal
of course, the first rental car we get
is dead
and won't start
we laugh, but it hurts deep down inside
but thankfully they have a second
and it's 1:30
and we load in
now
we're taking no chances
everyone is watching the road
we drive over those spike-thingies
and get the hell out of that parking lot
and we're on our way
of course, that's when the snow starts to pick up
Ketan Jha:
holy crap
Basil Smitham:
and when Anthony turns on the classic rock channel
which is running a david bowie marathon
so we're driving carefully
we make one stop
because danila needs more energy
his first five hour energy
is up
and he's fading fast
none of us had more than 2 hours of sleep the night before
so we're driving
and driving
and driving
we go through hartford
Ketan Jha:
man, that must have been stressful on no sleep
Basil Smitham:
we sing along to "take on me"
and "hooked on a feeling"
Ketan Jha
HAHAHAHAH HOOKED ON A FEELING
ooga chaka ooga ooga ooga chaka
that's the one isn't it
Basil Smitham:
oh yes
Jacob looks directly into my eyes as he sings it
and somehow
at 3:50 in the morning
we make it back to new haven
it's freezing
I sprint back to TD
and go the hell to bed
I think Danila
lives somewhere nearby
but he's too tired
so he sleeps on anthony's couch
and now, here I am
alive
Ketan Jha:
jesus man
that is
that's actually
better than the croatia story
good job
you topped a transeuropean journey with what could have been
a what
3 and a half hour ride
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Aaron Manby (ironmaster) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:00 am

Matt Jackson in the trophy thread wrote:Also, just don't take 21-hour trains when there are shorter options. It's a pretty quaint experience, but it takes all sorts of forever.


I do most my travel my within Canada travel by train. This year, I'm going to NSC on Amtrak, a 15 hr trip one way including a fair layover at Penn Station. I sure hope I don't need to add to this thread after NSC. At the side event after NSC 2013, some team, I think from Illinois, told stories about all the sketchy people they encountered on their way to DC. I love train travel, and I do wish to one day take a long distance Amtrak ride. HSNCT is in Dallas next year, and it's a 48 hr train ride from Montreal ... :razz:

As I was not involved in the Montpelier Greyhound Fire of 2012, my Quizbowl travels have been pretty smooth (Unlike my band/orchestra trip returning from Europe during the BA strike of March 2010). Here are some of my favourite blemishes.

*On my way to ACF Regionals this year, I managed to lose my Toronto-Area farecard and then bought a new ticket just to almost get on a train going the wrong direction and miss my intended train. Thankfully, GO tickets are from place A to place B not tied to a specific time and this was the day before Regionals so it didn't not lead to major damage other than six dollars and having my friend to wait at the Hamilton bus stop for half a hour more.

*Almost a disaster: On the way to ICT 2013, we had a layover in Toronto. The preclearance people :capybara: ed up and put two of our players into the line of people whose flights weren't about to leave within an hour. Sebastian and I went through quickly, but Derek and Sam didn't. We, along with a pair of Australians whose friends who were also wrongly put in the slow customs lane pleaded to the lady at the gate to hold the plane until we regrouped with our friends. Just before they had to close the gate for good, Derek, Sam, and some others headed to Chicago made it on time.

*On our way back from SUBMIT last year, our car started shaking violently so we pulled over on the left side of the highway, because Sebastian felt it was unsafe to pull over on the right. Thankfully, someone's phone still had juice and we called for a tow truck. It was freezing cold that night and nobody wanted to stay in the heated car, because if someone loses control of their car and hits us, I might not be writing this post today. It was a small risk but nobody seemed to want to take it, so we were huddled cold in the ditch between two sides of the highway for about an hour. When the tow truck and the cops came, we were told that they'd drive us to the only open Hertz rental that late, which was at the Airport, drop the car, and we'd cab back to school. That extremely bumpy 20 minute drive to the airport in the back of the tow truck must have been the absolute worst ride of my life so far, and what made this more traumatic than it should have been was because I really needed to go pee all this time, and a) We were in the ditch between the sides of the highways so I couldn't walk to a gas station or whatever b) I wasn't in the mood to pee outside at negative whatever degrees c) didn't think of asking the tow truck driver to divert to a washroom. The Hertz rental place at the airport didn't have a washroom, but the employee on hand gave me access to the staff building and the facilities there.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:22 pm

Ah, yes. This reminds me of another Danila travel tale (not really a disaster, but still), from when were heading to SCT 2011 at Harvard Regionals 2011 at Brown. (Corrected per Matt Jackson; it turns out that the narrative below is a reconstructed mishmosh of things that happened at SCT and things that happened at Regionals. Make of that what you will.)

The evening prior to the tournament, Danila had concluded our logistics email thread with an email that read, in part, "get your lazy asses to Phelps gate [the standard quizbowl departure point] by 5:00am". So, like responsible quizpeople, a bunch of us show up at Phelps Gate at 5:00 am, only to find that Danila is not there! Well, isn't that a bummer. We waited for a while, in hopes that Danila would appear. Of course, he did not. We dispatched someone (Sam, I think?) to go to the garage where Danila's Zipcar was parked and see what was up (why didn't we just text him? because Danila's phone had a broken screen, so he could not read texts. naturally.). Quite some time later, Danila and probably-Sam return with a vehicle. Great! But why did it take so long in the first place? Did Danila oversleep or something?

No; apparently, Danila was unable to get the car to move. Since it was cold out, some of us suspected that maybe the engine had shat the bed or something (automotive experts we were not). Danila replied that no, he just hadn't un-set the parking brake.

...do they not have parking brakes in Texas?

We get on the road, with me in the front seat as Danila's navigator. Serving as Danila's navigator is a more complicated task than one might expect. Among the things one must do:
  • Give turn-by-turn directions
  • Identify stop signs and remind Danila that one is required to stop at them
  • Inform Danila that the dashed lines on the road are not merely advisory in nature
  • Advise Danila that he, unlike a bat, cannot see in the dark (on one occasion, we drove at night for a solid twenty minutes before a neighboring car honked at us and yelled out their window that Danila did not have his lights on)
(None of us had a suitable GPS-enabled device at the time, and even if we did, it wouldn't have sufficed. Even today's state-of-the-art GPSes are not sophisticated enough to do things like inform the driver that holy shit you're going to run out of gas do you know how to read a fuel gauge jesus christ.)

A short while into the drive, I look at Danila's hands (which are, thankfully, on the steering wheel), and notice that his knuckles are bloody. I ask him why. He replies that he had been punching ice.

...

It seems that Danila had grown so angry with his vehicle's refusal to move (because of the parking brake, unbeknownst to him) that he had started punching a nearby pile of ice.

Addendum: If you look at a map of the routes from New Haven to Boston, you will notice that there are two basic ways of getting there. You can either take 91/84/90 (through Hartford), which takes about 2.5 hours; or you can take 95 straight (through Providence), which takes about 3 hours. Every time that we had to drive from New Haven to Boston, Danila would invariably opt for the latter, slower route. Apparently switching highways twice (hell, only once; I-84 dumps straight onto I-90) was too arduous a task. Perhaps that was for the best, though, because the one time that he decided to take the shorter route, SCT 2013 ended up happening.
Last edited by Excelsior (smack) on Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Rufous-capped Thornbill » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:17 pm

Sing, Ashvin, contined songs of Danila, for they cause me to roar with delight
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:43 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Ah, yes. This reminds me of another Danila travel tale (not really a disaster, but still), from when were heading to SCT 2011 at Harvard.

