Travelers' Tales From our July/August issue: Readers share anecdotes that once again prove that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction. Plus, this month's prize-winning story about an encounter with a congressman who went "clothing optional." Budget Travel Tuesday, Jun 17, 2008, 12:00 AM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Travelers' Tales

From our July/August issue: Readers share anecdotes that once again prove that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction. Plus, this month's prize-winning story about an encounter with a congressman who went "clothing optional."

World's cutest zombies

New prize!
August's prize is an eight-night road trip across Tasmania, Australia, including airfare, courtesy of Tourism Tasmania and Goway Travel.

How to enter
E-mail us at or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. For a complete rundown of the contest guidelines, please see

The winner of April's contest is Lyn Simonton of Cody, Wyo. Her prize is a seven-night trip to Greenland, courtesy of Air Greenland.

After a long winter, my husband, my best friend, and I warmed up in Key West, Fla. Our B&B, a beautiful old mansion, hosted nightly cocktails by the pool. The first evening, we were shocked to be the only people wearing clothes. (I had never even heard the term "clothing optional" before.) We did our best to make friendly conversation with the other guests. But we were even more shocked when, the night we returned home to Wyoming, we switched on C-Span and saw the gentleman whom we'd nicknamed Naked Bill addressing Congress. He was a U.S. congressman!

May's winner is Cindi Noyes (pictured third from left) of Millbury, Mass. Her prize: a five-night trip to Panama from Tara Tours.

My grandfather was from Italy, so when I saw a town with my maiden name, Tricarico, while researching a trip, I e-mailed the town's website asking for help locating lost relatives. A woman offered assistance, so I gave her my grandfather's name. She replied with a list of five family members still living in Italy, including some in Prato, near Florence. A few days later, I got a call from the daughter of my father's second cousin. When my husband and I got to our hotel near Prato, the family met us and took us over to their home. My father's cousin brought out a stack of old photographs. As soon as I looked at the first one, I started to cry: It was of my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, and me on Christmas, 34 years earlier, with my grandmother's writing (in Italian) on the back. We'll return to Italy soon to spend more time with our new family.

So that's where Yahoo Serious has been hiding
My family, my best friend Katie, and I wanted to see flowing lava on a visit to Hawaii's Big Island. But when we got to Volcanoes National Park, we learned that we'd have to hike several miles. Instead, we drove around Kilauea caldera, hoping to snap a photo of a "real" volcano to show Katie's 10-year-old son back home. Braving the gusts of wind and rain, Katie ran over to the caldera's edge. The volcano didn't do much, but we did get an eruption of another kind. Kim Stickler, Reno, Nev.

World's cutest zombies
Our group was under strict orders not to come within 15 feet of any wildlife while at a penguin rookery in Antarctica. I was looking at the birds through a tele­scope when a little Adélie penguin came up out of the water and started waddling his way toward me. I lay down on the ground and took out my camera. Before I knew it, five more birds were scampering in my direction. "Scott, you're all right!" the expedition leader called out. "Everyone else, step back!" A moment later, I found myself surrounded by six penguins, flapping their little wings to keep balance. I just clicked away. Scott D. Churchill, Irving, Tex.

Speaking of Swift: He would have found this amusing
I was totally enchanted with Ireland while hitchhiking around the country for two months. All the wonderful things I'd heard about it were true. As I bent to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, however, I was struck by how stained and odorous it was. Not being able to resist the gift of gab, I kissed it anyway. Later, back at the youth hostel, I picked up a book of short stories someone had left behind. One of the stories describes the local tradition of peeing on the stone after the tourists have left for the day. The application of soap to my lips was swift. Jeff Drake, Galveston, Tex.

Or maybe he has a brain the size of a macadamia nut
The chickens of Oviedo, Fla., have been roaming freely around the downtown area for years. Returning from breakfast one morning, I spotted this guy hanging out at a Popeyes fried-chicken restaurant. He had nestled into the dirt just under the drive-through menu. He was either very brave or a very fast runner. Liz Cummins, Terrytown, La.

Now you know why God invented Photoshop
While on a trip in Aruba, I was excited to start taking pictures of all the flowers, birds, and iguanas with my new digital camera. I was amazed at how the colorful iguanas were everywhere and would come right up to people. So when I saw this rather colorful, large iguana on a pole, I inched as close as I could without getting too scared and snapped away. Later, as I was bragging to my husband about the photo shoot, I was surprised to see the iguana hadn't moved an inch. My husband began laughing hysterically. The iguana was fake! I was even more embarrassed when I printed the photograph and saw that the screw in its foot was clearly visible. Cindy Sturtevant, Woodstock, Ga.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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