the day I puked my way across america

In light of my upcoming trip to California, I thought I'd share the story of the last time I went. But before I tell this story, I need to apologize to my mother who is going to be very upset when this post hits her inbox, because she will have to relive the horror all over again. Sorry, mom.

Disclaimer: If you do not like reading about vomit, do not read this. Don't say I didn't warn you.

(But you should read it because it's a crazy story)

It was a warm sunny day in July of 2009. James took me to our favorite bagel place for an early breakfast and to say goodbye before my ten day trip to California for my cousin's wedding.

My parents and I hopped on our first flight of the day from the tiny airport in Greenville, North Carolina. It has five flights a day that go directly to Charlotte. Since it is such a small airport, the airplanes are typically of questionable quality. On this particular summer's day, we had the pleasure of flying in a small prop plane built around the time my parents started high school.

Prop planes are no bueno for me. The first time I flew in one was over choppy Pacific waters from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. Let's just say I puked a lot. There may be a picture of me passed out in an airport clinging to a bouquet of barf bags. There might not be. But there might.

I've flown in many a prop plane since and been fine. Since I'm extremely prone to motion sickness, I get a little nauseous, but it's usually nothing a little sprite can't fix. I kind of have an iron clad stomach. I will get so nauseated I think I'm going to die, but I almost never throw up. Seriously, maybe once every five years. Maybe. It just doesn't ever happen.

So we boarded the little prop plane to Charlotte. Everything was going swimmingly. When we landed, I was definitely sick to my stomach but I had a nice long layover for it to wear off. And it did, for the most part. By the time we boarded the flight from Charlotte to Phoenix, I was dandy. My mother and I had our venti lattes, our glowing tans, and nothing can stop us now!

Yes, that is me with a "dark tan." Please note I got my father's skin genes, not my mother's. Still upset about this.
See how happy we look? So innocent! So naive!

On facebook, the caption under this picture says "the pure joy and utter oblivion pre vomit fest 2009."

Sometime during the middle of the flight, the plane started bouncing and dropping and nearly throwing me out of my seat. It was the most epic turbulence I'd ever experienced. Since my stomach was still slightly sour from the previous flight, it's like I went from 0-60 in under a minute. I felt 96% normal to clutching my stomach and screaming for barf bags.

My mother took one look at me and said "Oh no. She's got that look! The same look she had when she was a baby right before she'd spew!" Then she looked at my dad across the aisle and said SWITCH SEATS WITH ME NOW!

My dad sat down next to me and I laid my head on his shoulder and whimpered in pure misery. I had never been so nauseous in all of my life. I wanted to die. I had my face shoved in a barf bag just waiting. Waiting.

The descent into Phoenix was enough to do me in. By the time we landed I knew I didn't have much more time. As we taxied to the gate, I remember taking one look out the window at the pretty orange Arizona desert, and then I put my head bag in the blue paper bag and tossed my cookies like there was no tomorrow.

Except for the fact that when you're blowing chunks, you tend to have bad aim. Most of it got in the bag. The rest? ALL OVER my poor dad. His arm, his shoes, probably his shirt. Three years later and I'm still apologizing for it.

So here's the thing. The Phoenix airport is pretty big. And because it was marathon travel day of many flights, we had one more flight to Santa Barbara. Here's the other thing. Our flight was going to leave in about thirty minutes. AND the gate was at the other end of the airport.

It went something like this: my dad sprinted through the airport to let the gate agent know his wife and puky daughter were on the way. I was carrying a backpack and several bags and RUNNING through the airport. I looked the hunchback of Notre Dame with all the bags piled on me, and to top it off, my head was in a barf bag the whole time. Please just try to imagine the looks I was getting. Just try. Because you can't. It was so pitiful we were laughing.

We made the flight, and the urge to purge hit once again. I searched seat pockets for barf bags. I knew one would be nowhere near enough. My mother started begging people for their barf bags. We got the flight attendants involved. I was like, give me all of the barf bags you have ever had. It was a moment much like Ron Swanson and his beloved breakfast food.

Except I would have much rather been dealing with bacon and eggs than barf bags.

The only thing I remember about that flight is constant vomiting. I knew the only thing that would make it stop would be to sleep it off, but that wouldn't be happening for awhile.

I felt like the freak at the circus. People were grimacing at me and covering their ears at my dinosaur heaves.

You know that scene in Bridesmaids where Lillian does her biznaz in the street?


Sometimes you just have to dinosaur heave and scream-vomit in front of an audience.

Pinned Image
We didn't choose the circumstances; the circumstances chose us.

We landed in Santa Barbara and I found myself a nice bench to stretch out on while my parents got the luggage and rental car. We had planned to go to a restaurant before the one hour drive to my grandparent's house.

I was having none of it! I begged my parents to just drive to my grandparent's because there was no way in hades I could sit in a restaurant and not heave over all the food. I was too far gone at this point. You hear me? TOO FAR GONE.