The evening prior to the tournament, Danila had concluded our logistics email thread with an email that read, in part, "get your lazy asses to Phelps gate [the standard quizbowl departure point] by 5:00am". So, like responsible quizpeople, a bunch of us show up at Phelps Gate at 5:00 am, only to find that Danila is not there! Well, isn't that a bummer. We waited for a while, in hopes that Danila would appear. Of course, he did not. We dispatched someone (Sam, I think?) to go to the garage where Danila's Zipcar was parked and see what was up (why didn't we just text him? because Danila's phone had a broken screen, so he could not read texts. naturally.). Quite some time later, Danila and probably-Sam return with a vehicle. Great! But why did it take so long in the first place? Did Danila oversleep or something?

No; apparently, Danila was unable to get the car to move. Since it was cold out, some of us suspected that maybe the engine had shat the bed or something (automotive experts we were not). Danila replied that no, he just hadn't un-set the parking brake.


I am pretty sure this was the Regionals 2011 trip -- I remember being part of the team that was dispatched to hack at the ice on and around the car and eventually give it a final push to free it of the parking lot. It was only after about a half-hour's worth of freeing The Car In The Iceberg, and a few seconds of whooping and exulting, that we realized the parking brake was still on and we almost certainly would have just been able to drive right over all that ice instead of all that effort.

(I'm pretty sure the SCT 2011 trip was the one where Danila got us home by speeding through a weather event which, while ostensibly liquid water, was only described for years afterwards as "The Ocean of Milk.")
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Unicolored Jay » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:12 pm

The worst one I was involved in: For SUBMIT at MSU last year, Max Bucher drove a car with me and Tyler (now Taylor) Friesen on a very snowy and icy day. The car Max was driving was not the usual one he'd use for getting to tournaments; it was an older one seemingly less suitable for driving in such conditions. At some point on I-96, we came across a semi truck that had slid off into the middle of the highway. Max decided to brake and slow down because, seeing that, he figured there would be dangerous conditions there, but this caused the car to slide on ice, thus losing control and making us fall into the same problem that semi did. Thankfully, nobody was injured.

After a failed attempt to move the car, we then exited the vehicle to see how bad the conditions were (very bad, since the car was now stuck in at least two feet of snow). A minute later, another car also slides off the road and comes within like forty-fifty feet of us before finally stopping. Apparently this section of I-96 was just that bad that at least 7-8 vehicles were sliding off the road. We waited around for an hour or so before tow trucks came along to start pulling everyone out of the snow, and Max drove very carefully to reach East Lansing from there. Upon finally getting to the tournament nearly three rounds late (this forced Jarret to play as OSU A solo until we arrived), I had a brief chat with Aaron Rosenberg to find out a similar thing had befallen him.

On our way back, Max swore to avoid the same problem, but at some spot in rural northwestern Ohio, we slid off the road again. Once again, the snow was too deep for us to drive out of it, so we had to wait for help to come along. Thankfully, there weren't any other cars sliding off nearby to cause potential disasters of a higher tier, but the whole experience of that day was enough to make me immediately want to curl up in a warm place and sleep once I finally got home.

I never saw Max drive that car again.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:19 pm

The Yale team was frequently beset by travel mishaps of a picaresque nature, many of which were caused by that human Russian roulette of all things logistical, Danila. Ashvin has narrated several of these splendidly, and I have one that I will add too, at a later date. For now, I will tell two brief tales of travels beset by difficulties entirely unrelated to Danila. The first is our return from ICT 2009. The second is of travelling to and from Harvard International 2010. (I will also eventually tell the story of my most plagued journey: the unmitigated disaster that was the journey to Chicago Open 2010.)

ICT 2009: At my first-ever practice with the Yale team, one of the earliest things I learned was that there was a junior Aaron Sin, who had somehow earned the animosity of both Bilow and Wen Yu Ho--a Singaporean student in his late 20's, whose tenure as the team's resident music player was cut short by my arrival, but whose impressive geography knowledge still made him a useful resource on NAQT questions.

Bilow and Wen Yu both played on the DI team in 2009, the same year that I played DII together with Rich Mason, Danila Kabotyanski, and Jason Wu.

Many of you, even of those of the older generations who played in the Northeast circuit, may have never heard of or met Jason Wu. There is a good reason for this. His relationship to quizbowl was deeply conflicted, for two reasons. The first was that he hated that quizbowl questions frequently spoiled the plots of novels he wanted to read. When he was moderating for us in practice, if he encountered a tossup on such a novel, he would leave the room and someone else would have to take over moderating for that tossup, so that his brain could remain completely virgin to information about that book. He would then return after that tossup, and continue moderating for the rest of the packet, unless it was one of those pesky ones that contained multiple novels that he wanted to read someday.

But the main reason he did not attend many quizbowl tournaments was that he was terrified of dying in a quizbowl-related car accident. To be fair to him, there had been incidents that might cause worry in someone not predisposed to fears about these matters. The year before I arrived, Bilow had rear-ended another car, but had dodged any consequences, because the victim vehicle had contained mostly illegal immigrants who were more than content to let bygones be bygones and forego any encounters with the law. And at the second tournament I ever attended (Minnesota Open 2008), the steering mechanism on the car containing Bilow, me, and the other freshmen mysteriously lost the ability to turn right, partway through the journey, marking the first and last time I ever saw Bilow judge that a situation was serious enough to merit a more proactive solution than just hoping for the best (although, in fact, he did briefly consider attempting the rest of this journey, with that maneuvering handicap).

For the return journey from ICT, though, Jason's life was not in the hands of fellow quizbowlers. It was in the hands of first AirTran (Dallas to LaGuardia to Grand Central), then NYC taxi drivers (LaGuardia to Grand Central), and finally Metro North (Grand Central to new Haven). And it was the second of these that finally dissuaded him from continuing his quizbowl career.

We were late arriving back in NYC, because we had missed our connection in Atlanta. Bilow had booked a connecting flight that was scheduled to depart within less than half an hour of the estimated arrival of our flight from Dallas to Atlanta. Most websites simply do not allow you to book an itinerary with that small a gap between flights, because it is almost physically impossible to make such a connection. But Bilow had somehow found a website suited to his seat-of-the-pants travel aesthetics, and had made the booking, over my vociferous objections.

Having landed, we now needed to stuff ourselves into two cabs and go to Grand Central. Upon hearing this plan, Aaron Sin said something (I forget what) that revealed that he did not know where in NYC Grand Central was located or how best to get there. None of us found this remarkable or worth commentary, except for Wen Yu. Somehow, this rather innocuous statement became the final piece of support for Wen Yu's grand theory that Aaron Sin was a complete and utter moron, a theory for which he had been collecting evidence for years. Wen Yu hastily bundled me and all the others whom he trusted to understand where Grand Central is into one cab (as if the mere possession of such knowledge would somehow guide our cab aright), as Aaron Sin, Jason Wu, and two others got into the other cab. All the while, Wen Yu verbally analyzed this incontrovertible proof of Aaron Sin's idiocy, as the rest of us listened, rather mystified as to how this conclusion had been reached.

