How (Not) to Channel Your Inner “Jackass” on Vacation

“This isn’t the best idea ever” is the opening comment for the “Jackass 3D” trailer and naturally that line becomes the mantra for the movie itself, like its predecessors a roundup of dangerous stunts.

As travelers, there are times when we hear that comment in our own heads and reject such ideas as walking down a dark street alone. And then there are those other times when we hit the mental “override” button and forge ahead with an idea like running down the street with bulls. Why? What gives some of us the fortitude to do -- or perhaps more accurately, to not not do -- something that we wouldn’t dare consider at home?

I don’t have the answer, but I do have proof that there’s cause to ask the question. Take member "ricky52," who, while in Gambia, went to see Charlie, "a crocodile you could shake hands with. I shook his hand and that was fine,” ricky52 says, “and then decided to stand in the middle of eight crocodiles to have my photo taken [and I got the] photo to prove it. It was not until a little while later [that] I realized what a daft thing [that was] to go and do.”

Then there was the time Ori Bengal was visiting Oregon and somehow found himself participating in a game of “Bull Poker,” which involves playing poker at a card table that happens to be situated within a bull ring. Once a highly annoyed bull is released, the last player to leave his chair or otherwise not get gored by said bull wins a cash prize. Bengal was knocked out of the contest when a fellow player rammed by the bull flew into and broke Bengal’s chair. So Bengal didn’t walk away with the win, just his life. As he suggested to me, as well as fans of his blog, it was “not my brightest idea.”

Here now, some other questionable vacation ideas. Don’t try these things at home.

Running with the bulls in Pamplona, or how to almost get gored, part two

Running with the bulls is a quintessential and almost sacred event for the citizens of Pamplona, Spain, but as Ludus Tours public relations manager Victoria Whyte puts it, “these bulls are not mindless cows, they are aggressive animals that will not think twice about goring you. People who run with the bulls are a whole different 'breed.'” One of her tour group clients, a “runner” that I’ll call Lucky, was on his second day of running when he “felt what he believed to be a runner very close behind him,” Whyte recalls, though it was in fact a feisty solo bull. Upon visiting a photo shop later, Lucky spotted images of his run. One photo showed other runners giving the bull and Lucky a wide berth, with Lucky’s hand “resting on the bull’s head right between the horns. The other photograph shows the Bull’s left horn between [Lucky’s] right side and his arm. The horn is digging into this arm, but not breaking the skin.” Whyte adds that while Lucky “came to Pamplona to run every day, after that experience it was the last time he ran with the bulls.”

Bad idea, Vietnam edition: Jumping into a river when you can’t really swim

“The most dangerous, ‘jackass’ thing I've done -- well dangerous to me that is -- was snorkeling off of a boat in Vietnam,” recounts Kevin Land, who with friends rented a boat to see the Nha Trang islands. When the captain suggested the group snorkel the coral reefs off one of the islands, Land agreed, despite not being “the best swimmer of the group” and the fact that up until that moment he had never jumped into any body of water. “I was handed my mask and separate snorkel and was about to put them on when I was told it's better to jump into the water, then put them on. They also said not to lose the mask and snorkel as it would cost us extra.”

Land looked into the water, thinking “it’s not too deep, so you can walk to shore just in case,"

and jumped, sinking far under the water before he “luckily popped back up, all while trying not to lose the precious mask and snorkel” which was defective, so with salt pouring into his eyes and his arms and legs flailing because he was farther out than expected, Land called to his friends who advised him to “calm down and swim towards them. I remembered that I can ‘swim’ best on my back and somehow drifted over to the boat and then clung for dear life onto a hanging tire over the side. My friends asked me what happened and I told them I wasn't a great swimmer and they all laughed out loud but then congratulated me for taking such a risk and jumping, knowing that I could have possibly drowned.” And in true “Jackass” style, his friends informed him “that it was all caught on video for us to enjoy for many times to come.”

Why driving an RV on the beach during high tide is not the best idea ever

On the road for about a month in their new custom-built four-wheel drive RV, publisher and co-founder Mark Sedenquist and site co-founder and editor Megan Edwards decided to take a detour while in Long Beach, Washington when Sedenquist noticed a sign for a “stretch of Highway One [that] paralleled the seashore. So we drove down out there, and then I noticed that the paving came abruptly to an end and there was a new sign that showed that the ‘route’ followed the beach for a couple of miles.” Despite protests from Edwards, Sedenquist was confident his RV’s 4WD would make it through the sand. As the sand got deeper he veered the vehicle toward the wetter sand to improve his traction. It was then that he realized that the beach detour was only meant to be driven during low tide, and high tide was almost upon them. He was driving in 4-High and “managed to get the vehicle turned around but I still couldn't downshift to 4-Low because I'd have to stop and put [it] in neutral to shift and the waster was closing fast,” Sedenquist recalls.

As Sedenquist and Edwards attempted to motor away from the water’s edge, a sand rail pulled alongside the RV and its driver shouted at Sedenquist not to stop, as no vehicle would have the pulling power to get them off the beach if they got stuck. Continues Sedenquist, “since I couldn't downshift, the RPM were a tad too high and we were shooting a rooster tail of wet sand and water about 30 feet in the air behind us. To make an even better spectacle, all of that RPM was causing the front end to come off of the ground and we were, in essence, cutting a massive wheelie as we climbed and crawled our way back to the paved surface.” Ultimately “after much display of raw horsepower and stupid driving behavior, we reached the pavement and exited the beach area accompanied by about 30 sand rails and sand cruisers who had raced down the beach to watch the performance.”

A "Jackass" story with actual jackasses

During her week traveling in Bonaire, flight attendant and author Betty Thesky paid a visit to a donkey sanctuary. At the visitor center she “bought food and got instructions about feeding the donkeys. Basically they said to put the food in your hand but tuck you thumb in so it does not get bit and to not feed them near your rental car because you may not be able to get back in your car.”

With those cautions in mind, Thesky “started driving and sure enough the donkeys started surrounding my car,” and upon reaching a picnic area she stopped, got out of the car, and “next thing I know I am surrounded by about twelve donkeys all wanting food. I try the hand feeding thing but all the other donkeys start getting really close to me clamoring for food, two of them even bumped me with their hindquarters” at which point she made a run for it, realized she couldn’t get back into her car faster than the jackasses could catch her, and she “panicked and ran far from the car and threw all the food as far as I could and bolted back to the car. I was barely breathing by the time I shut the door and locked it like I was in a horror movie but there was no crazed killer...just some crazy hungry donkeys.”