A Never-Before Shared (with the internet) Story from the Road-trip Vault

Heyo! I’m headed up to Santa Barbara today to hang out at the race expo with Oiselle and SB Running Co! (are you gonna be there? say hi?) No, this is not Act II of the “Secret Marathon”… although I kind of wish I’d thought about it sooner. Did you know to this date SBI is the ONLY marathon I’ve 1) negative split and 2) not walked during? Yup. 8 marathons and not another damn walk-less 26.2 to claim. Let alone the elusive negative split. Sigh. Someday maybe.

I’ll be working today then cheering tomorrow (somewhere) so if you’re going to be around let me know to look for you!

(but seriously if you’re in the area or running come say hi? dinner? drinks? do I sound desperate yet?)

In my absence I wanted to leave you with an untold story from this summer’s cross-country road-trip with Emily. I call this one, “The Only Time I Was More Scared For My Life Was When We Were Ambushed by Buffalo in Yellowstone” and I’ve only just recently decided the threat level has been lifted enough to let the topic air out.

And if not, at least Emily is still *almost* a full state away.

And-and if you haven’t seen the Buffalo Ambush, divert quickly HERE. Then come back.


“many Yellowstone visitors have been gored by buffalo” ^^^ Genuine fear

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013. South Dakota’ish.

Day Four was our longest day of driving. 650is miles, from Minnesota to the SD/WY border. We’d developed a pretty sound rotation system by then – we’d take turns driving until 1) we needed to fuel up (the car or the passengers) or 2) one of us needed to pee (usually me.) This made for about three hour shifts, but as the long day wore on and darkness took away the beautiful sights of Western Bumfuck South Dakota, we switched every 90 minutes or so to you know, keep from falling asleep at the wheel and killing ourselves.


not only do you miss the arrow-straight, nothing-on-either-side-except-maybe-some-roadkill views in the dark, but the bug smears are somehow even worse

Our goal stop was still a couple hours away (we got a little distracted and were admittedly a little ambitious with our route planner) but at 1:30am, with Em dead asleep in the passenger seat, my eyes lolling, and realizing the upcoming exit appeared to be the last map dot of civilization for the next 100 miles or so, I pulled over. We pricelined the highway trucker exit real quick and found the best statistical option – a 1.5 star, $80 no-name hotel (it got extra points for not being motel-style) that boasted “free bfast! cable tv! running water!” and pulled in, too desperately exhausted to care what kind of horror-thriller movie plot we could be walking into.

I pulled Emily’s car, which was stuffed to the absolute gills with her entire life inside all smashed up against the windows, into a parking spot between a semi and a dirty NASCAR-ish trailer. We banked a few (four) hours of sleep, grabbed a quick shower and a styrofoam cup of dry raisin bran from the “breakfast buffet”, and got the eff out of there at 6am before any of the murderers or convicts woke up.

I probably watch too many crime shows, and if you’re wondering no that’s not the scary part.

Wednesday, August yth, 2013. Wyoming’ish.

We had another long day of driving ahead (500 miles, no fun stops), our only two real tough days of the trip, but the promise of Yellowstone at the finish line was enough to power ahead. A full tank of gas, grande coffee, trenta ice water – wheels up! (err, down? burn rubber?)


Emily smiling because the string of terrible-awful-worst-copilot-ever events hadn’t happened yet. also because this was hilarious. (bikers = sturgis motorcycle rally)

Somewhere through the middle-ish of Wyoming during Emily’s shift I realized we were getting close to 2000 miles on the trip odometer. We’d been carefully and excitedly monitoring it and kicked ourselves for missing the 1K milestone in Minnesota. Seeing the potential photo opp and needing a break from radio dj’ing, I set to change the time on the adjacent dash clock to reflect the current time zone so the “2k! Still alive!” instagram I was dreaming up would be as accurate as possible.

Now, in all the car/appliance/anything clocks I’ve set in my day, you have to hold in a button to get the time into “edit” mode. Get the little colon dots blinking, you know what I mean?

Unfortunately in the fine piece of automobile high techness that is a Scion, you don’t need to do that.

(Do you see where this is going?)

And holding the little knob by the clock in will reset your trip odometer.

I honestly felt my heart stop.

I froze, hand still reaching towards the clock/odometer, when Em gave me the 10-and-2 cautious driver side-eye and asked what was wrong. The terror in my face directed her gaze straight to the screen, now smirking a “0.7 miles” trip reading, sealing my fate as what would surely be a dead body laying off HWY90.

As if ruining the only statistically relevant part of the trip Emily cared about wasn’t enough, I immediately felt the grande + trenta combo drop to the bottom of my bladder. The odometer-wrath fear must’ve triggered an emergency fight or flight signal, and an hour before our next stop and according to the sign we’d just passed, 40 miles from the next exit, I was in trouble.

I made it about 10 more minutes before begging and pleading (no really, I had tears in my eyes) to pull over. Being the understanding but still slightly fuming friend she is, she granted my wish.

By pulling the car onto the shoulder and handing me a napkin.

That shameful squat on the foliage-less highway shoulder was probably the lowest part of the trip from Team Sarah, but at least Emily didn’t speed off and leave me to die with my pants down.


Other “oopsies aren’t you so glad I’m here?” moments:

Getting dehydration/altitude sick and cutting short our OMGSOAMAZING run around Yellowstone Lake, threatening to call PETA at the rodeo, having to cancel horseback riding because I got us lost in Yellowstone (hi I’m helpless without GPS or cell service), almost setting our glamp tent on fire, missing a turn in Oregon and adding an hour (albeit much more scenic and beautiful than the planned route) to our drive, and not having cash for VooDoo Donuts. All roadtrip felonies.


And so after those confessions from the road, in case you’re just itching to ask – no, I’m not for roadtrip co-pilot hire. I totally would but I don’t have any references to vouch for my services. Sorry.

p.s. Em let me know when you’ve forgiven me so I can plan my next trip to the Eug and not have to sleep with one eye open. Thanks.

Sarah OUaL


6 thoughts on “A Never-Before Shared (with the internet) Story from the Road-trip Vault

  1. I had to read this twice because I kept waiting for the Buffalo then realized my mistake ! Eliminating precious data and with it the Instagram photo op would be equally heart wrenching to me! And I have an equally small and nerve prone bladder…



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