Butt Trip Triple Play

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If you don’t know what a butt trip is go ahead and click here to get an idea of what a butt trip is. Essentially butt trips are small day trips to obscure places that adults appreciate more than children. The longer the drive and the more obscure the destination the better. We did a butt trip triple play in Tulsa as we visited The Center of the Universe, the Golden Driller, and a Volkswagen Bug on “spider legs.” This trip scored a 60 out of 67 scale. We didn’t have to drive very far to see it but we did see three obscure sites, one of which we all refused to get out of the car to look at.

We have been on higher scoring butt trips but this was one of the best due to the quantity of destinations. We have never done three destinations in one trip. The VW bug with spider legs might be one of the most worthless things we have ever seen.

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Butt Trip: Castroville Artichoke


We were having a slow day while in the Moneterey Bay area but we still felt like going out and doing something. It has been a while since we have gone on a butt trip. Click here to learn more about our butt trips.

This butt trip had some potential as we were basically driving 40 minutes to see an artichoke the size of a building. I was excited for lots of eye rolling and wailing and gnashing of teeth from the young’uns.

The artichoke was gigantic. There is a fruit and vegetable stand and a deli attached. The fruit stand was no bueno. The stuff didn’t seem very fresh and appealing. There were a lot of people getting sandwiches from the Deli. We noticed they had fried artichokes. I felt that if we didn’t eat fried artichokes next to a Behemoth lime green artichoke statue we would regret it for the rest of our lives. However, I also worried that if the fried artichokes were yummy, the kids would enjoy the butt trip which would defeat the purpose. I decided to risk it.

Luckily the artichokes were just OK. I think that almost anything deep fried is going to be palatable. These were good but I wouldn’t go back to get them so the kids continued with their downtrodden nature.

As far as Butt Trips go, this one was a little below average. The drive was long but it is very green and beautiful in this area so we didn’t have a lot of pain there. The kids didn’t have to learn anything. Marisa and I didn’t have any long winded lectures or stinky food for the kids to suffer through. The artichoke was awesome and it’s just off the freeway so I would recommend stopping for the photo op if you are by Castroville. The overall rating for this but trip was a 33 out of 67.

Failed Butt Trip: Oregon Vortex

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While we were in Ashland, I read about a nearby attraction called the Oregon Vortex. I recalled that Mulder spoke of this mysterious anomaly on one of the episodes of X-Files and since “I want to believe,” I looked into it a little more. Here is what it says on the Oregon Vortex website.

“The Oregon Vortex is a glimpse of a strange world where the improbable is the commonplace and everyday physical facts are reversed. It is an area of naturally occurring visual and perceptual phenomena, which can be captured on film. No matter your education or profession you will find a challenge to all your accepted theories.”

Apparently, when you are at the vortex, reality and the laws of physics cease to exist. People’s heights change and perspectives are distorted. I looked at Marisa and said “What a wonderful butt trip opportunity.” Her eyes sparkled in anticipation. It made me love her even more.

The drive from Ashland to Gold Hills is about 45 minutes and while it was not across barren, featureless land, the kids were still bored. It seemed like a good start to another successful butt trip. Little did we know, that this would become a failed butt trip.vortex21

I didn’t look into the fee for entry and it turned out that it was like $12 per person for a 45 minute tour. A bit steep and way too expensive to be considered a butt trip. The tour was pretty good. There were plenty of optical illusions in what they claimed to be a vortex that distorted the laws of physics. We would stand up opposite to each other against some posts and our height looked the same, but then we would switch sides and it looked like one person would grow and one person would shrink. There were quite a few illusions here and I was pretty perplexed.


To be clear, I am a sucker for weird ideas, conspiracy theories, and paranormal phenomena. I tried hard to figure out how the optical illusions work but I was unable to wrap my head around what my eyes were seeing. I know there is some perspective stuff going on in the house of mystery but I was still perplexedvortex13


The Oregon Vortex costs more than it should, however my family thought it was unique and fun. I am glad we did it but it failed as a butt trip based on the following criteria.

  • It cost more than it should for a butt trip.
  • The kids enjoyed it.
  • There were no car breakdowns nor were there any character building opportunities.

In review the trip to the Oregon Vortex was a fail. It was pretty interesting and fun, and too expensive to be a butt trip. What was originally intended to be a butt trip was disqualified and a butt trip score can not be assigned.

Butt Trip: Unionville Nevada

Mark Twain 08In a previous article I described the requirements for what a butt trip is and how they are scored. I am a little worried about the butt trip to Unionville, Nevada, as it might be the highest scoring butt trip we go on this year and all of our future butt trips will be less butty than this one. We will have to see.

When I was reading about things to do in Winnemucca I found out that there were a lot of ghost towns around that area from old silver strikes. I found out that in Unionville there was an old shack that Mark Twain used to live in. He even wrote about his time there in the book Roughing It. Marisa and I were excited to go see the Ghost Town where Mark Twain lived, the kids not as much.

The elements that made this a Butt Trip for the ages are legion.