There was terrible traffic on the way to Grand Central, and at some point I realized that we were unlikely to catch our train there, and that the best plan was to divert our cab to Harlem 125th St. and catch the train there. Since the cab assignments had been expressly designed to confine all knowledge of NYC to our car, I called the other cab to let them know of the possibility of employing this stratagem.

It turned out that they did not need this advice. They were already at Grand Central, and had been for quite some time. How the hell had they gotten there so fast? Well, it turned out that just outside of LaGuardia there cab had been rudely cut off by another car, and their cab driver was so incensed by this that he had proceeded to chase the offending car like a freaking maniac. He had chased that other car so fast, traffic-choked highway be damned, that the car containing Aaron Sin, the now ghostly pale and terror-stricken Jason Wu, and two others had reached Grand Central before my car had even reached the TriBoro bridge.

Wen Yu was absolutely furious at this news, and he erupted into a vitriolic rant about how he, Wen Yu Ho, a well-travelled person of the world should never have had to suffer the indignity of being beaten to Grand Central by someone as culturally ignorant as Aaron Sin, and how he had, in fact, been secretly hoping that Aaron Sin's car was going to get lost and miss the train due to Aaron Sin's sheer ineptitude (which, presumably, would have somehow leaked out from Aaron Sin's place in the passenger seat like some toxic gas and paralyzed his driver into a state of Danila-like navigational incompetence).

After surviving the high speed chase from Queens to Manhattan, Jason Wu never again attended a quizbowl tournament.
Last edited by ThisIsMyUsername on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:21 pm

Matthew J wrote:(I'm pretty sure the SCT 2011 trip was the one where Danila got us home by speeding through a weather event which, while ostensibly liquid water, was only described for years afterwards as "The Ocean of Milk.")

So this one was actually SCT 2011. We were in something of a hurry to be out of Harvard that evening, because Yale was hosting an event called "Freshman Screw" (some sort of dance) that night, and Matt and our batchmate Stewart wanted to attend. The three of us piled into a car with Danila, and, in the interest of saving time, took the long way back to New Haven.

Unfortunately for us, the weather turned sour. As we were driving through Rhode Island, we ran into a terrible mess of fog and rain, resulting in zero visibility past perhaps 20-30 feet or so. Matt accurately dubbed this "the Ocean of Milk". A more timid driver might have decided to pull over and wait the storm out, or at least slow to a safe speed.

Danila, timid? Ha! Danila was a man of honor, and knew that it was his duty to get Matt and Stewart back to campus in time for the shindig. Thus, he decided to drive faster, perhaps under the theory that the faster he drove, the faster he would reach the other edge of the storm system. Or, perhaps under the theory that the storm, being an Ocean of Milk, was in need of a good churning, and that his car would suffice as a makeshift Mandara. At one point, Matt proposed that it would maybe be better to stop in a motel for the night and live to buzz another day, but Danila was having none of that. "Give me Freshman Screw, or give me death!", as I assume the saying goes in Texas. Miraculously, all parties involved made it to campus substantially alive, and Matt and Stewart headed to the Freshman Screw, where, rumor has it, amusing pictures of Matt Jackson were taken.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:31 pm

Matthew J wrote: I am pretty sure this was the Regionals 2011 trip -- I remember being part of the team that was dispatched to hack at the ice on and around the car and eventually give it a final push to free it of the parking lot. It was only after about a half-hour's worth of freeing The Car In The Iceberg, and a few seconds of whooping and exulting, that we realized the parking brake was still on and we almost certainly would have just been able to drive right over all that ice instead of all that effort.

(I'm pretty sure the SCT 2011 trip was the one where Danila got us home by speeding through a weather event which, while ostensibly liquid water, was only described for years afterwards as "The Ocean of Milk.")


You're definitely right about digging out the "frozen" car, but I don't think that could have been Regionals. I was riding with Danila at Regionals, which was a largely unremarkable journey by Danila standards: I verbally kept Danila in our lane, while he bridled at my delivery, which tonally suggested that I thought that the task of staying in the lane was usually the purview of the driver and not of the passengers. I know that I was not in the "frozen" car, because I remember having that story narrated to me at each step of the process from the car that was still stuck, as my car proceeded homewards. I also remember thanking my lucky stars that I hadn't been in the other car, because I wouldn't have trusted myself to continue behaving in a civilized manner while I was holding a shovel, when confronted with the news that the delay had been caused by a handbrake.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Roderick, the Last of the Goffs » Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:28 am

This comes straight from the Dark Ages of both the Maryland and Penn programs. My memory of some of the details is somewhat fuzzy.

January 2005: Penn Bowl XIV

Other editions of Penn Bowl can be billed as "The Penn Bowl that wasn't" (see the 2006 Sword Bowl mirror), this was definitively "the Penn Bowl that shouldn't have been." The entry on the PB QBWiki page for this installment lists the set's editor as "Nobody." This may or may not be entirely true; it's hard to say which questions may or may not have been edited or by whom, but the general presumption is that this tournament was more guerrilla than Francis Marion. The 2006 Penn Bowl, which inspired this thread, was better than 2005. Seriously.

So we had a terribly-edited tournament run by a very uncommunicative host, an impending winter storm, and oh yeah, the Eagles were hosting the NFC Championship game the following day. Surely nothing could go wrong, right?

Some background: the Maryland program at the time was not exactly in the best shape. The president and VP at the time were not always very present or involved, and I was doing a number of things for the club de facto. I was also working overnights for a local courier firm, and Friday nights were our busiest nights. On weekends we traveled to tournaments, I typically wouldn't sleep between the time I finished work and when we would leave, either because there wasn't time or I was afraid I would sleep through my alarms. I TDed our SCT site a few weeks later in a similar state.

The snow forecast became an issue in the two days prior to the tournament. We had registered two teams of four, but three players dropped between Thursday and Friday, including one whose grandmother bribed him not to attend. Phil Durkos and Brad Houston rode with me from College Park. Mike Bentley and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Brittany were visiting Mike's family near Philadelphia, so we retrieved them from the train station on our way to the tournament, with the intention to return them that evening on our way back to Maryland.

Despite making the very prescient second post in the tournament thread, neither I nor anyone else on the club had the foresight to try to make any advance hotel arrangements. (There may have been other reasons for this; I'm not sure.) We did think to pack a change of clothes in case we were unable to come back that night.

The snow started around 10:00. By lunch, it was clear we were not going to make it back to Maryland that night. I scrambled to find a hotel over the break, and found one in a seedy Best Western in Center City. I don't remember exactly what time the tournament ended, but it was dark out and the snow was still coming down. Most of the surface streets downtown hadn't been plowed, and we got stuck at least once. Turns out a Plymouth Neon doesn't do well in snow. Who knew? Some neighborhood kids were kind enough to help us dig out.

I forget exactly why, but Brittany and Mike weren't able to get their train ride back to the suburbs as expected, so it was five of us in the room for the night. The only sleep I had since Friday afternoon was a brief nap when I elected to sleep on the floor in the back of the room during our match against Rochester rather than playing. We were all hungry and exhausted, and naturally, because of the snow, nothing was open.

