Travel: Global Myths No 19

SOME years ago, a couple of students were spending the summer "doing" the US west coast in an open-topped pink Cadillac. They cruised down the coast until they arrived in Los Angeles.

From there, they planned to repeat the legendary Hunter S Thompson journey from Los Angeles, through Barstow and across the Arizona desert all the way to Vegas. They decided to pass on the trunkload of drink and drugs that had characterised Thompson's journey. Their main concern was that their gas guzzler wouldn't hold enough petrol to get them across the desert. They stopped at a rundown garage on the edge of Barstow and asked the wizened old man in his rocking chair if he thought their car would get them through. He sucked on his pipe for a few minutes and took a long hard look at the vehicle.

"Well," he said. "I did that trip a couple of years back back in exactly the same kind of car, boys. I didn't take any spare fuel."

And so they set off on their desert adventure. Imagine their horror when, 30 miles shy of the legendary desert city, their car spluttered to a halt, the fuel tank empty. After a sweltering, nerve-racking three- hour wait, they got a lift into Vegas on the back of a smelly beer truck. They bought some gas, and recovered the car. The rest of the Vegas trip passed without incident and they returned the same way a few days later.

As it happened, the old man was still sitting at the garage when they hit Barstow on the return trip, and they decided to "have a word" with him about his advice. They explained the misfortune, while the old man sat puffing away on his pipe. Then he took a final puff, looked at them, and said: "Funny. That's what happened to me too."

Send in the stories you've picked up on your journeys to 'Global Myths' at the address above.

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