  • A one hour drive across a vast featureless desert oasis.
  • If we had run out of gas the odds of death would have been around 65%.
  • A destination that no one in our family had heard of until the day before.
  • In addition, we didn’t know for sure if we would even find Mark Twain’s house.
  • Car sick children.
  • Dirt roads full of potholes.
  • Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

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The part of this trip that made it a guaranteed butt trip success was that we drove around two hours to look at an old, broken down shack that we didn’t know existed a week earlier. We might also have found an outhouse that was graced by Samuel Clemens buttocks. Marisa and I felt that we had finally found something that had been missing in our lives, and we didn’t know it until we saw this ramshackle hut.

This butt trip scored a 63 out of 67. The drive there and back took 8 times as long as the time that we actually spent at the location. The destination was a run down shack that is ready to tip over. Mark Twain still went by Samuel Clemens when he lived there. Marisa and I were thrilled to see it and our children were besides themselves that their parents are so insane. This will be the standard that all future butt trips are measured with.

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Butt Trip: Soda Springs Geyser

As our family travels across the country we will be going on a lot of what my brothers and sisters referred to as “Butt Trips.” You may wonder what a butt trip is so before I tell you about our first butt trip on our trek let me give you a history lesson.Soda Springs Butt Trip09The Johnson clan grew up in Idaho and North Dakota. We lived a happy and simple life in our small towns. Since there wasn’t a lot going on, at times our Mom and Dad would take us on what came to be known as “butt trips” in Johnson nomenclature. Butt trips are small day trips to obscure places that adults appreciate more than children.

A trip to an amusement park is not a butt trip since children and teenagers like amusement parks. On the other hand, a trip to see the tallest man-made structure in North America, a radio antennae in the middle of the North Dakota plains, is not something that the average child would like. It’s a huge pole in a flat field for crying out loud. I went on this trip three times In my youth. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. When I think of the angst it caused me when I was 14 it makes my eyes bleed tears of boredom even now. Driving 90 minutes one way over a flat plain without any distinguishing features is a butt trip.

Natural state of children during a butt trip.
Natural state of children during a butt trip.

After a while my parents didn’t even try to pretend we were doing something we would like. They would say, “hop into the car kids, we are going on a butt trip to Jamestown to see the huge buffalo statue in the side of the road. The air conditioning is out and Dad just got a pound of Liverwurst  from Whitey’s for us all to share. We will be listening to the Moody Blues on the way there and the Jazz Singer soundtrack on the way home. You will never forget this.”

On a butt trip, children only look happy after being threatened or bribed to smile for the camera.
On a butt trip, children only look happy after being threatened or bribed to smile for the camera.

Fast forward 25 years and now I am old. My interests have changed and I have come to love the obscure roadside attractions that might be considered butt trips. I like the idea of forcing my family into a vehicle to be together and communicate without outside distractions.  I also wonder if my subconscience wants revenge on my parents, and the only balm for what ails me is to bore my kids the same way I was. I must be a bad person but I get some joy watching the pain in my children’s face as I explain another geological wonder that happened hundreds of thousands of years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth instead of snapchat and boy bands.Soda Springs Butt Trip02I have thought a lot about the butt trip phenomenon and I think there are certain qualifications that must be  present for a trip to be a butt trip. There are then some features that add to the quality of a butt trip but are not necessary for a butt trip to occur.

Butt Trip Requirements

  1. The destination of a butt trip has to be determined by an adult over 21 years of age with no input from any minors.
  2. There is a complex algorithm to determine if your are on a butt trip based on the total bored factor of the youth.  If they are  bored on a scale of 9 out of 10 and you travelled 30 minutes it is a butt trip because although it want a long trip the intensity of the boredom was extremely high. If the children are bored on a scale of 3 out of 10, but you traveled 3 hours then it is still a butt trip since the boredom factor was not intense, but instead it was steady and prolonged over a long period of time.
  3. A butt trip never sounds extremely interesting to anyone under 18 when described to them.
  4. You wouldn’t invite a friend on a butt trip as they might stop being your friend. Butt trips are for family as you can’t stop being family.

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Butt Trip Suggestions

  1. Although not required, it is suggested that adults listen to music in the car that was made before the oldest child was born.
  2. Food can add to the melancholy and boredom of a trip. Things like blue cheese, green olives, horehound candy, and Liverwurst  can be enjoyed by an adults numbed tastebuds while at the same time repelling children.
  3. Try to teach lessons or morals through long stories and anecdotes that the children have heard many times before.
  4. It’s preferable if a part of the car doesn’t work or breaks down. A car that overheats and causes the family having to drive with the heat on in the summer is ideal.
  5. Any talk about how the trip helps build character adds to the desired ambience of the trip.

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I know this is a long post but I felt that it was necessary to share the idea of a butt trip before you started experiencing ours. The first butt trip of our road travels was to Soda Springs Idaho to see the geyser in the town. According to Wikipedia “the geyser was unleashed in 1934 when “town fathers” were looking for hot water for a “hot pool” bathing attraction. Instead they drilled into a chamber of highly pressurized carbon dioxide gas and cold water and the geyser was released. After running for weeks, and flooding the downtown area, it was capped and manually released when requested as a tourist attraction. Now it is let loose every hour on the hour by a timed release valve. Its height and volume has not decreased after many years.”

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We drove 40 minutes one way to see it. The boredom level was 6 out of 10. Total score on a scale of 0 to 67 was 43. A nice solid butt trip score.