Nothing, that is, except the hotel's "sports bar." It's a pretty liberal term in general, but in this case, it's still a stretch. The only thing sporty that I can recall is they had ESPN running on a projector, muted. I'm not surprised that their version of cheese fries was regular fries covered in Whiz. However, the waitress' reaction to my order of a "half cheese, half pepperoni pizza" was a little more than I could take. In fact, I did want cheese on both halves of the pizza. I thought it was implied. She clearly did not.

The remainder of the evening was relatively uneventful. I recall feeling that our end of the hotel was unusually cold, but brushed it off as exhaustion. This becomes important.

I woke up at around 6:30 the following morning. As I put my feet on the floor, my socks suddenly became very wet. Brittany had woken up a little bit earlier and found that the floor of our room was completely flooded. We later discovered that a pipe had frozen and burst in the room next to ours in the middle of the night, and several of the adjacent rooms were flooded. Unfortunately for me, I had left my backpack with my day's change of clothes on the floor. It was soaked. All our shoes were soaked. I think one of Phil's shirts got wet, too. He dried it out (okay, he made it less damp) with the hair dryer in the bathroom.

Despite knowing about the issue, hotel management was very unmotivated to do much for us. They were able to find us another room for the remainder of our morning, and got the housekeeping staff to dry our clothes for us, but it took multiple trips to the front desk for me to get even that. Since we didn't have shoes, the staff tried to turn us away from the hotel breakfast, but were sympathetic enough to seat us in a back corner upon hearing our story.

We got stuck in the snow again driving Mike and Brittany back to the train station. Thankfully, Brad, Phil, and I made it back to College Park without any further incidents.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Habitat_Against_Humanity » Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:22 pm

Muriel Axon wrote:I've never had any travel problems except during quiz bowl trips. On the way back from my first tournament ever - 2010 Collegiate Novice - one of Nolan Esser's tires blew out, leaving us stranded in mid-Michigan. This is pretty tame as far as quiz bowl travel disasters go, but in retrospect, it was one reason why I didn't play any more tournaments that year. (When I tried to go to ACF Regionals that year, Chris Heffner, Jimmy Dunn, and I turned back due to a freak blizzard while our team's other car foolishly plowed on. They all lived.)

I didn't go to ACF Regionals my sophomore year, but Joe, Connor, Chris, and Mark Bogner all had plans to go - I think it was in Chicago. Joe and Mark, being responsible, sane people, left East Lansing the previous day, stayed in a hotel, and had no problems. Chris and Connor had some hare-brained plan to go to a Flogging Molly concert in the night before, then drive until early morning to get to Chicago. Unfortunately, Connor's parents' car (I think) broke down in Benton Harbor, Michigan at something like 3 AM in the morning. In case you're wondering, Benton Harbor is not the kind of place where you want to have car trouble in the middle of the night - >40% of it's population is below the poverty line, and it has very high crime. I believe Joe awoke the next morning to a text like "Car broke down in Benton Harbor. Good luck."


Oh man, I haven't thought about that in a while. All I remember is your sister inexplicably having a wrench (or some other tool) on her person that somehow saved the day.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Muriel Axon » Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:20 am

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:
Muriel Axon wrote:I've never had any travel problems except during quiz bowl trips. On the way back from my first tournament ever - 2010 Collegiate Novice - one of Nolan Esser's tires blew out, leaving us stranded in mid-Michigan. This is pretty tame as far as quiz bowl travel disasters go, but in retrospect, it was one reason why I didn't play any more tournaments that year. (When I tried to go to ACF Regionals that year, Chris Heffner, Jimmy Dunn, and I turned back due to a freak blizzard while our team's other car foolishly plowed on. They all lived.)

I didn't go to ACF Regionals my sophomore year, but Joe, Connor, Chris, and Mark Bogner all had plans to go - I think it was in Chicago. Joe and Mark, being responsible, sane people, left East Lansing the previous day, stayed in a hotel, and had no problems. Chris and Connor had some hare-brained plan to go to a Flogging Molly concert in the night before, then drive until early morning to get to Chicago. Unfortunately, Connor's parents' car (I think) broke down in Benton Harbor, Michigan at something like 3 AM in the morning. In case you're wondering, Benton Harbor is not the kind of place where you want to have car trouble in the middle of the night - >40% of it's population is below the poverty line, and it has very high crime. I believe Joe awoke the next morning to a text like "Car broke down in Benton Harbor. Good luck."


Oh man, I haven't thought about that in a while. All I remember is your sister inexplicably having a wrench (or some other tool) on her person that somehow saved the day.


Ha! I don't remember that, but Monika does. Our parents came to watch some of our games in Ann Arbor, since they live nearby, and Monika asked that my dad bring a wrench so that she could fix her bike.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby rylltraka » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:03 am

I've been fortunate enough to be mostly spared in terms of quizbowl travel difficulties (at least, once we managed to hit the road), but I'll present the few voyage errata which have befallen me in compressed anecdotes:

grapesmoker wrote: If you've ever driven the length of the 5 up or down California, you know that for the most part, it's a pretty flat, straight road with nothing too exciting happening. However, there are a few spots where the freeway is a bit of a winding road.

As a fellow veteran of this vast wasteland of highway, here are some things which happened on I-5:

-One time, as we were trying to negotiate our way to I-5 from more meandering California highways, we wound up going the wrong way for about an hour in the garlicky fields near Gilroy. This was not received well.

-We never were involved in a crash, but one time we happened upon the wreckage of multiple cars being dragged off the freeway, and spotted on the median several of the temporary, brightly covered shrouds emergency personnel services use for cadavers. Such did not fill us with joy for the 400 miles ahead.

-I wasn't personally on this trip, but one venture up to the Bay Area included a freshman named Michael, who was one of the sort of freshmen who hadn't found enough maturity yet to know that many of his personal behaviors were annoying. Regardless, he was welcomed along, until he called his mother a couple hundred miles in to inform her what he was doing. She immediately demanded the car turn around and return him to the greater Los Angeles area. That was impracticable. After much yelling and negotiation she was somehow mollified by letting her pay for the club's hotel for the night. Michael did not attend further tournaments that involved travel.

-At night, being a low inland valley at elevation, the Central Valley can become inundated with fog, reducing visibility to 50 feet max. This led to me, a non-driver, having to keep my fatigued self awake at 4 am to assist our driver, Marc, stay alert as we drove through a featureless white fluffball at 70 mph. Additionally, as an aid to staving off exhaustion, we were blasting Black Sabbath at the time.

Outside of CA, one year I was coming back along from ACF Nationals in Pittsburgh when I was stranded in Detroit at about midnight because of, if I recall correctly, inclement weather, along with the Yale team, who were taking a very indirect route home (to build momentum, I imagined). I was offered free hotel and meal vouchers to use until my 6 am flight. I offered to share the room's amenities with Yale, although they elected to remain in the airport as they had less time to wait. Unable to sleep, I used the hotel's lobby computer to write my Latin prose composition assignment, used the vouchers to order the worst calzone I've ever eaten, and, unable to sleep, watched the interminable 70s schlock drama The Other Side of Midnight, which was apparently a companion film to Star Wars, on cable.

