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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Embark on a road trip? Aint no mountain far enough

Published: April 27, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Road trips have long been hailed as the ultimate college experience. Just grab a couple of friends and you have the thrill of the open road and unlimited potential for adventure before you. Despite the clichs and bad comedies inspired by this tradition (remember the one with Tom Green? Yeah, that one.), the college road trip is a pastime that will withstand the test of time and rightfully so. Just in case you too wanted to embark on your own life-changing, self-defining, soul-searching journey across the great American landscape, we interviewed road-tripper extraordinaire/Brandeis student Ethan Feuer 07 to find out the dos and donts of the college road trip, and ended up learning his personal story in the process.

Start: Denver, Colorado
End: Denver, Colorado
Path: From Denver, South through New Mexico, West to California, North through Oregon and Washington to Canada, Eastward and back South through Montana and Wyoming back to Denver.

Most Beautiful Destination: Vancouver. That is the most beautiful city in the world. It was really pretty;

all the light was collecting everywhere. Its surrounded by the ocean and we drove to this natural waterfall and we just watched the buildings in Vancouver from there.

Place You Should Visit: Olympic National Park
Rental Agency You Should Use: Enterprise in Denver, Colorado. Most places dont let you rent under 25 years of age, but we found the only place in America it does. Its an Enterprise branch in Denver, Colorado, and they let us rent a minivan for 800 dollars for a month.

Most Your Friend Experienced a Near-Death Experience: We went to this park in Washington. There were all these high cliffs right on the ocean and we get this devious idea to start climbing them. My two friends start climbing this cliff, and my other friend and I see this other bigger one. We say Were going to climb that big [expletive] over there. There was one side that the waves were crashing against. It was less steep but it was wetter. I say to my friend that it would be safer to climb the other side, but he insists on climbing the less steep side. I get to the top, and I hear my friend making these noises on the other side. I find out that hes hurt and do my best to scale down the cliff, cutting up my arms and knees at the same time. Hes lying limp in the water, and his head is bleeding. I find out that he fell 36 ft off the cliff, bouncing off the rock walls into the ocean. He ended up breaking both ankles, one so much that he lost all his cartilage so that he can never run again. He was only millimeters away from fracturing his vertebrae and becoming paralyzed.

Best Souvenir: Tattoo from Portland, Oregon. We made a pact in the third grade to get a tattoo. At that time, I was the best drawer, so it was agreed that I would draw it. So I drew a bear attacking our minivan. Im attacking it with a spear, and my other friend is attacking it from behind on a magic carpet.

Dress like a rockstar, be charming
We got free steak and free beer in Vancouver. We met this old, forty-something Bohemian lady who took us to this fancy club and they had great steak and beer. We got into a lot of clubs because people thought we were in a band. I guess we dressed trendy or something, but our clothes were just tattered from traveling. Girls told me I looked like a guitarist, which I take as a compliment.

Get a National Park Membership Card
You can visit any national park for free. It saved us seventy to eighty dollars each. Buy an inflatable bed, bring a tent, and you can also use this card to turn any national park into your own four-star. Its like Four Seasons, but with more fresh air, and the threat of bear attacks in the night. Also, if you choose to take advantage of this, know that you should secure a space at these parks 3-4 month ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel in the summertime.

Sleep at friends houses
Its not the ground, theres no threat of bear attacks, and it doesnt cost anything! Or, at least, it shouldnt, depending on your friend.

Cook all your own meals
We cooked a lot of canned beans, a lot of rice. Its a good way to save money. Also, something to keep in mind: friends not only deal out free shelter, but free food.

Shop at Walmart
Even though its evil, its where you can get really cheap stuff, and theyre all over the country. You can disagree with their business ethics, capitalism-driven disintegration of justice and disregard for the fair treatment of labor, but you cant disagree with their cheap prices and outstanding availability. Its true.

Dont go white water rafting on an inflatable bed
Its a miracle we didnt break our ribs.

Plan Ahead
We planned ahead five to six months. We didnt plan what we would do in each city, necessarily, but where we would be at what time, like we wanted to be at this place on this day, especially because there was a lot of places each one of us wanted to go to. There was this one town that was twenty years old, one of the youngest town in America. Their first was museum was this room full of stuffed animals that this lady left behind when she died.

Go with people you like.
I had known all these people since the second, or third grade, so I knew I could live with them for extended periods of time.