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.The 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.

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.

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.

I 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.

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.

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.”

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.

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