We went to Trashionals in 2007 and rented a gigantic Buick which we nicknamed "The Boat". As Westeners unfamiliar with the strange ways of the American Orient, we became helplessly lost on labyrinthine highways on the road to College Park from Baltimore, meandering for a time through the outskirts of DC. At some point we stopped in an industrial park and asked a local lady in a janitor's outfit how to find the unhelpfully-named three-digit one-lane highway we required, to which she memorably responded "Oh Lordy Jesus!". She did, however, direct us partially to our destination. That night several people in an altered state loudly attempted to tromp their way into our hotel room, despite the door being obviously locked.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Steeve Ho You Fat » Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:41 pm

Back when I lived on campus, I drove a 1996 minivan with some large number of miles on it. Since I lived on campus, I didn't need to drive it all that often, so once in January I left it in the parking lot for about a week - one of the coldest weeks we had that winter, with temperatures consistently below zero. On Friday, I got in it and started driving it around campus picking people up for a tournament at Northwestern. At one point, I noticed a funny smell like oil, but figured it must be some car behind me in line at a traffic light. Unfortunately, about an hour after we started driving my oil light came on. I quickly exited and stopped at a gas station, where I made the brilliant decision to not turn around, but to buy like three quarts of oil and pour them into the car. Problem solved...for about 30 minutes. I consistently repeated this process the entire way to Chicago. Also, at one point, we ran over a patch of black ice on a bridge. Suffice it to say that if I hadn't turned my cruise control off because, you know, bridge ices before road, and been driving in the middle lane of a three lane road with no cars on either side, and then correctly handled suddenly having my front end pointing directly towards the median while driving 70 miles per hour, that trip would have ended much worse. Finally, after using up God knows how many quarts of oil (and it being nearly 12:00 due to all the stops), we arrive at our Super 8 in Skokie, only to be carded while trying to check in and told that since none of us were 21 we couldn't stay there (I had checked in to hotels where they didn't care before and didn't know that was a thing). Fortunately we managed to find a Best Western down the street where I acted really desperate and the manager agreed to pretend that she had forgotten to check our age. Saturday morning, after adding another quart, we went to Northwestern and played the tournament. At lunch, Bryan Berend, because he is super cool, agreed to follow me to a garage where I dropped off my car and gave me a ride back to Northwestern. A few hours later I got a call that my car's oxygen sensor had come loose and oil was spraying out of it onto the exhaust manifold and, of course, incinerating. Since I had 6 other people in the car with no other way to get back to East Lansing (this was before the Megabus started running), I agreed to exchange large amounts of money for repairs to the oxygen sensor. When it was done, Bryan let me drive his car back to the garage, pick up my car, and park his there and give him a ride back to it after the tournament, so the whole thing only made me miss one round.

I then drove 55 the whole way back that night because the mechanic said the oil pump might have been damaged too, but he wasn't sure. To add insult to injury, we had about 50 miles of the journey in Indiana with significant snow on the road, and I couldn't see out the back window at all because oil fumes from before were caked on it.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Aaron Manby (ironmaster) » Sun May 10, 2015 6:05 pm

I'm about to leave on time-ish, but I am sure 2015 MSNCT will be on many travel disaster lists.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby mtn335 » Wed May 13, 2015 12:31 pm

Big time. I had 12 people in rooms Sunday night who weren't scheduled to be there, at least 5 Monday night. And those were just the ones who asked us for help.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby etchdulac » Wed May 13, 2015 2:16 pm

On the drive back to San Antonio, Dennis and I wound up being moved into the kitchen of the Black-Eyed Pea in Hillsboro due to a tornado touchdown in town there. It missed us by about 2 miles to the northeast. The weather added about 2 hours to a 5 hour trip. Could've been a lot worse.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby idrayer » Wed May 13, 2015 10:04 pm

I would have had an absolute travel disaster, but my Mom came through big time for me, driving 5 hours to pick me up at the Boston airport (she was willing to pick me up anywhere from Philadelphia to Boston, so that opened up a lot of airport options so I could get home after American cancelled my flight into Hartford) to drive me home to Hartford 2+ hours away from Boston. She ended up taking her mom with her, so I ended up getting to see my mom and grandma on mothers day which was pretty nice. I have no idea when I would have gotten back if she wasn't able to come up and get me, I certainly would have missed at least a day of work in our busy season.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Muriel Axon » Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:48 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:As chance would have it, we all booked flights on Spirit Airlines (because it was some 10-20 dollars cheaper than the alternative - this is case #1 of a penny-wise-pound-foolish mentality). At the time, I didn't know that Spirit was effectively a cardboard box with wings, and I suspect that Matt and co. did not fully realize the utter abominability of Spirit either.


This NSC, Ben suggested to James Wang and I that we take flights from Frontier. Though perhaps none of us knew it at the time, this was an example of a penny-wise-pound-foolish mentality. And now I need to get some sleep so I can wake up at 3:00 AM to catch my flight (this time from a real airline).
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Philipp Moog » Mon May 30, 2016 5:47 am

As I type this, I am in my tenth hour of sitting in the Dallas Love Field airport, which made me think of this thread.

I was supposed to fly back to school after HSNCT at 8 pm on Sunday. There was lightning around the Dallas area, so a lot of flights were being delayed by an hour or two, including mine. At 10, I was finally able board the plane. About an hour later, we were informed that the first officer was unable to complete the flight to SFO because he had been working for too long by that point, and we would have to wait for about an hour to replace him. They let us off the plane and back into the gate in the mean time.

At about 1 am, 5 hours after our originally scheduled departure, we were all informed that our flight had been cancelled. The recommended flight was for 5:30 later that morning, and they didn't offer any sort of lodging or transportation to lodging, so I've been sitting here for the past many hours failing to sleep on the uncomfortable chairs and trying to get as much out of the 30 minutes of free wifi offered at this stupid airport.

Moral of the story: Southwest is great until something goes wrong, in which case it goes very wrong. Also don't decide to write a post when you're (unwillingly) pulling an all nighter after already racking up a lot of sleep debt in the past few days.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Ent » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:10 am

A travel nightmare and a David Riley story to boot:

Back in 2007, David Riley had to bow out as coach of Team Illinois heading to Panasonic. They had some nice kids going that year, and I was asked to go in David's place against my better judgement. Riley was making the airline reservations. I asked him to let me do this trough United (I had a rewards program with them, but that was largely coincidental). Riley insisted on American for reasons. I remember telling him that in the event of an emergency, with United having its central hub at O'Hare, this would be better. I was told to shut up.

After the tournament, we arrived at Orlando's airport. The day was bright and sunny, and the lines at 7 am were miserable. We found out that our flight wasn't going to be leaving, which didn't make sense, but apparently Dallas was under water, and our plane had never left Dallas. I turned to the head coach (Nick), and we decided to split the team up on available 11 am and 7 pm flights. By the time we turned to the ticket clerk to take those tickets, they were gone, and we were on the 11 am flight standby. I remember having to talk to Nick about not yelling at the nice ticket counter ladies because this wasn't their fault.

We hung around the terminal, and texted Riley telling him that we were delayed, and that United was flying out just fine. He didn't believe this. At 11, the plane left, and we were left behind. Nick talked to a gate agent, and learned that we could get guaranteed tickets to Chicago out of Miami on a 6 pm flight, if we could get to Miami, and it turned out we could, if we made a charter flight there in 30 minutes. We ran across the concourse and made it. Turns out the charter flight was taking students back to Mexico after completing some exchange program, and were picking up the last batch in Miami before heading home. Nice kids!