By this point we only had a few barf bags left. I had already managed to puke all over the inside of the rental car, which was actually a bit of an air freshener from the horrible smell that car had been harboring.

Now I'm not sure how familiar you all are with Costco. It's basically the Sam's Club of the west coast. People also go there to eat hot dogs and pizza.

Well. My parents were looking for food and I was letting loose all over the interior again, so they pulled over at the Costco to grab some napkins to clean up. {side note, I wish you all could hear my mom tell this part of the story. It's hysterical and she gets the giggles every time.} My dad pulled the car over right next to the outdoor eating area. My mom opened my car door to clean up. There was a table about three feet away with a boy and girl probably on some sort of date. My mother was basically throwing out napkins covered in vomit when my stomach unleashed again. The couple eating their food finally figured out what was happening and I can still see their horror-ridden faces. My mom started giggling and I continued to roar like a dinosaur while curled up in ball in the back seat.

Those poor people. My poor mother. My poor father who just wanted to leave. My poor stomach!

I survived the hour long drive to my grandparent's house without incident. I was so weak and dizzy from all the puking and not eating that my parents had to help me get inside.

After a brief explanation of the day, my very conservative grandmother took one look at me, a college girl with a boyfriend and blurted out "SHE'S PREGNANT ISN'T SHE?!"

I was not pregnant, for the record.

I crawled into bed and slept about 14 hours and was good as new.

And this is why my parents are terrified to travel with me next week. My father refuses to sit next to me, and really, can you blame him?

Wish us luck.


  1. oh my hellishness.

    this is a horrifying story. how anyone can puke that much is beyond me.

    my most traumatic puking story? I had had surgery and had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and i literally could not stop puking, but the best part? I couldn't stand up or sit up to do it. It was like a fountain of horrors. oh man. memories.

  2. Oh no! That sounds so miserable. It's one thing to be sick like that, but it's even worse when you're in public and not at home where you can just curl up and be semi-comfortable. I had to laugh at your Ron Swanson picture though! One of my favorite scenes :-)

    Praying you have a much better experience flying this time!

  3. Oh my goodness! I love your stories haha, so detailed and hilarious!
    I too have a trip like this, funny part was it was only a 30 minute flight!
    Needless to say, I cannot tell a story like you do!


  4. OMG! That sounds terrible. I too have a strong aversion to puking. I can't imagine haven't to go through that. I'll keep you in my prayers. Hopefully that won't happen this time.

    Have you thought about taking Dramamine? It will make you really tired, but that would be more bearable then throwing up a bunch. My sister used to take it all the time when we traveled as a family. I think they even have a non-drowsy version now. Just a thought.

  5. You have to be joking hahaha! That sounds like the worst nightmare EVER! How did you even have anything left to throw up?? Maybe you had food poisoning

  6. Well, you basically described one day of the eight weeks that was my morning sickness hell. Don't ever get pregnant. I didn't stop throwing up. That nausea that makes you feel like you want to die? Yeah, it.never.lets.up.

  7. oh my god, how traumatic! your poor dad! and poor you! i haven't thrown up in years, but the thought of doing it on a plane in front of ppl? horror. your grandmom's comment is hysterical! maybe take a tylenol PM this time? :)

  8. my question is, how in the world did you have that much in your stomach??
    also, i forgot about Sam's Club. HA.

  9. Holy nastiness! Remind me never to fly with you...or at least get seats in two different sections! Your father...your poor father haha.

    My biggest issue when I'm flying is peeing. I have panic attacks thinking about it. Luckily, my trip to NC was a 2 hour, direct flight and I was okay.


  10. Oh, sweet baby pandas. That is hilarious to me, but only because you and your parents can laugh about it now. That sounds absolutely wretched, Michelle! Oh, my gosh! That all happened just because of motion sickness? YIKES.

    I have my fingers double-crossed for your guys!

  11. So funny, so terrible. I am torn between the two. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to you again! I've only been sick on a plane once... it was more than enough for me.

  12. Thank you for vomiting all over America so that I could read about it and laugh :) The part about costco and it being a place where people go to eat hot dogs made me LOL for reals, because it really is a place people go to eat hot dogs ($1.55 for a hot dog and a soda!)

    Hope this trip is less eventful! (but if its not, I can't wait for the story!)

  13. Bless you, it sounds awful, I really hope your trip to California is a lot smoother.

  14. I just flew to Texas from California and I thought I was going to barf my way there too. I think the only thing that kept me together was that I was alone. I can't imagine how you must have felt! This story was however very hilarious!

    I live in California! Maybe we will see each other. What part are you going to?

  15. I'm sorry, but I laughed out loud as soon as I hit the part about dinosaur roars and continued to laugh through the rest of it. You're definitely a trooper. And think about it, not only do you have a good story to tell, so do all of the other people you encountered that day!

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  17. O_o I have no words. Thus I will mail you some bags.


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