Truly Cheesy Travel Experiences

In these lingering summer days, as I sit with my feet in my kid's inflatable alligator pool eating marshmallows, I'm wondering about the cheesiest, tackiest, dopiest travel experiences you've ever had. What have you done that has made you step back (then or later) and say something like, "Wow, I just drove fifteen hours to eat Twinkies at a truckstop with a dozen Elvis impersonators."

I've got a couple. Speaking of Elvis impersonators, I once was invited to spend a weekend at the old Coco Palms resort on Kauai (which was blown to bits by Hurricane Iniki and never recovered). It was a very cool, atmospheric old place with clamshell bathroom sinks and woven palm thatch roofs and a sweet staff of Hawaiians who had worked there their whole lives. But it was also the annual reunion of the Elvis Presley Fan Club – from Great Britain, no less – and for 72 hours we were serenaded by canned Elvis music, watched far too many men with long sideburns lounge by the pool, heard "Love Me Tender" sung in Welsh accents a few billion times, and watched endless recreations of the wedding scene from Blue Hawaii.

This whole conversation about tacky travel experiences might easily begin and end in Las Vegas, where I vividly recall that my first room at Caesars Palace in the '80s had red, crushed-velvet walls, a Murphy bed and plastic busts of Caesar (or maybe it was Beethoven) on plastic pedestals. Now that was one cheesy room. For entertainment on that trip we went to see "Nudes on Ice," which was as tacky and hysterical as the name suggests.

But even Vegas couldn't compete with the time that I was in Egypt on an official press trip, and they decided to treat us to a ride on the Nile river in a classic felucca sailboat. On an absolutely still, windless night in Luxor, we drifted on the river in this little boat, waited for an hour for something to happen, found out that the something was a replacement drum for one of the crewmen, which was rowed across the river and dropped off with us, and then while a motorboat towed our sailboat upriver, because there was no wind to fill the sails of the classic sailboat, the crewmen banged on the drum and sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," over and over.

Now let's see you top that for sheer, over-the-top tackiness. And pass the marshmallows.