We had to sit around Miami's airport which was mostly under construction until 6 pm. It was a miserable experience in the days before free wifi and capable laptops. At 6 we were on the flight, it pulled away form the gate, stopped for about 10 minutes, then pulled back to the gate. We got off, and were told to hang out because of congestion into Chicago. We texted Riley for the third time, this time saying we were on a flight for Columbus (he got us into this, and we were going to milk this). He called and demanded to know what was going on, and I told him we were getting ready to fly to Columbus, because of the foul up. I'm not sure he still thought we were in Florida. At about 7:15, we were called back on the plane, and we took off right after that.

With the time change we didn't get into O'Hare until almost midnight. Greg Gauthier's parents were upset, because they were leaving for Tennessee the next morning at 4 am, and were now at O'Hare. Nick had no place to stay, so I put him up in my guest room, and we texted David and said we were now on a late flight headed into Diluth with hopes we could make Chicago tomorrow. In hindsight, we should have gotten him onto a flight to Tennessee and had his relatives pick him up, but it never occurred to any of us (including his parents).

In the morning, we called David telling him we were in Diluth with the kids, but should be home by 7 pm. He then broke down and admitted that he had screwed up and that he was sorry. We picked up breakfast and took it to David's who was now confused, but grateful that we had all made it home.

I think that was the last time David Riley was ever allowed to make travel reservations for Team Illinois. It was also supported my belief that the whole Team Illinois thing was something that needed to likely be gotten rid of.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Papa's in the House » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:56 pm

There are two travel stories that merit note in this thread, though I don't remember all the details of either.

Illinois sent 3 teams to the 2009 SCT at Indiana Univeristy. For many reasons, this was one of the worst tournaments I ever played, but I'll stick to the travel part of it here. I awoke at 4:30a to the sound of my alarm and peeked outside to see a rather alarming amount of snow falling. For whatever reason, I felt that I would be able to make the (normally) 4 hour drive to Indiana with no issues, so I proceeded to call everyone and pick them up. In my car were Ike Jose, David Garb, and someone I can't remember. I had them start reading packets (to practice and to wake up), but had them stop about 30 minutes later because I could not see the road given all the snow. Instead, we started counting cars that had ended up in the ditch. We got 11 cars (and 1.5 hours) into our trip before we also ended up in the ditch after hitting a patch of black ice in the left lane at 40 mph. It took about 2 hours, but we managed to get a tow truck to take us out of the ditch and continued on to the SCT. On the way we learned that only 1 (of 3) Illinois driver arrived without damaging their car. The entire OSU contingent failed to show up because they prudently realized quiz bowl was not more important than safety.

On another trip back from a quiz tournament in 2011 (I think, but I don't remember what tournament), Mike Sorice was driving a van we had rented to take 2 teams to this tournament. We were driving back through an interstate around Indianapolis when we heard a pop and all of the sudden the engine was revving at 7,000 rpm and we were going 55 mph. Mike realized that we couldn't go faster than the top speed allowed in second gear and directed us to find the nearest branch of Enterprise (which was at the airport). It was considerably late in the evening (I think between midnight and 2a), so we were traveling to the airport just hoping they would be open and we could get another car. Thankfully all worked out and we got home that night.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby serasuna » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:56 pm

Oh this thread exists. I have a travel disaster story to share: my return to Boston after side event weekend in NYC last Sunday.

On Monday morning in Boston, I was scheduled to present a poster at my internship's end-of-summer poster session. This poster presentation was to represent the culmination of all the work I had done over the summer, and importantly, was to be responsible for about 90% of my professor's memory of me.

Side event weekend was the Sunday prior to my poster session. I stayed for part of guerrilla film and departed around 8pm to catch my 10pm flight out of LaGuardia, innocent of the sequence of improbable events brewing ahead.

My determination to make my flight was first challenged by a few minor but probable delays: just missing the N train, then just missing the m60. Aboard the m60, which was driving smoothly towards LaGuardia, all seemed well and good.

As the bus approached LaGuardia, it became rapidly mired in traffic. A labyrinth of detours had been set up by some police investigation as well. The sight of LaGuardia, just in the distance, was tantalizing.

Around 9:30pm, I abandoned hope in public transit and traffic patterns generally, and asked the driver to let me off. Stepping off the bus into traffic, I wielded my poster tube and waded through cars to reach the closest airport building. Upon accosting a friendly pilot, I discovered that I was at the opposite end of the airport from my terminal. The friendly pilot informed me that I could reach my terminal by a 15 minute walk.

I ran. And despairingly, I passed the very m60 I had abandoned, passing me en route to my terminal.

It was 9:45pm when I reached my terminal. Security was dark and locked up. I accosted the one remaining agent at the Delta check-in desk as to whether I could make it. In a bored tone, she informed me, "Oh don't worry, you definitely won't." She started listing flights for tomorrow, and I began calculating whether I'd make the poster session at all given those flights. At some point, maybe 5 minutes in, I asked her, "You're definitely sure I won't make this right? I just want to be sure before I commit to a flight tomorrow." She paused and said, "Eh, maybe you can make it. You can try." So, after at least 5 minutes hearing about how I wouldn't make the flight, somehow I was off running, again.

I convinced a sweet TSA agent to turn on the scanner, belt, and other gadgets for me. I literally threw my shoes and poster through the scanner, grabbed everything, and ran to my gate*, where I despairingly watched the jet bridge retract. It was 9:55pm.

*In the only good stroke of luck in this entire story, it was the gate closest to security.

To the background soundtrack of late-night vacuum cleaners making their rounds, I poured out my sob story sequentially to my mom ("get yourself together, I'll pick you up"), my roommate ("holy shit I'm so sorry, how scary"), my internship mentor's voicemail ("please leave a message after the beep"), and a nearby sympathetic Delta agent ("poor dear"). The latter got me a standby ticket on the first Delta flight in the morning. It was now Sunday 11:00pm; I clutched a standby ticket for Monday 6:00am in my hands all the way home.

Three hours of sleep later, my mom has dropped me off at LaGuardia for a Monday 6:00am Delta flight to Boston. Mysteriously, flight information does not appear on the gate display. Near the gate, I'm reassured by the sight of a flock of tall white male executives dressed in perceptually-identical suits, all of whom are simultaneously on the phone, reading newspapers, and guzzling coffee. This looks like an early morning flight to Boston.

After making myself some tea, I approach the gate desk, where I slowly process the information that Delta is experiencing a system-wide outage. What? The gate agent repeats: Offline. Worldwide. For an indeterminate amount of time. A few moments later, my mom calls me to belatedly deliver the news, having nearly swerved off the road upon hearing the news on the radio on her return drive home.

I realize that every single executive around me is requesting that their secretaries find alternate flights for them. I follow the suit flock to a nearby American gate, where a 7:00am American flight is starting to fill up. I get in line to buy a ticket for this flight at rapidly soaring prices - ahead of me, I hear executives dropping 400, 500 dollars on an American ticket. I do the same.

I board the Delta refugee flight. The executive sitting next to me in center seat jokes that he hasn't flown economy in years. Meanwhile in Boston, my internship mentor wakes up, freaks out, then calms down upon seeing my texts. The American crew makes some soft digs at Delta before we take off.

My poster presentation goes fine. I am never flying Delta again.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Ike » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:29 am

Papa's in the House wrote:There are two travel stories that merit note in this thread, though I don't remember all the details of either.

Illinois sent 3 teams to the 2009 SCT at Indiana Univeristy. For many reasons, this was one of the worst tournaments I ever played, but I'll stick to the travel part of it here. I awoke at 4:30a to the sound of my alarm and peeked outside to see a rather alarming amount of snow falling. For whatever reason, I felt that I would be able to make the (normally) 4 hour drive to Indiana with no issues, so I proceeded to call everyone and pick them up. In my car were Ike Jose, David Garb, and someone I can't remember. I had them start reading packets (to practice and to wake up), but had them stop about 30 minutes later because I could not see the road given all the snow. Instead, we started counting cars that had ended up in the ditch. We got 11 cars (and 1.5 hours) into our trip before we also ended up in the ditch after hitting a patch of black ice in the left lane at 40 mph. It took about 2 hours, but we managed to get a tow truck to take us out of the ditch and continued on to the SCT. On the way we learned that only 1 (of 3) Illinois driver arrived without damaging their car. The entire OSU contingent failed to show up because they prudently realized quiz bowl was not more important than safety.


This was 2010. The fourth person in the car was Donald Taylor. Now you know my pain.

The best part of the story is that one moderator at the SCT. Not only did she get through 7 questions in one half in our first game, she skipped over all science tossups and bonuses because the words "were too hard."

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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby dtaylor4 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:41 pm

Ike wrote:
Papa's in the House wrote:There are two travel stories that merit note in this thread, though I don't remember all the details of either.

Illinois sent 3 teams to the 2009 SCT at Indiana University. For many reasons, this was one of the worst tournaments I ever played, but I'll stick to the travel part of it here. I awoke at 4:30a to the sound of my alarm and peeked outside to see a rather alarming amount of snow falling. For whatever reason, I felt that I would be able to make the (normally) 4 hour drive to Indiana with no issues, so I proceeded to call everyone and pick them up. In my car were Ike Jose, David Garb, and someone I can't remember. I had them start reading packets (to practice and to wake up), but had them stop about 30 minutes later because I could not see the road given all the snow. Instead, we started counting cars that had ended up in the ditch. We got 11 cars (and 1.5 hours) into our trip before we also ended up in the ditch after hitting a patch of black ice in the left lane at 40 mph. It took about 2 hours, but we managed to get a tow truck to take us out of the ditch and continued on to the SCT. On the way we learned that only 1 (of 3) Illinois driver arrived without damaging their car. The entire OSU contingent failed to show up because they prudently realized quiz bowl was not more important than safety.


This was 2010. The fourth person in the car was Donald Taylor. Now you know my pain.

The best part of the story is that one moderator at the SCT. Not only did she get through 7 questions in one half in our first game, she skipped over all science tossups and bonuses because the words "were too hard."

Ike


To pile on, our car had also completely missed the first round, so Jeet Raut had to play solo against Miami-Ohio B, and Jeff Geringer had to play solo against Sorice.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Vissi d'arte » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:42 am

Hwæt! The buzzer-danes in days gone by and the TDs who ruled them had courage and greatness. We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns, from Bowling Green (of massacre fame) to Louisville.

In 2017, Kentucky Quizbowl Alliance State was held at Western Kentucky University, and myself, Ramapriya Rangaraju, and Nick Conder were planning on going down to moderate and otherwise generally help with the tournament. However, in the common quiz bowl conundrum, none of us really wanted to drive; although Nick and myself had elected Ramapriya to perform this task, he begged off due to having driven himself to Michigan and back the previous weekend for (This) Tournament is a Crime. Enter University of Kentucky team member Austin Smith--who I should point out at this point, all of us dearly love and who is a generally awesome person all around. Austin also wanted to help out with the tournament, and his parents lived in a suburb of Louisville, so the plan was hashed out: we would all meet at Rama's house (the closest of any of our residences to WKU), and Austin would drive the four of us down to WKU and back from there.

The trip down was fine; we made great time. Of minor note, I brought my (ancient) ipod for in-car entertainment on the way down. The tournament went smoothly, 12 rounds of good quiz bowl were played, and we packed up and headed out to Austin's car to head home.

The first indication that something was wrong was when Austin hit the button on his keyfob to unlock the car, and nothing happened. Dead battery. Amusingly, Austin did own one of those quick-charge, jump-a-dead-battery devices--the box for which was in the trunk of his car, but the actual device of which was back in Lexington.

As we would later determine, my ipod had been left plugged into the car's cigarette lighter port all day, which had completely drained the battery. Oof. But no matter, the remainder of WKU's staffers were there, and jumper cables were at hand. Twenty minutes later, following some on-phone googling of the correct order of operations and a very detailed explanation from engineering-major Ramapriya to another staffer about why the way in which they had been about to connect the cables would have been a very bad idea and why grounding is very much a necessary thing, Austin's car came to life, and we were ready to head home.

As an aside, the answer to "How many quizbowlers does it take to jump a car?" is "9."

But this wouldn't be a post in the travel disasters thread just for a dead battery that cost 20 minutes. No, this was just the appetizer to the main course.

If you zoom way the hell in on this map of the route between Bowling Green and Louisville, you'll notice that about halfway on the trip, just south of Elizabethtown, there is a tiny location marker reading "Upton." The Upton exit is notable to Kentucky people for two reasons: 1) a rather skeezy Marathon gas station next to a run-down, abandoned hotel, which is itself next to 2) an outlet of the Lion's Den adult bookstore/emporium, which advertises itself via a large sign on the freeway. These few things are all that is to be found at this exit. Since we had been traveling for about 50 minutes at this point, and we figured it was safe to stop for gas without having to jump the car again, Austin pulled off here to fill up.

As it turns out, it was perfectly safe to stop for gas, as Austin's car started perfectly after filling up, and turned perfectly out of the Marathon station onto the side road, and turned perfectly left onto the bigger road that led to the interstate, and accelerated perfectly through first gear as we headed towards the on ramp, and perfectly blew the absolute hell out of its transmission trying to shift from first to second, and perfectly lost any forward momentum and started rolling backwards down the hill we were on while still in drive.

:capybara:

It is now approximately 8:00pm EST, and quite dark. After multiple efforts to shift from drive, to park, to drive, press the gas pedal, we still roll backwards, repeat process, Austin lets the car coast backwards enough to roll about halfway into the breakdown lane, and we get out to look under the hood, as if that has ever led to any successfully-solved car problem in the history of quiz bowl.

With the use of a cell phone flashlight and a helpful Youtube video to figure out which of the two dipsticks was transmission fluid and which was oil, we determine that the car does in fact have enough transmission fluid and that is not the problem. Once more, the car is turned off, started, shifted into drive, and fails to make any progress other than rolling backwards. Collectively, the decision is made to call AAA, though first Austin has to call his parents to confirm that their account had in fact been renewed, as the AAA card he possessed had an expiration date of February 28, 2017. Meanwhile, the three of us who are not Austin begin making calls to people who may be able to pick us up and give us a ride back to Louisville. Nick's mom is unavailable, my non-quizbowl friend who works nights is working that night, and the only person who can come pick us up is Rama's dad (who this night would confirm is, in fact, a saint), who can't leave right away but who will come as soon as he can from Louisville and make the ca. 120 mile round trip to collect us.

At some point while phone calls are being made, Nick discovers a large bolt in the breakdown lane at approximately the point where the car shifted its alignment to True Neutral. We have no idea if it came from the car or not, but it amuses us.

So both AAA and Rama's dad are on their way. AAA has informed Austin there is a transmission mechanic 8 miles from where we are broken down, so he is going to go with the tow truck and his car to this transmission place, while we wait at the Marathon for Rama's dad and then go to where Austin is and pick him up there. About an hour later, the tow truck arrives, and we collect UofL's buzzer systems from Austin's car and head for the Marathon. Nick, to his simultaneous amusement and terror, notes that this is the same tow truck company responsible for his own adventures further up in this thread. We pile ourselves into the two booths in the Marathon to await Rama's dad.

About 15-20 minutes later, Nick looks at his phone and suddenly starts laughing. He then turns his phone around to show me a Facebook message from Austin.

"This place has been out of business for 8 years."

This is the point at which we decide our night needs to be preserved in the travel disasters thread.

From what Austin told us later, apparently, some guy in Upton had run a transmission repair business out of the garage of his house, as guys in this part of Kentucky are wont to do. He had stopped doing this 8 years ago, but AAA did not know this--which goes a long way towards explaining the confusion of said guy when he comes out of his house, in pajamas, to question why at 9:30pm on a Saturday night there is a tow truck with its flashers on in his driveway.

So No-Longer-Working-on-Transmissions guy calls around and finds an open transmission ship in Horse Cave. If you go back and look at that map I linked, you'll notice this is about 20 miles in the opposite direction from the one we want to be heading in; Upton is exit 76, Horse Cave is exit 58. Meanwhile, Rama's dad has arrived and the three of us have piled into his car, and we get a call from Austin. The gas station we are at is on the way from guy's house to the transmission place, so they are going to stop in and then we are going to follow them to the transmission place. Because he is a saint, Rama's dad agrees to this, increasing his round trip to about 160 miles.

We make it to the transmission shop. The tow truck drivers unload Austin's car and nearly manage to roll it into a ditch while doing so. This strikes me as the least surprising thing to happen over the course of the night. Austin pays for the tow, collects his keys, and we begin the 80 mile journey back to Louisville.

We reach Rama's house at 11:00pm, 5 hours after we left Bowling Green on a trip that normally takes about 75-90 minutes. I take Nick back to his place, and then head home myself. I have not eaten in close to 12 hours, since lunch at the tournament. Nick is planning on ordering pizza, I plan to do the same. I get home, get a shower, and exit the shower to find a Facebook message from Nick that Papa John's has estimated it will take 2 hours for his pizza to arrive. I check and find my estimate would be about the same.

And that's why I had cereal for dinner last night.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby idrayer » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:32 pm

After averting a near travel disaster that would have had me missing work tomorrow, I've got the following pieces of advice that you may or may not be familiar with:

When your flight is delayed such that you'll miss a connection (causing you like a 12+ hour delay), ask the airline to put you on another airline, even if it's a competitor. When doing this, it helps to have alternative routes available so that you can suggest one of them.

Similarly, if there are other airports in the general vicinity, see if there are flights out of that one and ask for the airline to put you in a taxi over to that one. This works well in the NYC area for JFK, LGA, EWR, ISP, and HPN all in the same vicinity.

Flight is pulling away, so I'll add more later.

Edit: Thank you T-MOBILE for free gogo wi-fi on flights.

Basically, airlines want to get you to your destination as quickly as possible so that you're not taking up a seat on a later flight. When you offer alternatives to them, you can really avert travel disasters and turn them into just slight inconveniences. While you're waiting on line at the desk to get these things done, also call their 800 number, and just say "agent" repeatedly until you talk to someone. The automated machine will understand the frustration in your voice and connect you to a person somewhat quickly/place you in a priority line or over to second tier support. Again here, have some alternatives ready if you can find them, and have your record locator/confirmation number available as well (it should be on your ticket). Hope some of these help you with your travels when something goes slightly wrong!

Edit 2: spoke too soon about total aversion, fell asleep on the plane right after boarding to wake up an hour later finding we're still at the gate. Eventually got home at around 2 am.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Philipp Moog » Mon May 29, 2017 12:52 am

ONE YEAR LATER IT HAPPENS AGAIN just replace Dallas with my layover in Houston and you know the drill. Maybe I should just avoid Texas for future HSNCT-related travels...

Philipp Moog wrote:As I type this, I am in my tenth hour of sitting in the Dallas Love Field airport, which made me think of this thread.

I was supposed to fly back to school after HSNCT at 8 pm on Sunday. There was lightning around the Dallas area, so a lot of flights were being delayed by an hour or two, including mine. At 10, I was finally able board the plane. About an hour later, we were informed that the first officer was unable to complete the flight to SFO because he had been working for too long by that point, and we would have to wait for about an hour to replace him. They let us off the plane and back into the gate in the mean time.

At about 1 am, 5 hours after our originally scheduled departure, we were all informed that our flight had been cancelled. The recommended flight was for 5:30 later that morning, and they didn't offer any sort of lodging or transportation to lodging, so I've been sitting here for the past many hours failing to sleep on the uncomfortable chairs and trying to get as much out of the 30 minutes of free wifi offered at this stupid airport.

Moral of the story: Southwest is great until something goes wrong, in which case it goes very wrong. Also don't decide to write a post when you're (unwillingly) pulling an all nighter after already racking up a lot of sleep debt in the past few days.
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Ewan MacAulay » Wed May 31, 2017 3:53 pm

While trying to go to ACF Fall this year my train hit three cows on the line just outside Melton Mowbray. We then had to wait two hours for the fire brigade to come and cut the cows out from underneath the front carriage. Eventually made it to Warwick four hours late, and wasn't even compensated by the railway in steaks. That'll teach me to make my own travel arrangements...
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Re: Your Travel Disaster Stories

Postby Chromica » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:48 pm

On our way to the 2016 NASAT at the University of Kentucky, we (The Pennsylvania teams) had rented a van to drive to the site. The van had been traveling a good while before it picked me and my father up near Harrisburg. At that point it was carrying 6 students and 3 parents, but since it was a large van, we all had plenty of room. One of the parents had been struggling with the van for a while, but she simply thought the wheels were out of alignment. But when my father goes to take his turn driving, he quickly realizes that something is seriously wrong. We had been driving for an hour/hour and a half, to give reference for how long this had been happening. So we decide to pull by the side of the road in the middle of Complete Nowhere, West Virginia, and call a tow truck. 15-20 minutes later he shows up, and sure enough, the wheels were straight up coming off. A few more miles and we would have been in serious trouble. Now, we have a tournament to go to, so we have to find a way to get to the nearest dealership, where we were told we could get another van. But our only option is the back of the tow truck. 9 people? Really? Yes, we did. According to some estimates, the combined mass in the back of that van was within 90% of its Schwarzschild radius. Eventually, we make it to the dealership, and guess what, THEY DON'T HAVE A VAN. So now we're stranded at some car dealership. So we have to wait another 2+ hours for the parents to pick up a van at another dealership, as well as for one of the parents who was driving a while behind us to catch up.

In the meantime, I should add, there's another player waiting in Morgantown, WV to be picked up, and we had no way of contacting him to let him know what's going on.

In total, it took 3-4 hours for us to get back on the road. The return trip was a bit cramped, but otherwise uneventful.
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